Top 10 Popular Ancient Weapons

Power hungry humankind has always been searching for the perfect arsenal. Empires carved out in history were often a result of strategic planning, political ingenuity and the most sophisticated warfare of their times. The selection of weapons at times proved to be the extra edge to win the battle or be slaughtered on the field. The lands of the earth have been bleeding from one century to another, the only difference has been the styles and choice of the weapon wielded.

Note: This article has few modern weapons. We decided to use both Ancient and Modern Weapons to make it more interesting.

 10. Roman Scissor

Roman Scissor

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 18 in
Weight: 5 Lbs
Configuration: Hardened Steel
Used by: Roman Gladiators

The Scissor is a rather unusual weapon found in Ancient Rome used by the class of gladiators who were also named Scissors. The Scissors as gladiators are not very well described in history. The weapon has two parts: a long tube that protects the arm of the gladiator and from the end of the tube a long thin cylindrical shaped pipe with a crescent shaped blade at the end is attached. It is this unique looking element of the weapon that made it popular among the connoisseurs in the audience.

The Scissors class gladiators often fought with the Retiarius class whose specialty was the net like the weapon they used. So scissor can be said to be used to cut this net or to slaughter the opponent. The tube-like structure that is attached to the arm can be used as a shield to block attacks. The shape and nature of the weapon make it both versatile and lethal that is capable blocking opponent’s blows, stabbing, and slashing.

9. Shuriken

Shuriken weapon

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 2 to 21 cm (5–8 1⁄2 in)
Weight: 35 to 150 grams
Configuration: Heavy GradeSteel
Used by: Japanese

The Shuriken is a well known Japanese weapon often described in popular culture as the ninja star. The Shuriken is used as a concealed weapon for self-defense rather than direct attack. The Shuriken comes in different varieties. It is the Hira Shuriken which most resembles the popular culture of Shuriken. It is a pointed weapon like a star with different numbers of edges and style. It is made out of sharp edged tools including metals, coins, etc. The exposed parts of the body are more vulnerable to the Shuriken like the eyes, hands, face, etc. It was often used by the Samurais as a part of their weapon. The effect of the Shuriken was to generate an attack as if made by an invisible swordsman.

 8. Bagh Nakh

Bagh Nakh weapons india

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 6.6″ main claws: 1.75″ side spike
Weight: 2 oz
Configuration: Metal
Used by: Indians

Bagh Nakh was also known as Bagh Naka which means Tiger Claws is a claw like a weapon from Ancient India. The weapon was replicated from the natural weapons of the big cats which are their claws. There are four to five curved blades which were used to slash through the skin and the muscle. There are two holes on the side of the weapon to fit in the thumb and the pinky finger concealing the blades within the palm. An Additional knife like weapon is also added to the sides which can be used for stabbing and thrusting. The Bagh Nakh is often associated with the Marathi warrior Shivaji who used the weapon to kill Afzal Khan, one of the generals during the Moghul rule.

 7. Madu

Madu ancient indian weapons

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 24 inch
Weight: 3 to 14 lbs
Configuration: Steel
Used by: Indians

The Madu is another weapon from Ancient India. It is also more commonly known as maru. It is made from blackbuck horns pointing in opposite directions joined by a crossbar which also acts as a handle. More variations also include an addition of a shield for defensive purpose. In later years the weapon was made out of steel. It is believed to have been originated in South India and was used mostly as a defensive weapon to ward off counter moves. The pointed horns may be used for stabbing and thrusting in offensive attacks.

 6. Hypaspist


Specification of the Weapon
Length: 24 inch
Weight: 3 to 14 lbs
Configuration: Steel
Used by: Indians

Unlike other arsenals and weapons on the list, the Hypaspist is not a weapon but rather the elite infantry soldiers who served in the army of Alexander the Great. Hypaspist in Greek translates as shield bearers. The Hypaspist were known for their strength, agility, and courage. A small number of the Hypaspist also served as the King’s Royal Guard. The veteran soldiers in the Hypaspist became the silver shields (as they held silver shields) also known as argyraspids. The Silver Shields were mostly elderly warriors but were revered and feared due to their skill and experience in battle.

