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From War History Online: How the spear transformed warfare

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A selection of halberds.

Saturdays are always good for a little historical diversion. It has also been a while since I have shared anything from War History Online, a site that I have frequently mentioned is one of my favorites.

They recently ran a piece “How the spear transformed warfare”. It traces the evolution of the first shaved-wood, fired-point spears through the Greeks and Romans, the medieval lance, and into halberds and related weapons of the Renaissance.

From War History Online:

Spears started out as hunting weapons. One step up from the primitive club, they were initially made by burning the end of a straight stick. Once it became pointed and hardened, that point was further refined by scraping. Prehistoric humans used these to bring down animals for food. A weapon like this was found buried between the ribs of an elephant skeleton in Germany.

Around the same time, people were learning to make tools by breaking stones and using the sharp edges. These could be attached to the ends of spears, making them sharper and harder. The creation of bronze-tipped spears around 3500 BC took this a step further.

We do not know when people first used spears against each other. Investigations by anthropologists show how they would have been used by hunting tribes and how they changed warfare.

First, they were more consistently deadly than clubs. Second, they were missile weapons – early spears were thrown at prey.

Spears, therefore, added greater accuracy causing death and injury, as well as further range in combat, to ancient battlefields.

I am surprised there was no mention of the atl-atl.

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