Bronze Age sword

three Bronze Age swords (not to scale): from Hajdusamson, Hungary (ca. 1600 BC), Mycenae (with golden hilt, 16th century BC), Urnfield culture (11th century BC)
three Bronze Age swords (not to scale): from Hajdusamson, Hungary (ca. 1600 BC), Mycenae (with golden hilt, 16th century BC), Urnfield culture (11th century BC)
Bronze Age weaponry found in Romania.
Bronze Age weaponry found in Romania.

Bronze Age swords appear from around the 17th century BC, evolving out of the dagger. The 3rd millennium Sumerian "sickle-sword" is an early predecessor of the backsword.

Types

Early examples with typical leaf-shaped blades are found in Mesopotamia, around the Mediterranean, particularly in Crete, and around the Black Sea.

Sword production in China is attested from the Bronze Age Shang Dynasty, with steel swords making their appearance from the 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty. The Chinese Dao (刀 pinyin dāo) is single-edged, sometimes translated as sabre or broadsword, and the Jian (劍 pinyin jiàn) double edged.

Swords from the Nordic Bronze Age from ca. the 13th century BC show characteristic spiral patterns.

Characteristic for the Bronze Age are antenna-hilted swords; finds are spread from the Balearic Islands to the Gangetic plain (Copper Hoard culture, both on the Baleares and in India found in combination with double axes). The Halstatt culture continues to produce the type, in iron, until the 7th century BC.

The carp's tongue sword is a type of bronze sword that was common to western Europe during the 8th century BC. The blade of the carp's tongue sword was wide and parallel for most of its length but the final third narrowed into a thinner end. The design was probably developed in north western France and combined the broad blade useful for slashing with a thinner, elongated tip suitable for stabbing. Its advantages saw its adoption across Atlantic Europe. In Britain, it replaced earlier Bronze Age slashing swords from the Ewart Park Phase and has given its name to the Carp's Tongue complex of metalwork in the south east.

Early Iron Age swords like the Xiphos retain a similar shape, and evolve into the Spatha during the time of the Roman Empire.

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