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Weapon Development in Early European Civilizations Research Paper


Early Europe astonishes with the diversity of the civilizations that have existed here. However, they had a very significant trace in common, which was the constant development of weapons. With all the regard to the modern inventions, there is nothing that can come close to the inventions of ancient times. Because it took rather serious processes to create the weapons that now are known as the realities of the ancient times, these were one of the most powerful inventions of the mankind, which is an amazing fact.

The history of early Europe begins with the Celts. They were the first to explore the plentiful lands of the continent and fill it with a specific culture of their own, which both was savage-like and carried a certain tint of refined culture.

Not being able to settle in a certain place, nomads as they were, they created a range of what could be nowadays called artworks and the tools of the everyday life. They could make pottery and metals which was a great success for such an ancient tribe and pointed that they were already a formed civilization, with enough power to create a state of theirs and oppose the enemies. (James 91)

The second civilization to come was the Greek one. Much more accustomed to living a refined life and encouraging fine arts rather than the war ones, they were still a powerful empire that contributed much to the military art. They created a basis for the future civilizations to follow, and their innovations were a discovery in the military spheres. Since they were the first to discover the laws of mathematics and physics, they could make the weapons that took the best of what was possible.

Then came the Germanics, which were the backbone of the Northern Europe. These ones were the first to think of the weapons that were most effective though did not imply the use of the materials that were the most modern then. Plain tribes as they were, the Germanics made it much more to the very action that was going on the battlefield than the issues of the most up-to-date “technologies”. They were rather tactics than the strategists, and that was what they made to the art of war.

Finally, it is time to speak about the Romans. The great civilizations shift each other, making way for the best inventions of theirs to stay in people’s minds. The Romans left a lot of things that are valued not as the greatest treasure of a man’s imagination and intelligence.

These were the early European civilizations that have made the art of war even more frightening and magnificent than it could ever be. Now it is high time to take a closer look at the inventions of these great peoples. (Webster 23)

The Celts were a tribe that grew into a powerful civilization and made the enemies tremble with fear as they trod the terra incognita. The lands of the Celts were the lands where the greatest achievements were made and where the cradle of future Europe was placed.

Their culture, established an s rather high one, with the people creating the objects of the everyday life and work with great accuracy. The precise work of theirs was a subject to astonish the less developed cultures and make them stay away from the culture that was far higher than theirs.

The Atlantic Celts began the construction of their weapons with the basic things.

The historical records say that it was typical for them to create the weapons of war that were further on taken as the example by the rest of the civilizations appearing a bit earlier. The Celts were standing at the very source of the armor creation.

However strange it might seem, a sword was not the main weapon of the ancient Celts. They did use it on the battlefield, but still, it was not the main attribute of their war actions. It does seem strange in the light of the fact that the metal industry was a leading one in the Celtic culture.

They paid a great deal of attention to working on such metal items as a plow, but such is the scientific fact. The Celts made good use of spears, and the way they handled them was so brilliant that the multiple enemies were naturally petrified, and, taken by fear, were easy prey to defeat.

However, the Celts did use a sword, in their way that was even more frightening than their art of throwing a spear. The fact was that the Celts took a sword above the head, then sway it for a couple of times so that it could get the necessary inertia, and then drop it on the foe’s head so hard that the enemy was practically razed to the ground. With such skills, they did not have enough reasons to develop the armor and create new ways to destroy the enemy’s army. The forces that they already had were quite enough.

Despite all, they did not stop on this very stage. The Celts created a new way to crush the foes, and, with all their unwillingness to think up something new, this was the new construction of a sword they have already tried using.

They dwelled much upon the way they could improve the military response of the sword. That resulted in the various types of swords and sword handles. The Celts tried making the blade longer, at the same time not increasing the weight of the armor. That was a hard idea to cope with, but the Northern smiths did their best to provide the multiple types of swords that the warriors used in their battles.

It is a peculiar fact that the length of the sword was increasing gradually, starting from the first ten phase when it was up to 65 sm. The edge of this sword was pointed, and the military characteristics of this kind of weapon were rather satisfying for the period mentioned, yet leaving much to be desired, taking the development of the other civilizations into account.

