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The Impenetrable Wall: Roman Body Armour

The Impenetrable Wall: Roman Body Armour

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Dr Mike Bishop speaks (and is aided by live demonstrations) about 'The impenetrable wall: Roman body armour assessed' at the Greek and Roman Armour Study Day, 20th July, 2015.

The Impenetrable Wall: Roman Body Armour - History

Posted on 10/24/2020 2:34:48 PM PDT by LibWhacker

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest and most complete Roman body armour at the site of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in Kalkriese, Germany. Before this find, the earliest known examples of Roman lorica segmentata — iron plate sections tied together — were found in Corbridge, UK, and date to the 2nd century. Those were fragments. The Kalkriese armor is a complete set, and includes an extremely rare iron collar used to shackle prisoners.

More than 7,000 objects have been found at the Kalkriese battlefield site, from weapons to coins to items of everyday use. In the summer of 2018, a metal detector scan of the side wall of an excavation trench retuned 10 strong signals, indications of a large quantity of metal inside the bank. To ensure whatever was in there wasn’t exposed to the air and rapid oxidization, archaeologists removed the entire soil block containing the mystery metallics.

The first step was to scan the block to see what was inside and map out its excavation. The block was too big for regular X-ray machines, so they transported the crate to the Münster Osnabrück International Airport where the customs office has a freight-sized X-ray machine. All they could see was nails of the wooden crate and a large black hole in the shape of the soil block.

In 2019, it was sent to the Fraunhofer Institute in Fürth which has the world’s largest CT scanner — a circular platform more than 11 feet in diameter that rotates while the X-ray apparatus moves up and down — more than big enough for the crate to fit and powerful enough to see inside the dense soil block. The scan revealed the remains of a cuirass — the section of a lorica segmentata where the breastplate and back plate are buckled together. The plates of the armour were pushed together like an accordion by the weight of the soil pressing on down them for 2,000 years.

Here’s a nifty digital animation by the Fraunhofer Institute generated from the CT scan data that reveals the armour inside the soil block.

Armed with the detailed scans, restorers were able to begin excavation of the soil block. They found that despite Kalkriese’s highly acidic sandy soil, the armour is relatively well-preserved. There is extensive corrosion of the mental, but the set is uniquely complete with hinges, buckles, bronze bosses and even extremely rare surviving pieces of the leather ties. The plates from the shoulder and chest have been recovered and restored. The belly plates are still in the soil block. There are no arm plates in this early design.

Iron plate armour was introduced by Augustus as an improvement on chain mail. It was relatively light (around 17 pounds) and because the plates were tied together with leather cords, they were much more flexible than chain mail. so it was the latest and greatest technology in 9 A.D. when Publius Quinctilius Varus blundered into a German ambush that obliterated three full Roman legions plus their auxiliaries.

The legionary who wore this armour apparently survived the battle because around his neck/shoulder area was a shrew’s fiddle, also known as a neck violin. This was an iron collar connected to two handcuffs that locked a prisoner’s hands in front of his neck. The Romans used them to shackle prisoners destined for slavery. This time the tables were turned, and the soldier died in shackles.

The restoration is ongoing and is expected to take another two years. Once it’s complete, the armour will go on display in an exhibition at the Kalkriese Museum and Park.

Roman Body Armor

During the expansion of Rome and the acquisition of new territory, the Roman armies were often met by heavy resistance and bloody conflicts. The armies needed a type of protection that would safely protect soldiers and would ensure victory for Rome. That is the reason armour (upper body) in particular was implemented to save soldiers on the battlefield. The armour had to meet certain standards of construction for it to be useful: Of these standards the first was that armour was to be flexible enough to allow the wearer freedom of movement in battle.

Secondly, it had to be lightweight it could be worn without wearing down the soldier, while still protecting him against an opponents’ weapon: and finally, the armour had to be made at low cost. These three aspects were influential in the evolution of armour design in the Roman army. The main study point of Roman armour is that it was a trade off between freedom of movement, protection, and cost factor. In the first century A. D. there were about four types of armour in use. The names of the different types were muscle, scale, mail, and segmented mail and the segmented breastplate being the leading type.

Studying of these armour types relies upon three main sources of evidence: iconographic archaeological and literary source documents. The evolution of Roman armour was influenced by the needs and circumstances of the Roman Army. Armies of the first century A. D. were finally established within the Empire and control fell solely under the Emperor. With the increase of soldiers in the Roman army, which was up to around thirty legions, well built armour was more in need than ever on the frontiers. The army could be divided into two distinct parts the legion and the auxiliary.

Only Roman citizens could become a legionnaire, while the auxiliary were made of non citizens from Rome’s settled territories. The early view put forward by a historian named Webster was that the equipment used by the legionnaires was remarkably uniform throughout the empire. However, there has been no evidence that supports this theory, showing that a great number of types and ages of equipment was in use at anyone time. Peterson argues that uniform armour in the Roman army may have only extended to the soldiers having their own body armour, helmet, weapons and shield showing a common trademark.

Bishop and Coulston suggest that in this period soldiers purchased their own equipment. This type of owning their own armour meant that the individual would be more respectful of the equipment they owned by having a sense of personal responsibility. Many of these items may have been purchased from army stock, but soldiers may have been free to buy more elaborate or expensive items from private craftsmen. This was probably beyond the economic means of most soldiers and elaborate armament has been seen only on soldiers of centurion rank or higher.

It is further proposed that the military equipment would be sold back upon retirement or death of the owner, and therefore could be used by a number of different owners. The cost of new equipment would probably have implemented recycling of old armour, and with the repair of damaged armaments this may have meant that the lifespan of an object would be many years. These factors also show that production of new armour at any point in time would have been fairly low. One of the most widely used types of the Roman armour was the so called ‘muscle’ plate.

This chest armour was moulded on the contours of the muscles of the male chest. This type of armour was probably built from iron or bronze, consisting of a high-waisted or a hip length breastplate. Shoulder straps hinged to the edges of the back plate, with their forward arm protectors tied down to rings on the breast. These plates had side fastenings with two hinges or a pair of rings joined by ties providing for the soldier’s left and right flanks. None of these metallic muscled breastplates of the Roman period have survived the ravages of time.

However, Etruscan metal muscle breastplates dating from the fifth to the third Century B. C. have been found. Muscle breastplates have also been believed to have been made of leather. However, a moulded leather breastplate would have to be very thick and stiff to have any defensive virtues. It is suggested that this breastplate type was probably worn almost exclusively by emperors and top-ranking military leaders as a symbol of Roman might and control. Another type of breastplate was the scale armour, also known as jezeraint armour. Scale armour is perhaps the oldest type of metal body armour.

Peterson proposed that its origins date to at least the second millennium B. C. , having a long history of use in Greece and the East. Regardless of its early origins it was used throughout the entire period of Roman control. Scale armour was usually made with short sleeves, and the lower edges reaching the upper thighs. Scale armour was made from both iron and bronze. The manufacture of scale armour involved small sections of metal sheeting of varying sizes being attached by wires or riveted to their neighbours and sewn onto a properly flexible foundation of hide or strong cloth.

Early scale armour was commonly joined by small twisted links of bronze wiring, positioned in horizontal rows, overlapping upwards and layered like scales of a fish or in the manner of roof tiles. Pieces of bronze scale armour were found at the site of Corbridge in Northumberland England. These scales were very small, and due to the great expense of manufacturing such fine armour, probably an officer, would have purchased this armour himself.

A similar group of 346 scales which was found in the fort of Newstead (A. D. 98-100), of yellow bronze, these measured 2. 9 cm by 1. m. Generally the defensive qualities of scale are inferior to mail armour, being neither as strong nor as flexible. It was nevertheless popular throughout the Roman period, possibly because it appears that it may have been simpler to manufacture and repair than other armour. Experiments conducted show that arrowheads, when fired against various Roman armour at a range of seven meters one out of every two occasions, the arrowheads seemed to penetrate the type of armour. This may occur due to the shape of the scales and the way the scales may have been assembled.

Archaeological finds appear to point out that this type of armour was used much more widely than the surviving sculptures suggest, although only remains of the armour survive. Despite this evidence the use of scale does not appear to have been as extensive as mail. Peterson suggests that the records indicate that mail was largely the exclusive equipment of centurions and high-ranking officers between the first and second centuries A. D. It is commonly accepted that the Romans acquired their knowledge of mail- making from the Celts, who were the original builders of this form of armour.

The foundation of mail consists of metal rings, each one linked through four others, two in the row above it and two below. The fine mail of the first century could be made from bronze or iron rings measuring as little as three millimetres in diameter. Only fragments of mail exist in the archaeological record but the sculptured record indicates that there were many variations of mail. The method of construction of mail rings in Roman times would be similar to that of later periods. Warry says that mail could be made from rings of two sorts: solid rings or opened, linked rings which could be either butted or riveted shut.

The Romans appear to have almost always riveted the ends of the rings together, the result being that the mail was much stronger than the butted variety, made by simply butting the wire ends together and which could be tom open quite readily. These rings could vary in size from an outside diameter ranging between three millimetres and nine millimetres, the latter being found in post first century A. D. sites. There were some advantages and disadvantages in using mail armour. The first was that the rings provided excellent defence against slashing cuts and were also effective against thrusts, while remaining very flexible.

As there were only interlinking rings to give it form the armour suffered little from wear and could be repaired even when badly damaged. Mail armour could be easily recycled and passed down from the legion to the auxiliary, as it would still remain functional as armour regardless of its age or even if superseded by another type. This may be indicated by the sculptured record from later periods such as Trajan’s column, which shows that earlier types of mail were in use with the western legions during the Dacian campaigns.

A disadvantage of mail over other armour was that its construction was extremely labour intensive, perhaps taking as much as one hundred and eighty hours to make a complete mail outfit of the simplest type to be worn by auxiliaries. Obviously armour of this type must have been a costly exercise to manufacture. While it afforded reasonable freedom of movement, it was also very heavy, weighing perhaps as much as fifteen pounds. The weight may have been countered by the use of a “military belt”, which could be drawn tightly about the waist, thus distributing part of the weight onto the hips and relieving the shoulders of some burden.

Additionally, tests using contemporary arrow types suggest that most arrowhead types consistently penetrated the mail to a depth that would prove lethal to the wearer. However, bunching of the mail at suspension points prevented penetration of the mail beyond a depth of three -five centimetres. This would mean that the doubling of mail shoulder defences which were known to be practiced by both Romans and Celts may have saved the life of their owners. Mail was probably used extensively by legionnaires during the late Republic until the introduction of the segmented plates in Claudian times.

Testing also showed that arrow shafts were occasionally locked into place by the deformed mail rings through which these had passed, which would have made them difficult to remove and the wounds considerably more difficult to treat. Mail also would not absorb the impact of a blow, unless extremely well padded by a very thick doubled layer, and the mail could also be driven into the flesh of the wearer. It is because of these disadvantages that after the introduction of segmental armour, mail was largely confined to the auxiliary troops.

The form of armour for which the first century is best known is the segmented armour breastplates. This name was not invented by the Romans but came into use during the Renaissance. It was the first type of articulated plate armour, the origins of which are unclear. The segmental armour may have found its way into the Roman army from the gladiatorial arena. The first time the Roman legionnaires came into contact with this armour may have been during the revolt of Florus and Sacrovir in 21 A. D.

This revolt consisted of heavily armoured gladiators, called crupellarii, fighting against legionnaires. Tacitus described how armoured gladiators were killed by the legionnaires hacking through their segmented armour with pickaxes. It is highly possible that this form of armour was being issued as standard legionary equipment by the time the Emperor Claudius’ troops invaded Britain in A. D. 43. The segmented armour was constructed of collar and shoulder units which consisted of twenty four plates and sixteen girdle plates.

The latter were half semicircular iron lames, consisting of strips of iron sheet, and were positioned horizontally, riveted onto leather straps. The lames were laced at the center of the breast and back in such a way as to surround the trunk completely while still allowing the body considerable freedom of movement. The bands were kept in place by a complicated system of straps and buckles. Fastened on the inside by leather straps and fastened at the front and back with laces, buckles and straps. These fittings were usually made of a thin brass sheet.

The defence was completed with two half-collars (shoulder guards) of articulated lames. Each collar consisted of a small breastplate fastened to other lames that formed a neck guard. Both of the shoulder-guards consisted of five plates. The largest upper plates were made from three pieces joined to each other by bronze hinges as were the collar units beneath. This type of armour was superior to mail in both manufacturing and as a type of armour. However, the armour’s chief advantage was in its weight, around twelve pounds depending upon the thickness of plates used.

Plates were made by hammer work, and Bishop and Coulston note an analysis of surviving fragments of iron plates show that, they had not been hardened in any way, although the Romans are known to have been aware of this technique. They also suggest that Roman armouries deliberately produced ‘soft’ armour that could absorb the force of a blow as it crumpled. This softness allowed the metal to deform extensively, absorbing the impact of weapons and denying them the resistance needed to penetrate effectively. Tests show that none of the test arrows fired penetrated enough to cause serious injury.

This effectiveness was apparently due to a combination of the softness of the metal and the internal gap between the plates. As such it may have normally been employed by particular legions, notably those fighting the Celts, whose style of fighting and use of weapons such as the long sword posed a particular threat to the head and shoulders of the line infantryman. Segmented plate armour had disadvantages as well. Most notable was the loss of protection to the thighs and upper arms. Simkins states that during the Emperor Trajan’s Dacian campaign, the Romans fought against enemies armed with long scythe-like swords called falx.

These were capable of reaching past the legionnaire’s scutum (a large curved shield) to injure the unprotected sword arm. This weapon may have also endangered the soldiers’ legs which from Republican times were bare, protection here being given up for the sake of mobility. However, the Adamklissi monument suggests that legionnaires in these two campaigns may have improved their protection with segmental armguards similar to those worn by gladiators. The archaeological record provides rich evidence of this type of armour. Excavation has provided more evidence of segmented armour than both scale and mail.

The most important discovery was made in 1964, at the site of the Roman station of Corstopitum in Northumberland (Corbridge) at Hadrian’s Wall, when two complete sets of this type were found in a wooden chest buried below the floor of a timber building of the Flavian period fort. This is the only site where this type of armour has been found in a reasonably complete state. Another pattern of segmented armour has been identified and reconstructed from fragments found in the well in the headquarters building at Newstead near Melrose in Scotland.

Simkins suggests that this pattern was probably developed in the later years of the first century and is the model for the majority of representations of legionary soldiers on Trajan’s Column. It is difficult to tell how long the earlier Corbridge pattern remained in use until it was eventually replaced by the Newstead type. They may have continued for quite some time after the introduction of the Newstead type for two reasons. First, like the replacement of mail by segmented armour types, re-equipping legions with new armour was expensive, second armour which was still in a serviceable condition, remained useful regardless of age.

The Newstead type of armour is a much simplified pattern in which the elaborate fittings of the older patterns (such as buckles and ties) have been discarded. The hinges have been replaced by simple rivets and the belt and buckle fastenings by hooks. The shoulder plates are riveted together and the girdle lames are larger than previous lames, although probably reduced to five or six pairs, the lower two pairs being replaced by a single pair of wide plates.

The inner shoulder-guard plate in this type is a single strip instead of three plates hinged together, coming down much further at the front and back. This deep inflexible breast and upper back plates were laminated in the same way as the girdles and held together by internal leather straps. The simplification of this type of armour indicates that earlier designs were probably over engineered and the more complex types were both labour and maintenance intensive and more prone to fall apart. This form of armour was used extensively for most of this period due to its successful form.

In contrast to the earlier armours, the segmented plate armour was flexible, lighter and easier to maintain and repair. The design of this armour also adapted and evolved in response to the fighting techniques of a number of different enemies and the economic needs of Rome at this time. Armour has much to tell about the Roman Army, its method of waging war, and the economy of the first century. The change in military equipment illustrates a process whereby Roman forces borrowed the technology of other people whom they came into conflict.

These adaptations are illustrated by the armour forms taken from the Greeks, and the Celts. Innovation occurred using the available military and civilian technology to counter a threat posed by a particular enemy. Thus by the first century A. D. much of the soldiers’ equipment, including the armour, was derived from enemies of earlier periods. The four types of armour identified in this paper had their own characteristics and variations. They all have benefits or drawbacks in terms of protection, mobility and cost.

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How did the Romans manage to get all there armour?

Keep in mind that we don't know the percentage of Roman troops that actually wore body armour. It is likely that it was higher than anyone they faced but there could very well have been a lot of soldiers with no protection except for helmets and shields. Matt's Dyrrhachium example tells us that not everyone had body armour. Millions of men fought for thousands of years with just a helmet and shield. Body armour was only worn by the elite in many cultures.

The limited data we have suggests that Roman leather and textile armour was rare. The vast majority of Roman body armour was metal. They definitely had the infrastructure in place to do it. People have no idea how much material was required to make organic armours. They weren't cheap. Layered textile armour requires at least 12 layers the heavier ones used up to 30 layers. That's enough material to make a minimum of 12 tunics! How many people at the time could afford to own a dozen sets of clothing?

Given that the Romans were producing iron on an industrial scale, we cannot assume that their metal armour was more expensive than organic armour. In the Late Middle Ages we know that padded jacks and buff coats cost more (sometimes a lot more) than the steel cuirasses being worn at the time.

I know that many soldiers fought without body armour. There were many reasons for it, for example, cost of armour, the flexibility of armour and restrains on agility of a soldier.

But speaking about Roman legionaries, I would like to add one more reason not to use body armour – they did need it as their shields guaranteed a good protection. We can come to a conclusion that some interdependency existed between body armour and shield protection. For example, if a soldier did not use a big shield, like a pikeman, he needed a good armour protection to compensate his vulnerability under attack of enemy arrows. Quite contrary, if a soldier used a great shield, he lost some of his mobility due to the weight of the shied, the big shields were very heavy, but he had a good protection against arrows and javelins and his need for body armour was not so great.

I still think that mail armour was not wide spread in Roman army. The Romans had some substitute for it. The most famous – lorica segmentata and Lorica squamata were easier for manufacture also being less convenient to use. I spoke only about mail armour.

Matthew Amt

I know that many soldiers fought without body armour. There were many reasons for it, for example, cost of armour, the flexibility of armour and restrains on agility of a soldier.

But speaking about Roman legionaries, I would like to add one more reason not to use body armour – they did need it as their shields guaranteed a good protection. We can come to a conclusion that some interdependency existed between body armour and shield protection. For example, if a soldier did not use a big shield, like a pikeman, he needed a good armour protection to compensate his vulnerability under attack of enemy arrows. Quite contrary, if a soldier used a great shield, he lost some of his mobility due to the weight of the shied, the big shields were very heavy, but he had a good protection against arrows and javelins and his need for body armour was not so great.

Well, yes and no. A large shield certainly does protect well, but having one is not the *reason* a man does not wear armor. Plenty of men fought with no armor and smaller shields, over time. And men fought with large shields *and* armor, as well.

A large shield is not all that heavy, even less so to a trained man. What limits mobility is being in a formation--in a tight shield wall or phalanx, a naked man with a 5-pound shield is not going to be any more "agile" than the fully armored guy next to him with a 15-pound shield. Legionaries prefered to have some space, though they could fight well even when packed more tightly.

It should be kept in mind that armor was not some kind of "default". Rather the opposite! In the ancient era, right into the early middle ages, the SHIELD was the main protection. Any armor beyond that was gravy.

Well, mail is mentioned in ancient sources, and is by far the most common armor shown in artwork. Rusty lumps of it turn up on most Roman military sites, probably more often than we think because it can be hard to identify without X-rays. It's actually not hard to make, just time-consuming, and that's not really an issue with slave labor.


