World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Sica

Article Id: WHEBN0010991038
Reproduction Date:

Title: Sica  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Illyrian warfare, Dacian warfare, Thracian warfare, List of daggers, Romania in Antiquity
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Sica

Sica, ancient Paleo-Balkan weapon

The sica was a short sword or large dagger of ancient Illyrians, Thracians and Dacians, used in Ancient Rome too, originating in the Halstatt culture. It was originally depicted as a curved sword (see the Zliten mosaic as well as numerous oil lamps), with a blade about 16–18 inches long (40–45 cm) and many examples have been found in what are today Albania, Romania, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Serbia. It is also depicted on Trajan's Column; notably the Dacian king Decebalus is depicted committing suicide with one.

Types

From a typological point of view, though there is a strong tendency towards standardization, the sica daggers can be organised in three main types that differ only by morphological aspects, not functional.

Scabbard for sica from the , dated 1st century BC. Fragments of the helmet and other inventory pieces are also seen on the right side. In display at the National Museum of the Union, Alba Iulia, Romania

The first type is characterized by its solidity, sometimes with a broken figure immediately after the blade’s middle part, with a short and sharp point, with a slight curvature, a short handle cane, usually of a triangular shape, that has a hole for the fixing rivet, close to the blade. The blade has incised ornaments and a fuller deeply carved into it. These characteristics are not general, the only standing arguments for this type being the size and the shape approximately similar.

The second type, not very different morphologically speaking, does not have the solid shape of the first type, but a longer blade, with a fuller, and keeps, most often, the haft's tongue short and of a triangular shape.

The third type, more numerous, gathers a series of daggers characterized by a long blade, elegantly manufactured in most cases, by the ornamentation with incised circles and/or lines along the blade, the presence of the fuller, the haft’s tongue as long as the haft and a guard muff. These distinctive elements are found either all together, or some of the pieces present one or more of these characteristic features. The sizes show a relative standardization, somewhere around 30–40 cm length and approximately 3 cm width. From a chronological point of view, this type of dagger is dated mostly in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC.

Significance

The distinctive shape was designed to get around the sides of an opponent's shield, and stab or slash them in the back. Since the thraex gladiator's usual opponent was the scutum (large shield) carrying murmillo gladiator, such a weapon as the sica was necessary to make the duel more even and exciting.

The daggers’ decoration, remarkably complex, offers them a sum of spiritual, artistically and symbolical valences. On the blade geo- metrical shapes were incised, but also eagles and snakes, in which case their schematization requires the existence of a certain "code", or they were an emblem that underlined the membership of a certain brotherhood at arms or a certain social status, as well possible to have a mystical/magical component included.

From the facts presented above, it can be stated that the sica dagger represents an important historical artifact which, due to its importance and the role it played in the Thracian world, contributes to the understanding of the social and military mechanisms of this society and, through the special spiritual dimension, to the reception of a new side from the religious mosaic of this people. From all the curved weapons used in the Thracian area, the sica daggers are the only ones that make the connection between the Southern Thracians and the Thracians North to the Danube, being spread the same on both sides of the river.

Origin of name

According to Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, tome 4, volume 2 (R–S), Paris, 1926, p. 1300, s.v. sica, the name Sica comes from Proto-Indo-European root sek-, meaning "to cut", "to section". Roman author Valerius Maximus, III, 2.12, said that sica was the Dacian name for the curved short sword/bigger knife of this type. In Albanian the knife is called today "Thika" which is similar to "Sica".

Illyrian

The Romans regarded the sica as a distinctive Illyrian weapon. The principal melee weapon of the Illyrians was the Sica.[1] According to historian John Wilkes:[2]

Although a short curved sword was used by several peoples around the Mediterranean the Romans regarded the sica as a distinct Illyrian weapon used by the stealthy 'assassin' (sicarius)

See also

References

  1. ^ The Illyrians (The Peoples of Europe) by John Wilkes, 1996, page 238, "Their principal offensive weapon was the single edged curved-sword, similar to the Greek machaira, a form of weapon that can be traced back to Bronze age times..."
  2. ^ The Illyrians (The Peoples of Europe) by John Wilkes, 1996, pages 238–239, "Although a short curved sword was used by several peoples around the Mediterranean the Romans regarded the sica as a distinct Illyrian weapon used by the stealthy 'assassin' (sicarius)..."

External links

  • www.enciclopedia-dacica.ro http://enciclopedia-dacica.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=709&Itemid=377
  • Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, tom 4, vol. 2 (R–S), Paris, 1926, p. 1300, s.v. sica
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.