Oct 25, 2013

Weapons & Warriors: The Khopesh of the Egyptians


Art by TL Jeffcoat
This curved sword was designed with the concept of combining the war axe and the sickle. The Khopesh is probably one of the strangest looking swords ever made. The isolation of ancient Egypt is one of the reasons their culture is so different than their neighbors. They had their own pantheon of deities and their own unique arsenal of weaponry. You can always tell when something is modeled after ancient Egyptian culture as opposed to anywhere else in the world.

The Khopesh was around two feet (60 centimeters) in length. The blade was molded from bronze and sometimes the leather wrapped handle was decorated with electrum (silver and gold mixed metal). The outer curve of the blade was sharpened while the inner side was dull. Overall it was a light weighted weapon which is ideal for carrying around the desert.

 Slashing at the enemy like a sabre was the most common technique since the Khopesh wasn't really designed for thrusting like a typical long sword. The curvature of the blade made it stronger and the thick blade gave it extra cutting power for dismembering exposed limbs. Another use of the curve was to hook an opponent’s arm or weapon and then jerk it to unbalance or disarm them. The curve was also useful for thrusting around shields. The sharp tip of the blade would easily slide around the shield and into the arm or any body part that was hiding behind the shield. That ability alone is enough to make the Khopesh design one of the most lethal ever used against shielded opponents. The standard off hand tool when wielding a Khopesh is ironically a shield. I guess that was probably best since most of Egypt’s enemies weren’t using weapons that were as effective at getting around them.

The Khopesh was not just a sword crafted for war. It also served as a symbol of authority and nobility and many were crafted with great care to be purchased and buried with the royals who ruled the land. These versions are completely ceremonial and archeologists that find these in tombs have noted that they had never been sharpened. 

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.


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