 5. Zhua

zhua ancient chinese weapons

Specification of the Weapon
Length: Determined by size
Weight: Determined by size
Configuration: Iron
Used by: Chinese

Zhua, the weapon from Ancient China is one of the most unusual weapons in history. The character for Zhua in Chinese translates as claw or animal feet. The weapon has a long handle and a claw like figure with sharp blades at the edge. It is used to rip away the weapons and shields of the enemy. The Zhua can be used to impale flesh and then rip it off of the opponent. It has the capacity to pull off a solider from a mounted horse if used professionally. The weight of the iron Zhua is also heavy enough to kill and can be used for bludgeoning, but the sharp claws make it more dangerous and leave the opponent exposed to multiple risks.

 4. Shotel

Shotel ancient Ethopian Weapons

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 40 in (Blade)
Weight: Unknown
Configuration: Unknown
Used by: Ancient Ethiopian

The Shotel is a curved sword originating from Abyssinia or the present day Ethiopia. The blade is almost semi-curved. It was used by both mounted and unmounted soldiers. The curved nature of the sword is focused on delivering stabs to vital organs like the kidneys and the lungs, as it can strike over the shield of the opponent. The Abyssinians did not use fencing in swordplay, thus the Shotel is not primarily made to cut or slice. The blade is flat, double-edged and is about 40 inches long. The hilt is a simple wooden piece. It is believed to have been originated during the medieval times and withstood the western influence during the 19th century.

 3. Khopesh

Khopesh weapons

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 50 – 60 cm
Weight:  7 lbs
Configuration: Bronze and Steel
Used by: Egyptian

The Khopesh is a sickle sword from Ancient Egypt. Swords were not common in Egypt, and daggers and short swords of different types were often used with the exception of the Khopesh. The Khopesh is a thick crescent shaped blade. It is around 50 to 60 centimeters long. The inside of the hook is not sharpened but the outer part has a single cutting edge. The weapon could also be used as a hook and a bludgeoning tool. It was often made of bronze and even of iron. Some Pharaohs have been portrayed with the Khopesh with some found in their graves.

2. Spartan Hoplon Shield

Spartan Hoplon Shield

Specification of the Weapon
Length: 7 to 9 feet
Weight:  30 lbs
Configuration: Bronze and Steel
Used by: Egyptian

The Spartan’s are often remembered for their circular shields. These are known as Hoplon or even Aspis. These shields were made out of wood and the outer part was covered with bronze. It weighed around 30 pounds and measured 3 ft in diameter. One of the unique features of the shield was the way it was held. The handle was at the edge of the shield supported by a leather strap in the center. It was this technique that allowed the soldiers to freely move their arms during battles. The size of the shield also acted as a floating device. The Hoplon shield could also be used for bludgeoning and killing due to its weight and blunt nature. The shield was primarily for defensive purpose but was used by the Spartans for gaining an advantage by surprise.

 1. Flaming(Fire) Arrows

flaming fire arrow

Specification of the Weapon
Length: No specific length
Weight:  No Specific Weight
Configuration: Wood/steel wool
Used by: Many Ancient civilizations

Flaming arrows were used throughout medieval times as a thermal weapon. Romans, Assyrians, Judeans and many others used the flaming arrows. The fire arrow, with rockets attached to arrows, were invented by the Chinese during the Song dynasty. Many variations of the fire arrows and flaming arrows were used by the Japanese and Koreans. The simplest of flaming arrows had oil or resin soaked tows tied below the arrowhead. These were effective against wooden structures. In the fire arrow developed by the Chinese, gunpowder filled pouch was attached to the shaft of the arrow to provide propulsive force. It was launched from a platform through cylinders or boxes with as many as 1000 of them. Propelled by the gunpowder, the arrows could have a range of around 1000 feet.

Final Conclusion:

Weapons from the ancient world were nasty, brutal and ruthless. They were not only a unique, but also displayed high levels of analytical and critical skills from the past. Their uniqueness and the material choice could be enough to startle, surprise and eventually slaughter the enemy. The weapon choice was often a crucial part of the battle strategy, for example, the Spartans used their big Hoplon shield alongside other weapons to march forward and disarm the opponent.

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