Long before drive by shootings and police stabbings, our ancestors used some truly badass weapons against each other. Our ancient ancestors seemed to have a knack for finding the most gruesome and painful ways to attack each other - you could even argue that no modern weapons come close to being able to inflict the same level of suffering as these ancient weapons. You might even be forgiven for being thankful for guns with their quick deaths when you read this list of top 10 badass weapons.

This is a list of the most badass weapons in ancient history. This list excludes weapons beyond the medieval period.


10. Culverin



Culverins were medieval guns. These were often used by horsemen in a medieval kind of drive-by shooting.

The hand culverin were made of a simple smoothbore tube, closed at one end except for a small hole designed to fire the gunpowder. The tube was held in place by a wooden piece which could be held under the arm.

The tube was loaded with gunpowder and lead bullets.

The culverin was fired by inserting a lighted cord into the hole. In the image above, the hand culverin is between two small canons.

These hand culverins soon evolved into heavier portable culverins, around 40kg in weight, which required a swivel for support and aiming. Such culverins were further equiped with back-loading sabots to facilitate reloading, and were often used on ships - a precursor to the modern canon.


9. Caltrop


A caltrop is a weapon made up of two (or more) sharp nails or spines arranged so that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron). Caltrops serve to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. It was said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels.Weapons Caltrop


In modern times Caltrops have been used at times during labor strikes and other disputes. Such devices were used by some to destroy the tires of management and replacement workers. Because of the prevalence of caltrops during the Caterpillar strike of the mid-1990s, the state of Illinois passed a law making the possession of such devices a misdemeanor.

Iron caltrops were used as early as 331 BC at Gaugamela according to Quintus Curtius. They were known to the Romans as tribulus or sometimes as Murex ferreus, meaning ‘jagged iron’.

The Roman writer Vegetius said:

The Roman soldiers rendered [the armed chariots] useless chiefly by the following contrivance: at the instant the engagement began, they strewed the field of battle with caltrops, and the horses that drew the chariots, running full speed on them, were infallibly destroyed. A caltrop is a device composed of four spikes or points arranged so that in whatever manner it is thrown on the ground, it rests on three and presents the fourth upright.


Punji sticks and caltrops were used in the Vietnam War, sometimes with poison or manure on the points.



8. Boiling Oil


Back in the day, you had to scale the walls of a city or castle before you could rape and pillage. This led someone to the brilliant idea that you could pour boiling oil on top of the people trying to climb in. Oil


Oil was not difficult to come by as the women would all donate their cooking oil (a small price to pay to keep their privates private). If the town ran out of oil, they would use boiling water, or other easily obtainable things like sand.

Castles were often built with special holes in the sides to make it easier to pour this blistering liquid on unsuspecting climbers.

They were so effective that they were called murder-holes.

These holes were also useful for firing arrows at attackers or throwing rocks. Similar holes, called machicolations, were often located in the curtain walls of castles and city walls.

The parapet would project over corbels so that holes would be located over the exterior face of the wall, and arrows could be shot at, rocks dropped on, or boiling water poured over, any attackers near the wall.

Various sources claim that molten lead was also used as a weapon in this way, but there is no historical evidence to support that view.


7. Arbalest


We all know that crossbows are badass - but what about the arbalest? The Arbalest was a larger version of the crossbow and it had a steel prod (”bow”).

Since an arbalest was much larger than earlier crossbows, and because of the greater tensile strength of steel, it had a greater force.

The strongest windlass-pulled arbalests could have up to 22 kN (5000 lbf) strength and be accurate up to 500m. A skilled arbalestier (arblaster) could shoot two bolts per minute.

Arbalests were sometimes considered inhumane or unfair weapons, since an inexperienced crossbowman could use one to kill a knight who had a lifetime of training.


The use of crossbows in European warfare dates back to Roman times and is again evident from the battle of Hastings until about 1500 AD.

They almost completely superseded hand bows in many European armies in the twelfth century for a number of reasons.

Although a longbow had greater range, could achieve comparable accuracy and faster shooting rate than an average crossbow, crossbows could release more kinetic energy and be used effectively after a week of training, while a comparable single-shot skill with a longbow could take years of practice.

Crossbows were eventually replaced in warfare by gunpowder weapons, although early guns had slower rates of fire and much worse accuracy than contemporary crossbows.


This weapon was so badass, that Pope Innocent II (pictured to the left) banned them at the second Lateran Council in 1139:

We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on.


Today the crossbow often has a complicated legal status due to the possibility of lethal use and its similarities with both firearms.


See rest of this article at: http://listverse.com/history/top-10-badass-ancient-weapons/


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Date: 9 Sep 2008 | Author: mesmerX | Category: News, Pictures | Views: 10153

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Comments: 2

hay thanks for the info.this will come in handy with figuring out which weapons to use for my midevil european castle project :]

Hey, thanks for the info on the oil, I had just asked my dad, who usually knows these things, but he didn't know. I never knew about the Arbalest either.

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