30 Things You Didn’t Know About Ancient Weapons

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1Fire Lance

Fire Lance

The first gunpowder weapon was actually a melee spear with a one-shot flamethrower attached called a fire lance. It was used by the Chinese around 1000 A.D.

2. War pigs were used by the Romans because their squeals scared the war elephants into fleeing and trampling their own armies.

3. Alexander the Great's army conquered the world while wearing armor made of linen that could stop any arrow made at the time.

4. The Pilum or the Roman javelin, was designed with a soft shank that would bend after impact. This served two purposes: it prevented enemies from re-using it, and enemies that had pilum embedded in their shields would have to discard the shield or waste time removing the pilum.

5. The Plumbata was an ancient Roman weapon, which was essentially a lead-weighted lawn dart. Multiples would be carried in the hollow of a legionary's shield and thrown at the enemy.

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6Black Swords

Black Swords

Portuguese soldiers used black swords in the Age of Discovery in order to not reflect the light and announce their presence on ships, avoiding also its rusting when used near salt water.

7. During the late 1700s, in order to fight the British, an Indian king developed rocket artillery that fired swords.

8. There is an ancient arrow throwing weapon called the atlatl that can throw an arrow up to around 100 mph.

9. The Man Catcher was one of the few examples of non-lethal medieval weapons. It was used primarily to pull a person from horseback and drag them to the ground, but it was also used to capture opponents for ransom and to trap and contain violent prisoners.

10. During the Second Punic War (218 - 202 BC), Greek scientist Archimedes is said to have repelled the attacking Roman ships by setting them on fire with a “burning glass.” It may have just been an array of mirrors.

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Ancient Hawaiians made a weapon named Leiomano that had blades made out of shark’s teeth.

12. The Samurais wore a cloak (Horo) that inflated when the wearer was riding a horse, which protected him from incoming arrows from behind.

13. Hellburners were 16th-century fire-ships whose decks were filled with gunpowder sandwiched between bricks and tombstones. They are considered to be an early form of weapons of mass destruction.

14. There was an ancient Korean weapon named Hwacha that shot 200 arrows in one explosion.

15. In the 1500s, Incas had cotton armor so densely woven it could repel spears and arrows almost as well as metal armor.

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16The Warwolf

The Warwolf

King Edward I of England built the largest trebuchet ever made called “The Warwolf”. The Scots inside the castle surrendered by the mere sight of it but Edward used it anyway because he wanted to see it in action.

17. A "Hot Shot" was originally a cannonball that was heated in a furnace and then fired at wooden ships for the purpose of setting them on fire.

18. In medieval times, corpses of sick people were used as catapult ammunition, as a form of biological weapon.

19. When the Romans first encountered war elephants, they used tow ropes attached to chariots to bind their legs and topple them much like the Rebels on Hoth in Star Wars.

20. The Urumi is a flexible whip sword that is no longer used in battle. It is still practiced as an extremely dangerous martial art weapon in India.

21Insect Warfare

Insect Warfare

In the 14th century, ships would catapult beehives onto the decks of enemy ships to clear the way for boarding parties.

22. A weapon of war called a Scythed Chariot consisted of spinning blades powered by horses whose purpose was to saw the legs off of the enemy soldiers.

23. A Flemish medieval polearm, which is essentially an elongated club with a spearhead, is named Goedendag, literally meaning "good day" in English.

24. Due to the advanced metallurgy of the ancient Chinese, some of the weapons held by the Terracotta Army (after 2,200 years underground) were still sharp, rust-free, and shiny once a thin oxide layer was removed.

25. A spiked ball at the end of a chain is a 'ball and chain flail', not a morning star (which has spikes but no chain). Despite their popularity in fiction, there is little historical evidence that ball-and-chain flails ever saw widespread use.

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