This is an exceptional armoring-piercing iron cavalry lance spearhead of the ancient Near Eastern Ghaznavid Empire. The Ghaznavid Empire was a unique and important part of world history where Eastern and Western influences converged. The dynasty represented an unusual melding of early Arabic Islam and nomadic culture. Very little of this empire has survived today and despite being once an enormous militaristic dominating force, rarely are ANY artifacts from the culture seen available for acquisition including weapons. Once mounted on a long shaft handle and wielded by a mounted cavalry soldier, this iron socketed cavalry spear features a 4-sided narrow head. The slim, non-barbed design would allow the mounted soldier to penetrate armor as well as allow repeated use without the risk of the spear becoming lodged in the enemy. Cavalry weapons of this period are uncommon and rare in the market.
The spear is very large and complete with an incised neck and geometric decorative base to the spear body. Professionally cleaned and conserved in our museum lab facility to ensure against further deterioration.
The Ghaznavid Empire was named after the city of Ghazni in modern Afghanistan where its founder was freed from slavery and led a subsequent revolt, freeing a great number of people from the former Samanid Dynasty. It emerged from Turkic mamluk soldier slaves of the Samanids and included a unique blend of eastern and western influences. The Ghaznavids flourished in power from 977 - 1186 A.D.. In its height, the Ghaznavid Empire included all of Persia, Transoxania and Northern India.
The Ghaznavid Empire is most notably associated with Mahmud, the son of its founder Sebuktigin. As a devout Muslim, Mahmud reshaped the Ghaznavids from their pagan Turkic origins into an Islamic dynasty and expanded the frontiers of Islam. With fierce military power and tactics, he created an empire that stretched from the Oxus to the Indus Valley and the Indian Ocean. Amongst many achievements, he is attributed with the development of the Urdu language which is a mixture of Farsi, Turkish, Arabic and Sanskrit. Urdu became the language for India and Pakistan in Arabic script.
In the Indian subcontinent, Mahmud is most famously (or infamously) known for supplanting Hinduism with Islam by devastating military campaigns. Indian invasions of Mahmud were specifically directed to temple towns as Indian temples were depositories of great wealth and the economic and ideological centers of gravity for the Hindus. The Ghaznavids brought Islam to India by "fire and sword" as Mahmud once put it, and returned with fabulous riches taken from both Indian princes and temples. During this time visitors to and residents of Ghazni wrote with wonder of the ornate architecture of its buildings, the great libraries, the sumptuousness of the court ceremonies and of the wealth of precious objects owned by Ghazni's citizens. The seemingly never-ending victories of Mahmud the Ghazni brought incredible wealth and opulence into his power and he transformed the city of Ghazni into a jewel in the crown of the Islamic Caliphate of the 11th century A.D.. By 1040 A.D., a turning point for the worse came with a horrible defeat of the Ghaznavids by the Seljuk Turks which removed all the Iranian and Central Asian region from Ghazni power. By 1130 A.D., another crushing defeat took away the control of all the Indian territories and the Ghaznavid Empire did all it could to survive until its total eradication in 1186 A.D..
The Ghaznavid military was a formidable power. Its elite palace guard comprised 4,000-6,000 heavy cavalry. The remaining force brought the total army count to around 30,000 strong. The Ghaznavid cavalry was armed with recurve bows, maces, battleaxes, long curved swords, and even lances but this varied by soldier depending on their ethnic origin. Maces were particularly considered a weapon of military prowess and heroism. Their horses were either lightly or not armored at all.
Regular infantry wore chain mail coats and carried metal shields covered in leather. They were equipped with long recurve bows and spears and for close hand-to-hand combat, they carried a mace or short sword on a belt. The regular foot auxiliary soldiers sometimes fought on camels, horses or mules but often would dismount and fight on ground once fully deployed. Subordinated Hindu princes were required to pay tribute in elephants and large annual counts were held where as many as 1670 "battle-ready" elephants were documented. A standing force of 1000 elephants was kept at Ghazni. Historians have recorded forces of 400-700 elephants in individual battles, with each elephant bearing a crew of four spearmen or archers. The Ghaznavid baggage trains also employed elephants. Their war elephants were fearsome military weapons, heavily armored with castle-like structures on their backs housing the soldiers and with heavy plate armor protecting their bodies. Their tusks were even equipped with poison covered giant blades. War elephants were often used as individual mobile independent forces with a supporting mini-army and cavalry of warriors. Riskier but more effective tactics employed the elephants in solid battle lines where they charged into the center of an enemy force and literally crushed and destroyed paths of all that got in their way.
WARNING: There is a number of fake and misidentified ancient weapons on the market. As fine quality intact, original specimens become more scarce and techniques have become more sophisticated to fake these weapons. We inspect, clean and conserve in our lab every specimen we offer for sale. Our extensive experience with handling thousands of pieces from museum and private collections has afforded us rare and invaluable experience with authentic specimens as well as convincing forgeries. The degree to which the fakers have been able to replicate patina to disguise their work requires an expert examination by highly experienced individuals. It is common to find very reasonably priced weapons that are made up of part original and part modern components or wholly modern pieces displaying elaborate artificial patinas. All purchases should include from the dealer a written guarantee of authenticity with unconditional and lifetime return policies regarding such guarantee.