The second later phase when the end of the blade became rounded to make the sword crush the enemy with the bigger damage to bring and the length being 75-80 sm. It was important that such sword weighed around 1 kilo, which makes not quite much, taking into account the overall sum of the armor.

The third later phase was marked by the appearance of the sword that could harsh increase of the length of the sword blades. There were the articles that reached 90 cm in length! This was a real breakthrough for the epoch and a great help for the warriors that needed certain things that made them equal with the opponents.

It is also important to note that the length of the sword handle was changing with the time; made of wood, or leather, it was getting either shorter, or longer, or thicker or thinner. The changes did not influence the overall result much and could be considered rather an item that was a symbol of the well-being of the owner.

The spears were of different shapes and sizes at all times of the Celtic development, and the time did not seem to have much influence on them.

The thing that was changing together with swords was a shield. It was getting longer and thinner, in contrast to the standards of the wide and round ones that people are used to associating a shield with. The shield represented a masterfully carried artwork, with the multiple patterns and figures of the Celtic myths presented on the shield.

The general idea of the Celtic shield was that its wooden base was draped with leather. The wood was useless in the fight, and Celts understood that pretty well.

Thus, the main items of the Celtic war were swords, shields, and spears. (James 91)

The nest civilization to think of would be the one of Greece.

The country was much more powerful than the settlings of the previous one because it already established a state. With the emperor as the head, it represented a force much more influential than the one of the Celts. However, it would be just to notice that the military art made a great step forward by that time, so the Greek had a basis for becoming the most powerful state.

Their main concept of the hostilities was the one of using the ideas that have already been established by the Celts; The Greeks tended to improve what had already been invented. However, three was one exception that made them one of the most famous inventors in the history of the war.

The new armor was called the Greek fire. It meant spilling the burning substance on the enemies’ heads from the openings in the ship called lion’s mouths; the whole idea was as simple as that. However, the effects of the usage of the new invention were stunning, the neighboring states speaking only about the famous fire and the results it led to.

The terrifying weapon was something that the other states could not compete with, and the Greek won multiple fights with the help of the new weapon. The Arab fleets that were destroyed by the fire posed a great danger to Greece, and the citizen thought up the only way to avoid the invasion. (Weir 45)

Along with the Greek fire that changed the very concept of leading a battle, there were other items used as a weapon in the war, but they were far not that original. Among them, there were bows with the arrows, the latest idea of the Greek war skills was to burn the tip of the arrow so that the enemy would not only hurt but burnt down together with the whole place. However, these inventions and re-inventions of the older times did not gain such fame as the fire that fell right from above. (Middleton 16)

After the Greek civilization had collapsed, the Germanics came to rule over Europe. Savages as well, they managed to create the civilization that overran the whole wide world in terms of military arts and the art of establishing a state. They are an example of a great development from a tribe that can hardly identify themselves with any culture or traditions to a great state that had an immense impact not only on the people under its protection but also on the European policy and state of affairs.

One of their greatest achievements concerning the art of war is the sword that they improved to the state of perfection. However hard it is to believe, these people invented the double-sided sword!

This was a sheer miracle. The new weapon was twice as more dangerous than everything that had been invented so far, and the very look of it was enough to drive the enemies mad with fear. The sword was very long, following the standards that were established by the Celts, and it had no rounded tip. Instead, the sword was sharp as a razor. They called it spatha, and they used it in the battle as the main weapon to kill the foes.

They also made good use of a short sword they called scramasax. This one was preferred in the close battles and was considered as deadly as the spatha. Germanics had great skills of fighting with knives, and they used the early prototype of a modern dagger to fight one for one.

The next thing that they won the world fame of great warriors with was a poleax that was a deadly weapon in their hands, making the opponents tremble in fear. They also preferred angon, a short spear, to the long one. The special thing about angon was that it had spikes on, and, once hitting the target, it was impossible to take out. The pain it caused was indescribable, and the effect of its use was stunning. (Breasted 413)

Whenever one speaks of the Germanic military art, the darts are inevitably mentioned. One could ask whether darts are so efficient anywhere but in the well-known game, but as historians state, at least half of the Germanics’ success is due to thee simple yet deadly weapon.