Dan Howard

Azarius Balios

Dan Howard


Even before the Empire, the Roman Republic was powerful and wealthy, and production was always growing. Plus, you have to understand that the need to produce equipment for a whole legion quickly was a very uncommon event. The military system had developed and grown over centuries, and for a long time it was a citizen army in which every land-owning adult male citizen was eligible for military duty, and had to own his armor and gear. So there was very little scrambling around for armor when a war started, because the troops already had all their stuff. As manpower grew, production grew to meet the need. By the end of the Republic, there were major production areas in northern Italy (and elsewhere, for various items of kit).

As has been said, iron production was a massive industry, as well as charcoal production and coal mining for fuel. There is a great book called "Iron for the Eagles" by David Sim which discusses Roman iron production and technology. Been a while since I read it, but I believe it mentions immense Roman slag heaps that still survive, and which were actually mined for their leftover iron as smelting methods improved in the early modern era.

There have been tests of various sorts to find out how long it takes to make a helmet or a shirt of mail or a sword blade, using ancient techniques. Most of those are flawed by preconceptions, or by the work all being done by a single craftsman making one item at a time. In reality, armor shops could have large numbers of craftsmen, apprentices, assistants, and laborers, both free and slave, and any particular item could have been worked on by a number of people. We are also discovering that things like helmet bowls can be dished out in a stack of 5 or 6 at once, by "beaters" using sledge hammers in a team. This is actually still done in some countries to make buckets and similar items. It greatly reduces the amount of time to rough out a helmet bowl, and it's semi-skilled work. I strongly suspect that mail-making was done by slave children, because tiny rings and tinier rivets are much more easily handled by small fingers and good eyes. Mining for iron ore (or anything else) was certainly done by slaves, and was extremely harsh and dangerous work.

Bottom line, the ancients probably made stuff much more quickly and efficiently than we think.

I doubt that captured weaponry was every a very significant source. Compared to most enemies, the Romans typically had a far larger ratio of armored men, so they simply didn't need the small amounts of armor they might capture from a defeated army. Plus whatever they did capture would not necessarily be the types of gear they used. Some of that captured armor became trophies in temples. Some was probably sold off randomly. It's possible that some was recycled in some way.

Matthew Amt

Oh, I don't think so. The resources were all there, after all, waiting for the infrastructure to make use of them. And the Romans did not have *better* weaponry--Gauls and Iberians were known to be better ironworkers. The Romans' big advantage was in absorbing defeated enemies and adding them to their manpower. The *quality* of their weapons or armor was never really a major factor.

I suspect Greece/Macedonia and Carthage were way up there, for starters. Eastern kingdoms like Pontus could also field massive armies--there was a LOT of wealth out in that direction. And very early on, of course, Rome was just one city-state among many, and plenty of neighboring states were just as metal-rich as Rome.


Even before the Empire, the Roman Republic was powerful and wealthy, and production was always growing. Plus, you have to understand that the need to produce equipment for a whole legion quickly was a very uncommon event. The military system had developed and grown over centuries, and for a long time it was a citizen army in which every land-owning adult male citizen was eligible for military duty, and had to own his armor and gear. So there was very little scrambling around for armor when a war started, because the troops already had all their stuff. As manpower grew, production grew to meet the need. By the end of the Republic, there were major production areas in northern Italy (and elsewhere, for various items of kit).

As has been said, iron production was a massive industry, as well as charcoal production and coal mining for fuel. There is a great book called "Iron for the Eagles" by David Sim which discusses Roman iron production and technology. Been a while since I read it, but I believe it mentions immense Roman slag heaps that still survive, and which were actually mined for their leftover iron as smelting methods improved in the early modern era.

There have been tests of various sorts to find out how long it takes to make a helmet or a shirt of mail or a sword blade, using ancient techniques. Most of those are flawed by preconceptions, or by the work all being done by a single craftsman making one item at a time. In reality, armor shops could have large numbers of craftsmen, apprentices, assistants, and laborers, both free and slave, and any particular item could have been worked on by a number of people. We are also discovering that things like helmet bowls can be dished out in a stack of 5 or 6 at once, by "beaters" using sledge hammers in a team. This is actually still done in some countries to make buckets and similar items. It greatly reduces the amount of time to rough out a helmet bowl, and it's semi-skilled work. I strongly suspect that mail-making was done by slave children, because tiny rings and tinier rivets are much more easily handled by small fingers and good eyes. Mining for iron ore (or anything else) was certainly done by slaves, and was extremely harsh and dangerous work.

Bottom line, the ancients probably made stuff much more quickly and efficiently than we think.

I doubt that captured weaponry was every a very significant source. Compared to most enemies, the Romans typically had a far larger ratio of armored men, so they simply didn't need the small amounts of armor they might capture from a defeated army. Plus whatever they did capture would not necessarily be the types of gear they used. Some of that captured armor became trophies in temples. Some was probably sold off randomly. It's possible that some was recycled in some way.

To cite Iron for the Eagles you need coke (which Romans didn't have) to use coal for fuel.


Armor Edit

  • Armor of Achilles, created by Hephaestus and said to be impenetrable. (Greek mythology)
  • Armor of Beowulf, a mail shirt made by Wayland the Smith. (Anglo-Saxon mythology)
  • Armor of Örvar-Oddr, an impenetrable "silken mailcoat". (Norse mythology)
  • Babr-e Bayan, a suit of armor that Rostam wore in wars described in the Persian epic Shahnameh. The armor was invulnerable against fire, water and weapons. (Persian mythology)
  • Golden Coat of Chainmail, part of Fafnir's treasure which Sigurd took after he slew the dragon. (Norse mythology)
  • Green Armor, protects the wearer from physical injuries. (Arthurian legend)
  • Kavacha, the armor of Karna that was granted to him by his father Surya at birth. (Hindu mythology)
  • Armor of Diomedes, made of bronze, that Diomedes exchanged with the golden armor of Glaucus. (Greek mythology)

Helmets Edit

  • Helmet of Rostam, upon which was fixed the head of the white giant Div-e-Sepid, from the Persian epic Shahnameh. (Persian mythology)
  • Helm of Awe (also Helm of Terror or Ægishjálmr), an Icelandic magical stave. A physical object called "Helm of Terror" is referenced as one item Sigurd takes from the dragon Fafnir's hoard after he slays him in the Völsunga saga. (Norse mythology)
  • Huliðshjálmr, a concealing helmet of the dwarves. (Norse mythology)
  • Tarnhelm, a magic helmet giving the wearer the ability to change form or become invisible. Used by Alberich in Der Ring des Nibelungen. (Continental Germanic mythology)
  • Goswhit, the helmet of King Arthur, passed down to him from Uther Pendragon. (Arthurian legend)
  • Halo (also Nimbus, Aureola, Glory or Gloriole), is a ring of light that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes.
  • Sun Wukong's magical headband, a magical headband which, once put on, can never be removed. With a special chant, the band will tighten and cause unbearable pain. (Chinese mythology)
  • Kappa's plate (Kappa's sara), the easiest way to defeat a kappa is to make it spill the water from the sara on top of its head. The sara is filled with water that is the source of its power. (Japanese mythology)

Headgear from Greek mythology Edit

  • Cap of invisibility (also Helm of Darkness or Helm of Hades), which can turn the wearer invisible. In addition to its owner, the god of the underworld Hades, wearers of the cap in Greek myths include Athena, the goddess of wisdom the messenger god Hermes, and the hero Perseus.
  • Ariadne's diadem, a diadem given to her by her husband Dionysus that was made by Hephaestus as a wedding present.

Shields Edit

  • Shield of El Cid, a shield which bears the image of a fierce shining golden dragon. [1]
  • Svalinn, a shield which stands before the sun and protects Earth from burning. If the shield were to fall from its frontal position, the mountains and seas would burn up. (Norse mythology)
  • Dubán, the shield of Cú Chulainn. (Irish mythology)
  • Han Feizi's shield, a man was trying to sell a spear and a shield. When asked how good his spear was, he said that his spear could pierce any shield. Then, when asked how good his shield was, he said that it could defend from all spear attacks. Then one person asked him what would happen if he were to take his spear to strike his shield the seller could not answer. This led to the idiom of "zìxīang máodùn" (自相矛盾, "from each-other spear shield"), or "self-contradictory". (Chinese folklore)

Shields from Arthurian legend Edit

  • Pridwen (also Wynebgwrthucher), the shield of King Arthur.
  • Shield of Joseph of Arimathea, according to Arthurian legend, was carried by three maidens to Arthur's castle where it was discovered by Sir Percival. In Perlesvaus he uses it to defeat the Knight of the Burning Dragon.
  • Shield of Judas Maccabee, a red shield emblazoned with a golden eagle. According to Arthurian legend the same shield was later found and used by Gawain after he defeated an evil knight.
  • Shield of Evalach, a white shield belonging to King Evalach. Josephus of Arimathea painted a red cross upon it with his own blood, which granted the owner heavenly protection. It was later won by Sir Galahad.

Shields from Græco-Roman mythology Edit

  • Aegis, Zeus' shield, often loaned to his daughter Athena, also used by Perseus. (Greek mythology)
  • Shield of Ajax, a huge shield made of seven cow-hides with a layer of bronze. (Greek mythology)
  • Ancile, the shield of the Roman god Mars. One divine shield fell from heaven during the reign of Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome. He ordered eleven copies made to confuse would-be thieves. (Roman mythology)
  • Shield of Achilles, the shield that Achilles uses in his fight with Hector. (Greek mythology) [2] [circular reference]
  • Shield of Aeneas, the shield that Aeneas receives from Vulcan to aid in his war against Turnus.

Shields from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Jaivardhan, the shield of Lords Vishnu and Shiva.
  • Khetaka, the shield of Shamba.
  • Srivatsa, the shield of Vishnu, said to be manifested in the god's chest.

Gauntlets Edit

Crowns Edit

  • Crown of Immortality, represented in art first as a laurel wreath and later as a symbolic circle of stars. It appears in a number of Baroque iconographic and allegoric works of art to indicate the wearer's immortality. (Christian mythology)
  • Conquest's crown, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rides on a White Horse is Conquest, and a crown was given to him. (Christian mythology)
  • Crown of twelve stars, the Woman of the Apocalypse is seen wearing a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Christian mythology)
  • Crown of thorns, which was placed on the head of Jesus during his crucifixion. (Christian mythology)
  • Iron Crown of Lombardy, said to be made from the nails used during the crucifixion of Christ. (Christian mythology)
  • Radiate crown (also Solar crown, Sun crown, Eastern crown or Tyrant's crown), a crown or other headgear symbolizing the sun or more generally powers associated with the sun.

Belts Edit

  • Megingjörð (Power-belt), a magic belt worn by the god Thor. (Norse mythology)
  • Peter Stumpp's magical belt, Peter claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into a werewolf. Removing the belt made him transform back to his human form. (German legend)

Girdles Edit

  • Aphrodite's Magic Girdle, a magic material that made others fall in love with the wearer. (Greek mythology)
  • Girdle of Hippolyta, a magical girdle that was a symbol of Hippolyta's power over the Amazons, and given to her by Ares. Heracles' 9th Labor was to retrieve it. (Greek mythology)
  • Tyet, the ancient Egyptian symbol of the goddess Isis. It seems to be called "the Knot of Isis" because it resembles a knot used to secure the garments that the Egyptian gods wore. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Girdle of Brynhildr, Siegfried takes her girdle which makes Brynhildr lose her supernatural strength. (Norse mythology)
  • Bridle of Constantine, said to be made from the nails used during the crucifixion of Christ.

Veils Edit

  • Veil of Isis, an artistic motif in which nature is personified as the goddess Isis covered by a veil, representing the inaccessibility of nature's secrets. Helena Blavatsky, in Isis Unveiled in 1877, used the metaphor for the spiritual truths that her Theosophical belief system hoped to discover, and modern ceremonial magic includes a ritual called the "Rending of the Veil" to bring the magician to a higher state of spiritual awareness. (Western esotericism)
  • Veil of Veronica, according to legend, was used to wipe the sweat from Jesus' brow as he carried the cross. (Christian mythology)

Caps and hats Edit

  • Cohuleen druith: a special hat worn by merrows which enables them to dive beneath the waves. If they lose this cap, it is said that they will lose their power to return beneath the water. (Scottish folklore)
  • Winged petasos (also Winged petasus): the winged traveler hat of the messenger god Hermes. The Roman equivalent is Mercury. (Greek mythology)
  • Cap of invisibility (also Cap of Hades): a cap that turns a person invisible (Greek mythology) [3] [circular reference]
  • Saci's cap: the red cap of the Saci which is the said source of all his magical abilities, like appearing and disappearing at will, inhuman speed (despite having just one leg) and the power to create and ride dust devils. Those who want to capture a Saci must throw a sieve over a Saci's dust devil to bind it and give a chance to remove his cap, rendering him powerless. Then he could be locked inside a bottle granting his total obedience however not his loyalty, since the creature would always try to trick his master into giving back his cap. (Brazilian mythology)

Garments Edit

  • Hagoromo (Feather Dress), a colored or feathered kimono of a tennin. Tennin are unable to fly without these kimono and thus will be unable to return to Heaven. (Japanese mythology)
  • Velificatio, a stylistic device used in ancient Roman art to frame a deity by means of a billowing garment. It represents "vigorous movement", an "epiphany", or "the vault of heaven", often appearing with celestial, weather, or sea deities. (Roman mythology)
  • Coat of many colors, the garment that Joseph owned, which was given to him by his father, Jacob. (Jewish mythology)
  • Penelope's burial shroud, which Odysseus's wife Penelope pretended to weave for her father-in-law and claimed that she would choose a suitor when the shroud is made as a trick to delay her suitors. (Greek mythology)
  • Devil's green coat, the devil gave the soldier the green coat he was wearing and tells him he would find its pockets always full of limitless money in Bearskin. (German fairy tale)

Footwear Edit

Boots Edit

  • Ǒusībùyúnlǚ (Cloud-stepping Boots or Cloud-stepping Shoes), made of lotus fiber, these are one of the treasures of the Dragon Kings Ào Ming gives them to Sun Wukong in order to get rid of him when he acquires the Ruyi Jingu Bang. (Chinese mythology)
  • Fast-walker Boots (Cапоги-скороходы), allows the person wearing them to walk and run at an amazing pace. (Russian folklore)
  • Seven-league boots, a pair of boots said to allow the wearer to make strides of seven leagues in length. (European folklore)

Sandals Edit

  • Sandals of Jesus Christ, these were among the most important relics of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. (Christian mythology)
  • Talaria, Hermes's winged sandals which allowed him to fly. (Greek mythology)

Shoes Edit

  • Helskór (Hel-shoes), were put on the dead so that they could go to Valhöll. (Norse mythology)
  • Shoes of Víðarr, which gave the god Vidar unparalleled foot protection. (Norse mythology)

Outerwear Edit

Coats Edit

  • Babr-e Bayan, the mythical coat worn by the Persian legendary hero Rostam in combat. (Persian mythology)
  • Pais Badarn Beisrydd, The Coat of Padarn Red-Coat: if a well-born man put it on, it would be the right size for him if a churl, it would not go upon him. One of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. (Welsh mythology)

Cloaks Edit

  • Falcon Cloak, a cloak owned by Freyja that allows the wielder to turn into a falcon. (Norse mythology)
  • Swan Cloak, a magic robe made of swan feathers belonging to a swan maiden.
  • Tarnkappe, Sigurd's magical cloak that made the wearer invisible. (Norse mythology)

Mantles Edit

  • Mantle of Arthur (also Llen Arthyr yng Nghernyw), whoever was under it could not be seen, and he could see everyone. One of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. This item is known from two other sources, the prose tales Culhwch and Olwen (c. 1100) and The Dream of Rhonabwy (early 13th century). A very similar mantle also appears in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, in which it is used by Caswallawn to assassinate the seven stewards left behind by Bran the Blessed and usurp the throne. (Welsh mythology)
  • Mantle of Elijah, the waters of which, touched by the Mantle (monastic vesture)mantle, divided, so as to permit both to pass over on dry ground across the Jordan River. (Abrahamic religion)
  • Mantle of Tegau Gold-Breast, Tegau Gold-Breast (Tegau Eurfron, wife of Caradoc) was a Welsh heroine. Her mantle would not serve for any woman who had violated her marriage or her virginity. It would reach to the ground when worn by a faithful woman but would only hang down to the lap of an unfaithful wife. (Welsh mythology)

Robes Edit

  • Robe of the Fire-rat, a legendary robe of China that is made of the fireproof fur of the fire-rat. One of Kaguya-hime's suitor set out to search for the robe. (Japanese mythology)
  • Seamless Robe of Jesus (also Holy Robe, Holy Tunic, Honorable Robe or Chiton of the Lord), the robe said to have been worn by Jesus during or shortly before his crucifixion. (Christian mythology)
  • Sun robe, the Woman of the Apocalypse is clothed with the sun. (Christian mythology)

Pants and shirts Edit

  • Nábrók (Death Underpants), a pair of pants made from the skin of a dead man, which are capable of producing an endless supply of money. (Icelandic folklore)
  • Shirt of Nessus, the poisoned shirt that killed Heracles. (Greek mythology)
  • Ragnar's enchanted shirt, when King Ælla threw Ragnar into the snake pit, it was claimed Ragnar was protected by an enchanted shirt that Aslaug had made. It was only when this shirt had been removed that the snakes could bite Ragnar and kill him. (Norse mythology)
  • Ankusha (also Elephant Goad), an elephant goad which is one of the eight auspicious objects known as Astamangala. Ankusha is also an attribute of many Hindu gods, including Ganesha. (Hindu mythology, Jainism, Buddhist mythology)
  • Ayudhapurusha, the anthropomorphic depiction of a divine weapon in Hindu art. Ayudhapurushas are sometimes considered as partial incarnates of their divine owners. (Hindu mythology)
  • Bajiaoshan or Bashōsen (Banana Palm Fan), a giant fan made from banana leaves which has magical properties, as it can create giant whirlwinds. It was used by either Princess Iron Fan or Ginkaku. (Chinese mythology)
  • Halayudha, a plough used as a weapon by Balarama. (Hindu mythology)
  • Imhullu, a wind weapon used by the Assyrian god Marduk to destroy Tiamat, described in the ancient epic of creation Enûma Eliš. (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Pasha, a supernatural weapon depicted in Hindu iconography. It is used to bind a foe's arms and legs or for hunting animals. (Hindu mythology)
  • Magic wand, found in the hands of powerful fairies. (Medieval legend)

