Khopesh

Khopesh

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Khopesh'
Start a new discussion about 'Khopesh'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Khopesh is the Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

 name of the Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite "sickle-sword", in Assyrian known as sappara. Its origins can be traced back to Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

 of the third millennium BCE
3rd millennium BC
The 3rd millennium BC spans the Early to Middle Bronze Age.It represents a period of time in which imperialism, or the desire to conquer, grew to prominence, in the city states of the Middle East, but also throughout Eurasia, with Indo-European expansion to Anatolia, Europe and Central Asia. The...

.

A typical khopesh is 50–60 cm (20 to 24 inches) in length, though smaller examples do also exist. This blade was designed for hooking an opponents shield or disarming them. These weapons changed from bronze to iron in the late 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. Note, however, that the khopesh is not an axe. Unlike an axe, the khopesh did not make push-cuts, but rather slashes, like a sabre
Sabre
The sabre or saber is a kind of backsword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger...

. The khopesh went out of use around 1300 BCE. However, in the 196 BC Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek...

 it is referenced as the 'sword' determinative
Determinative
A determinative, also known as a taxogram or semagram, is an ideogram used to mark semantic categories of words in logographic scripts which helps to disambiguate interpretation. They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, though they may derive historically from glyphs for real words, and...

 in a hieroglyphic block, with the spelled letters of kh
Sieve (hieroglyph)
The Ancient Egyptian Sieve hieroglyph is Gardiner sign listed no. Aa1 for the shape of a circular sieve; it is also seen as a 'placenta'.-The Egyptian hieroglyph alphabetic letters:The following two tables show the Egyptian uniliteral signs...

, p
Stool-or-mat (hieroglyph)
The Ancient Egyptian Mat hieroglyph, , and later the Stool hieroglyph, Gardiner sign listed no. Q3 originally was the stool's rectangular mat; later it became the representaion for the stool itself....

, and sh
Pool-lake-basin (hieroglyph)
The "pool-lake-basin hieroglyph" is used in the Ancient Egyptian language hieroglyphs for the alphabetic consonant letter -š.-The Egyptian hieroglyph alphabetic letters:...

 to say:
Various pharaohs are depicted with a khopesh, and some have been found in royal graves, such as the two examples found with Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun , Egyptian , ; approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty , during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom...

.

Although some examples are clearly sharpened, many examples have dull edges which apparently were never intended to be sharp. It may therefore be possible that some khopeshes found in high status graves were ceremonial variants.