The xiphos generally pronounced as ksee-fos is known to be a straight, double-edged, and single-handed Iron Age weapon that was utilized by the ancient Greeks in history.

It was said to be the secondary weapon utilized by these soldiers on the battlefield after the javelins or the dory which were their more preferred tools for fighting.

Characteristics of the Xiphos Sword

During the late third century BC, the Roman soldiers ended up using the xiphos sword for battle; and generally, most of their military troops, namely the cavalrymen and infantry, carried the xiphos sword and predominantly utilized these during their battle.

Together with other weapons such as the spears and javelins, the Roman soldiers charged into the battlefield wielding these weapons together with the xiphos.

The traditional blade of the xiphos generally measured around fifty to sixty centimeters in length, yet the Spartans were said to have utilized these swords during the era of the Greco-Persian battles but with blades that were as short as thirty centimeters.

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There were times when the xiphos featured a mid-rib, lenticular, or even a diamond cross-section, and was generally hung via baldric under the wielder’s left arm. Since it was considered as a secondary weapon, the xiphos sword was only utilized when the spear or javelin was discarded for close-range combat, and because of this, only a few xiphos have survived through time.

In Stone’s Glossary, it featured the xiphos as a name utilized by Homer for a specific sword; in the book, the entry claims that the weapon featured a double-edged blade and was widest around 2/3 of its length from the weapon’s point.

Based on the research of Peter Johnsson a swordsmith and researcher he claims that the term clearly means something related to the penetration of light.

The leaf-shaped design of the xiphos sword made it a perfect tool for thrusting and cutting, plus it is also said to have been a design that has existed since the appearance of the very first swords.

Blades made of iron and bronze were said to be more suitable to have a leaf-like shape since the types of metal are softer and more malleable compared to steel; bronze weapons were cast which made them easier to form into this unique shape, unlike iron swords which need the proper forging techniques.

The earlier made xiphos was a bronze sword yet if it were made during the classical period, the sword would have been made out of iron. The early short sword called the Celtic La Tene which existed alongside the xiphos was said to have an essentially identical blade style and design as the xiphos sword.

By PhokionOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Origin of the Xiphos

The leaf-shaped short blades were not only limited to Greece since the weapon can also be found in different portions of Europe during the Late Bronze Period under numerous names. The xiphos or the bronze leaf-shaped swords that date all the way back to the late second millennium have survived until this very day.

Urnfield culture which was a culture during the late bronze age in central Europe – is identified with the utilization of short leaf-shaped bronze swords.

During the early La Tene culture which was in 500 BC, it was generally claimed that almost all of the iron swords had replaced the bronze swords; yet during the Hallstatt culture, a combination of iron and bronze swords seem to have coexisted during the period.

Iron is a material known to get severely rusted or oxidized over the years which is why only a few iron swords have survived throughout time; this is in contrast to the bronze swords which have aged very well.

This is the reason why more details and information are known about swords during the Bronze Age but less so during the early period of the Iron Age. Additionally, bronze thrusting swords that appeared during the second millennium continue to exist in outstanding condition.

The Edgeless Thrusting Swords

The xiphos sword is among the numerous edgeless thrusting weapons that have been utilized in history, and the individuals who mostly utilized the weapon were the Spartiates.

The xiphos was known as the secondary weapon of these warriors while for the Greek warriors, they considered the xiphos blade as one of their most favored pieces due to its excellent iron blade which usually measured around sixty centimeters in length.

The xiphos also featured a Spartan version which was very much shorter compared to the Greek swords; this usually had a measurement of around thirty to forty-five centimeters only.

Another notable edgeless thrusting sword was the popular rapier; its term originated from the French word Epee Rapier which was said to compare the blade to a rasp or file. The weapon could have also been named the rapier due to the sound that the piece produced when the wielder allowed it to come in contact with another blade.

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The Xiphos and the Greek Swords

The Greek weapons have undergone three varying ages and these were known as the Archaic, Classical, and the Hellenistic Age; during these periods, a variety of swords have appeared and aside from the xiphos, the other swords included the following:

  • The Hoplite Swords
  • Trojan Swords
  • Makhaira Sword
  • The Kopis

The Xiphos Sword for Sale

In this day and age, a lot of people have grown fond of the ancient swords from the past, and due to the numerous books, plays, stories, and films that have depicted the medieval swords into their stories, more and more people wish to experience the types of weapons that have been exhibited.

The xiphos is one of the popular swords from the past, and for the serious collectors and practitioners of the martial arts, having their own piece and actually learning how to wield this is extremely vital. So for those who are in search of such a weapon, numerous online weapon shops offer the xiphos for sale which comes in two categories.

One can choose from the fully functional blade which means that its blade has been sharpened so that one can readily utilize this for cutting training and practice. Another category is the decorative piece which is perfect for the collector who wishes to add the xiphos to their growing set of swords.

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