Swords Edit

  • Chrysaor, the golden sword of Sir Artegal in The Faerie Queene. It was tempered with Adamant, and it could cleave through anything. (Renaissance fiction)
  • Mmaagha Kamalu, a sword that belongs to the Igbo god of war Kamalu. This sword glows red when people with evil intentions are close by and it can cause tremors when struck on the ground. It gifts mere mortals victory in battle. (Igbo mythology)
  • Thuận Thiên (Heaven's Will), the mythical sword of the Vietnamese King Lê Lợi, who liberated Vietnam from Ming occupation after ten years of fighting from 1418 until 1428. (Vietnamese mythology)
  • Kladenets (also Samosek or Samosyok), the "self-swinging sword" is a fabulous magic sword in some Old Russian fairy tales. In English translations of Russian byliny and folklore, it may be rendered variously as "sword of steel". (Russian mythology)
  • Jokulsnaut, a sword belonging to Grettir which was later given to his brother Atli. (Sagas of Icelanders)
  • Flaming Sword, a sword glowing with flame by some supernatural power.
  • Cura Si Manjakini, a sword mentioned in the legends of the Malay Annals as originally possessed by Sang Sapurba, the legendary ancestor of Malay kings. (Malay folklore)
  • Kalevanmiekka, Kaleva's sword. (Finnish mythology)
  • Sword of Laban, after nearly being killed by a powerful and nefarious Laban, the young prophet Nephi later finds him drunk and unconscious. He's then commanded of God to use Labans sword to kill him as he was wicked and would hurt future generations by withholding sacred records revealing God's Plan of Happiness. The sword was made of "precious steel" with a hilt of "pure gold". [4] After slaying Laban, Nephi put on Laban's armor to disguise himself to obtain the records, and escape the city. He would later use it as a model for manufacturing similar weapons for his people's defense. Laban's sword was passed down through the centuries to future prophets, kings, and warriors. (Book of Mormon)
  • Sword of Victory (also Phra Saeng Khan Chaiyasi), the sword's history has been shrouded in myth and legend. In 1784, Chao Phraya Apai Pubet of Cambodia received the blade from a fisher who found in it in Tonle Sap when it was caught in his fishing net. He gave it to King Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I) of Thailand, his suzerain at the time. According to legend, it was said that the moment the blade arrived in Bangkok, seven lightning strikes hit the city simultaneously, including the city gate, where the blade entered, and over the main gate of the Grand Palace. (Thai folklore)
  • War's great sword, the second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rides on a Red Horse is War, a great sword was given to him. (Christian mythology)

Swords from Celtic mythology Edit

  • Caladbolg (also Caladcholg), the sword of Fergus mac Róich and powerful enough to cut the tops off three hills related to the Caledfwlch of Welsh mythology.
  • Caledfwlch, often compared to Excalibur. This sword is used by Llenlleawg Wyddel to kill Diwrnach Wyddel and his men.
  • Ceard-nan Gallan, the Smith of the Branches, sword of Oisín.
  • Claíomh Solais (Sword of Light), the sword of Nuada Airgeadlámh. The sword glowed with the light of the sun and was irresistible in battle, having the power to cut his enemies in half.
  • Cosgarach Mhor, the Great Triumphant One, sword of Oscar.
  • Cruadh-Chosgarach, the Hard Destroying One, sword of Caílte mac Rónáin.
  • Dyrnwyn (White-Hilt), the Sword of Rhydderch Hael. When drawn by a worthy or well-born man, the entire blade would blaze with fire. Rhydderch was never reluctant to hand the weapon to anyone, hence his nickname Hael "the Generous", but the recipients, as soon as they had learned of its peculiar properties, always rejected the sword.
  • Fragarach (also Sword of Air, Answerer or Retaliator), forged by the gods, wielded by Manannán mac Lir and Lugh Lamfada. No armor could stop it, and it would grant its wielder command over the powers of wind.
  • Mac an Luin, the Son of the Waves, sword of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
  • Móralltach (also Morallta), a sword given to Diarmuid Ua Duibhne by his father Aengus, which left no stroke or blow unfinished at the first trial.
  • Beagalltach (also Begallta), a short sword given to Diarmuid Ua Duibhne by his father Aengus. It broke in two pieces after hitting a boar with it.
  • Singing Sword of Conaire Mór, a sword that would sing in battle.
  • Cruaidín Catutchenn, the sword of Cú Chulainn.
  • Orna, the sword of the Fomorian king Tethra, which recounts the deeds done with it when unsheathed. It was taken by Ogma and it then recounted everything it had done.

Swords from Continental Germanic mythology Edit

  • Mimung, a great sword that Wudga inherits from his father Wayland the Smith.
  • Nagelring, the sword of Dietrich von Bern.
  • Eckesachs (Seax of Ecke), the sword that belonged to the giant Ecke before he was killed by Dietrich von Bern, who then took it for himself.
  • Balmung or Nothung, the sword from Die Walküre, wielded by Siegfried the hero of the Nibelungenlied.
  • Blutgang (also Burtgang or Blodgang), the sword of Háma.
  • Adylok or Hatheloke, the sword of Torrent of Portyngale, according to The Romance Torrent of Portyngale. Forged by Wayland the Smith.

Swords from Anglo-Saxon mythology and folklore of the British Islands Edit

  • Brainbiter, the sword of Hereward the Wake.
  • Hrunting, the magical sword lent to Beowulf by Unferth which was annealed in venom.
  • Nægling, the other magical sword of Beowulf. Found in the cave of Grendel's mother. [5]
  • Sword of Saint Peter, St. Joseph of Arimathea brought the sword to Britain and it was kept at Glastonbury Abbey for many years until the Abbot gave it to Saint George. (English folklore)
  • Wallace Sword, William Wallace used human skin for his sword's scabbard, hilt, and belt. The flesh's donor was said to have been Hugh de Cressingham, treasurer of Scotland, whom Wallace had flayed after defeating him in the battle of Stirling Bridge. (Scottish folklore)

Swords from the Matter of Britain Edit

  • Clarent, a sword of peace meant for knighting and ceremonies as opposed to battle, which was stolen and then used to kill Arthur by Mordred.
  • Coreiseuse (Wrathful), the sword of King Ban, Lancelot's father.
  • Excalibur, it is also sometimes referred to as: Caliburn, Caledfwlch, Calesvol, Kaledvoulc'h, Caliburnus due to inconsistencies within the various Arthurian legends. Sometimes attributed with magical powers or associated with the rightful sovereignty of Great Britain. Stated that it was forged on the Isle of Avalon.
  • Galatine, the name of the sword given to Sir Gawain by the Lady of the Lake.
  • Grail Sword, a cracked holy sword which Sir Percival bonded back together, though the crack remained.
  • Secace, the sword that Lancelot used to battle the Saxons at Saxon Rock. It is translated as Seure (Sequence) in the Vulgate Cycle.
  • Sword in the Stone, a sword in the Arthurian legend which only the rightful king of Britain can pull from the stone sometimes associated with Excalibur. In Mallory, the sword in the stone is not Excalibur and is not named. When the sword is broken in a fight with King Pellinore, the Lady of the Lake gives him Excalibur as a replacement. At Arthur's death, Excalibur is returned to the Lady of the lake by Sir Bedivere.
  • Sword with the Red Hilt, one of the swords wielded by Sir Balin. After his death, Merlin sealed it in the float stone where it remained until it was drawn by Sir Galahad. After Galahad, the sword passes to his father, Sir Lancelot who fatally wounds Sir Gawain with it.
  • Courtain (also Curtana, Cortana, Sword of Mercy), it is linked to the legendary sword carried by Tristan and Ogier the Dane. Its end is blunt and squared, said to symbolize mercy. The story surrounding the breaking of the weapon is unknown, but mythological history indicates that the tip was broken off by an angel to prevent a wrongful killing.
  • Egeking, a sword in the medieval poem Greysteil. Sir Graham obtains the sword 'Egeking' from Eger's aunt, Sir Egram's Lady.

Swords from Norse mythology Edit

  • Angrvaðall (Stream of Anguish), a magical sword of Viking, and later Frithiof. It is inscribed with Runic letters which blaze in time of war but gleam with a dim light in time of peace.
  • Dáinsleif (Dáinn's legacy), king Högni's sword that gave wounds that never healed and could not be unsheathed without killing a man.
  • Sword of Freyr, the sword of the Norse god of summer Frey, it is a magic sword which fought on its own.
  • Gram, the sword that Odin struck into the world tree Barnstokkr which only Sigmund the Völsung was able to pull out. It broke in battle with Odin but was later reforged by Sigmund's son Sigurd who used it to slay the dragonFafnir. After being reforged, it could cleave an anvil in half.
  • Hǫfuð, the sword of Heimdallr, the guardian of Bifröst.
  • Hrotti, part of Fafnir's treasure, which Sigurd took after he slew the dragon.
  • Lævateinn, a sword mentioned in an emendation to the Poetic Edda Fjölsvinnsmál by Sophus Bugge. it was forged by the elf Völundr.
  • Legbiter, the sword of Magnus III of Norway.
  • Mistilteinn, the magical sword of Thráinn, the draugr, later owned by Hromundr Gripsson and it could never go blunt.
  • Quern-biter, sword of Haakon I of Norway and his follower, Thoralf Skolinson the Strong, said to be sharp enough to cut through quernstones.
  • Ridill (also Refil), sword of the dwarf Regin.
  • Skofnung, the legendary sword of Danish king Hrólf Kraki. It was renowned for supernatural sharpness and hardness, as well as for being imbued with the spirits of the king's twelve faithful berserker bodyguards. A cut made by Skofnung will not heal. The only way to stop this is by touching the cut with the Skofnung stone.
  • Tyrfing (also Tirfing or Tyrving), the cursed sword of Svafrlami with a golden hilt that would never miss a stroke, would never rust and would cut through stone and iron as easily as through clothes. The dwarves made the sword, and it shone and gleamed like fire. However, they cursed it so that it would kill a man every time it was used and that it would be the cause of three great evils.
  • Dragvandil, the sword of Egill Skallagrímsson.
  • Gambanteinn, a sword which appears in two poems in the Poetic Edda.

Swords from the Matter of France Edit

  • Almace (also Almice or Almacia), sword of Turpin, Archbishop of Reims.
  • Balisarda, the sword of Rogero from Orlando Furioso made by a sorceress, and capable of cutting through enchanted substances.
  • Corrougue, the sword of Otuel.
  • Durendal (also Durandal or Durlindana in Italian), the sword of Roland, one of Charlemagne's paladins, (Orlando in medieval Italian verse) — alleged to be the same sword as the one wielded by Hector of Ilium. It was said to be the sharpest sword in all of existence.
  • Froberge, the sword of Renaud de Montauban.
  • Hauteclere (also Halteclere or Hauteclaire), the sword of Olivier. It is described as being of burnished steel, with a crystal embedded in a golden hilt.
  • Joyeuse, sword of Charlemagne. Some legends claim Joyeuse was forged to contain the Lance of Longinus within its pommel others say the blade was smithed from the same materials as Roland's Durendal and Ogier's Curtana.
  • Murgleys (also Murgleis), sword of Ganelon, traitor and cousin of Roland. Its "gold pommel" held some kind of a "holy relic".
  • Précieuse, sword of Baligant, Emir of Babylon.
  • Sauvagine, second of the two magical swords of Ogier the Dane.
  • Merveilleuse, the hero's sword in Doon de Mayence. It was so sharp that when placed edge downwards it would cut through a slab of wood without the use of force.
  • Joan of Arc's sword, Joan's "voices" told her that a magical and holy sword would be found in the Church of Saint Catherine of Fierbois. It had five crosses upon it and that the rust was easily removed.

Swords from Spanish mythology Edit

  • Tizona (also Tizón), the sword of El Cid, it frightens unworthy opponents, as shown in the heroic poem Cantar de Mio Cid. [6]
  • Colada, the other sword of El Cid. [7]
  • Lobera (Wolf Slayer), the sword of the king Saint Ferdinand III of Castile, inheritance of the epic hero Fernán González, according to Don Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena. [8]

Swords from Greek mythology Edit

  • Harpe, an adamantine sword used by the hero Perseus to decapitate Medusa.
  • Sword of Peleus, a magic sword that makes its wielder victorious in the battle or the hunt.
  • Sword of Damocles, a huge sword hung above the throne where Damocles sat, it was held at the pommel only by a single hair of a horse's tail.
  • Sword of justice, in Themis right hand, she is seen to have a sword that faces downward. This sword represents punishment.

Swords from Roman mythology Edit

  • Crocea Mors, the sword of Julius Caesar and later Nennius according to the legends presented by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
  • Sword of Attila (also Sword of Mars or Sword of God), the legendary sword that was wielded by Attila the Hun claimed to have originally been the sword of Mars, the Roman god of war. [9]

Swords from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Aruval, the Tamils revere the weapon, a type of billhook, as a symbol of Karupannar. (Tamil mythology)
  • Asi, a legendary sword mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
  • Chandrahas, the divine sword Chandrahas was given to Ravana with a warning that if it was used for unjust causes, it would return to Shiva and Ravana's days would be numbered.
  • Girish, special sword of Shiva with unique characteristics.
  • Khanda (also Mahābhārata Sword), Khanda is represented as wisdom cutting through ignorance. In Hinduism, the Khanda is a symbol of Shiva. Khanda often appears in Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh scriptures and art.
  • Nandaka (also Nandaki), the sword of the Hindu god Vishnu.
  • Nistrimsha, the sword of Pradyumna, son of Krishna.
  • Pattayudha, the divine sword of Lord Veerabhadra, commander of Lord Shiva's armies.

Swords from Japanese mythology Edit

  • Kusanagi-no-tsurugi (also Ama-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi and Tsumugari no Tachi), sword of the Japanese god Susanoo, later given to his sister Amaterasu.
  • Totsuka-no-Tsurugi, the sword Susanoo used to slay Yamata no Orochi.
  • Ame-no-Ohabari (also Ama-no-Ohabari), used by Izanagi to kill his offspring, Kagu-tsuchi.
  • Futsu-no-mitama (August-Snap-Spirit), the sword of Takemikazuchi.
  • Juuchi Yosamu (10,000 Cold Nights), crafted by Muramasa – in a contest, Sengo Muramasa suspended the blade in a small creek with the cutting edge facing the current. Muramasa's sword cut everything that passed its way fish, leaves floating down the river, the very air which blew on it.
  • Yawarakai-Te (Tender Hands), crafted by Masamune – in a contest, Masamune Okazaki lowered his sword into the current and waited patiently. Only leaves were cut. However, the fish swam right up to it, and the air hissed as it gently blew by the blade. A monk who had been watching explained what he had seen the Masamune was by far the finer of the two swords, as it did not needlessly cut that which is innocent and undeserving.
  • Kogitsune-maru (Little Fox), Inari Ōkami and its fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade Kogitsune-maru at the end of the 10th century.
  • Kogarasu Maru (Little Crow), a unique tachi sword believed to have been created by the legendary smith Amakuni during the 8th century CE.

Swords from Chinese mythology Edit

  • Gan Jiang and Mo Ye, the legendary Chinese twin swords named after their creators.
  • Glory of Ten Powers, a legendary Chinese sword allegedly forged in Tibet by husband-and-wife magicians of the ancient Bön tradition.
  • Feijian, a sword borrowed from Lü Dongbin to Xuanwu in order to subdue the spirits of the tortoise and the snake.
  • Kunwu, a sword given to Huangdi by Jiutian Xuannü during his war against Chiyou. Able to slay gods, demons and repel evil magic.
  • Téngkōng, a sword that descended from heaven into the possession of Zhuānxū. Said to levitate and points towards the direction of war.
  • Huàyǐng, a branch that morphed into a sword in the hands of Zhuānxū, has the ability to command the elements and animals.

Swords from Buddhist mythology Edit

  • Chandrahrasa, legendary sword of Manjusri, according to Swayambhu Purana used to found Kathmandu Valley, forms the centerpiece of flag of Kathmandu.
  • Houken, a metaphorical Buddhist sword used to cut away earthly desires, it is wielded by Acala.
  • Khanda represents wisdom cutting through ignorance. Hindu and Buddhist deities are often shown welding or holding khanda sword in religious art. Notably, Buddhist guardian deities like Acala, Manjushri, Mahākāla and Palden Lhamo.

Swords from medieval legend Edit

  • Szczerbiec (Notched Sword or Jagged Sword), a legend links Szczerbiec with Bolesław I the Brave who was said to have chipped the sword by hitting it against the Golden Gate, Kiev (now in Ukraine) during his intervention in the Kievan succession crisis in 1018.
  • Grus, the historical sword of Bolesław III Wrymouth, medieval prince of Poland.
  • Morgelai, the king makes Beves a knight and presents him with a sword called Morgelai.
  • Guy of Warwick's Sword, belonged to the legendary Guy of Warwick who is said to have lived in the 10th century.

Swords from Middle Eastern mythology Edit

  • Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar (Persian: شمشیر زمردنگار), "The emerald-studded Sword" in the Persian mythical story Amir Arsalan. The hideous horned demon called Fulad-zereh was invulnerable to all weapons except the blows of Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar. This blade originally belonged to King Solomon. (Persian mythology)
  • Zulfiqar, a sword sent from the Heavens to the Prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel and he was ordered to give the sword to Ali ibn Abi Talib. (Islamic mythology)

Pole weapons Edit

Clubs and maces Edit

  • Heracles' club, a gnarled olive-wood club wielded by Heracles. (Greek Mythology)
  • Sharur, the enchanted mace of the Sumerian god Ninurta. It can fly unaided and also may communicate with its wielder. (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Tishtrya's mace, a mace wielded by Tishtrya that can create lightning and tornados. (Persian mythology)
  • Gorz-e gāvsār, an ox-headed mace described in various Iranian and Zoroastrian myths that is used as a symbol of victory and justice. [10] (Persian mythology)
  • Yagrush and Ayamur, two clubs created by Kothar and used by Baal to defeat Yam. (Phoenician mythology)
  • Indravarman III's metalwood bat, a legendary bat wielded by a Cambodian emperor. [11] (Buddhist mythology)
  • Lorg Mór, the magical club of Dagda which was supposed to be able to kill nine men with one blow, but can return the slain to life with the handle. (Irish mythology)

Clubs and staffs from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Kaumodaki, the mace of the Hindu god Vishnu, found in iconography of some of Vishnu's avatars.
  • Kaladanda, the staff of Death [12] is club used by God Yama or God of Naraka or Hell in Hindu mythology. Once fired, it could kill anyone, no matter what boons they had to protect themselves.
  • Gada, the main weapon of the Hindu god Hanuman, an avatar of Shiva.
  • Mace of Bhima, a club that was presented by Mayasura. It was a weapon of Danava King Vrishaparva.

Rods and staffs Edit

  • Caduceus (also Kerykeion), the staff carried by Hermes or Mercury. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings, and symbolic of commerce. (Greek mythology)
  • Merlin's staff, the staff of the legendary wizard of Camelot, advisor and mentor to king Arthur. (Arthurian legend)
  • Prospero's staff, staff belonging to the wizard Prospero in the Shakespearean play "The Tempest."
  • Gambanteinn, appears in two poems in the Poetic Edda. (Norse mythology)
  • Gríðarvölr, a magical staff given to Thor by Gríðr so he could kill the giant Geirröd. (Norse mythology)
  • Nehushtan, a staff of bronze made by Moses to erect so that the Israelites who saw it would be protected from dying from the bites of the "fiery serpents". (Jewish mythology)
  • Rod of Asclepius, a serpent-entwined rod wielded by Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. (Greek mythology)
  • Ruyi Jingu Bang, the staff of Sun Wukong, which could alter its size from a tiny needle to a mighty pillar. (Chinese mythology)
  • Thyrsus, a staff tipped with a pine cone and entwined with ivy leaves, carried by Dionysus and his followers. (Greek mythology)
  • Khaṭvāṅga, Shiva and Rudra carried the khatvāṅga as a staff weapon and are thus referred to as khatvāṅgīs. In Buddhist mythology, it is a particularly divine attribute of Padmasambhava and endemic to his iconographic representation and depicted as an accoutrement of his divine consorts, Mandarava and Yeshe Tsogyal. In the twilight language, it represents Yab-Yum. (Hindu mythology)
  • Aaron's rod, was endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt that preceded the Exodus. Was carried by Aaron. (Jewish mythology)
  • Staff of Moses, used by Moses to produce water from a rock, was transformed into a snake and back, and was used at the parting of the Red Sea. (Jewish mythology)
  • Ruyi (As Desired or As [You] Wish), a curved decorative object that serves as a ceremonial sceptre in Chinese Buddhism or a talisman symbolizing power and good fortune in Chinese folklore. (Chinese folklore)
  • Was (Power or Dominion), a scepter associated with the gods as well as with the pharaoh. In later use, it was a symbol of control over the force of chaos that Set represented. It appears as a stylized animal head at the top of a long, straight staff with a forked end. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Circe's staff, a staff with which the sorceress Circe could transform others into animals. (Greek mythology)

Scythes Edit

  • Cronus' scythe, Cronus castrated his father Uranus using an adamant sickle given to him by his mother Gaia. (Greek mythology)
  • Grim Reaper's scythe, a large scythe wielded by the Grim Reaper.
  • Scythe of Father Time, during the Renaissance, Father Time was depicted as wielding the harvesting scythe, and became the representative of the cruel and unrelenting flow of time which, in the end, cuts down all things.
  • Death's scythe, the fourth of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rides on a Pale Horse is Death, he is commonly depict carrying a scythe. (Christian mythology)

Spears Edit

  • Aram, the spear of Jangar. (Mongol mythology)
  • Ascalon, the spear (or sword) that St. George used to kill a dragon in Beirut and saving a princess from being sacrificed by the town. (Christian mythology)
  • Gungnir, Odin's spear created by the Sons of Ivaldi. The spear is described as being so well balanced that it could strike any target, no matter the skill or strength of the wielder. (Norse mythology)
  • Gunnar's Atgeir, Gunnar's atgeir would make a ringing sound or "sing" when it was taken down in anticipation of bloodshed. (Norse mythology)
  • Maltet, the name of the spear of Baligant from The Song of Roland. (French folklore)
  • Rhongomiant, the spear of King Arthur that he used to defeat the legendary Sir Thomas of Wolford. (Arthurian legend)
  • Spear of Achilles, created by Hephaestus and given to Peleus at his wedding with Thetis. (Greek mythology)
  • Spear of Longinus, see Lances: Bleeding Lance and Holy Lance (below).
  • Black Dragon Crescent Blade, the glaive of Nguyen Hue in Vietnam's history.
  • Golden Dragon Crescent Blade, the glaive of Tran Quang Dieu, given by Diep Dinh Tong in Vietnam's history.
  • Red Dragon Crescent Blade, the glaive of Le Si Hoang in Vietnam's history.

