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Khopesh (?pš) is the Egyptian name of the Canaanite “sickle-sword” (actually more like a type of axe). Its origins can be traced back to third millennium Sumer.
A typical khopesh is 50-60cm in length (though smaller examples also exist) and is composed of three main parts: the hilt, a straight and unsharpened section of blade finishing in a curved crescent shape with the sharpened edge. The khopesh evolved from the epsilon or similar crescent shaped axes that were used in warfare. This makes the khopesh not a true sword (which evolved from daggers), but a specialized battle-axe. However, unlike an axe, the khopesh did not make push-cuts, but rather slashes. The khopesh went out of use around 1300BC.
The khopesh was initially used against the Egyptians in war, but as the kingdom of Egypt improved trade relations with other kingdoms, eventually it adopted the khopesh. It seemed to have been most popular during the New Kingdom under the united Egypt. Various pharaohs are depicted with a khopesh, and some have been found in royal graves, such as the two examples found with Tutankhamun.
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.
Later the Khopesh was slowly developed into what is known as the Falcata. This variant was adopted by Alexander the Great for its effectiveness.
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