The Issue of Weapons Part 1

James Thomas
Aug 5, 2011 · 7 min read

One of the most interesting facets of the Sea Peoples is their peculiarity and singularly unique style of their weapons and body armour. Of all the peoples represented at Medinet Habu theirs stands out alone amongst all other weapons. The peculiar straight-edge ‘diamond-shaped’ and ‘horned’ rapier-like swords bring into question the uniqueness of the each of the peoples represented at Medinet Habu. The following Figures.9. To .13. Are from “Die Schwerter in Griechenland” by Imma Kilian-Dirlmeier.

Figure.9. Minoan Horned Rapiers, set 1.

Figure.10. Minoan Horned Rapiers, set 2.

Figure.11. Minoan Horned Rapiers and short swords, set 3.

Figure.12. Minoan Horned Rapiers and swords, set 4.

Figure.13. Minoan Horned Rapiers and Swords, set 5.

Figure.14. Sea Peoples Warriors with the distinctive Horned Swords, set 1. (From “The Sea Peoples and Their World : A Reassessment).

Figure.15. Sea Peoples Warriors with distinctive Horned Swords, set 2.(From “The Sea Peoples and Their World : A Reassessment).

Much more is known about the weapons ,and specifically the long and short sword of the Bronze Age, now than in the past, if you look carefully you’ll see a striking, almost overwhelming similarity to the swords used by the Mycenaean and Minoan Armies. It is very easy to overlook the role such items as arms and armour play in identifying the identity of an Bronze age people, if no serious attempt was made to give serious credence to this branch of archaeology then attempting to identify the Sea People can lead to a lost opportunity to add a significant piece of the puzzle to our unmasking of such peoples.

Figure.16. Sea Peoples, Egyptian Mercenaries and Egyptian soldiers with Horned Swords.

In Figures.16.,.17., .18.,.19. & .20. ( From “The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands” by Yigael Yadin). We have an very peculiar image in which all three distinct groups of warriors, Egyptian, Sea Peoples and Egyptian Mercenaries all seem to be carrying the same style of sword, and could be put down to the influence of the Sea Peoples on the Egyptian military through close association with Egypt’s reliance on Sea People mercenary forces and settles Sea Peoples from previous campaigns.

Figure.17. Sea Peoples Warriors with short Horned Swords.

Figure.18. Egyptians and their allies engage the Sea Peoples Warriors with Horned Swords.

Figure.19. Another example of Sea Peoples and Egyptian Sea Peoples Allies equipped with Horned Swords.

All cultures have very identifiable unique weapons that nearly always act as dead give away as to their identity, though such swords as the Kopesh are seen from Egypt through the Levant and onto the Hittites each of these peoples have slightly different variants including their own sword and dagger, shield and armour designs,peculiar designs, unique to their particular culture.

Figure.20. Egyptian Sea Peoples Allies In heavy Melee with Sea Peoples Warriors.

When dealing with the Peoples of the sea so many parallels with Aegean Mycenaean-Minoan examples can be seen, and nowhere else its a wonder that a serious attempt to analyse the reliefs depicting their weaponry was not from the beginning.

You can quickly conclude that how can you ever link weapons represented in a somewhat stylised form with the identity of a long past peoples. The answer is you don’t, not entirely, unless there are actual physical specimens to draw similarities from.

The strange thing is that the culture that has left us the most numerous examples that keep on fitting the bill, so to speak ,all come from Greece, Crete and the surrounding areas of the Aegean. No other cultures use such weaponry, not the Egyptians, Libyans, Canaanites, Amorites, Israelies, Levantine or Hittite, they always appear exclusively with the round bossed shields Segmented body armour the so called feather headdress or horned helmets as to be synonymous with them.

There are no other cultures that come even close at that period in history and of the general vicinity that compare with the diversity and similarity of weapons to the Sea Peoples than the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

No rendition whether from the Mycenaean or Minoan worlds ever depicts a warrior with a kopesh, or a Hittite axe or an Egyptian mace. In fact if you look at Mycenaean Axes and Maces you will understand just how active the Mycenaean military industry was. It even alludes to the existence of Iron maces in the Iliad where the Greek hero Areitoos wields an iron mace into battle.

Figure.21. Mycenaean Bronze Double Axe Heads.

Figure.22. Minoan Double Axe Heads from Pharmakephalo-Sklavoi, Crete.

This at a time when Egypt and the Levant were still equipped with bronze weaponry. In biblical accounts The Philistines monopoly of iron allows them along with their superior battle tactics to dominate the region for centuries, the question, even if your uncertain of their origins, is to ask the following questions, who has such technology and the ability to produce iron weapons and the strategic capability to implement it, and then look to see which culture comes close to that ability.

It would be somewhat akin to the modern phrase “follow the money” if you want to know who is behind what. Hence follow the technology and it will lead you to those responsible, irrespective of the somewhat hazy academic perceptions and limitations which depend as to the amount of data available at that moment in time.

Figure.23. Minoan Double Mace Head from Aghia Triada, Crete.

Figure.24. Another Minoan Double Mace Head from .Aghia Triada, Crete.

We always see the uniqueness of each civilization’s military equipment depicted at Medinet Habu and the deliberate lengths the Egyptians sculptures went to to give future generations a valuable source of accurate recorded “data” shown through these wonderful wall sculptures.

Nowhere else do we see the Unique horned swords of the Sea Peoples than on Minoan and Mycenaean seals and art, amongst the many examples of Minoan and Mycenaean swords recovered from actual archaeological excavation. We do not see it in Hittite, Hurrian, Mittanian, Levantine or Egyptian art in any shape or form which should have alarm bells ringing for those with a leaning to the weapons research side of this culture.

There is a beautiful example of a sword of huge proportion in the British Museum’s Ancient Levant Gallery ( Rooms 57–59) and serves to remind us of the Cultic example shown from the cult centre room at Mycenae and may represent some sort of religious ritual centring on very large swords.

Figure 25. This 90 cm long almost pure copper sword found at Beth Dagan nearJaffa, Israel has been dated to around 2000 BC.

Figure.26. Sword cult scene from the Cult Room , Mycenae.

Figure.27. Mycenaean Stone-Carved Head-Stone depicting Warrior in chariot with Horned Sword. ( Figures.27. To .31. from “Die Schwerter in Griechenland” by Imma Kilian-Dirlmeier).

Figure.28. Minoan Carving of a female wielding a Horned Sword.

Figure.29. Lion Hunt Scene Showing Warrior with Rapier sword dispatching a lion.

Figure.30. Warriors battle, the figure on the right uses his Horned Rapier for an over-hand thrust to the neck of his opponent.

Figure.31. Similar scene as in Figure.30., the over-hand thrust with his Horned Rapier dispatches his opponent.


A study of the Bronze Age by James Thomas

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