Spears from Celtic mythology Edit

  • Areadbhar (also Areadbhair), the spear of Lugh, which originally belonged to Pisear, king of Persia. Lugh had no need to wield the spear himself. It was alive and thirsted for blood that was only stayed by steeping its head in a sleeping-draught of pounded fresh poppy seeds. When battle was near, it was drawn out then it roared and struggled against its thongs, fire blazed from it, and it tore through the ranks of the enemy once slipped from the leash, never tired of slaying.
  • Crann Buidhe, the spear of Manannán.
  • Del Chliss, Cú Chulainn's spear that first belonged to Nechtan Scéne, and used to kill the sons of Nechtan Scéne. Formerly the name for the charioteer's goad, a split piece of wood.
  • Gáe Buide (Yellow Shaft), a yellow spear that can inflict wounds from which none could recover. The spear of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, given to him by Aengus.
  • Gáe Bulg, the spear of Cú Chulainn, made of the bone of a sea monster. According to the legend, this spear was crafted by the warrior maiden Scáthach and had the power to explode into dozens of barbs, producing instant death.
  • Gae Assail (Spear of Assal), another spear belonging to Lugh, the incantation "Ibar (Yew)" made the cast always hit its mark, and "Athibar (Re-Yew)" caused the spear to return.
  • Gáe Dearg (Red Javelin), the red spear of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, given to him by Aengus. It inflicted wounds that none could recover from similar to Gáe Buide.
  • Lúin of Celtchar, the name of a long, fiery lance or spear belonging to Celtchar mac Uthechar and wielded by other heroes, such as Dubthach, Mac Cécht and Fedlimid.

Spears from Japanese mythology Edit

  • Amenonuhoko (Heavenly Jewelled Spear), the naginata used by the Shinto deities Izanagi and Izanami to create the world – also called tonbogiri.
  • Ama-no-Saka-hoko (Heavenly Upside Down Spear) is an antique and mysterious spear, staked by Ninigi-no-Mikoto at the summit of Takachiho-no-mine, where he and his divine followers first landed, according to the legend of Tenson kōrin.
  • Nihongo, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Masazane Fujiwara. A famous spear that was once used in the Imperial Palace. Nihongo later found its way into the possession of Masanori Fukushima, and then Tahei Mori.
  • Otegine, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Masazane Fujiwara.
  • Tonbokiri, is one of three legendary Japanese spears created by the famed swordsmith Fujiwara no Masazane, said to be wielded by the legendary daimyō Honda Tadakatsu. The spear derives its name from the myth that a dragonfly landed on its blade and was instantly cut in two. Thus Tonbo (Japanese for "dragonfly") and kiri (Japanese for "cutting"), translating this spear's name as "Dragonfly Slaying spear".

Spears from Chinese mythology Edit

  • Erlang Shen's spear, a three-pointed and double-edged spear with two cutting edges of a Saber used by Erlang Shen. It is powerful enough to penetrate and cleave through steel and stone like wool.
  • Green Dragon Crescent Blade, a legendary weapon wielded by Guan Yu in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is a guandao, a type of traditional Chinese weapon. It is also sometimes referred to as the Frost Fair Blade, from the idea that during a battle in the snow, the blade continuously had blood on it the blood froze and made a layer of frost on the blade.
  • Jiuchidingpa (Nine-tooth Iron Rake), the primary weapon of Zhu Bajie.
  • Octane Serpent Spear, Zhang Fei's spear from the Three Kingdoms period in China.
  • Spear of Fuchai, the spear used by Goujian's arch-rival King Fuchai of Wu.
  • Yueyachan (Crescent-Moon-Shovel), a Monk's spade that is the primary weapon of Sha Wujing. A double-headed staff with a crescent-moon blade at one end and a spade at the other, with six xīzhàng rings in the shovel part to denote its religious association.
  • Han Feizi's spear, a man was trying to sell a spear and a shield. When asked how good his spear was, he said that his spear could pierce any shield. Then, when asked how good his shield was, he said that it could defend from all spear attacks. Then one person asked him what would happen if he were to take his spear to strike his shield the seller could not answer. This led to the idiom of "zìxīang máodùn" (自相矛盾, "from each-other spear shield"), or "self-contradictory".

Bidents Edit

  • Bident, a two-pronged implement resembling a pitchfork. In classical mythology, the bident is associated with Pluto/Hades, the ruler of the underworld. (Greek mythology)
  • Devil's pitchfork, a bident or two-pronged pitchfork belonging to the devil. (Christian mythology)

Javelins Edit

Lances Edit

  • Bleeding Lance, a sacred object, imbued with magic, in Grail ceremonies. Drops of blood issue from its point. When the Grail is Christianized, this weapon transforms into the Holy Lance, the spear that pierced the side of Jesus by the hand of a Roman soldier named Longinus. The blood is that of the lamb and drips eternally into the Grail. From the Vulgate Cycle on the Lance is also the weapon that inflicted the Grail-keeper's wound even though it is often attributed with healing powers. (Arthurian legend)
  • Bradamante's lance, a magical lance that unhorses anyone it touches. (Matter of France)
  • Lance of Olyndicus, wielded by the Celtiberians' war chief Olyndicus, who fought against Rome. According to Florus, he wielded a silver lance that was sent to him by the gods from the sky. [13] (Spanish mythology)
  • Holy Lance (also Spear of Longinus or Spear of Destiny), is the name given to the lance that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross, according to the Gospel of John. (Christian mythology)

Tridents Edit

  • Kongō, A trident-shaped staff which emits a bright light in the darkness, and grants wisdom and insight. The staff belonged originally to the Japanese mountain god Kōya-no-Myōjin. It is the equivalent of the Sanskrit Vajra, the indestructible lightning-diamond pounder of the king of the gods/rain-god Indra. There the staff represents the three flames of the sacrificial fire, part of the image of the vajra wheel. (Japanese mythology)
  • Trident of Poseidon, associated with Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology and the Roman god Neptune. When struck the earth in anger, it caused mighty earthquakes and his trident could stir up tidal waves, tsunamis, and sea storms. (Greek mythology)
  • Trident of Madhu, Madhu handed everything over to his son Lavanasura including his trident before drowning himself in the ocean because of shame. (Hindu mythology)
  • Trishula, the trident of Shiva, stylized by some as used as a missile weapon and often included a crossed stabilizer to facilitate flight when thrown. Considered to be the most powerful weapon. (Hindu mythology)

Bow and arrows Edit

Bows Edit

  • Arash's bow, Arash used the bow to determine the border between Persia and Tooran, it is said that the arrow was traveling for three days, and Arash sacrificed himself while firing the bow by putting his life force in the arrow. (Persian mythology)
  • Fail-not, the bow of Tristan. It was said to never miss its mark. (Arthurian legend)
  • Houyi's bow, the God of Archery used his bow to shoot down nine out of ten sun-birds from the sky. (Chinese mythology)
  • Conquest's bow, the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rides on a White Horse is Conquest, and he who sat on it had a bow. (Christian mythology)

Bows from Classical Greek and Roman mythology Edit

  • Apollo's bow, a bow that was crafted of sun rays.
  • Artemis's bow, a golden bow wielded by Artemis that was crafted of moonlight and silver wood or made of gold.
  • Eros's bow, a bow wielded by Eros that could cause one to love or hate the person they first saw after being struck.
  • Heracles's bow, which also belonged to Philoctetes, its arrows had been dipped in the blood of the Lernaean Hydra, which made them instantly lethal.
  • Eurytus' bow, Eurytus became so proud of his archery skills that he challenged Apollo. The god killed Eurytus for his presumption, and Eurytus' bow was passed to Iphitus, who later gave the bow to his friend Odysseus. It was this bow that Odysseus used to kill the suitors who had wanted to take his wife, Penelope.

Bows from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Pinaka (also Shivadhanush), a bow wielded by Shiva that fired arrows that could not be intercepted.
  • Vijaya (also Vijaya Dhanush), a bow wielded by Parashurama.
  • Gandiva, a bow created by Brahma and used by Arjuna during the Kurukshetra war.
  • Kodandam, Rama's bow.
  • Shiva Dhanush (Shiva's bow), a bow given by Shiva to Janaka and broken by Rama during Sita's swayamvara.
  • Sharanga, the bow of the Hindu God Vishnu.
  • Kaundinya's bow, a magic bow wielded by the Brahman Kaundinya, who used it to make the Naga princess Mera fall in love with him. [14]
  • Sharanga, the bow of Krishna.
  • Indra's bow, the rainbow is depicted as an archer's bow. Indra, the god of thunder and war, uses the rainbow to shoot arrows of lightning.

Arrows Edit

  • Apollo's arrow, an arrow that was crafted of sun rays. It could cause health or cause famine and death in sleep. (Greek mythology)
  • Artemis's arrow, an arrow that was crafted of moonlight and silver wood or made of gold. It could be used to bring sudden death and disease to girls and women. (Greek mythology)
  • Arrow of Brahma, the demi-god Rama faced the demon king of Sri-Lanka, Ravana. Rama fired the arrow of Brahma that had been imparted to him by Agastya. The arrow of Brahma burst Ravana's navel, and returned to Rama's quiver. (Hindu mythology)
  • Teen Baan, Shiva gave Barbarika three infallible arrows (Teen Baan). A single arrow was enough to destroy all opponents in any war, and it would then return to Barbarika's quiver. (Hindu mythology)
  • Elf-arrow (also Pixie Arrow), were arrowheads of flint used in hunting and war by the aborigines of the British Isles and of Europe in general. Elf-Arrows derived their name from the folklore belief that the arrows fell from the sky, and were used by elves to kill cattle and inflict Elfshot on human beings. Elf-Arrows were sometimes worn as amulets, occasionally set in silver, as a charm against witchcraft. (English folklore)
  • Heracles' arrows, arrows wielded by Heracles that were coated in poisonous Hydra blood. (Greek mythology)
  • Gusisnautar, magic arrows given to Örvar-Oddr by his father. (Norse mythology)
  • Sagitta (Arrow), regarded as the weapon that Hercules used to kill the eagle Aquila that perpetually gnawed Prometheus' liver. (Greek mythology)

Whips Edit

  • Chentu, a horse whip which looks like a crooked stick, and is a typical attribute of Aiyanar, Krishna in his aspect as Rajagopala, and Shiva with Nandi. (Hindu mythology)
  • Ogmios's whip, the sun-god is depicted holding a whip. (Celtic mythology)

Daggers Edit

  • Carnwennan (Little White-Hilt), the dagger of King Arthur. It is sometimes attributed with the power to shroud its user in shadow, and was used by Arthur to slice the Very Black Witch in half. (Arthurian legend)
  • Dagger of Rostam, a glittering dagger that Rostam used to behead the white daeva Div-e Sepid. (Persian mythology)
  • Knife of Llawfrodedd the Horseman, Llawfrodedd Farchog (from marchog "the Horseman"), or Barfawc "the Bearded" in other manuscripts, is said to have owned a knife which would serve for a company of 24 men at the dinner table. (Welsh mythology)
  • Parazonium, a dagger frequently carried by Virtus, Mars, Roma, or the Emperor, giving them the aura of courage. (Roman mythology)

Daggers from Indonesia and Malay folklore Edit

  • Kris Mpu Gandring, Ken Arok's cursed dagger. The unfinished or incomplete kris would kill seven men, including Ken Arok.
  • Kris Taming Sari (Flower Shield or Beautiful Shield), one of the most well-known kris in Malay literature, said to be so skilfully crafted that anyone wielding it was unbeatable.
  • Kris Setan Kober, belong to Arya Penangsang, the mighty viceroy (adipati) of Jipang who was killed by his own kris called Setan Kober ("devil of the grave"). Forged by Empu Bayu Aji in the kingdom of Pajajaran, and had 13 luk on its blade.

Axes Edit

  • Axe of Perun, the axe wielded by the Slavic god of thunder and lightning, Perun. (Slavic paganism)
  • Forseti's axe (also Fosite's axe), a golden battle axe that Forseti (or Fosite in the Frisian mythology) used to save the old sages of the wreck and then threw the axe to an island to bring forth a source of water. (Norse mythology)
  • Hephaestus's Labrys, a double-headed axe used by Hephaestus to slice open Zeus's head and free Athena, whose pregnant mother Zeus swallowed to prevent her offspring from dethroning him. (Greek mythology)
  • Lightning axe, an axe that is wielded by the Maya rain deity Chaac and used to produce thunder and rain. (Maya mythology)
  • Parashu, the battle-axe of Shiva who gave it to Parashurama. (Hindu mythology)
  • Pangu's axe, an axe wielded by Pangu. He used it to separate yin from yang, creating the Earth (murky yin) and the Sky (clear yang). (Chinese mythology)
  • Paul Bunyan's axe, an axe wielded by Paul Bunyan. It was responsible for carving the Grand Canyon after Paul once dragged it behind him while walking. (American folklore)
  • Gobán Saor's axe, it could hold back the tide when it was thrown onto the seashore. (Irish mythology)
  • Shango's axe, an axe wielded by Shango that can produce thunder. (Yoruba mythology)
  • Zeus's Labrys, at Labraunda there were depictions of Zeus who was called Zeus Labrandeus (Ζεὺς Λαβρανδεύς) with a tall lotus-tipped sceptre upright in his left hand and the double-headed axe over his right shoulder. (Greek mythology)
  • Golden axe, a woodcutter accidentally dropped his axe into a river and sat down to weep. Hermes dived into the water and returned with a golden axe. Hermes asked if this is his axe, but the woodcutter said it was not. (Greek folklore)
  • Silver axe, the woodcutter returned the same answer when a silver axe was brought to the surface by Hermes. Only when his own axe is found does he claim it. Impressed by his honesty, Hermes allows him to keep all three axes. (Greek folklore)

Hammers Edit

  • Mjölnir, a magical hammer wielded by Thor. It was invulnerable and when thrown would return to the user's hand. (Norse mythology)
  • Ukonvasara (also Ukonkirves), the weapon of the Finnish thunder god Ukko. (Finnish mythology)
  • Uchide no kozuchi, a legendary Japanese "magic hammer" which can "tap out" anything wished for, and is wielded by Daikoku-ten in popular belief. (Japanese folklore)
  • Hammer of Hephaestus, the hammer of the Greek god Hephaestus, which he used to make the Greek gods' weapons. (Greek mythology)

Projectile weapons Edit

  • Sling-stone (also Cloich Tabaill), was used by Lugh to slay his grandfather, Balor the Strong-Smiter in the Cath Maige Tuired according to the brief accounts in the Lebor Gabála Érenn. (Irish mythology)
  • Thunderbolt, lightning plays a role in many mythologies, often as the weapon of a sky god and weather god. Thunderbolts as divine weapons can be found in many mythologies. In Greek mythology, the thunderbolt is a weapon given to Zeus by the Cyclops, or by Hephaestus in Greek mythology. Zibelthiurdos of Paleo-Balkan mythology is a god recognized as similar to Zeus as a wielder of lightning and thunderbolts. In Igbo mythology, the thunderbolt is the weapon of Amadioha and in Yoruba mythology, the thunderbolt is the weapon of Shango.
  • Xiuhcoatl, a lightning-like weapon wielded by Huitzilopochtli. (Aztec religion)
  • Holly Dart or Mistletoe, a weapon that Loki used to kill Baldr, variously depicted as a holly dart, mistletoe, arrow, or spear. (Norse mythology)
  • Tathlum, the missile fired by Lugh from the Sling-stone. (Irish mythology)
  • Magic Bullet, an enchanted bullet obtained through a contract with the devil in the German folk legend Freischütz. A marksman has obtained a certain number of bullets destined to hit without fail whatever object he wishes. Six of the magic bullets are thus subservient to the marksman's will, but the seventh is at the absolute disposal of the devil himself. (German folklore)
  • Silver bullet, a bullet cast from silver that is often the only weapon effective against a werewolf, witch, or other monsters.
  • Kenkonken, a chakram of great power wielded by Nezha. (Chinese mythology)

Projectile weapons from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Astra, a supernatural weapon, presided over by a specific deity. To summon or use an astra required knowledge of a specific incantation/invocation, when armed.
  • Brahmastra, described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon. It was said that when the Brahmastra was discharged, there was neither a counterattack nor a defense that could stop it.
  • Narayanastra, the personal missile of Vishnu in his Narayana or Naraina form.
  • Pashupatastra, an irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of Shiva and Kali, discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow.
  • Varunastra, a water weapon (a storm) according to the Indian scriptures, incepted by Varuna. In stories it is said to assume any weapon's shape, just like water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as being used to counter the Agneyastra.
  • Agneyastra, the god of fire Agni possess a weapon that would discharge and emit flames inextinguishable through normal means.
  • Sudarshana Chakra, a legendary spinning disc like weapon used by the Hindu God Vishnu.
  • Vajra, the weapon of the Vedic rain and thunder-deity Indra, and is used symbolically by the dharmic traditions to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power. (Hindu mythology/Buddhist mythology/Jain mythology)
  • Brahmanda Astra, it is said in the epic Mahabharata that the weapon manifests with the all five heads of Lord Brahma as its tip. Brahma earlier lost his fifth head when he fought with Lord Shiva. This weapon is said to possess the power to destroy entire solar system or Brahmand, the 14 realms according to Hindu cosmology.
  • Brahmashirsha Astra, It is thought that the Brahmashirsha Astra is the evolution of the Brahmastra, and 4 times stronger than Brahmastra. The weapon manifests with the four heads of Lord Brahma as its tip. When it strikes an area it will cause complete destruction and nothing will grow, not even a blade of grass, for the next 12 years. It will not rain for 12 years in that area, and everything including metal and earth become poisoned.
  • Vasavi Shakti, the magical dart of Indra. Used by Karna against Ghatotkacha in the Mahabharata war.
  • Hookman's hook, a killer with a pirate-like hook for a hand who attacks couples in parked cars. (American legend)
  • Māui's Fishhook, used to catch the fish that would become New Zealand's North Island the hook was also used to create the Hawaiian Islands. (Polynesian mythology)

