Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsWhen I look at the khopesh sword, the thing that strikes me is the shape of it. It looks like a sickle, but the word khopesh itself also means foreleg of an ox. And the foreleg of an ox, when drawn in hieroglyphs, is a remarkably similar form to that. So they're the things I think about when I see this object, and the types of things I'd research to try and establish the connections between them.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsIt's interesting that this sword was found in Egypt, because when I look at it, I see that it's exactly the same kind of sword that they were using in Hittite images of warrior gods at their capital of Hattusa Bogazkoy. And when the Egyptians and the Hittites went to war, presumably they were using exactly the same weapons. So that shows you that neither of them had any kind of technological edge over the other. We know from hieroglyphic texts that swords of this shape were called khopesh swords by the ancient Egyptians. And we can see from the pictorial nature of hieroglyphic script that this name is definitely this shape of sword.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsFor me this is interesting, because in the Egyptian language, the khopesh also means strength or might. And this gives us some insight into the way that the Egyptians thought about this kind of sword. We also know that gods wielded this kind of sword. And in fact, some people's names, some princes of ancient Egypt, their names actually meant Amun, with his khopesh sword. So referencing one of the chief deities, Amun, carrying one of these swords all wrapped up into the name of a son of one of the Egyptian kings.

Further Thoughts on the Khopesh Sword

In addition to Dr Steven Snape’s analysis of the Khopesh Sword, I gathered a few other scholars to share their thoughts. In this video, Dr Roland Enmarch, Dr Alan Greaves and I talk briefly on what interests us when looking at the object. You’ll see that we each focus on slightly different things.

The lesson here is to encourage you to engage with the objects. You don’t need to be a qualified Egyptologist or Near Eastern specialist to comment and discuss (in fact, in lots of disciplines, some of the biggest breakthroughs start with amateur enthusiasts). As you can see, even when trained to the hilt, we tend to see different things in the same object.

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This video is from the free online course:

Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East

University of Liverpool