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The Development of Ancient Chinese Weapons

In China, ancient weapons were developed out of tools in the Neolithic Age. Needs of living and hunt made the forefathers at that time create stone axes and stone knives. Later on, as an intertribal annexation war occurred, weapons were developed. The early weapons in China were mainly bows and arrows, spears, dagger-axes, knives, and swords. The original bows and arrows were crude as the main parts were made of branches of trees and the bowstrings were made of animal hide or tendon or even plant fiber.

Various kinds of bronze arrowheads appeared during the Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1100 BC). Afterward, device-operated crossbows were invented. During the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, dagger-axes, spears, and swords also came into use. In “The Book of Songs”, the following words can be seen: “The King is going to launch a war, please make spears and halberds for me”. Up to the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods (770-221 BC), the number of weapon types had increased and the quality improved. Scaling ladders were used then in taking towns and fortresses, and later horse-drawn chariots were also used in wars. The terra-cotta warriors and figures of the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty discovered in 1974 show well-equipped officers and soldiers of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and their heroic postures.

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