Necklaces Edit

  • Brísingamen, the necklace of the goddess Freyja. (Norse mythology)
  • Necklace of Harmonia, allowed any woman wearing it to remain eternally young and beautiful, but also brought great misfortune to all of its wearers or owners. It was made by Hephaestus and given to Harmonia, the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, as a curse on the House of Thebes for Aphrodite's infidelity. (Greek mythology)
  • Necklace of the Lady of the Lake, a jeweled necklace given to Sir Pelleas after assisting an old woman across a river. It was enchanted so that its wearer would be unfathomably loved. (Arthurian legend)
  • Yasakani no Magatama, a bejeweled necklace of magatamas offered to Amaterasu. One of three Sacred Imperial Relics of Japan. It represents benevolence. (Japanese mythology)
  • Mikuratana-no-kami, a necklace of beads. Izanagi gave Amaterasu as a representation of her rule over Takama-ga-hara. (Japanese mythology)

Amulets and Charms Edit

  • Agimat, a Filipino word for "amulet" or "charm".
  • Ankh, an amulet which appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art, often at the fingertips of a god or goddess. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Phylactery, an amulet or charm, worn for its supposed magical power.
  • Rabbit's foot, the foot of a rabbit is carried as an amulet believed to bring good luck. (American folklore/Canadian folklore)
  • Vedic amulet, in Vedic literature, fig trees often represent talismans with the udumbara fig tree having been deemed the "lord of amulets". (Hindu mythology/Buddhist mythology)
  • Wolfssegen (also Wolfsegen and Wolf-Segen), an apotropaic charm against wolves. (European folklore)

Rings Edit

  • Andvaranaut, a magical ring capable of producing gold, first owned by Andvari. (Norse mythology)
  • Ring of Dispel, a ring given to Sir Lancelot by the Lady of the Lake which could dispel any enchantment. In Le Chevalier de la Charrette it is given to him by a fairy instead. He used the ring to cross the Sword Bridge. (Arthurian legend)
  • Ring of Mudarra, the ring that Gonzalo Gustioz breaks in two pieces to so he can later on recognize the son with which his lover is pregnant. When that son, Mudarra, joins the two halves, it again becomes a complete ring and Gonzalo Gustioz is healed of his blindness in the epic poem Cantar de los Siete Infantes de Lara. [15] (Spanish mythology)
  • Ring of Gyges, a mythical magical artifact that granted its owner the power of invisibility. (Greek mythology)
  • Seal of Solomon, a magical brass or steel ring that could imprison demons. (Jewish mythology/Christian mythology)
  • Svíagris, Adils' prized ring in the Hrólfr Kraki's saga. (Norse mythology)
  • Stone and Ring of Eluned the Fortunate, a cloak of invisibility owned by Merlin. (Welsh mythology)
  • Angelica's ring, a ring possessed by Angelica, princess of Cathay in the legends of Charlemagne. It rendered its wearer immune to all enchantments, and renders the user invisible when placed in their mouth. (Mythology in France)
  • Nibelungen ring, Alberich steals the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens, having learned that he who is willing to renounce love will thereby gain the ability to forge a ring of power from the gold. Alberich forges the ring and makes himself lord over all the Nibelungen. (German mythology)
  • Aladdin's ring, a magic ring the sorcerer from the Maghreb has lent him. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring and a genie appears. (Arabic mythology)
  • Wish ring, three princesses gave Halvor a ring to wish himself to his parents and back to Soria Moria Castle. (Scandinavian folklore)

Arm rings Edit

  • Draupnir, a golden arm ring possessed by Odin that is a source of endless wealth. (Norse mythology)
  • Keyur, a golden jewellery, worn by Krishna on his arm over the biceps. (Hindu mythology)

Earrings Edit

  • Karna Kundala, the ear-rings of Karna(was present at his birth). (Hindu mythology)
  • Makarakundala, makara shaped ear-rings are sometimes worn by the Hindu gods, for example Shiva, the Destroyer, or the Preserver-god Vishnu, the Sun god Surya, and the Mother Goddess Chandi. (Hindu mythology)
  • Shiva Kundala, the Hindu God Shiva wears two earrings or Kundalas. Traditional images of Shiva depict the two earrings named – Alakshya and Niranjan. (Hindu mythology)

Gemstones Edit

  • Lyngurium (also Ligurium), the name of a mythical gemstone believed to be formed of the solidified urine of the lynx. (Medieval legend)
  • Batrachite, gemstones that were supposedly found in frogs, to which ancient physicians and naturalists attributed the virtue of resisting poison. (Medieval legend)
  • Draconite, a mythical gemstone taken from the head of a dragon and believed to have magical properties.
  • Tide jewels, the kanju (干珠?, lit. "(tide-)ebbing jewel") and manju (満珠?, lit. "(tide-)flowing jewel") were magical gems that the Sea God used to control the tides. (Japanese mythology)
  • Mermaid tears, Neptune forbade the mermaids to use their abilities to change the course of nature. In a horrible storm, one mermaid weathered the crossings for a ship. She had, over time, grown to fall in love with the ship's captain from afar. When she calmed the wind and waves to save the man's life, Neptune angrily exiled her to the depths of the ocean, and ordered her to never to swim to the surface again. Still, today, her brightly gleaming tears wash up on the shore as sea glass as a reminder of true love. (Medieval legend)
  • Five-colored Jewel from a Dragon's Neck, a jewel that shines five colors found in a dragon's neck. One of Kaguya-hime's suitor set out to search for the jewel. (Japanese mythology)
  • Hope Diamond, the diamond has been surrounded by a mythology of a reputed curse to the effect that it brings misfortune and tragedy to persons who own it or wear it, but there are strong indications that such stories were fabricated to enhance the stone's mystery and appeal, since increased publicity usually raised the gem's value and newsworthiness. Unsubstantiated legends claim that the original form of the Hope Diamond was stolen from an eye of a sculpted statue of the goddess Sita, the wife of Rama, the seventh Avatar of Vishnu.
  • Flaming pearl (also Wish-granting pearl), oriental dragons are shown with a flaming pearl under their chin or in their claws. The pearl is associated with spiritual energy, wisdom, prosperity, power, immortality, thunder, or the moon. (Chinese mythology)
  • Gem of Kukulkan, the Mayan god brought fire, earth, air, and water to the world. Though Kukulkan only has the wind gem, and with it can control the air. (Maya mythology)

Gemstones from Hindu/Buddhist mythology Edit

  • Cintamani (also Chintamani Stone), a wish-fulfilling jewel within both Hindu and Buddhist traditions, equivalent to the philosopher's stone in Western alchemy. (Hindu mythology/Buddhist mythology)
  • Kaustubha is a divine jewel or "Mani", which is in the possession of Lord Vishnu. (Hindu mythology)
  • Navaratna are the sacred nine "royal gems". (Hindu mythology)
  • Syamantaka (also Syamantakamani and Shyamantaka Jewel), the most famous jewel that is supposed to be blessed with magical powers. (Hindu mythology)
  • Baetylus, a sacred stone endowed with life. (Greek mythology)
  • Bezoar, a stone believed to provide an antidote against any poison.
  • Philosopher's stone, said to perform alchemy without an equal sacrifice being made, such as turning lead to gold, and creating something out of nothing. (Medieval legend)
  • Sesshō-seki (also Killing Stone), a stone that kills anyone who comes into contact with it. (Japanese mythology)
  • Stone of Giramphiel, a stone described in Diu Crône. Sir Gawain wins from the knight Fimbeus and it offers him protection against the fiery breath of dragons and the magic of the sorcerer Laamorz. (Arthurian legend)
  • Singasteinn (Old Norse singing stone or chanting stone), an object that appears in the account of Loki and Heimdallr's fight in the form of seals. (Norse mythology)
  • Llech Ronw (also Slate of Gron), a holed stone located along Afon Bryn Saeth in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. The stone is described as being roughly forty inches by thirty inches with a hole of about an inch in diameter going through it. (Welsh mythology)
  • Adder stone, believed to have magical powers such as protection against eye diseases or evil charms, preventing nightmares, curing whooping cough, the ability to see through fairy or witch disguises and traps if looked at through the middle of the stone, and recovery from snakebite. (Welsh mythology)
  • Toadstone (also Bufonite), a mythical stone thought to be produced by a toad that provides an antidote to poison. (Medieval legend)
  • Stone of Scone (also Stone of Destiny), an oblong block of red sandstone. (Matter of Britain)
  • Sledovik, asacred stone venerated in Slavic and Uralic pagan practices. (Slavic paganism)
  • Lia Fáil (also Stone of Destiny), a stone at the Inauguration Mound on the Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland. In legend, all of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the stone up to Muirchertach mac Ercae c. AD 500. (Irish mythology)
  • Thunderstone, throughout Europe, Asia, and Polynesia – flint arrowheads and axes turned up by farmer's plows are considered to have fallen from the sky. They were often thought to be thunderbolts and are called "thunderstones".
  • Gjöll, the rock to which Fenrir the wolf is bound. (Norse mythology)
  • Vaidurya, a precious stone worn by the goddesses Lakshmi and Rigveda. (Hindu Mythology)
  • Seer stone, some early-nineteenth-century Americans used seer stones in attempts to gain revelations from God or to find buried treasure. From about 1819, Joseph Smith regularly practiced scrying, a form of divination in which a "seer" looked into a seer stone to receive supernatural knowledge.
  • Urim and Thummim, a set of seer stones bound in a breastplate, or by silver bows into a set of spectacles.
  • Lapis manalis (Stone of the Manes), was either of two sacred stones used in the Roman religion. One covered a gate to Pluto, abode of the dead Festus called it ostium Orci, "the gate of Orcus". The other was used to make rain this one may have no direct relationship with the Manes, but is instead derived from the verb manare, "to flow". The two stones had the same name. However, the grammarian Festus held the cover to the gate of the underworld and the rainmaking stone to be two distinct stones. (Roman mythology)
  • Charmstone (charm-stone and charm stone), a stone or mineral artifact associated with various traditional culture, including those of Scotland and the native cultures of California and the American southwest.
  • Snakestones (also Serpentstones), fossilized ammonites were thought to be petrified coiled snakes, and were called snakestones. They were considered to be evidence for the actions of saints, such as Hilda of Whitby, a myth referenced in Sir Walter Scott's Marmion, and Saint Patrick, and were held to have healing or oracular powers. (Medieval legend)
  • Benben, the mound that arose from the primordial waters Nu, and on which the creator god Atum settled. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Omphalos, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the "navel" of the world. Omphalos stones marking the center were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea the most famous of those was at Delphi. Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. (Greek mythology)
  • Uluru (also Ayers Rock), the first tells of serpent beings who waged many wars around Uluru, scarring the rock. The second tells of two tribes of ancestral spirits who were invited to a feast, but were distracted by the beautiful Sleepy Lizard Women and did not show up. In response, the angry hosts sang evil into a mud sculpture that came to life as the dingo. There followed a great battle, which ended in the deaths of the leaders of both tribes. The earth itself rose up in grief at the bloodshed, becoming Uluru. (Australian Aboriginal mythology)
  • Skofnung stone, a stone that can heal wounds made by the sword Skofnung. (Norse mythology)
  • Colored Stones of Nüwa, five colored stones crafted by the goddess Nüwa that each represent one of the five Chinese elements, fire, water, earth, metal, and wood. (Chinese Mythology)
  • Madstone, a special medicinal substance that, when pressed into an animal bite, was believed to prevent rabies by drawing the "poison" out. (American folklore)
  • Alatyr, a sacred stone, the "father to all stones", the navel of the earth, containing sacred letters and endowed with healing properties. (Slavic folklore)
  • La Carreta Nagua (The Wagon), a haunted cart that is driven by Death and pulled by two skeletal oxen. It could supposedly be heard at night because of the sound of chains it made being dragged along the streets. (Nicaraguan culture)

Airborne Edit

  • Atet (also Sun Barge of Ra), the legendary boat that the Egyptian Solar deity Ra used to cross the sky during the day, and which bore his body through the Twelve Kingdoms of Knight. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Flying mortar and pestle of Baba Yaga, she flies around in a mortar and using the pestle as a rudder. (Slavic Mythology)
  • Magic carpet (also Flying carpet), a legendary carpet that can be used to transport humans who are on it instantaneously or quickly to their destination. (Arabian mythology)
  • Flying Throne of Kai Kavus, an eagle-propelled craft built by the Persian king Kay Kāvus. It was used for flying the king all the way to China. (Persian mythology)
  • Roth Rámach (lit. Rowing Wheel), the magical flying machine of Mug Ruith, a mythological Irish Druid who along with his feathered headdress (the encennach), hovers across the skies [2]. (Irish Mythology)
  • Chasse-galerie (also Bewitched Canoe or Flying Canoe), Baptiste had a canoe with paddles, he made a pact with the devil so his canoe would fly wherever Baptiste wished. However, those within the canoe could not say the name of God, fly over a church, touch any crosses, or the canoe would crash. Baptiste uttered the magic words: "Acabris! Acabras! Acabram" to make the canoe fly. (Canadian folklore)
  • Santa's sleigh, Santa Claus on a reindeer sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and help him deliver presents to children. (Modern folklore)
  • Witch's broom, European witches are usually depicted flying on broomsticks, known as a besom. (Medieval legend)
  • Lagâri Hasan Çelebi's rocket, Lagari Hasan Çelebi made a successful manned rocket flight, launched in a 7-winged rocket using 50 okka (140 lbs) of gunpowder from Sarayburnu, the point below Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. (Ottoman legend)
  • Nezha's wind and fire wheels, the Immortal Taiyi gave Nezha a wind-wheel and a fire-wheel. These were stood on whilst chanting incantations, to serve as a magic vehicle in the mythological story Fengshen Yanyi. (Chinese mythology)

Vimana from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Pushpa Vimana (An Aeroplane with flowers), a mythical Aeroplane found in Ayyavazhi mythology. In Maharashtra, it is the Pushpak Viman (a heavenly aircraft shaped as an eagle) which took Saint Tukaram (a devotee of Vishnu) to heaven.
  • Pushpaka Vimana or Dandu Monara – Pushpaka was originally made by Vishwakarma for Brahma, the Hindu god of creation later Brahma gave it to Kubera, the God of wealth but it was later stolen, along with Lanka, by his half-brother, king Ravana.

Chariots Edit

  • Chariot of Morgan Mwynfawr, a chariot belonging to Morgan Mwynfawr which would quickly reach whatever destination one might wish to go to. (Welsh mythology)
  • Flidais's chariot, a chariot drawn by deer. (Irish mythology)
  • Hebo's chariot, a chariot pulled by two dragons. (Chinese mythology)
  • Ukko's chariot, cause thunderstorms when Ukko drove his chariot through the skies. (Finnish mythology)

Chariots from Abrahamic Mythology Edit

  • Merkabah (chariot), Ezekiel's vision of the four-wheeled chariot driven by four hayyot, each of which has four wings and the four faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle.
  • Chariot of fire, the chariot that carried the prophet Elijah to heaven.

Chariots from Classical Greek and Roman mythology Edit

  • Aphrodite's chariot, Hephaestus presented Aphrodite with a golden chariot as bridal gift.
  • Apollo's chariot, was pulled by swans.
  • Ares' chariots, Ares received his chariots from the forge of Hephaestus.
  • Artemis's chariot, it was made of gold and was pulled by four golden-horned deer (Elaphoi Khrysokeroi). The bridles of her chariot were also made of gold.
  • Cabeiri chariot, drawn by metallic, fire-breathing horses.
  • Dionysus chariot, drawn by panthers.
  • Hades chariot, drawn by four black horses.
  • Helios chariot, a golden chariot drawn by fiery horses driven across the sky by the Greek sun god, Helios, and after his fading, Apollo. Also, according to Apollodorus, the sun god Helios had a chariot, drawn by "winged dragons", which he gave to his granddaughter Medea. [16]
  • Hera's chariot, a chariot drawn by peacocks.
  • Nemesis chariot, a chariot drawn by griffins.
  • Poseidon's chariot, pulled by hippocampi.
  • Rhea's chariot, drawn by lions.
  • Selene's chariot, driven across the night sky by the moon goddess Selene or Artemis.
  • Sol Invictus chariot, depicted riding a quadriga on the reverse of a Roman coin.
  • Zeus's chariot, drawn by the four directional winds (Anemoi) in horse-shape.

Chariots from Hindu mythology Edit

  • Rahu's chariot, drawn by eight black horses. (Hindu mythology)
  • Surya's chariot, drawn by seven horses. (Hindu mythology)
  • Vitthakalai, a gold-decorated chariot of Kali. (Ayyavazhi mythology)

Chariots from Norse mythology Edit

  • Thor's chariot, driven across the sky by Thor and pulled by his two goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.
  • Freyja's chariot, a chariot pulled by cats.
  • Álfröðull (Elf-beam, Elf-disc or Elf-glory, Elf-heaven), referring both to the sun-chariot of the sun goddess Sól and to the rider Sól. Álfröðull is pulled by two horses, Árvakr and Alsviðr across the sky each day.

Ships Edit

  • Caleuche, a mythical ghost ship of the Chilote mythology and local folklore of the Chiloé Island, in Chile. (Chilote mythology)
  • Canoe of Gluskab, able to expand so it could hold an army, or shrink to fit in the palm of your hand. (Abenaki mythology)
  • Canoe of Māui, it became the South Island of New Zealand. (Māori mythology)
  • Guingelot, Thomas Speght, an editor or Chaucer's works at the end of the 16th century, made a passing remark "Concerning Wade and his bote called Guingelot", and also his strange exploits in the same.
  • The Preserver of Life, the ship built in the Epic of Gilgamesh by Utnapishtim and the craftspeople of his village at the request of Enki Ea to hold his wife and relatives, as well as the village craftspeople, the animals to be saved, and various grains and seeds. (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Wave Sweeper, a magic boat belonging to Lugh. (Irish mythology)
  • Flying Dutchman, a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. (Nautical folklore)
  • Mannigfual, the ship of the giants. (North-Frisian mythology)
  • Prydwen (also Pridwen), the ship of King Arthur, according to the Welsh poem, The Spoils of Annwfn. This ship also appeared in Culhwch and Olwen, when Arthur traveled to Ireland, to fetch the cauldron of Diwrnach and the boar Twrch Trwyth. In later Arthurian legend, Pridwen was the name of Arthur's shield. (Arthurian legend)
  • Noah's Ark, the vessel by which God spares Noah, his family, and a remnant of all the world's animals from the flood. (Christian mythology)
  • Chinese treasure ship (also Baochuan), a large wooden ship in the fleet of admiral Zheng He, who led seven voyages during the early 15th-century Ming dynasty. (Chinese mythology)
  • Takarabune (Treasure Ship), a mythical ship piloted through the heavens by the Seven Lucky Gods during the first three days of the New Year. (Japanese folklore)
  • Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait, a ghost ship said to sail ablaze within the Northumberland Strait. (Canadian folklore)
  • Mahogany Ship, a putative early Australian shipwreck that is believed by some to lie beneath the sand in the Armstrong Bay area, approximately 3 to 6 kilometres west of Warrnambool in southwest Victoria, Australia. (Australian folklore)
  • Lohengrin's boat, a swan-drawn boat. (Medieval legend)

Ships from Egyptian mythology Edit

  • Atet, the solar barge of the sun god Ra. It was also known as the Mandjet (Egyptian for "The Boat of Millions of Years") and, during the night, as the Mesektet.
  • Matet, (Growing Stronger), the first of two boats traveled in by Ra, the sun god as he traveled the sky daily with the sun on his head. During the period between dawn and noon, Ra occupies the Matet boat.
  • Seqtet, (Growing Weaker), the second six hours of the day (from noon till dusk) in Ancient Egyptian belief. It was preceded by the Matet boat. The Seqtet boat is represented by the Sun as Ra, and Ra as a boat since it sails across the sky like a boat on water.
  • Neshmet, a vessel belonging to the god Nun. Osiris was transported in it on the river Nile during the Osiris festival at Abydos.
  • Hennu (also Hennu boat and Henu), the boat of the god Seker. Depending on the era or the prevailing dynasty of Egypt, the Hennu sailed toward either dawn or dusk.

