Historically, the sword developed in the Bronze Age, evolving from the dagger; the earliest specimens date to about 1600 BC. The later Iron Age sword remained short and without a crossguard. The spatha became the predecessor of the European sword of the Middle Ages and only in the High Middle Ages, developed into the classical arming sword with crossguard.
The use of a sword is known as swordsmanship or as fencing. In the Early Modern period, western sword design diverged into roughly two forms, the thrusting swords and the sabers.
Non-European weapons called "sword" include single-edged weapons such as the Middle Eastern scimitar, the Chinese dao and the related Japanese katana. The Chinese jian is an example of a non-European double-edged sword, like the European models derived from the double-edged Iron Age sword.
Sword typology is based on morphological criteria on one hand and age and place of origin on the other.
The relatively comprehensive Oakeshott typology was created by historian and illustrator Ewart Oakeshott to define and catalogue European swords of the medieval period based on physical form, including blade shape and hilt configuration.
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