Khopesh fighting techniques

Jul 2018
25
Colorado
#1
I'm writing a book set during the reign of Ramses II. Looking for some resources that might help me reconstruct a plausible (and potentially historically accurate) fighting style for the khopesh. Apart from vague suggestions I haven't been able to find much. Clearly it's not a fencing weapon. Hook, slash, hack I'm guessing. But any and all information would be welcome to point me towards a better idea of how it may have been used in battle and in one-on-one encounters. The more detailed the better. Down to blow by blow if possible. Thanks in advance all!

Also looking for more general information on all things New Kingdom warfare. Would like to be as accurate as possible. Especially looking for anything beyond Kikkuli as a resource for chariot drill if anyone has any suggestions on that score.
 
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Aug 2014
4,355
Australia
#2
The khopesh is essentially a light axe. Base your style on those that involve one-handed axes. Hurstwic has attempted to recreate Viking axe-fighting techniques.
Hurstwic: The Shape of Viking Combat

The book in my sig has a lot of general info regarding Middle Eastern Bronze Age warfare as well as specific info regarding the equipment used at the time.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,920
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#3
As for I know, the most interesting suggestion about the development of the khopesh can help to understand how they used it: that weapon looks just an evolution of a kind of one hand epsilon axe which ancient Egyptians used. An other clue that the khopesh was an evolution of an axe was its weight: in relation with the dimensions the khopes weighted really too much to be a kind of proper sword.

The barycenter is too much near to the end of the weapon, this means that it was [and it is] not easy to use for cutting blows. But the weight, the cutting blade on the ending section, the barycenter ... all these characteristics made it really useful against common shields [made of wood and leather]. They destroied them with a few hits. Against more resistant shields they were anyway useful. In a few words I would define the khopesh a one hand anti-shield axe, more than a sword. There is also who uses the definition "axe-sword".

I have seen on youtube videos of modern experts of martial arts using a khopesh a bit like a short sword, but to do that in battle, in the line of a rank ... I doubt. I think that's a modern inerpretation.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,920
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#4
A particular technique.

There are depictions showing Egyptian soldiers carrying the khopesh in the opposite way, to use it as a hook. In this case it's probable that the khopesh hooked the shield of the enemy to move it, then the soldier turned the khopesh to hit [the defender needed time to regain the control of the shield].

This reconstruction is interesting.

 
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Aug 2014
4,355
Australia
#5
I'd love to see these illustrations showing the khopesh being held backwards. I looked at a lot of khopesh illustrations during my research for the book and didn't find any. From a practical viewpoint, the hand grip makes it very difficult for khopesh to be held backwards. If you want to hook with it, you simply need a slight twist of the wrist, you don't need to hold it backwards.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,920
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#6
I'd love to see these illustrations showing the khopesh being held backwards. I looked at a lot of khopesh illustrations during my research for the book and didn't find any. From a practical viewpoint, the hand grip makes it very difficult for khopesh to be held backwards. If you want to hook with it, you simply need a slight twist of the wrist, you don't need to hold it backwards.
My memory suggests me the temple at Deir-el-Bahari [Hatshepsut, from XV century BCE].

You can see a soldier carrying in that way a khopesh in a picture by Jon Atkinson: Hatshepsut By Jon Atkinson: Jon Atkinson: Hatshepsut, Temple of Deir el Bahari, photograph, photography, photos, Hatschepsut, Luxor, Osiride, Queen Hatshepsut, egypt, Luxor, Egpyt, Osireion

Bottom line, on the left.
 
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AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,920
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#8
Yep, it is held backwards, though it is the smaller knife variant, not the sword.
Considering that the standard khopesh was a bit longer than a cubit, it's not very little, actually.
Anyway it's the same kind of weapon and the hypothesis that also the "hooking tachnique" existed is based on this way to handle a khopesh. On the other hand, I don't remember depictions of battles where an Egyptian soldier used a khopesh in that way. Now I'm curious. I will check.
 
Sep 2017
697
United States
#9
Though I dont know much of how a Khopesh was used in battle, it does make me wonder why it was eventually phased out or otherwise was stopped being produced.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,920
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#10
Though I dont know much of how a Khopesh was used in battle, it does make me wonder why it was eventually phased out or otherwise was stopped being produced.
Actually the khopesh, as for conception, didn't disappear at all. Anyway, the points were two: the introduction of iron swords allowed to make weapons with well more functional shape [common swords], while the khopesh, with its shape and weight was among the most effective bronze weapons. Then the evolution of shields ... the strong and armored shield of the Sea Peoples made Egyptians realize that the khopesh was losing its importance.

Iron and then steel permitted the choice of more regular shapes. But actually the conception of a hacking sword survived also in the new weaponry.
 

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