Of course, it can hurt only a little if shot at the victim merely as a spike, but if poisoned with deadly venom, this could be quite a problem for the opponents. Called frame, the darts were a sufficient reason for the rest of the states to leave the Germanics in peace and not invade in their private lands.

Finally, the time has come to speak of the last, but definitely not the least, the great empire of the early European period. Welcome the Romans!

The Romans have left a significant trace in world history, with all their power and influence. They have contributed to the arts and vulture of the civilizations that followed them, and their contribution is something not to be doubted about.

What has to be remembered is that the reign of Romans came when the Bronze Age was in motion. That partially explains the fats development of the military metal items, and the significance of using the new materials and metals is undeniable. The bronze helmets were the best protection from the sword of the enemy by that time. The Romans also improved many other metal items, such as swords, shields, and spears.

Speaking of the swords, it must be mentioned that their design was changed once again. This time, a short “gladius” sword was preferred, since the Romans established a new way of fighting in the close battle. The sword was designed to make it as efficient a weapon as possible; attention focused on its killability.

Another invention of the Romans was the well-known dagger made even flatter and sharper. Again, it was all driven to kill the enemy as fast as possible, all designed for a face-to-face battle. (Schutz 19)

The spear did not take any new shapes. It remained in the very fashion the Greeks made it, and it served well to the Roman soldiers.

Moreover, there was something else Romans took from the Greek’s experience. The object in questions was a dart, modified, and improved, but its basis left untouched. Called “pilum”, the dart was composed of a long and thin twig made of soft iron and a tip sharpened to the state of a razor blade.

If thrown with the necessary skill, it would either hurt the enemy so that he could not even move or get stuck in the enemy’s shield, bothering the soldier to walk and fight. The Ancient Romans are also well-known for the armor that they created for the warriors. It combined the lightness that those of Celts had with the deadly effect of the Greek weapons. (Schutz 101)

If there is something to learn form the great masters of ancient times, this is the art of fighting. Being the people who had to fight for their land and create the fundament for the future states, they were to encounter the opposing views, and this encouraged them to create the arms that could make them stringer and win the battle.

One could never know the way the war could end, and this made people think of the way to improve the industry of war. However sad it might sound, the constant fights are something that all mankind should thank first for the development of many industries, among them mostly metallurgy.

Because people have needed to know which way of killing the enemy is the most efficient one, now people have medicine and pharmacology well established among the rest of the scientific branches. It is all that people owe to the art of war. This is a sad truth that people have to live with. The paradox is that trying to live; people have learned to kill, which has also helped them to make their life easier. The fact is undeniable and impossible to understand.

Such historical oxymoron is not the only one and not the last one. Anyway, people need to cognize, and the way thy get to the truth can be not the wisest one, but still one of the hardest. The development of armor and weapons is an example of such.

What the ancient masters of martial arts contributed to the soldiers of the present days is the experience together with the idea of the brainwork as the main weapon to defeat the opponent. The sudden inspiration can result in multiple victories.

Shifting a part of their responsibilities to the scientists that are working on modern weapons, the army is left only with fighting now. And, held in the hands of science, the weapons of the future might be even more frightening than the Greek fire. The atomic bomb is a good example of such weapon development.

Still, there is a hope that one day, people will have no necessity to lead devastating wars. But this might take one more civilization to prove.

Works Cited

Breasted, J. H., Robinson, H. J. History of Europe, Ancient and Medieval: Earliest

Man, the Orient, Greece and Rome. Oxford: Ginn and Company, 1920. Print.

James, S. The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? Madison, WI: Unit of Wisconsin Press. 1999. Print.

Middleton, H. Ancient Greek War and Weapons. London: Heinemann Library, 2002. Print.

Schutz, H. Tools, Weapons and Ornaments: Germanic Material Culture in Pre Carolingian Central Europe, 400-750. Leiden: BRILL, 2001. Print.

Webster, H. Early European History. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Co., 1917. Print.

Weir, W. 50 Weapons That Changed warfare. Newcastle: Career Press, 2005. Print.

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