During the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had a wide range of weapons at their disposal, including spears, daggers, maces, and the cudgel , a short thick club. In this article, you will also learn about weaponry used by the ancient Romans and during the Middle Ages.
Ancient Egyptian Weapons
As time passed, the Egyptians used quivers and battle axes. Starting in the 11th dynasty, (around 2000 BCE), they would use hammers to harden copper that was turned into some of the earliest metal arrowheads.
The early Egyptian army relied on the bow and arrow. Some of the best archers belonged to a group known as the Nubian mercenaries. Over time, this form of weaponry became more advanced, such as the introduction of the composite bow, which was comprised of horn, sinews and wood. The Egyptians were able to engage in swift attacks at long range when they used the composite bow while riding in their war chariot.
When Egyptians of the New Kingdom went into battle, they carried spears, battle axes, daggers, and sickleswords, which were often referred to as a ‘weapon of victory.’ Quickly, this weapon was the commonly carried by infantrymen. The bowmen would break up enemy forces with their arrows. They entered battle either on foot or on chariots. The infantry would follow to further break up the ranks using their hand weapons, maces with wooden handles, hatchets, clubs, swords, and daggers.
Spears were also used by ancient Egyptians for stabbing their opponents. This weapon allowed them to take advantage of a longer reach. In addition to their bows and arrows, charioteers also used a number of spears to use when they ran out of arrows.
A Larger Version of the Crossbow
The Europeans are known for making the most out of the crossbow as a weapon. The larger version of the crossbow was called an arbalest. The larger size of the arbalest meant that it produced a greater force that maximized its higher strength of steel. One who used the arbalest was called an arbalestier. If he was skilled, he could shoot two bolts per minute. The arbalest was a controversial weapon. Some believed it was an unfair or inhumane method of combat because the inexperienced fighter could more easily kill a trained knight.
The ancient Romans relied on crossbows, which had replaced the hand bow as the weapon of choice. While the longbow promised a greater range, better accuracy and faster rate of shooting, it took much longer to become skilled in its use. The crossbow only took about a week of training before someone could effectively kill another with it.
The Middle Ages found a way to make good use of the dead and decaying bodies that succumbed to plague or other unknown diseases. It was customary during those days to gather behind the sweeping walls of their castles where it was difficult for the enemy to enter. However, the downside to this type of protection was that they could not gain access to their sources of fresh water. Some people would dump dead bodies in the rivers that led into town to create chaos. Over time, the plague would attack the town and the people would die of the sickness.