15 Weird Ancient Weapons: Bizarre But Effective Battle Tools

Throughout human history, warfare has been a constant reality. From ancient times until now, people have developed various weapons and strategies to gain advantage in battle. Hidden among the pile of weapons you would expect to see in a battle like a sword or an ax, are the following weird ancient weapons. These weapons may seem bizarre and even comical to us now, but they were once considered powerful tools of war and made a big difference on the battlefield.

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1. Macuahuitl

weird ancient weapons: Macuahuitl
Photo: Arjuno3 via Wikipedia

What looks like a cute musical instrument is in fact a deadly weapon, used by the Aztecs in Mexico. Used between the 13th and 16th century, this was a wooden ‘sword’ with obsidian blades that apparently was able to decapitate a horse with just one blow! We can only imagine how deadly this was.

2. Italian Boarding Sword

Italian Boarding Sword
Photo: worcester.emuseum.com

Used in the beginning of the 15th century, this sword was a rather practical tool: you could use it to board ships all while defending yourself with its pointed tip and cutting ropes with the serrated edge.

3. Harmonica Gun

ancient weapons harmonica gun
Photo: antiquestradegazette.com

Manufactured way back in 1742, this was a doozy. What at first looks like a made up gun is in fact a weapon that could annihilate an enemy with no worries. With 12 rounds in a single magazine, this is the firearm you take with you when you want to make sure you get the results you aimed for. It may look kind of weird but it can be deadly no doubts about it.

4. Chakram

Photo: Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

A circular throwing weapon with sharp edges used in India. Dating back to the 4th century BC, this is a killer frisbee, if you may. American inventor Alan Adler played around with the idea of using chakram’s key points which led to the invention of Aerobie, a gravity-defying disc that’s perfect for outdoor game sessions.

5. Urumi

ancient weapons urumi
Photo: TrollDens

Urumi aka Ara aka The Whip Word dates back to the 4th century BC. This is as weird as it gets: a whip-like sword with a flexible blade that could be used to provoke serious harm. Heck, it can even harm the handler if he’s not careful.

6. Greek Fire

ancient weapons Greek fire
Photo: Codex Skylitzes Matritensis, Bibliteca Nacional de Madrid, Vitr. 26-2, Bild-Nr. 77, f 34 v. b. (taken from Pászthory, p. 31) via Wikipedia

A 7th century type of incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire that was capable of setting whole enemy ships on fire. There’s no real evidence of what the concoction was made of but it’s believed to be a mixture of petroleum, sulfur, resin, pitch, lime, and bitumen.

7. Atlatl

ancient weapons atlatl
Photo: thunderbirdatlatl.com

A highly effective weapon, first documented around 30,000 BC, the Atlatl is a spear-throwing device used by indigenous people in North America and Europe. It goes faster and further than your usual spear making it the perfect hunting tool or weapon.

8. Scythed Chariot

ancient weapons scythed chariot
History shows this chariot being used between 467 BC and 458 BC by Persians to wreak havoc wherever they could. In the end this war weapon was finally brought to ‘retirement’ when Romans started using caltrops, thus rendering them useless, scythed or not.

9. Bagh Nakh

ancient weapons Bagh Nakh

Also known as Tiger’s Claw, this is a type of hand-held claw-like weapon used in India for close combat, being favored by Nihang Sikhs who used to wear it in their turbans. Not the type of weapon you want to see on your enemy in close combat so keep a close eye on their turbans next time, all right?

10. Shotel

ancient weapons shotel
Photo: Avron via wikipedia

A weapon that looks like it came straight out of a comic book. This curved, hook-shaped blade originated in Ethiopia 700 BC. It was used to either take enemies off horses or to reach around a shield or other defensive weapons.

11. Hwacha

ancient weapons hwacha
A Korean rocket launcher that could fire multiple rockets at once, the first unit of its kind being built in the year 1409. Using arrows called so (소) that were thin and light and with a pouch of black powder each, this was a weapon that was easy to maneuver.

12. War pigs

ancient weapons war pigs
A tactic used in the year 266 BC at the battle of Megara between Antigonus II Gonatas and Megarians with the sole purpose of frightening war elephants by attaching straw and oil to pigs and lighting them on fire. According to Polyaenu: “The pigs grunted and shrieked under the torture of the fire, and sprang forwards as hard as they could among the elephants, who broke their ranks in confusion and fright, and ran off in different directions.”

13. Bee Bomb

ancient weapons bee bombs
A type of weapon used in ancient China and Japan, this consisted of a container filled with live bees and was thrown at the enemy to cause confusion and distraction, as you might have imagined.

14. Claw Of Archimedes

ancient weapons claw of archimedes
Photo: Giulio Parigi

One of Archimedes most popular weapons, the claw was used as defense against naval assaults. The grappling hook would grab approaching ships causing enough damage to force them to eventually sink. This is one of those weird ancient weapons that were very effective.

15. War elephant

weird ancient weapons: war elephants

Keeping in line with the pigs mentioned above, the war elephants had one purpose: to break enemy lines, causing mayhem in their tracks. They were rendered a liability once war cannons started being used.

While the weapons mentioned above may seem strange and even funny, they made quite a difference at the time. Using whatever was available, people crafted these totally weird ancient weapons with one purpose in mind: to keep the enemy at bay.

Recommend reading next: Weirdest Crimes Ever!


What was the first firearm ever used?

The fire lance was the first firearm used in combat between the 10–12th centuries. With a range of only a few feet, it consisted of a bamboo tube equipped with gun powder.

What is the name of the ancient weapons show?

Deadliest Warrior (2009 – 2011) was a brilliant show that explored the history behind world’s weapons, from ancient time to present. Too bad it didn’t last longer as it taught us a lot of things about weird ancient weapons.

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