Sword Types: Khopesh

The khopesh is an Egyptian sickle-sword that evolved from battle axes.

A typical khopesh is 50–60 cm (20–24 inches) in length, though smaller examples also exist. The inside curve of the weapon could be used to trap an opponent’s arm, or to pull an opponent’s shield out of the way. These weapons changed from bronze to iron in the New Kingdom period The earliest known depiction of a khopesh is from the Stele of Vultures, depicting King Eannatum of Lagash wielding the weapon; this would date the khopesh to at least 2500 BC.

The word khopesh may have been derived from “leg”, as in “leg of beef”, because of their similarity in shape. The hieroglyph for ḫpš(‘leg’) is found as early as during the time of the Coffin Texts (the First Intermediate Period).

The blade is only sharpened on the outside portion of the curved end. The khopesh evolved from the epsilon or similar crescent-shaped axes that were used in warfare. The khopesh fell out of use around 1300 BC.

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