Ships from Greek mythology Edit

  • Argo, the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed. She contained in her prow a magical piece of timber from the sacred forest of Dodona, which could speak and render prophecies.
  • Phaeacian ships, in the Odyssey, are described as being as fast as a falcon, steered by thought and requiring no helmsman, and able to travel even through mist or fog without any danger of being shipwrecked.
  • Boat of Charon, which carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.
  • Ship of Theseus, the ship Theseus rode on his trip to kill Minotaur. He set off with a black sail, promising to his father, Aegeus, that if successful he would return with a white sail. Theseus forgot to put up the white sails instead of the black ones, however, so Aegeus, believing his son was dead, committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea, leading this body of water to be named Aegean Sea. This ship is more famous as the thought experiment Ship of Theseus.

Ships from Norse mythology Edit

  • Ellida, a magic dragon ship given to Víking as a gift by Aegir.
  • Hringhorni, the ship of the god Baldr, described as the "greatest of all ships".
  • Naglfar, a ship made out of fingernails and toenails of the dead. It will set sail during Ragnarök.
  • Sessrúmnir, is both the goddess Freyja's hall located in Fólkvangr, a field where Freyja receives half of those who die in battle, and also the name of a ship.
  • Skíðblaðnir, a boat owned by Freyr.
  • Ullr's bone, Ullr could traverse the sea on his magic bone.

Trains Edit

  • Silverpilen (Silver Arrow), a Stockholm Metro train which features in several urban legends alleging sightings of the train's "ghost". (Swedish folklore)
  • St. Louis Ghost Train, visible at night along an old abandoned rail line in between Prince Albert and St. Louis, Saskatchewan. (Canadian legend)
  • Phantom funeral train, a funeral train decorated in black bunting said to run regularly from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois, around the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death, stopping watches and clocks in surrounding areas as it passes. (American folklore)

Unidentified flying objects Edit

  • Black triangle, UFOs reported as having a triangular shape and dark color, typically observed at night, described as large, silent, hovering, moving slowly, and displaying pulsating, colored lights. (Ufology)
  • Flying saucer (also Flying disc), a supposed type of flying craft having a disc or saucer-shaped body, commonly used generically to refer to an anomalous flying object. (Ufology)
  • Foo fighter, a type of UFO reported and named by the U.S. 415th Special Operations Squadron, the term was also commonly used to mean any UFO sighting from that period. (Ufology)
  • Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann (also Hallows of Ireland), consisting of the Claíomh Solais, Lug's Spear, Cauldron of the Dagda, and the Lia Fáil. (Celtic mythology)
  • Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, consisting of the Kusanagi, the jewel necklace Yasakani no Magatama, and the mirror Yata no Kagami. (Japanese mythology)
  • Karun Treasure, said to belong to King Croesus of Lydia. (Persian mythology)
  • Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain, consisting of the Dyrnwyn, the Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir, the Horn of Brân Galed, the Chariot of Morgan Mwynfawr, the Halter of Clydno Eiddyn, the Knife of Llawfrodedd the Horseman, the Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant, the Whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd, the Coat of Padarn Beisrudd, the Crock and Dish of Rhygenydd Ysgolhaig, the Chessboard of Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio, the Mantle of Arthur in Cornwall, the Mantle of Tegau Gold-Breast, and the Stone and Ring of Eluned the Fortunate. (Matter of Britain)
  • Rheingold (also Rhinegold), a hoard of gold in the Nibelungenlied where three Rheinmaidens swim and protect the treasure. (Norse mythology)
  • Yamashita's gold, also referred to as the Yamashita treasure, is the name given to the alleged war loot stolen in Southeast Asia by Imperial Japanese forces during World War II and hidden in caves, tunnels, underground complexes, or just underground in the Philippines—most commonly the island of Mindanao. According to the legend, it is named after the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita, nicknamed "The Tiger of Malaya". (Japanese urban legends)
  • Eight Treasures, consisting of the wish-granting pearl (flaming pearl), the double lozenges, the stone chime, the pair of rhinoceros horns, the double coins, the gold or silver ingot, coral, and the wish-granting scepter. (Chinese mythology)
  • Nidhi (also Nidhana, Nikhara, or Sevadhi) is a treasure, which consists of nine precious objects (nawanidhi) belonging to Kubera, god of wealth. (Hindu mythology)
  • Štěchovice treasure, a purported hoard of Nazi treasure. It is said to be hidden in the town of Štěchovice in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. (Czech legend)
  • Nazi gold train (also Wałbrzych gold train), a Nazi Germany-era train buried in a tunnel in Lower Silesia between Breslau (Wroclaw) and Waldenburg (Walbrzych) in May 1945 during the last days of World War II. (Polish legend)
  • Confederate gold, a hidden cache of gold lost after the American Civil War. Millions of dollars' worth of gold was lost or unaccounted for after the war and has been the speculation of many historians and treasure hunters. Allegedly, some of the Confederate treasury was hidden in order to wait for the rising again of the South and at other times simply so that the Union would not gain possession. (American legend)

Relics Edit

Relics from Buddhist mythology Edit

  • Cetiya, "reminders" or "memorials" (Sanskrit caitya) are objects and places used by Theravada Buddhists to remember Gautama Buddha.
  • Relic of the tooth of the Buddha, venerated in Sri Lanka as a cetiya "relic" of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
  • Śarīra, a generic term referring to Buddhist relics. In Buddhism, relics of the Buddha and various sages are venerated. After the Buddha's death, his remains were divided into eight portions. Afterward, these relics were enshrined in stupas wherever Buddhism was spread.

Relics from Christian mythology Edit

  • Relics of Jesus, a number of relics associated with Jesus that have been claimed and displayed throughout the history of Christianity.
  • Shrine of the Three Kings (German Dreikönigsschrein), a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men.

Relics from Islamic mythology Edit

  • Sacred Relics (also Holy Relics and Sacred Trust), consist of religious pieces sent to the Ottoman Sultans between the 16th century to the late 19th century.
  • Sacred Cloak of the Prophet, a cloak believed to have been worn by the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
  • Book of Thoth, a legendary book containing powerful spells and knowledge supposed to have been written by the god Thoth, said to have been buried with the Prince Neferkaptah in Coptos. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Jade Books in Heaven, described in several Daoist cosmographies as existent primordially in the various divine Heavens. These Jade Books are variously said to be instrumental in creating and maintaining the divine structure of the universe, or as regulating national or personal destiny. (Chinese mythology)
  • Sibylline Books, described to have helped Rome in many situations. (Roman mythology)
  • Rauðskinna (Book of Power), a legendary book about black magic, alleged to have been buried with its author, the Bishop Gottskálk grimmi Nikulásson of Holar. (Scandinavian folklore)
  • Tablet of Destinies (also Tupsimati), a set of clay tablets which hold the power of creation and destruction. (Mesopotamian mythology)
  • Tablets of Stone (also Tablets of Stone, Stone Tablets, or Tablets of Testimony), in the Hebrew Bible, were the two pieces of stone inscribed with the Ten Commandments when Moses ascended Mount Sinai as written in the Book of Exodus. (Jewish mythology)
  • Book of Life, the book in which God records the names of every person who is destined for Heaven or the World to Come. (Christian/Jewish)
  • Levisterio, a book contains magical forms and an instrument they used to take various exams used by the Mapuches to protect by the dark forces. (Chilote/Mapuche)
  • Eldhrímnir, the cauldron in which Andhrímnir cooks Sæhrímnir. (Norse mythology)
  • Pair Dadeni (Cauldron of Rebirth), a magical cauldron able to revive the dead. (Welsh mythology)
  • Cauldron of the Dagda, a cauldron where no company ever went away from it unsatisfied, it is said to be bottomless. (Celtic mythology)
  • Cauldron of Hymir, a mile-wide cauldron which the Æsir wanted to brew beer in. (Norse mythology)
  • Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant, said to discriminate between cowards and brave men: whereas it would not boil meat for a coward, it would boil quickly if that meat belonged to a brave man. (Welsh mythology)
  • Blue Lotus, a symbol of the sun, since the flowers are closed at night and open again in the morning. The origin of the world was taught to have been when the sun god Ra emerged from a lotus flower growing in "primordial waters". At night, he was believed to retreat into the flower again. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Magic bean, Jack trades the family cow for a handful of magic beans which caused a gigantic beanstalk to grow outside Jack's window during the night. (British fairy tale)
  • White Lotus, the Egyptians believed that the lotus flower gave them strength and power. Horus was occasionally shown in art as a naked boy with a finger in his mouth sitting on a lotus with his mother. (Egyptian mythology)

Plants and herbs Edit

  • Aglaophotis, a herb used for warding off demons, witchcraft, and fever.
  • Fern flower, a magic flower that blooms on the eve of the Summer solstice. It will bring fortune to the person who finds it. (Baltic and Slavic mythology)
  • Hungry grass (also Féar Gortach), a patch of cursed grass which causes perpetual and insatiable hunger. (Irish mythology)
  • Moly, a magical herb Hermes gave to Odysseus to protect him from Circe's magic. (Greek mythology)
  • Raskovnik, a magical herb which can unlock or uncover anything that is locked or closed. (Slavic mythology)
  • Ausadhirdipyamanas, healing plants used for healing and rejuvenations in battles. These are used by Ashvins. (Hindu mythology)
  • Haoma, the Avestan language name of a plant and its divinity, both of which play a role in Zoroastrian doctrine and in later Persian culture and mythology.
  • Silphium, a plant that was used in classical antiquity as a seasoning and as a medicine. Legend said that this plant was a gift from the god Apollo. (Roman mythology)
  • Verbena, a plant which has long been associated with divine and other supernatural forces. It was called "tears of Isis" in ancient Egypt, and later called "Hera's tears". In ancient Greece it was dedicated to Eos Erigineia. In the early Christian era, folk legend stated that V. officinalis was used to staunch Jesus' wounds after his removal from the cross. It was consequently called "holy herb" or (e.g. in Wales) "Devil's bane".
  • Yao Grass, a type of mythical plant. (Chinese mythology)
  • Shamrock, a plant honored as sacred by ancient Druids. The Druids believed the shamrock had the power to avert evil spirits. Some people still believe the shamrock has mystical, even prophetic powers. It is said that the leaves of shamrocks turn upright whenever a storm is coming. (Irish mythology)
  • Sanjeevani, a magical herb which can cure any malady. It was believed that medicines prepared from this herb could revive a dead person. (Hindu mythology)

Trees Edit

  • Jeweled Branch of Hōrai, a branch from a tree found on Hōrai which has jewels for leaves. One of Kaguya-hime's suitor set out to search for the branch. (Japanese mythology)
  • Cypress of Kashmar, a mythical cypress tree of legendary beauty. (Persian mythology)
  • Ficus Ruminalis, a wild fig tree that had religious and mythological significance in ancient Rome. The tree is associated with the legend of Romulus and Remus. (Roman mythology)
  • Donar's Oak (also Thor's Oak and Jove's Oak), a sacred tree of the Germanic pagans located in what is now the region of Hesse, Germany. (Germanic mythology)
  • Silver Branch, a tree that represents entry into the Celtic Otherworld. It is also associated with Manannán mac Lir, an Irish sea deity with strong affiliation to Tír na nÓg. As guardian of the Otherworld, Manannán also has strong ties with Emhain Abhlach, the Isle of Apple Trees, where the magical silver apple branch is found. (Irish mythology)
  • Lotus tree, bearing a fruit that caused drowsiness, and which was said to be the only food of an island people called the Lotophagi or Lotus-eaters. When they ate of the lotus tree they would forget their friends and homes and would lose the desire to return to their native land in favor of living in idleness. (Greek mythology/Roman mythology)
  • Money tree, a holy tree which can bring money and fortune to the people, and is a symbol of affluence, nobility and auspiciousness. (Chinese mythology)
  • Tree of life, a tree planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden and guarded by cherubim. (Christian mythology/Jewish mythology)
  • Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, one of two trees in the story of the Garden of Eden, along with the tree of life. (Christian mythology/Jewish mythology)
  • Golden Bough, before entering Hades, Deiphobe tells Aeneas he must obtain the bough of gold which grows nearby in the woods around her cave, and must be given as a gift to Proserpina, the queen of Pluto, king of the underworld. (Roman mythology)

Trees from Norse mythology Edit

  • Barnstokkr (Child-trunk), a tree that stands in the center of King Völsung's hall.
  • Glasir (Gleaming), a tree or grove described as "the most beautiful among gods and men", bearing golden leaves located in the realm of Asgard, outside the doors of Valhalla.
  • Læraðr, a tree that is often identified with Yggdrasil. It stands at the top of the Valhöll. Two animals, the goat Heiðrún and the hart Eikþyrnir, graze its foliage.
  • Mímameiðr (Mimi's Tree), a tree whose branches stretch over every land, is unharmed by fire or metal, bears fruit that assists pregnant women, and upon whose highest bough roosts the rooster Víðópnir.
  • Sacred tree at Uppsala, a sacred tree located at the Temple at Uppsala, Sweden, in the second half of the 11th century. It is not known what species it was, but a scholar has suggested that it was a yew tree.

World trees Edit

  • Yggdrasil, an immense tree that connects the nine worlds. (Norse mythology)
  • Sefirot, (counting, enumeration) the kabbalistic tree of life which encompasses both the physical and higher metaphysical realm. It consists of the ten attributes/emanations in Kabbalah. (Jewish mythology)
  • Irminsul (Great/Mighty Pillar or Arising Pillar), a pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air. (Germanic mythology)
  • Égig érő fa (Sky-high Tree), also called Életfa (Tree of Life), Világfa (World Tree), or Tetejetlen Fa (Tree Without a Top), is an element of Hungarian shamanism and native faith, and a typical element of Hungarian folk art and folk tales, and also a distinct folk tale type. (Hungarian mythology)
  • Akshayavat or Akshay Vat (Indestructible Banyan Tree), is a sacred fig tree. The sage Markandeya asked Lord Narayana to show him a specimen of the divine power. Narayana flooded the entire world for a moment, during which only the Akshayavat could be seen above the water level. (Hindu mythology)
  • Kalpavriksha (also Kalpataru, Kalpadruma or Kalpapādapa), a wish-fulfilling divine tree. (Hindu mythology)
  • Ashvattha (also Assattha), a sacred tree for the Hindus and has been extensively mentioned in texts pertaining to Hinduism, mentioned as 'peepul' (Ficus religiosa) in Rig Veda mantra I.164.20 . Buddhist texts term the tree as Bodhi tree, a tree under which Gautam Buddha meditated and gained enlightenment. (Hindu mythology)
  • Ağaç Ana, the world tree is a central symbol. According to the Altai Turks, human beings are descended from trees. According to the Yakuts, White Mother sits at the base of Ağaç Ana, whose branches reach to the heavens where it is occupied by various creatures that have come to life there. The blue sky around the tree reflects the peaceful nature of the country and the red ring that surrounds all of the elements symbolizes the ancient faith of rebirth, growth and development of the Turkic peoples. (Turkic mythology)
  • Modun, the world tree. (Mongolian mythology)
  • Mesoamerican world tree, the world trees embodied the four cardinal directions, which also serve to represent the fourfold nature of a central world tree, a symbolic axis mundi which connects the planes of the Underworld and the sky with that of the terrestrial realm. (Mesoamerican mythology)
  • Austras koks (Tree of Dawn), on the path of the sun, in or by the water, often on an island or rock in middle of the seas, is the Austras koks thought to represent world tree or axis mundi, it is usually described as a tree, but can also be variety of other plants or even objects. (Latvian mythology)
  • Világfa (World Tree)/Életfa (Tree of Life), the world tree connects different realities the underworld, this world, and the upper world together. A shaman was believed to be able to climb through each of these levels freely by a ladder. (Uralic mythologies)

Drinks Edit

  • Ambrosia, the food or drink of the gods, which gives longevity or immortality to whoever consumes it. (Greek mythology)
  • Amrita, the drink of the gods which grants them immortality. (Hindu mythology)
  • Mead of poetry (also Mead of Suttungr), a mythical beverage that whoever "drinks becomes a skald or scholar to recite any information and solve any question. (Norse mythology)
  • Soma, it is described as being prepared by extracting juice from the stalks of a certain plant. In both Vedic and Zoroastrian tradition, the name of the drink and the plant are the same, and also personified as a divinity, the three forming a religious or mythological unity. (Zoroastrian mythology)

Fruits Edit

  • Apple of Discord (also Golden Apple of Discord), the goddess Eris inscribed "to the fairest" and tossed in the midst of the festivities at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. (Greek mythology)
  • Forbidden fruit, eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which they had been commanded not to do by God. (Christian mythology/Jewish mythology)
  • Golden apple, an element that appears in various national and ethnic folk legends or fairy tales.
  • Peaches of Immortality, consumed by the immortals due to their mystic virtue of conferring longevity on all who eat them. (Chinese mythology)
  • Pomegranate (also Fruit of the Dead in Greek mythology), believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis. It was the rule of the Moirai that anyone who consumed food or drink in the underworld had to spend eternity there. Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds while in the Underworld after becoming Hades' wife, so she had to spend six months in the underworld every year. (Greek mythology)
  • Silver apple, magical silver apples can be found on Emhain Abhlach, the Isle of Apple Trees. (Irish mythology)
  • Poison apple, featured frequently in folktales or fairy tales.
  • Golden egg, the main object of the folk tale "Kurochka Ryaba". (Russian folklore)
  • Myrrh egg, the phoenix would build itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignited both nest and bird burned fiercely and would be reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arose. The new phoenix embalmed the ashes of the old phoenix in an egg made of myrrh and deposited it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis ("the city of the sun" in Greek). (Greek mythology)
  • World egg (also Cosmic Egg or Mundane Egg), found in the creation myths of many cultures and civilizations. The world egg is a beginning of some sort, and the universe or some primordial being comes into existence by "hatching" from the egg, sometimes lain on the primordial waters of the Earth.
  • Manna (also Mana), an edible substance that God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert. (Christian mythology/Jewish mythology/Islamic mythology)
  • Ectoplasm, a supposed physical substance that manifests as a result of energy.
  • Aureola, the radiance of luminous cloud which, in paintings of sacred personages, surrounds the whole figure.
  • Aura, a field of luminous radiation surrounding a person or object.
  • Tears of Ra (also Tears of Re), which are produced when the sun god Ra cries, and become honey bees upon touching the ground. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Breath of life, in countless stories from different cultures featured gods breathing life into object that brought them to life.
  • Cosmic energy, the translation into English by Sir John Woodroffe of the term Shakti in Hindu religion, based on the Hindu philosophy known as Kashmir Shaivism a term for spiritual energy also referred to as prana thought in Hindu philosophy to be the source of kundalini identified by some New Age authors with the quantum vacuum zero point energy and as orgone energy it is believed in New Age thought to be a vital force that animates all forms of life.
  • Silap Inua (also Silla), similar to mana or ether, the primary component of everything that exists it is also the breath of life and the method of locomotion for any movement or change. Silla was believed to control everything that goes on in one's life. (Inuit mythology)
  • Hellfire, the fires from the lake of fire located in Hell. (Christian mythology)
  • Odic force (also Od, Odyle, Önd, Odes, Odylic, Odyllic, Odems), the name given in the mid-19th century to a hypothetical vital energy or life force by Baron Carl von Reichenbach.
  • Nebu, the ancient Egyptians believed that gold was an indestructible and heavenly metal. The sun god, Ra, was often referred to as a mountain of gold. (Egyptian mythology)
  • Xirang (also Hsi-jang, Swelling Earth, Self-renewing soil, Breathing earth, and Living earth), a magical substance in Chinese mythology that had a self-expanding ability to continuously grow – which made it particularly effective for use by Gun and Yu the Great in fighting the Great Flood. (Chinese mythology)
  • Humorism (also Humoralism), a system of medicine detailing the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers. (Greek mythology)
  • Alien metal, the rancher William Brazel found mysterious paper-like metals across his sheep pasture. Believe to have been the remains of an extraterrestrial flying saucer crash near Roswell, New Mexico. The event would later be known as the Roswell UFO incident. (Ufology)
  • Solomon's shamir, a substance that had the power to cut through or disintegrate stone, iron and diamond. King Solomon is said to have used it in the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem in the place of cutting tools. (Jewish mythology)

Substances from Greek mythology Edit

  • Orichalcum, a metal that was considered second only to gold in value, and was mined in Atlantis in ancient times.
  • Panacea, a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely.
  • Water of Lethe, which flows through the river Lethe, and causes those who drink it to experience forgetfulness.
  • Aether, the pure essence that the gods breathed, filling the space where they lived, analogous to the air breathed by mortals.
  • Miasma, "a contagious power. that has an independent life of its own. Until purged by the sacrificial death of the wrongdoer, society would be chronically infected by catastrophe". , ancient Greek drink of various descriptions used at the climax of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Substances from Norse mythology Edit

  • Eitr, a liquid substance that is the origin of all living things, and is produced by Jörmungandr and other serpents.
  • Surtalogi (Surtr's fire), the fire with which the giant Surtr will burn the world with fire, thus destroying it.
  • Yggdrasil dew, dew that falls from the ash tree Yggdrasil. When Líf and Lífþrasir seek refuge within Yggdrasil, they find that they can survive there by drinking the dew of Yggdrasil.

