|Place of origin||Egypt|
|In service||ca. 3rd millennium BCE - 1300 BCE|
|Used by||New Kingdom of Egypt|
|Wars||Battle of Kadesh|
|Length||avg. 50–60 cm (20–24 in)|
A typical khopesh is 50–60 cm (20–24 inches) in length, though smaller examples do also exist. The blunted edge of the weapon's tip also served as an effective bludgeon, as well as a hook. These weapons changed from bronze to iron in the New Kingdom period. The earliest known depiction of a khopesh is from the Stele of Vultures, depicting King Eannatum of Lagash wielding the weapon; this would date the khopesh to at least 2500 BC.
The word 'khopesh' may have derived from 'leg', as in 'leg of beef', because of their similarity in shape. The hieroglyph for ḫpš ('leg') is found as early as during the time of the Coffin Texts (the First Intermediate Period).
The blade is only sharpened on the outside portion of the curved end. The khopesh evolved from the epsilon or similar crescent shaped axes that were used in warfare. Note, however, that the khopesh is not an axe. Unlike an axe, the khopesh did not make push-cuts, but rather slashes, like a sabre. The khopesh went out of use around 1300 BC. However, in the 196 BC Rosetta Stone it is referenced as the "sword" determinative in a hieroglyphic block, with the spelled letters of kh, p, and sh to say:
Shall be set up a statue..., the Avenger of Baq-t-(Egypt), the interpretation whereof is 'Ptolemy, the strong one of Kam-t'-(Egypt), and a statue of the god of the city, giving to him a sword royal of victory, ...
Although some examples are clearly sharpened, many examples have dull edges which apparently were never intended to be sharp. It may therefore be possible that some khopeshes found in high status graves were ceremonial variants.
- Hamblin, 2006. Warfare in the Ancient Near East, pp. 66–71.
- Wise, Terence (1981). Ancient Armies of the Middle East. Osprey Publishing. pp. 23–25. ISBN 978-0-85045-384-3.
- Howard, Dan (2011). Bronze Age Military Equipment. Casemate Publishers. pp. 31–34. ISBN 978-1-84884-293-9.
- Mike Loades (2010). Swords and Swordsmen. Pen & Sword Military. pp. 1–21. ISBN 978-1-84884-133-8.
- Coffin Texts: CT V, 9c, B1C
- Budge, 1989, (1929). The Rosetta Stone, p. 155–156. (Rosetta line 6)
- Budge, 1989, (1929). The Rosetta Stone, E.A.Wallace Budge, (Dover Publications), c 1929, Dover edition (unabridged), 1989. (softcover, ISBN 0-486-26163-8)
- Hamblin, 2006. Warfare in the Ancient Near East, William J. Hamblin, Routledge (softcover, ISBN 0-415-25589-9)
- Wernick, 2004, A Khepesh Sword in the University of Liverpool Museum in JSSEA 31, 151–155