For centuries, swords, knives, and daggers have been the weapons of choice for soldiers all over the world. These lethal weapons changed the course of battles and instilled fear and intrigue. Some weapons become as well-known as their owners, earning their own reputations along the way.
The Khopesh, an early example of the type that emerged in Egypt during the Bronze Age, was a sword with a hooked blade that was sharpened on the outside. The sickle-shaped swords, which are often made of bronze, are thought to have originated in the Middle East and made their way to Egypt.
The khopesh was widely used by the military by the time of the New Kingdom and was highly regarded for its lethal cutting power in close proximity. The khopesh was later used in ceremonies. It was frequently depicted in art, and it was occasionally discovered in the tombs of important Egyptians. According to History.com, when the young pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried, he was buried with two sickle swords of varying lengths.
Experts believe that the khopesh became the most common weapon in Ancient Egypt, and that it may have been the first time a curved blade was used in warfare. The khopesh first appeared in the Mediterranean Levant, which stretches from Sinai to modern-day Turkey. And this region and its inhabitants have had to deal with Ancient Egypt since the third millennium B.C.
According to the Archaeologist report, the khopesh originated between 3000 and 2000 B.C. in Sumer, the first known civilization in historical southern Mesopotamia. Because swords evolved from daggers, the khopesh is not a sword in the traditional sense. Instead, it was a special type of ax designed for use in battle.
The khopesh was made of bronze. Because iron was a viable material for the blade, some swords were made of it. Because it was made of bronze, it was also quite short. The length of these historical prototypes ranged from 20 to 24 inches. Longer bronze weapons, similar to those used by the Celts, could be made, but they would be far less powerful.
The hieroglyphs suggest that the word Khopesh was derived from “leg,” as in “leg of beef,” based on their physical similarities. Khopesh, along with the light war chariot, quickly became the most common weapon in Ancient Egypt. Khopesh’s rise to prominence as a status symbol dates back to the New Kingdom, which lasted from 1570 to 1070 B.C.
It is said that the khopesh was used to draw enemy shields, which could not have been done with a weaker weapon. While the khopesh is one of ancient Egypt’s most well-known weapons, it was eventually phased out in favor of more conventional swords around the 12th century B.C.
Khopesh has been embraced by certain mainstream cultures, like the Egyptian culture depicted in the 1998 American animated drama The Prince of Egypt. Naja of Power Rangers Jungle Fury uses two khopeshes, and so did the Minotaur in The Chronicles of Narnia.