Substances from Medieval legend and European folklore Edit

  • Adamant(also Adamantine), a hard substance, whether composed of diamond, some other gemstone, or some type of metal.
  • Alkahest, a hypothetical universal solvent which can dissolve every other substance, including gold. It was much sought after by alchemists for what they thought would be its invaluable medicinal qualities. (Medieval legend)
  • Azoth, a universal medicine or universal solvent sought in alchemy. (Medieval legend)
  • Cold iron, is historically believed to repel, contain, or harm ghosts, fairies, witches, and/or other malevolent supernatural creatures. (European folklore)
  • Elixir of life, a mythical potion that, when drunk from a certain cup at a certain time, supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. (Medieval legend)
  • Fairy dust, fairy ring are circles of mushrooms that seem to pop-up over night in yards. It is said to grow from the magic dust left behind by faeries as they danced and celebrated during the night, before returning to their hidden land. (English folklore)
  • Four Thieves Vinegar, a concoction of vinegar infused with herbs,spices or garlic that was believed to protect the user from the plague (disease). (European folklore)
  • Holy water, believed to ward off or act as a weapon against mythical evil creatures, such as vampires. In eastern Europe, one might sprinkle holy water onto the corpse of a suspected vampire to destroy it or render it inert. (European folklore)
  • Love potion, Tristan goes to Ireland to bring back Isolde the fair for his uncle King Mark to marry. Along the way, they ingest a love potion which causes the pair to fall madly in love. (Arthurian legend) , a fictional metal that appears in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and other works of fiction.
  • Prima materia (also Materia Prima or First Matter), is the ubiquitous starting material required for the alchemical magnum opus and the creation of the philosopher's stone. It is the primitive formless base of all matter similar to chaos, the quintessence, or aether. (Medieval legend)
  • Sandman's sand, which the Sandman uses to put people to sleep and bring good dreams by sprinkling it into their eyes while they sleep. (European folklore)
  • Yliaster, is the formless base of all matter which is the raw material for the alchemical Great Work. (Medieval legend)
  • Unspoken Water, water believed to have healing properties when collected "from under a bridge, over which the living pass and the dead are carried, brought in the dawn or twilight to the house of a sick person, without the bearer's speaking, either in going or returning". (Scottish folklore)
  • Water of life, water from the Fountain of Youth that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. (Medieval legend)
  • Sleeping potion, the troll princess who lives in a castle east of the sun and west of the moon gives the prince a sleeping drink, so that the youngest daughter cannot wake him. (Scandinavian folklore)

Substances from Mesoamérican mythology Edit

Substances from Asian mythology Edit

  • Hihīrokane, described in the apocryphal Takenouchi Document, an alleged ancient writing in a lost script which details Japan's early history, Hihīrokane was used in the time of Emperor Jimmu, Japan's first emperor. The Kusanagi-no-tsurugi and the other Imperial Regalia of Japan are supposedly made from it. Its weight is lighter than gold, but harder than diamond. It was even said to be able to bring water to a boil without heat, violating the Law of Conservation of Energy. (Japanese mythology)
  • Hiranyagarbha, the source of the creation of the universe or the manifested cosmos. (Hindu mythology)
  • Halahala, a poison created from the sea when the gods and demons churned it to obtain Amrita, the nectar of immortality. (Hindu mythology)
  • Prana, is all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana is often referred to as the "life force" or "life energy". It also includes energies present in inanimate objects. (Hindu mythology)
  • Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness,a brew created by Meng Po that is given to each soul to drink before they leave Diyu. The brew induces instant and permanent amnesia, and all memory of other lives is lost. (Chinese mythology)
  • (also Chi or Ki), an active principle forming part of any living thing. Qì literally translates as "breath", "air", or "gas", and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow". Qì is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. (Chinese mythology)
  • Chakra, an energy point or node in the subtle body. Chakras are believed to be part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such, are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels called Nadi. (Hinduism/Jainism/Buddhism)
  • Yin and yang, a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. (Chinese mythology)

Conchs Edit

  • Nandni Vardhanam, the conch shell of Satyaki. (Hindu mythology)
  • Panchajanya, a Shankha conch shell of the Hindu god Vishnu. As per Valmiki Ramyana, Purushottama (Vishnu) killed a Danava named Panchajana on a mountain named Chakravan constructed by Vishwakarma and took away conch shell known as Panchajanya from him. (Hindu mythology)
  • Shankha, a conch shell and sacred emblem of the Hindu preserver god Vishnu. (Hindu mythology)
  • Triton's conch shell, a twisted conch shell on which Triton blew like a trumpet to calm or raise the waves. (Greek mythology)

Drums Edit

  • Drake's Drum, a snare drum that Sir Francis Drake took with him when he circumnavigated the world. Shortly before he died he ordered the drum to be taken to Buckland Abbey and vowed that if England was ever in danger and someone was to beat the drum he would return to defend the country. According to legend it can be heard to beat at times when England is at war or significant national events take place. (English folklore)
  • Cultrun, a Mapuche drum that the Machi's use for healing. (Chilean mythology)

Flutes Edit

  • Pan's flute, reed pipes or pan flute that is played by the god of the wild, Pan. (Greek mythology)
  • Pied Piper's magic pipe, which the Pied Piper used to lure the rats, and later children, out of Hamelin. (German folklore)

Harps Edit

  • Bragi's harp, a magical golden harp given to Bragi by the dwarfs when he was born. (Norse mythology)
  • David's harp (also Kinnor David), a harp hung above King David's bed, and precisely at midnight a north wind arrived and blew on the harp and it would play by itself. (Jewish mythology)
  • Kantele, the mage Väinämöinen makes the first kantele from the jawbone of a giant pike and a few hairs from Hiisi's stallion. The music it makes draws all the forest creatures near to wonder at its beauty. (Finnish mythology)
  • Uaithne (also Dur da Blá, The Oak of Two Blossoms, and Coir Cethar Chuin), the harp which belongs to The Dagda. After the Second Battle of Mag Tuired the Fomorians had taken The Dagda's harp with them. The Dagda found it in a feasting-house wherein Bres and his father Elathan were also. The Dagda had bound the music so that it would not sound until he would call to it. After he called to it, it sprang from the wall, came to the Dagda and killed nine men on its way. (Irish mythology)
  • Väinämöinen's harp, he killed a pike and fashioned a harp out of the bones of the fish. However, he dropped his instrument into the sea, and thus it fell into the power of the sea gods, hence the origin of the music of the ocean on the beach. So, he made another one out of the forest wood, and with it, he descended into Pohjola looking for the Sampo. Väinämöinen struck his harp and sent the inhabitants to sleep and ran off with the Sampo. Upon reaching the land of light, the inhabitants of Pohjola woke up again, and went after him to retrieve the Sampo which, in the struggle, fell into the sea and was inevitably lost. (Finnish mythology)
  • Binnorie's harp (also Minnorie's harp), when the murdered girl's body floats ashore, a musician made a musical instrument out of it, a harp, with a frame of bone and the girl's "long yellow hair" for strings. The instrument then plays itself and sings about the murder. (Northumbrian folklore)
  • Talyn Arthur (Arthur's Harp), the name of the constellation of Lyra in Wales. (Welsh mythology)
  • Canola's harp (Cana's Harp), Canola realised the wind had created the music by blowing through partially rotted sinew still attached to a whale skeleton. She designed the harp based on this. (Irish mythology)

Horns Edit

  • Horn of Gabriel, a horn blown by the Archangel Gabriel to announce Judgement Day. (Christian mythology)
  • Olifant (also Olivant), the horn of Roland, paladin of Charlemagne in the Song of Roland. Roland blows the horn, but the force required bursts his temple, resulting in death. His olifant was supposedly a unicorn's horn. (Matter of France)
  • Gjallarhorn, a mystical horn blown at the onset of Ragnarök associated with the god Heimdallr and the wise being Mímir. (Norse mythology)

For the Horn of Amalthea (Cornucopia, also called Horn of Plenty) see entry under Dispensers

Why did the Romans use the gladius?

An age old question but I just can't get my head around it and I have problems with many common arguments.

So, it seems to me spears are objectively better fighting weapons on any terrain than spears - they have more reach. From my (admittedly limited) personal historical re-enactment/armed combat experience I find this to be the case and when I watch you tube videos of HEMA sparring and re-enactment it's the case as well. A common rebuke to this is that if a unit wants to be more flexible and maneuverable (like the shock infantry Rome used was) then a shorter weapon is more practical than something like a phalanx or a line of formed sarissa men specially if an entire formation wants to turn mid-battle or move sideways. But, to me it seems that a unit of men armed with shorter spears would be just as maneuverable in fact I believe that in Phillip/Alexander's armies at each end of a line of foot companions there was put a kind of infantry called shield bearers who were purposefully equipped with a shorter spear so that they could be more maneuverable on the battlefield, so obviously one can have a unit of men that is equipped with spears and still be flexible. So why did they use the gladius and perhaps more importantly why was it so effective given that it was the weapon roman's used to conquer most of the world.

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From what I've learned, The Romans love to get uncomfortably close to their opponents. So much so that individual movement was severely restricted. Both bodies of men would be so close to each-other that it was difficult to swing a long weapon such as sword or axe. The roman shield was able to protect virtually all of the soldier and there would exist enough of a gap between each of the soldiers' shields to thrust their swords through. Even a short spear would be cumbersome in regards to how roman legionaries preferred to fight.

It makes a lot more sense when you consider the entire picture of Roman Kit.

The Romans first, for most of their history, had the most effective shields out there. The shape varied somewhat, but for most of the history of the legions they used an oblong shield that provides a tremendous amount of protection from knee to chin, while just holding the shield in front of you.

Also, for most of their history, the Romans were one of the only armies that made consistent use of armor. They had standards for their armor, and standardized designs. And everyone was wearing some.

Other armies might have been using armor, but that was more the province of the very lucky or very wealthy few.

So the combination of sturdy, well made, and decently protective armor and a massive, extremely durable shield, would make up for any perceived flaws in the weapons.

Also, Romans employed Javelins, and eventually developed a particular type of javelin called Pilum that was basically a footlong iron barb that was designed to stick into and weigh down the enemy’s shield. So they retain massive, powerful shields while many of the enemies are deprived of theirs.

Add to that a well developed training regime designed to produce highly capable fighters, a set of tactics designed to place them at close quarters to their enemies efficiently, and the fact that enemies accustomed to fighting at spear range are often unprepared to deal with an enemy that close and you have a dangerous combo.

So according to Edward Gibbon, Romans had a distance of 3 feet between eachother. This gave enough space to fight how they practiced but still have their flanks protected. Because they practiced with equipment two times the weight they were able to stay in action for a long time. When they got tired they quickly switched with the next man in line. Interestingly using these tactics is how they beat the Greeks. They were so used to using the phalanx that when the Romans came they had been unprepared for close sustained combat. The men in the phalanx got too tired to continue fighting with the spear and giant shield. Also according to a Greek in that era when the Greek soldiers came back some were recorded to have PTSD or some form of it due to the brutality of the gladius. It was able to chop off limbs with enough force and the Greeks were only used to stab wounds.

I seem to remember that a Roman writer who talked about roman tactics from the early sword era specified that the reasons for the use of the swords was aggression. Spears while great defensively often lead to soldiers fighting in an overly passive style and could result in weak attacks and overly minimal enemy casualties. The short reach of the sword forced soldiers to advance or nothing as only by pressing forward could their weapons possibly reach their foe. Essentially it was about the psychological impact on the roman solider rather then the functionality of the sword, after all most battles are decided mainly by psychology rather then fighting power, with the loser most commonly being whoever runs away first rather then who dies first. The aggressive driving combat style of the sword was thus better suited to winning battles.

It's also worth noting that since they did use the swords mainly for thrusting technically they were not swords but just really really short spears.

Where have you learn this? Please update your comment since it's so high up, but virtually all information is wrong.

The Romans were NOT 1) love to get uncomfortably close to their opponents. That's why they have a stagger maniple formation which specifically allow for spacing between their maniples and their enemies 2) the Roman soldier require 3 ft of space ea way, according to Polybius, 18,

> Now, a Roman soldier in full armour also requires a space of three square feet. But as their method of fighting admits of individual motion for each man—because he defends his body with a shield, which he moves about to any point from which a blow is coming, and because he uses his sword both for cutting and stabbing,—it is evident that each man must have a clear space, and an interval of at least three feet both on flank and rear, if he is to do his duty with any effect.

So, most importantly, you're putting WAY too much emphasis on the gladius and not nearly enough on the scutum. The scutum, not the gladius, should be seen as the primary weapon of the Roman legionnaire. The legionnaires were not gladiators. They did not fight as individual guys with swords and they would probably not have beaten a gladiator or even a barbarian soldier in a one on one fight. Simply put, they were just not trained for that. The Romans fought as a group and when you fight as a group, formation is everything. You want your lines to hold strong and you want to break your enemy's formation.

Killing an enemy by doing something like poking them with a spear is only one way to do this, and it's a way that can take up a lot of time and effort. A much simpler way to do it is to just shove them out of or tire them out, and the scutum was ideal for this. It would protect your entire body and it was gripped like this which made it much better from shoving. Moreover, it was curved to be aerodynamic and it had that big knob on the front that would have hurt to get hit with. The front line of a Roman battle would be a Roman shield wall pushing up against the enemy, not a million sword fights.

As you can imagine in this type of fighting, you get close to one another. Just try right now to push against your wall as if you're holding a scutum and see what you would even do with a spear. There just wouldn't be enough close range action to effectively hit your opponent. The gladius was much better for this. If, in the shoving match, your opponent exposes anything then it's much easier to just to a fast stab with a short weapon. The gladius was perfect for this.

In battle, there wouldn't actually be a steady stream of deaths. It just wasn't the case that youɽ have a bunch of duels amidst a sea of bodies. More likely, people would die either when they get tired from all the clashing, try to run away, and get caught, or when their lines break and the Romans just run them down. When it comes to running down a broken enemy line or catching exhausted, disorganized, terrified, fleeing soldiers, you don't need the best weapon for the job. A gladius will do fine. You're much better off optimizing your weapon for the initial clashes that lead to the killing fest, then optimizing for when the death-fest starts.

Another factor that is often overlooked is how heavy spears are versus a short sword like the gladius, particularly with how heavy the scutum were. This added to legionary stamina, particularly with how it was used (held low and stabbing rather than swinging like a long sword).

I agree with you but. what has to be here the aerodynamic of the Scutum? I think you mean thay it has a curved shape in order to offer some protection to the sides and to give some chance of deflect attacks, but nothing about aerodynamic.

This is correct. Also, it should be notes that Roman legionnaires used spears since Republic times to great effect. These were the main weapon of the triarii who entered the fight when the first ranks failed, to keep enemy at distance and allow regrouping. So, there was a weapon for everything - pila and iacula for short-range barrage to wearing the enemy down, scuta and gladii for engaging in close combat to push them and disrupt relatively unorganised enemy line (often the case when fighting ➺rbarians') while minimising own casualties and then hastae to keep enemy at bay when everything else fails.

I heard also that they just stabbed their enemy once to fall down and just trample over them. Push,stab,forward- a machinery of death.

This. The standard roman fighting technique up until the 4th century was to crouch low and stab or "cut" at the enemy's midsection, hamstring, or other exposed area.

Its the difference between warriors and soldiers.

The first thing to consider is that the Roman legionary ideally never fought by himself. We have reams of writing about the Roman army's organization, training, maneuvers, and so on, and the theme that emerges is one of unity and combined arms warfare. They weren't the first military to use combined arms, but they certainly elevated it to a science. The gladius was merely just one facet of the Roman soldier's ability to put boot to ass on its enemies, and a bit of backstory might help understand its place a little better.

The gladius hispaniensis, or "Spanish sword" as it's more fully called, is not originally Roman. Rather, it was one of many swords used by the Iberian Celts during the Iron Age, and when the Romans came into contact with them, most notably during the Punic Wars, the Romans found the shorter stabbing sword suited their evolving fighting style better than the more Greek-style swords they had been using to that point.

By this time the Roman shield, or scutum, had adopted largely the shape it would retain well into the Imperial period. Replacing the Greek-style rounded shield, the scutum was rectangular and convex, protecting the body fairly completely from ankle to shoulder when held low, having a profile that was more cylindrical than flat. Made of layers of thin wood and reinforced with a wooden frame on the concave side, it was surprisingly strong for its comparative lightness (the Greek hoplon shield was nearly 20 lbs, whereas the scutum is less than 10), and it encouraged a close fighting order for the legionary. The iron boss that protected the horizontal handgrip could also, in a pinch, serve as a striking surface in a melee. In fact, some reenactors speculate that a legionary might have adopted a kind of one-two punch, where the first attack was a strike with the shield, followed up by a killing thrust with the sword.

This, again, assumes that a soldier is facing a lone enemy. Given the variety of Roman military formations, it might be that your compatriot is blocking with his shield, and to lend support you step in with the one-two shield-sword attack, dispatching the enemy before stepping back into your line.

But let's rewind this scenario a bit further: You are standing in an infantry block a few hundred yards away from the enemy. The enemy's disposition will largely determine what formation you adopt while advancing. If the enemy is using missile weapons you may advance ad testudinum (lit. "to the tortoise"), holding the shields overhead like terra cotta roofing tiles, only lowering your shield when the hail of missiles stops. If the enemy is disorganized, you might advance ad cuneum (lit. "to the wedge") with the tip pointed at the heart of the enemy formation. Otherwise you might advance in a deep block, or a shallow line, or something along those lines (no pun intended).

