bronze axe


Koban Culture Bronze Axe Head, Caucasus, 9th-8th Century BC

The Koban culture is a late Bronze Age and Iron Age culture of the northern and central Caucasus (map). It is preceded by the Colchian culture of the western Caucasus and the Kharachoi culture further east. It is named after the village of Koban, Northern Ossetia, where in 1869 battle-axes, daggers, decorative items and other objects were discovered in a kurgan (burial mound or barrow). Later, further sites were uncovered in the central Caucasus.

This rare example features an elliptical shaft-hole and crescentic blade decorated on both sides with the stippled figure of a hound, four conjoined stippled triangles above, with stylized snakes flanking the shaft-hole.

Greek Bronze Inscribed Axehead, 6th Century BC

An axe dedicated by a butcher, Western Greek, made in Sybaris, Calabria about 520 BC.

This elaborate bronze axehead, decorated with palmettes andvolutes, was clearly not intended for everyday use. Axes sometimes had ceremonial uses, and could be carried like scepters, their symbolism deriving from their use in killing animals for sacrifice. The Greek inscription on the side of this axe makes its special nature clear. It translates: “I am the sacred property of Hera-in-the-plain: Kyniskos the butcher dedicated me, a tithe from his works.”

We do not know the location of the sanctuary of Hera-in-the-plain. However, the inscription does evoke this individual from the ancient world: we know his name, his occupation, and something of his mentality. He obviously felt that he should thank the gods for his prosperity, and perhaps also that his wealth might continue if he shared it with them.

Over its long history the Egyptians employed a wide variety of ancient weapons. During the earliest periods stone and wood weapons were used, these early Egyptian weapons included slings, clubs, throwing sticks, stone maces and stone tipped spears. Horn and wooden bows were also constructed and used with stone tipped arrows. 

By 4000 BC the Egyptians had started importing obsidian from the Eastern Red Sea areas for their weapons. This glass like stone has properties that allow it to have a sharper point than the sharpest metals; these almost molecularly thin blades are used even today for scalpels.

By the time upper and lower Egypt were first united and their society coalesced around 3150 BC, the Egyptians had already been using bronze weapons. They used bronze for spearheads, axes and maces. It was also during this period that the composite bow came into use, made with horn and wood. Over the following centuries as the Pharaoh’s dominated ancient Egyptian society they began to standardize weapons, stock pile arsenals and borrow weapons systems from invading peoples. Eventually these weapons developed into the quintessential Egyptian weapons discussed below.

The bow long remained the main armament of Egyptian forces throughout Egypt’s long military history; perhaps due to the lack of armor worn by Egyptian warriors and their enemies in the hot climate where they operated. Most archers were foot soldiers however Egyptian chariots also carried them. Archers provided range to the chariot warriors, and when range and speed were combined the chariot mounted archers became dominate figures on the ancient battlefields. Nubian mercenaries often served as foot archers and are said to have been their best bowmen.

The Sickle Sword or Khopesh is probably the most iconic of the Egyptian weapons. It features a curved, thick blade and measured about two feet long. A khopesh has a thick, crescent shaped blade that is used for slashing. There are several styles of this wicked weapon, and one very well designed style that combines the advantages of both of them. Basically one style has a hook on the end that is used for grabbing people, their weapons or shields and the other variety has a point on the end that can be used for stabbing. The hybrid type has both a point and a hook on it, and this can be used to pull an opponent’s shield down then thrust (stab) the end of the khopesh into their face. There is nothing nice about a Khopesh, it leaves nasty wounds and looks vicious.

Another weapon that the Egyptians developed with a uniquely Egyptian style was the battle axe. Their crescent shaped blades were affixed into grooves on long handles. This was a weaker connection than the axes made by their contemporaries that featured a hole through the axe head that the handle fit through, but it served their purpose of slashing unarmored troops and hacking through the hide covered, wood framed shields used at the time. However, once they met the Sea-peoples and the Hyskos they found their axes to be inadequate and changed their design. Egyptian axes could be used for hacking or be thrown.

