The Republican Gladius used in the 2nd century BC is the descendant of the Iberian Gladius (drawing on the right). It is during the Second Punic War that the Romans have upgraded their swords to the Iberian type. These models known today as the "Gladius Hispaniensis" have received this nickname by the Romans surprisingly 2 centuries later, which tend to prove among other things, an evolution and an adaptation of their blades rather than a pure and simple replacement. The blades from these swords are of much higher quality than those manufactured in Italy. Both more flexible and sharper, the forging process makes the difference. This is made by successive hammering enriching its structure in carbon at certain temperatures. Further its soaking method will give it unmatched qualities for the time.
I Blade of the early Hispanic models.
II Standart shorter blade typical of the second century BC.
III A Late republican blade with a thinner point.
III B Blade profile, showing the reinforcement of the blade at its point to pierce mail shirts.
IV Pompei type blade of the 1st century Ad model, displayed here for comparison purpose.
With this view you can see the whole gladius in order to get a better idea.
The same swords in their respectives scabbards
Above are 2 reconstituted models the first in green from an original found in Algeria, and the second in red found in Spain.
It should be noted that longer blades in use on the oldest models will gradually shorten in time. The Gladius is primarily a thrust weapon and in a hand to hand fighting a shorter blade is better adapted.