Covering the Blade. Archaeological Leather Sheaths and Scabbards

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THE book on scabbards for daggers and swords from the 12th to the 17th century.

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Since 1968 several thousand leather artefacts have been recovered in the city of Dordrecht, ranging in date from the 12th century through to the 17th century. At that time, Olaf Goubitz was employed at the Rijksdienst voor Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek (ROB) and was able to devote his time to the leather and thus the organic conservation lab was established.

Over the years the quantity and importance of the Dordrecht archaeological leather finds made it obvious they certainly merited publication. In 2002 the leather footwear from Dordrecht and other sites was presented in Stepping Through Time. A chapter on Roman footwear by Carol van Driel-Murray and the Prehistoric footwear by Willy Groenman-van Waateringe completed the chronological range. The archaeological leather purses, bags and other small containers from Dordrecht and other sites appeared in Purses in Pieces in 2007.

The third book was to cover the knife sheaths and sword scabbards from Dordrecht, numbering more than 300 to date. Goubitz had already begun to draw the decorated knife sheaths from Dordrecht that passed through his hands. The Medieval archaeological leather sheath and scabbard finds from the city of Dordrecht form the core collection for this volume, the third in the trilogy after Stepping Through Time and Purses in Pieces. It was finished by Marquita Volken.

As with the previous volumes, a wider picture is presented, thus incorporating chapters on Prehistoric, Roman and modern period sheaths and scabbards from other sites in the Netherlands and Europe. Sheaths and scabbards are covers for blades, so here scissors, agricultural tools and specialized knives are included along with knives, daggers and swords. The aim, apart from presenting the Dordrecht collection, is also to provide a framework for research: chronology, typology, decoration styles, plus accessory items like suspension methods, cover-guards and handle grips in leather. A useful research technique for understanding a leather archaeological object is to reconstruct it. A select number of sheaths and scabbards have been reconstructed, providing insights on construction, decoration and functional aspects.

Volken, M., O. Goubitz

Paperback, 304 pp Rijk geïllustreerd.