We often think efficient means of killing people were only developed in the last century, while it’s true we have faster guns and bigger bombs. Our ancestors didn’t have any of these and therefore had to kill each other the old fashioned way. It would be most unfair not to give them credit for being the crazy savages they were, sure their weapons were primitive by today’s standards, but they were still horrible weapons of war. Ever since somebody learnt to throw rocks there’s been an arms race that has been going on to this day. In our 40,000 odd years of slaughtering each other, we’ve come up with some pretty badass ways of doing it, here is a list of weapons from bygone eras that we think are the most badass of all. (Read: The most iconic weapons from films)
1) Crossbow- The crossbow is a horizontally mounted bow on a stock that can shoot arrows or bolts. The crossbow, unlike other bows is easy to use with little training. It also made heavily armoured knights on horseback obsolete because of it’s excellent armour penetration. The crossbow is still used today in hunting. There exists one type of crossbow called the repeating crossbow from China that had a self reloading magazine, it was the first semi automatic weapon ever. Crossbows are used even today by modern armies for specialised duties.
2) Ballista- The ballista was basically a giant Roman crossbow, it was derived from similar ancient Greek weapons. The ballista was Roman artillery and was used in sieges as well as on the battle field, it was an extremely powerful weapon for it’s time and the arrows it fired could easily penetrate armour. There were cart mounted versions of the ballista called the carroballista which were highly mobile.
3) Shield- Shields have been used by people who didn’t want to end up as pin cushions on the battlefield since time immemorial. Shields are both defensive and offensive weapons (you can hit people with them). They were used very effectively by the Greek hoplites as part of their phalanx formations and Roman legionaries as part of their testudo (tortoise) formation. Shields are still used today and getting hit by one really hurts.
4) Composite bow- The composite bow is a bow made from wood, sinew and horn laminated together. It has been used for thousands of years and are more powerful than bows made from a single piece of wood, they were used by the Mongols who were horseback archers to create the second largest empire in history.
5) Spear- The spear was the infantryman’s primary weapon for thousands of years. At it’s simplest the spear is a long stick with a sharpened tip. There are several types of spears like the javelin, pike, halberd and lance to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, the spear, not the sword was the main weapon of most armies until the arrival of gunpowder.