What are oldest non spear-polearms found in Europe?

Jan 2016
591
United States, MO
I am just curious as to the first evidence of polearm use in Europe. By polearm I mean a weapon with a large two handed shaft and a head which has more than one function. ie can cut and thrust, or hook and thrust. Something like a Dane Axe may qualify although they are not exactly renown for their ability to thrust.
 
Sep 2017
753
United States
Other than pikes (which don't fit your criteria), I think he's right with the Rhomphaia. As far as I know, multi-use polearms weren't really common until the High Middle Ages for various reasons.
 
Jan 2016
591
United States, MO
Other than pikes (which don't fit your criteria), I think he's right with the Rhomphaia. As far as I know, multi-use polearms weren't really common until the High Middle Ages for various reasons.
Would you say the popularity of spear and shield combo was a big factor in things like halberds not being used earlier?
 

At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,925
Bulgaria
Yeah the rhomphaia looks pretty interesting. Does it have any connection to the Dacian falx?
I read that rhomphaia is a relative to the falx, but forged with not so curved blade in order to be used both as thrusting and slashing weapon. The pole of this polearm was shorter than the blade.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,958
MD, USA
Would you say the popularity of spear and shield combo was a big factor in things like halberds not being used earlier?
When the main protection was a shield, 2-handed weapons were less common, and those wielding them had to share protection from shieldmen. Once you get some kind of decent armor and helmets becoming common, such as good gambesons and kettle hats in the 13th century, shields aren't as necessary, and both hands can wield a weapon (starting with long spears or pikes). So it was munition armor that allowed wide use of polearms, and of course having more armor around meant that polearms were more necessary!

Matthew
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,958
MD, USA
I read that rhomphaia is a relative to the falx, but forged with not so curved blade in order to be used both as thrusting and slashing weapon. The pole of this polearm was shorter than the blade.
A friend of mine describes the falx as a "dumbed-down" rhomphia. The rhomphia is an older weapon, and actuallly pretty sophisticated. It can be used like a sword or a polearm or a bayonet or whirly-martial-arts slicer/dicer. The falx is scary, no kidding, but you can swing it or maybe hook with it. Fewer options.

Matthew
 
Sep 2017
753
United States
Would you say the popularity of spear and shield combo was a big factor in things like halberds not being used earlier?
Like Matthew said, armor was a big factor. Good armor was around in ancient times, but it didn't cover nearly as much and wasn't as available. However, with decent armor, you could forgo the shield.

And, as he mentioned, the increase of armor increases the need for anti-armor weapons, which spears aren't good for at all. A polearm has a lot of force and head shapes that were better are delivering concussive force.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,745
Australia
There are Mycenaean Greek (non-pike) polearms that date a thousand years earlier than the rhomphaia. There are Shang Chinese and Vedic Indian ones dating just as early. The most common seems to have been trident-shaped types.
 
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