Your gladius remains cozily ensconced within its scabbard (the Latin word for scabbard, vagina, has taken on a much less warlike connotation nowadays). In your left hand is your trusty scutum, and in your right is the Roman javelin, or pilum. This javelin has a unique, incredibly long-shanked metal tip, which is nearly a third of the pilum's total length. Made of soft iron, the pilum's tip has the benefit of bending when it misses its target, preventing it from being picked up and thrown back at the Romans.

Under the tender ministrations of your centurion and his second in command, or optio, delivering encouragement with loving applications of a hardened vine staff, you march forward with your fellow legionaries. Your armor rattles with each step, and your tasseled balteus, or military belt, provides a cascading counterpoint.

"Accelera!" cries the centurion, and you dutifully speed up. The enemy, singing their battle songs and crying their battlecries, begins to surge forward. The seconds stretch on as battle lines draw closer, when suddenly the centurion yells "Pila!"--your right hand tenses and you bring your javelin up to throwing height, smooth after endless drilling--"IACE!" Your body stretches back, and with a mighty shout you hurl your iron-tipped javelin. Hundreds of pila arc gracefully overhead before crashing into the enemy. Bodies are pierced, shields are rendered clumsy with the javelin's barbed tip preventing easy removal. The battlecries turn to cries of pain and anger. Each successive line of legionaries behind you looses their pila, further adding to the enemy troops' pain and fear.

Now is the critical moment. They're hurting, their charge is faltering, and with just the right pressure the Romans will take the field. The centurion's voice cuts through the din, "Gladium stringe!" Your sword, resting in its scabbard on your right side flush with your body, springs forth in your hand as though driven by its own warlust, and you and your fellow legionaries wait for the single word, those two magical syllables that mean it's time to get stuck in.

"PORRO!" As a war cry boils up from the fires in your belly, you charge forward as a single mass of humanity, crushing shield-first into the enemy. The enemy line wavers, and then the slaughtering begins in earnest.


Despite the armor being commonly associated with the Romans, the armor was used by other civilizations before the Romans. [1] The armor was used by the Parthians and possibly the Dacians, Scythians, or Sarmatians before the Romans used it. Some sets of armor similar to the lorica segmentata dating back to the 4th century BC have been found in archaeological sites located in the steppe. The Dendra Curiass is a set of armor similar to the lorica segmentata that has been dated back to the 15th century BC. [1] The armor was first used in the early 1st century. [1] Although, the exact time in which the Romans adopted the armor remains unknown. Some say it was after Crassus' defeat at Carrhae in 53 BC. [1] Others say the armor was adopted in 21 AD after the Revolt of Julius Sacrovir and Julius Florus. [1] One form of the armor was used as early as 9 BC. [1] Because the soldiers at the Battle of Teutoberg Forest wore the lorica segmentata, we can conclude the armor must have been in use before 21 AD. [1] Around the middle of the third century the lorica segmentata fell out of favor with the Roman army. Although, it did remain in use during the Late Roman Empire. [1] The armor was still around in the 4th century. Soldiers wearing the lorica segmentata were depicted on the Arch of Constantine, a monument erected in 315. However, it has been argued that these depictions are from an earlier monument by Marcus Aurelius, from which Constantine incorporated portions into his Arch. [1] The latest known use of the armor was in the 4th century. [1]

Over time the type of lorica segmentata would change. From 9 BC to 43 AD the Roman soldier wore the Dngestetten-Kalkriese-Vindonissa type, from 69 to 100 the Corbridge-Carnuntum was used and from 164 to 180 Newstead type was used. [2] The time the armors were worn would overlap. It is possible that there was a fourth type, covering the body with segmented armour joined to scale shoulder defences. However, this is only known from one badly-damaged statue originating at Alba Iulia in Romania. The currently accepted range for the use of the armour is from about 14 B.C. to the late 3rd century A.D. [3] The lorica segmentata's use in the Roman army was geographically widespread, but the mail armor lorica hamata may have been more common at all times.

The question as to precisely who used the armour is debated. On the monument, Auxilia are generally shown wearing mail, cuirasses, and carrying oval shields. Legionaries are uniformly depicted wearing the lorica segmentata and carrying the curved rectangular shield. [4] On this basis, it has been supposed that lorica segmentata was exclusively used by legionaries and praetorians. [1] However, some historians consider Trajan's Column to be inaccurate as a historical source due to its inaccurate and stylised portrayal of Roman armour. These historians also say that "it is probably safest to interpret the Column reliefs as ‘impressions’, rather than accurate representations." [1] The discovery of parts of the lorica segmentata at areas where auxiliary soldiers would have been stationed implies that auxiliary troops used the lorica segmentata. However, it is entirely possible that the reason behind the presence of the lorica segmentata in these areas could because these areas had a small amount of legionaries stationed there. [1] On the Adamclisi Tropaeum the lorica segmentata does not appear at all, and legionaries and auxilia alike are depicted wearing the lorica squamata. Some experts are of the opinion that the Adamclisi monument is a more accurate portrayal of the situation, [5] the segmentata used rarely, maybe only for set-piece battles and parades. This viewpoint considers the figures in Trajan's Column to be highly stereotyped, in order to distinguish clearly between different types of troops. [6]

The plates in the lorica segmentata armour were made by overlapping ferrous plates that were then riveted to straps made from leather. [1] [7] [8] It is unknown what animal was used to make the leather and if the leather was tanned or tawed. [1] The plates were soft iron on the inside and rolled mild steel on the outside, [1] making the plates hardened against damage without becoming brittle. [9] This case hardening was done by packing organic matter tightly around them and heating them in a forge, transferring carbon from the burnt materials into the surface of the metal. [10] The plates were made from beating out ingots. [1] The strips were arranged horizontally on the body, overlapping downwards, and they surrounded the torso in two halves, being fastened at the front and back. The upper body and shoulders were protected by additional strips ("shoulder guards") and breast- and backplates. The form of the armour allowed it to be stored very compactly, since it was possible to separate it into four sections, each of which would collapse on itself into a compact mass. The fitments that closed the various plate sections together (buckles, lobate hinges, hinged straps, tie-hooks, tie-rings, etc.) were made of brass. In later variants dating from around 75–80 A.D., the fastenings of the armour were simplified. Bronze hinges were removed in favour of simple rivets, belt fastenings utilized small hooks, and the lowest two girdle plates were replaced by one broad plate. The component parts of the lorica segemtata moved in synchronization with the other parts. [1] This made it so the armor was more flexible. [1] [11] The armor was very long lasting. The Kalkriese type of armor lasted 55 years. the Corbridge armor lasted 70 years, and the Newsteadtype lasted 90 years. [1] Despite the longevity of the armor, all evidence points to the armor being very fragile. [1]

In Latin, the name lorica segmentata translates to "segmented cuirass." However, this name was not given to the armor by the Romans. Instead, it was given by scholars in the 16th century. [1] Despite the lack of knowledge on the Roman name for the armor, scholars can make educated guesses on the Roman name. It is obvious the name had the word lorica in its name. [1] However, the following part of the name is unknown. [1] Some scholars believe that the name was lorica lamminata. [1] This theory is based of the fact that the Romans referred to sheets of metal as lamina. [1] Although, there is no firm evidence for any theory regarding the name of the armor. [1]

Relief from Trajan's Column showing a legionary with lorica segmentata, manning a carroballista

Premodern armour

Types of armour generally fall into one of three main categories: (1) armour made of leather, fabric, or mixed layers of both, sometimes reinforced by quilting or felt, (2) mail, made of interwoven rings of iron or steel, and (3) rigid armour made of metal, horn, wood, plastic, or some other similar tough and resistant material. The third category includes the plate armour that protected the knights of Europe in the Middle Ages. That armour was composed of large steel or iron plates that were linked by loosely closed rivets and by internal leathers to allow the wearer maximum freedom of movement.

Presumably, the use of armour extends back beyond historical records, when primitive warriors protected themselves with leather hides and helmets. In the 11th century bce , Chinese warriors wore armour made of five to seven layers of rhinoceros skin, and ox hides were similarly used by the Mongols in the 13th century ce . Fabric armour too has a long history, with thick, multilayered linen cuirasses (armour covering the body from neck to waist) worn by the Greek heavy infantry of the 5th century bce and quilted linen coats worn in northern India until the 19th century.

The advantage of chain mail is that it is quite flexible yet relatively impervious to slashing strokes (though a thrusting weapon can force the rings apart in spite of their riveted closure). In the form of a simple shirt, mail was worn throughout the Roman Empire and beyond most of its frontiers, and mail formed the main armour of western Europe until the 14th century. In Europe strips of mail were also worn underneath plate armour to close any gaps left between the rigid plates. Mail shirts were worn in India and Persia until the 19th century, and the Japanese used mail to a limited extent from the 14th century, though the rings in Japanese mail were arranged in a variety of ways, producing a more open construction than that found in Europe. Mail sleeves, leg harnesses, and hoods have also been worn.

Ancient Greek infantry soldiers wore plate armour consisting of a cuirass, long greaves (armour for the leg below the knee), and a deep helmet—all of bronze. The Roman legionary wore a cylindrical cuirass made of four to seven horizontal hoops of steel with openings at the front and back, where they were laced together. The cuirass was buckled to a throat piece that was in turn flanked by several vertical hoops protecting each shoulder.

Apart from helmets, armour made of large plates was probably unknown in western Europe during the Middle Ages. Mail was the main defense of the body and limbs during the 12th and 13th centuries. Mail hoods covered the head and neck, and mail leggings covered the legs. Mail, however, did not possess the rigid glancing surface of plate armour, and, as soon as the latter could be made responsive to the movements of the body by ingenious construction, it replaced mail. Thus, plate armour of steel superseded mail during the 14th century, at first by local additions to knees, elbows, and shins, until eventually the complete covering of articulated plate was evolved. A complete suit of German armour from about 1510 shows a metal suit with flexible joints covering its wearer literally from head to toe, with only a slit for the eyes and small holes for breathing in a helmet of forged metal. The armour suits of royalty and aristocrats were often elaborately gilded, etched, and embossed with fine decoration.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, improvements in hand firearms forced armourers to increase the thickness and, therefore, the weight of their products, until finally plate armour was largely abandoned in favour of increased mobility. Armour cuirasses and helmets were still used in the 17th century, but plate armour largely disappeared from infantry use in the 18th century because of its cost, its lowered effectiveness against contemporary weapons, and its weight.

Why was the Roman Army so Successful?

The legions of Rome were one of the biggest factors in Rome's success as an empire. They conquered vast quantities of land, and were often used by the government to improve the morale of people living in cities, which often had parts that were cramped and unsanitary. The legions were set apart from contemporary armies due to their level of organisation and especially as they fought as a unit and not as individuals, as many tribes did.

The swords of the Roman Legionaries were different to many people at the time. This figure shows a sword, or gladius, found by archaeologists. Though the hilt, guard and pommel have rotted away - showing that they were probably made primarily from wood - the tang and blade remain. The sword was narrow, so that it could fit between small gaps between shields in the close formations favoured by the Romans, and also so that it could easily slide between the ribs, reaching the internal organs and maximising damage, although soldiers were often encouraged to go for the throat and groin the location of several major arteries.

The thicker fuller of the blade tapering away at the edges allowed for sharper blades. A slight discolouration running down the centre of the blade may indicate a 'blood groove', through which blood could run so that the sword did not get stuck in the wound as easily. The sword was also very narrow, and this was probably done purposely, in order to stop soldiers overextending or slashing away, and encouraging thrusting, which was and is harder to parry, as the sword has to be knocked from its path, rather than just blocked.

Flavius Vegetius Renatus, in 'De Re Militari Book I: The Selection and Training of New Levies', which was written in 390 A.D, says that "a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal", as well as citing the reason that "the body is covered while a thrust is given", whereas when slashing, "it is impossible to avoid exposing the right arm and side". This picture shows a Pompeii style sword, which was on Trajan's Column: Trajan had the column made in around 100 AD to commemorate military victories. This gives a very good idea of the size and shape of an original Roman Sword.

Another weapon generally used by the legions was the pilum, plural pila. The head shown in this image was estimated to have come from the first or second century AD it can be seen that the head was considerably wider than the neck. The base of the throwing spear was made from wood, which has rotted away. The spear was designed to have considerable penetrating capabilities, as the shaft was very heavy - and sometimes weighted with lead. A pair of demoralizing volleys would kill many of the enemy, and those that landed in shields could not be taken out very easily, as the neck bent on impact, so that it could not be pulled straight out. The pila encouraged the enemy to flee, and if a rain of missiles was kept up, only the most disciplined troops would stand. Each legionary would have carried two of these spears, to be thrown on command, and each man had to be able to throw one at least 30 metres.

The Roman shield played a large part in the defence of the legionaries, and could also be used as an offensive weapon.

Made from layered wood, a legionary's shield could block all but the most penetrating of blows. With a metal rim to ram down on fallen enemies and hold the layers together under blows, and a large metal boss to ram into the enemy and deflect central blows, legionaries learned to use the shield well both offensively and defensively. When in formation, the shields synergized with each other, forming a near impenetrable wall, through which the legionaries could still stab to deadly effect.

One of the most famous Roman tactics was to form a testudo, or tortoise, using shields for cover. This picture details a part of Trajan's column, and this piece depicts Roman legionaries assaulting a fort under the cover of their shields. Due to the tightness of the formation, soldiers could also on occasion have enough spare shields to armour the front and sides of the formation, as shown in the above image. Used mainly to counter missile troops, the shields took great strength to hold up for sustained periods of time. An example of the enemy that it was used to counter is British slingers. These men used strips of leather and ovoid lead shots to great effect, as each bullet could shatter a legionary's bone, finishing his career in the legions, even if he survived the trauma, and generally forcing him to beg for the remainder of his life. The small size of these missiles allowed some to fit through small gaps between the shields, but the majority were stopped whilst the legion marched on. This picture shows an example of a sling bullet: This bullet is probably Seleucid in origin, as seen from the anchor, and was used between 220 and 130 BC, in the siege of Dor.

A considerable obstacle to the Legions was the number of small rivers and streams. Gradually, the legions became better at engineering, until every soldier was able to complete his part of a simple pontoon bridge, as shown here: Also taken from Trajan's column. These pontoon bridges were constructed from boats, over which planking was laid. When horses were required to cross, a small layer of earth was sometimes put on the bridge, to reassure them. Stone Roman bridges remain famous for their durability to this day, and their three or four arches was a roman concept, so that weight on the top of the bridge merely forced the keystones of the arches in further, increasing the strength of the bridge. The legions were also responsible for the construction and maintenance of these bridges during peacetime.

This picture shows the Pons Fabricius, which was one of the biggest bridges of Roman times, and spanned half the width of the River Tiber - to an island in the middle. This picture shows that the bridge is still standing today:

The legions were and still are famous for their extremely straight roads, which cut down travelling times between major cities. The map shown, courtesy of, details the 53,000 miles of roads of the Roman empire, all constructed by the army, with milestones to tell travellers how far they had to go:

This is one of the many milestones along the Via Appia. Standing out from their surroundings, they provided travellers and, more importantly, armies, with important information about where the road led and how far it was.

The high mobility of the legions was one of their keys to success, as in times of war armies could be easily amalgamated and marched at speed along the wide stone roads.

This shows a modern diagram of a cross section of one of these roads, revealing why it was so successful. The centre of the road was normally raised, in order to maintain a dry surface, and rainwater was channelled into drainage ditches on either side of the road. This image shows the Via Appia - a road out of Rome still surviving to this day. Many Roman roads are still used today, though they have been resurfaced, such as Watling Street. Taken again from Trajan's column, this picture shows Roman legionaries cutting down trees in order to create a cleared route for a new road - Josephus says in Book 3 chapter 6 that "Vespasian sent… ten out to every hundred… to cut down the woods that hindered their march".

When Roman Legions went on the march, they nearly always - there were some exceptions - set up a temporary camp in order to have an easily defensible position in case they were attacked at night.

Josephus says in Book 3 Chapter 5, that "the outward circumference hath the resemblance to a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances… They also erect four gates, one at every side of the circumference, and those large enough for the entrance of the beasts, and wide enough for making excursions… They divide the camp within into streets… the tents of the commanders in the middle… a trench is drawn round the whole".

It is well known that the Roman Legions kept their camps in the same order every single time, so that firstly every legionary knew his way around and also so that soldiers would feel at home even if they travelled to the other side of the empire - the camp would be almost exactly the same in layout.

This shows the layout of a large, more permanent Roman camp. Josephus writes that each camp had at least 4 gateways, one on each side of the camp, and that these were high enough and wide enough to take horses and exit the camp in large numbers. He details a wall, which would have been cut and built by the legionaries, and a ditch in front of the wall, the earth from this forming the rampart into which the stakes were fixed. These preparations would have created a very formidable obstacle to any attacker, no matter how large, especially when equidistant towers were raining down fire. Tents were for 8 or 10 men, depending on the size of the legion, and set far enough back from the wall so as not to catch fire from any burning projectiles that may have crossed the wall.

Roman Legionaries' footwear was very important to them, as a lot of their work involved marching along hard roads. This sandal sole would have been reinforced with iron hobnails to make it last longer - iron wears down a lot slower than leather. Additionally, the iron would have made a lot of noise on the stone of the roads, and would have impressed anyone who saw the legion passing.

This tin plated bronze helmet was an item essential for survival for any legionary. The domed top would deflect anything but a direct hit perpendicular to the surface, whilst the front peak would stop a blade sliding down the front of the helmet onto the face. The rear of the helmet flared out to protect the neck, and two hinged cheek pieces protected the sides of the face. The front was left open, as vision was a legionary's most useful tool. The ears themselves are also exposed to enable the legionary to hear shouted orders in a battle.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the Roman army was superior to all others at the time due to superior weaponry and fighting techniques. Fighting in formation and as a unit allowed the Romans to easily overcome any larger tribe that fought as individuals. The camps offered a safe place to retire to each night, and very strong and durable roads and bridges allowed the highest mobility of any infantry army of the time. The Roman army was probably the most advanced in Europe for nearly a thousand years, as most of their techniques were lost after their demise.

Officer Equipment

Officers could, of course, dress very differently from anyone else and there seems to be set pattern to the styles. They did have very fine dyed cloaks of various colors to signify rank. They generally wore a muscled cuirass and used a parazonium instead of a gladius both described below.

Lorica Musculata

The muscled cuirass was a bronze chest piece made in two pieces, one for the front and one for the back, and buckled together at the sides. These were well decorated with animal, mythological and chest muscle designs.


The more ornate sword carried by officers, the hilt of which could be in the form of an eagle head, or lobed. It can be slung on a narrow shoulder baldric but is more often simply cradled in the left arm, and the fingers of the left hand can be forked over the lobed pommel.


Straps that hung off the shoulders and waist and covering the upper arms and legs, were made of leather. They were implemented to protect the arms and legs, while conserving the use of metal.

Legions of Rome: The Definitive History of Every Imperial Roman Legion

By Stephen Dando-Collins

In this landmark publication, Stephen Dando-Collins does what no other author has ever attempted to do: provide a complete history of every Imperial Roman legion. Based on thirty years of meticulous research, he covers every legion of Rome in rich detail.

Featuring more than 150 maps, photographs, diagrams and battle plans, Legions of Rome is an essential read for ancient history enthusiasts, military history experts and general readers alike.

Watch the video: a Roman Legionarys armour and equipment (August 2022).