This page is just a notebook. Spears are surprisingly neglected, with some recent books relying on appeals to 19th century authorities rather than specific artefacts, paintings, or comparative evidence. My Call for Sources: Spears in the Imperium Romanum lists some places to look for comparative evidence, How Long are the Spears of the Warriors at Susa? looks at art as a source.
Some useful articles are:
- J.K. Anderson, “Hoplite Weapons and Offensive Arms,” in V.D. Hanson (ed.), Hoplites: The Classical Greek Battle Experience (1991)
- Kevin de Groote, “All your Strength is in your Spears”
- Sekunda, “Sarissa”
- Krentz, “A Cup by Douris”
- Xen. Hunt 10.3 on boar-spears
Paul Bardunias found four examples in the Beazley Archive Pottery Database where a Greek hoplite’s spear seems to have a wrapping where it is supposed to be gripped https://www.cvaonline.org/XDB/ASP/searchOpen.asp#aHeader
- Beazley 15114 http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/record/AB0478A9-6AF0-4EFE-9997-2E3ABF075C5B
- Beazley 213821 (Vatican, Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano, 16571) http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/record/54E052ED-F867-427B-8D73-BE07FA3937C6
- Beazley 209252 (private collection) http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/record/4072A6B8-0683-40F6-A264-4E1339725910
- Beazley 9036830 (Lucanian, by the Dolon Painter) http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/record/71792525-7D25-4979-BDBB-0217C0B44669
He also found a sculpture of a horseman with a long spear and a short spear from an Osprey book by Nicholas Sekunda: the grave stele of Panaitios, National Archaeological Museum, Athens. The long spear is about 1.62 times as long as its wielder, so it he is 170 cm tall, the spear is 275 cm long.
I will continue to add notes here, but spears really deserve a more detailed treatment than I an afford to write here!
There is some evidence that the points of spears could be covered with a case or sheath like the blade of a knife, sword, or axe (Aristophanes, Acharnians, 1120 and the archaeological finds and ethnographic parallels below). Just remember that ‘sometime’ is not everyone, everytime. Massive artistic and written evidence shows spears commonly being carried with bare points, and this meets modern experience that its easier to have accidents with short firearms than long guns. In artwork and archaic poetry, arms and armour were often stored on the inside walls of the house, and as Xenophon says they were no more dangerous than many other common tools.
Anonymous, “Early Medieval Spear Sheaths,” Project Forlog: Reenactment and Science (2022) https://sagy.vikingove.cz/en/early-medieval-spear-sheaths/