Mon 10 Aug 20 in History

Unusual weapons of the past

#Archaeology

Tool development throughout history has shaped and created borders. Technological improvements condensing into weapons have a place in history along with the people that created and used them.

Seeing as war and fighting has always been a part of mankind’s struggle, weapon development makes sense, and these are some unusual looking ones. 

 

Khopesh

Thinking about Ancient Egypt, images of pharaohs, pyramids, and mummies come to mind. Lavish palaces and mighty rulers going toe to toe with Romans and creating the most imposing mortuary complexes and temples that are popular around the globe. Their extensive knowledge extended to weapon-making as well, in the form of the khopesh.

The sickle shape of this sword made from bronze initially and iron later had a length of between 50 and 60 cm. Its curved shape allowed the wielder to pull at an opponent’s shield and swiftly deal a fatal blow.

The blade was sharp on the bottom part of the curve and it is estimated to be from 2500 BCE. Two such swords were even found in the burial chamber of one of the most famous pharaohs, Tutankhamun. 

 

 

Ball-headed war club

Native American tribes are a cultural treasure trove in America and many of their traditions have been lost to colonialist ambitions. Attempts have been made to preserve the cultural value of these tribes so we can know details about them now.

Along with traditions and beliefs, tools, and interesting weapons of native American tribes can be viewed and studied now. One such interesting weapon is the ball-headed war club, used by the Iroquois tribe and dates back to prehistoric times.

Old and lethal, the club was made of either stone or wood with a spherical head. Perfect for close contact combat, sometimes with feather decorated handles or paint. The aesthetic of this weapon sets it apart from other bludgeon type weapons and was even used ceremonially.

 

Chinese Hook Sword

China has a long history, with dynasties, war, skirmishes, and traditions. They are very well known for martial arts practices and discipline, and these aspects manifest themselves in crafting many different types of weapons to fit certain martial disciplines. Chinese hook swords have a very distinctive appearance that catches the eye and stirs up curiosity as to how they were used in battle. Utilized in Northern China, these blades are thought to date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

The swords themselves have long sharp blades, hook-tips, crescent blade guards at the hilt, and sharp hilt dagger-like extensions. The hook part would have been a very useful component as it could be used to trap an opponent’s weapon and disarm them in the process, also linking the two blades by the hooks made it into a rage weapon.

The hook swords were not used by the military, so it was mainly a civilian weapon of choice. Their distinctive features have paved their way into pop-culture via movies and video games as they are been featured in the 2001 film “Crouching tiger, hidden dragon”, in Mortal Kombat, and even in an animated show called “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.

 

Macuahuitl

Coming back to the American continent, we find the Aztec, another native group of people with a distinctive culture, beliefs, and traditions, and especially imaginative weapon crafting. The Macuahuitl hails from here and looks like a wide wooden paddle with obsidian shards on its sides.

Most of the damage dealt by this weapon would have been through tearing of the flesh and bludgeoning with the point and side parts.

The usefulness of it would have been the replaceable obsidian shards and tearing capabilities they possessed. The contrasting color of the black obsidian also gave the Macuahuitl an impressive look. 

 

Nest Of Bees

As weirdly as throwing a nest of bees at an opponent sounds like, this weapon actually refers to gun powder powered arrows. Another Chinese invention from the 14th century, it basically was the precursor equivalent to mini rocket launchers.

The arrows, around 32 of them, were placed into a hexagonal wooden tube with gun powder stuck to their ends and fired into enemies. Each individual arrow also had a little slot inside the hexagon onto which in rested until sprung into action.

As far as range weapons go, these little stingers could be considered primitive bullets.