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Ancient Weapons I

Have you ever heard of ‘murder holes?’ This is just one of the ways that ancient civilizations would fight against their enemies. In this article, you will also learn about the ancient Chinese use of metal and one of the first ‘guns.’

The Use of Metal in Ancient Weapons

When archeologists analyzed weapons discovered in ancient Chinese burial pits, they learned that ancient bronze tips of crossbow bolts and swords showed no sign of corrosion. This is because the bronze had been coated with chromium , a silvery metallic chemical element that can become highly polished with a high melting point. The artifacts dated back to the late 3rd century BC, which was characterize by the Qin Dynasty. They were buried more than 2,000 years ago.

The Ancient Gun

During medieval times, people used their version of gun (called a culverin) while often riding on horseback. The culverin was comprised of a simple smoothbore tube, which was closed at one end. A small hole was found there that allowed the firing of gunpowder. A wooden piece held the tube in place, which some positioned under the arm. The tube was loaded with gunpowder and lead bullets. When a lighted cord was inserted into the hole, the culverin was fired.

The hand culverin changed throughout the years , becoming heavier and more portable. The models to follow would swivel, which helped a user to aim better. Other advancements included easier reloading and models that were brought onto ships, which opened the doors for the creation of the modern cannon.

Fighting with Nails

Made up of two or more sharp nails, the caltrop was primarily used against opponents who were advancing with the help of an animal. The point of the weapon was to slow down the movement of horses, war elephants, fleets of camels, as well as human troops. Iron caltrops date back as early as 331 BC and were sometimes referred to by other names. The Romans called the weapon a tribulus (or Murex ferreus), which translated into ‘jagged iron’.  The weapon was also used during modern times, including the Vietnam War, where the points were covered in manure or poison.

Boiling Oil

There’s a reason why your parents warned you to stay away from hot oil , it can do a lot of damage to the skin. During ancient times, boiling oil was used as a way to keep people from scaling the walls of a city or castle. The oil was poured on top of the enemy, causing them to scream in agony and fall to the ground.

The oil was donated to the cause by the women, who typically used it to cook their meals. If the town ran out of oil, they boiled water instead. This form of keeping enemies at bay also affected the way castles were built. Architects actually constructed structures with special holes in the sides to make it easier to pour hot liquids on climbing opponents. These features were often referred to as ‘murder-holes.’ The holes were also used for the launching of arrows at attackers, as well as for tossing rocks.