The second largest contingent in an Egyptian army (after the bowmen) was the spearmen. Spears are cheap and it takes little training for levy soldiers to figure out how to use them. Charioteers also carried spears as secondary weapons and to keep enemy infantry from getting to close. Similar to arrowheads Egyptian spears progressed through stone, obsidian, copper and finally iron stages.

The Egyptians must have had a place in their heart for this weak little weapon (weak compared to bows and slings). A throwing stick was essentially a boomerang that didn’t come back. Perhaps it stuck around as long as it did because it was a cheap secondary weapon for infantry troops. Although a throwing stick was unlikely to kill anyone it could have also been used to distract an enemy during melee combat. While one guy throws a stick at your face another guy would stab you in the gut, that kind of thing. Famously, they were also used for hunting waterfowl along the Nile, even by Pharaohs.

Chariots represent more of an Egyptain weapons platform than an actual weapon in itself; however, chariots became indispensable to the Egyptian armies. The Egyptians built fast, light chariots and would use them to race into position shower their enemies with arrows and retreat before a counter attack could be launched. These strikes would demoralize an enemy army, making them feel helpless against further attacks. Egyptian chariots carried a driver and an archer and were assembled at the battlefield. 


These are weapon displays at the Chambers Street Museum. These kind of displays annoy me as they are put up with no context and little thought.

The whole thing reeks of Orientalism (yes I know some of them are European and from the Bronze Age) and an idea that these are here just to stare at.

This annoys me more because the Chambers Street Museum has some great ethnographic exhibits that mostly focus on similarities between peoples rather than differences.

Anyway rant over, please do visit this museum as it is rather good.

Bronze Age axe heads found in Coity declared treasure

Early Bronze Age axe heads found by a metal detectorist in south Wales have been declared treasure by a coroner.

Paul Howells made the discovery at a field in Coity, Bridgend, on 8 May 2015.

The hoard included a large bronze flat axe with a wide-blade edge and a small bronze axe chisel dating back to 2200-2050 BC.

Late Bronze Age tools and weapons were also found two sites in Llanharan, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

A dig at the Coity site found the two axe heads had been placed underneath a large limestone capping stone.

Archaeologists suggest hoards of this kind were buried during religious ceremonies, possibly as gifts to the gods and goddesses. Read more.

Thunderstorm a.k.a Lardo

The idea was inspired by Thor’s character, but adapted to suit Lardo’s Vietnamese background.

In Vietnamese mythology, the chief deity Ngoc Hoang appointed Thien Loi, the God of Thunder as the Divine Judge, putting him in charge of punishing criminals, blasphemers, and the seriously immoral. His weapons are two axes, one made of bronze and the other one of stone.

Lardo and her family are his descendants and are duty bound to carry his legacy. She uses the bronze axe.

To build a massive infrastructure requires an army of planners: to promote a wider reach, to prevent wasteful duplication and to decide on industry standards. That meant a growing role for the state, as the only part of society capable of becoming adequate to this task - that task of planning society. Late development occurred alongside a burgeoning state apparatus, at once more centralised and more dispersed than ever before (although this apparatus remained relatively small until the World Wars spurred its growth).

The changing role of the state dramatically transformed proletarian visions of communism. In Marx’s theory, there had been no role for the state to play, either before or after the revolution. Free-market capitalism was to be replaced by socialism: that is, the “conscious planning of production by associated producers (nowhere does Marx say: by the state)”. Marx’s model of planning was not the state, but the workers’ cooperative on the one hand, and the joint-stock company on the other. Likewise, Engels famously suggested in “Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State” that after the revolution, the state was to find its place in “a museum of antiquities, by the side of the spinning-wheel and the bronze axe”. Neither anticipated the massive role that states would play in the near future, in capitalist societies. Nor did they therefore anticipate the role the state would play in the socialist imaginary.

—  A History of Separation - Endnotes