Spear
Overview
 
A spear is a pole weapon
Pole weapon
A pole weapon or polearm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range. Spears, glaives, poleaxes, halberds, and bardiches are all varieties of polearms...

 consisting of a shaft, usually of wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, with a pointed head.

The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

, obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 or bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

.

The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a barbed triangle, lozenge
Lozenge
A lozenge , often referred to as a diamond, is a form of rhombus. The definition of lozenge is not strictly fixed, and it is sometimes used simply as a synonym for rhombus. Most often, though, lozenge refers to a thin rhombus—a rhombus with acute angles of 45°...

 or leaf.
Encyclopedia
A spear is a pole weapon
Pole weapon
A pole weapon or polearm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range. Spears, glaives, poleaxes, halberds, and bardiches are all varieties of polearms...

 consisting of a shaft, usually of wood
Wood
Wood is a hard, fibrous tissue found in many trees. It has been used for hundreds of thousands of years for both fuel and as a construction material. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of lignin which resists compression...

, with a pointed head.

The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

, obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 or bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

.

The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a barbed triangle, lozenge
Lozenge
A lozenge , often referred to as a diamond, is a form of rhombus. The definition of lozenge is not strictly fixed, and it is sometimes used simply as a synonym for rhombus. Most often, though, lozenge refers to a thin rhombus—a rhombus with acute angles of 45°...

 or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.

Spears can be divided into two broad categories: those designed for thrusting and those designed for throwing.

Origins

Spear manufacture and use is not confined to human beings. It is also practised by the Pan troglodytes verus subspecies of the Common Chimpanzee
Common Chimpanzee
The common chimpanzee , also known as the robust chimpanzee, is a great ape. Colloquially, the common chimpanzee is often called the chimpanzee , though technically this term refers to both species in the genus Pan: the common chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo, formerly called the pygmy...

. Chimpanzees near Kédougou, Senegal were observed to create spears by breaking straight limbs off trees, stripping them of their bark and side branches, and sharpening one end with their teeth. They then used the weapons to hunt galago
Galago
Galagos , also known as bushbabies, bush babies or nagapies , are small, nocturnal primates native to continental Africa, and make up the family Galagidae...

s sleeping in hollows. Orangutan
Orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

s also have used spears to fish, presumably after observing humans fishing in a similar manner.

Prehistory

Archeological evidence found in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 documents that wooden spears were used for hunting since at least 400,000 years ago. Wood does not preserve well, however, and Craig Stanford, a primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

, has suggested that the discovery of spear use by chimpanzees probably means that early humans used wooden spears as well, perhaps, five million years ago.

Neanderthals were constructing stone spear heads from as early as 300,000 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 and by 250,000 years ago, wooden spears were made with fire-hardened
Fire Hardening
Fire hardening is the process of removing moisture from wood by slowly and lightly charring it over a fire. This makes a point, like that of a spear, or an edge, like that of a knife, more durable....

 points.

From 200,000 BP onwards, Middle Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 humans began to make complex stone blades with flaked edges which were used as spear heads. These stone heads could be fixed to the spear shaft by gum or resin or by bindings made of animal sinew, leather strips or vegetable matter. During this period, a clear difference remained between spears designed to be thrown and those designed to be used in hand-to-hand combat. By the Magdalenian
Magdalenian
The Magdalenian , refers to one of the later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, dating from around 17,000 BP to 9,000 BP...

 period (c. 15000-9500 BC), spear-throwers similar to the later atlatl
Atlatl
An atlatl or spear-thrower is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing.It consists of a shaft with a cup or a spur at the end that supports and propels the butt of the dart. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup...

 were in use

The fighting spear

Spears were one of the most common personal weapons used in the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

, and they remained in use as important military and hunting implements until the advent of firearms. They may be seen as the ancestor of such military weapons as the lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

, the pilum
Pilum
The pilum was a javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about two metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank about 7 mm in diameter and 60 cm long with pyramidal head...

, the halberd
Halberd
A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word halberd comes from the German words Halm , and Barte - in modern-day German, the weapon is called Hellebarde. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on...

, the naginata
Naginata
The naginata is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades in the form of a pole weapon. Naginata were originally used by the samurai class in feudal Japan, and naginata were also used by ashigaru and sōhei .-Description:A naginata consists of a wooden shaft with a curved...

, the glaive
Glaive
A glaive is a European polearm weapon, consisting of a single-edged blade on the end of a pole. It is similar to the Japanese naginata and the Chinese Guan Dao....

, the bill
Bill (weapon)
The bill is a polearm weapon used by infantry in medieval Europe.The bill is similar in size, function and appearance to the halberd, differing mainly in the hooked blade form...

, and the pike
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

. One of the earliest weapons fashioned by human beings and their ancestors, the spear is still used for hunting and fishing, and its influences still may be seen in contemporary military arsenals as the rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

-mounted bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

.

Spears may be used as both ballistic and melee weapon
Mêlée weapon
A melee weapon is any weapon that does not involve a projectile — that is, both the user and target of the weapon are in contact with it simultaneously in normal use...

s. Spears used primarily for thrusting may be used with either one or two hands and tend to have heavier and sturdier designs than those intended exclusively for throwing. Those designed for throwing, often referred to as javelins, tend to be lighter and have a more streamlined head, and they may be thrown either by hand or with the assistance of a spear thrower such as the atlatl
Atlatl
An atlatl or spear-thrower is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing.It consists of a shaft with a cup or a spur at the end that supports and propels the butt of the dart. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup...

 or woomera
Woomera (spear-thrower)
A woomera is an Australian Aboriginal spear-throwing device used for when there is a greater distance to be overcome. It is highly efficient and made of wood. Similar to an atlatl, it enables a spear to travel much further than by arm strength alone...

. From the atlatl dart, the arrow
Arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

 for use with bows
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

 eventually developed.

Infantry spears

Short, one-handed spears featuring socketed metal heads were used in conjunction with a shield by the earliest Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 cultures. They were wielded in either single combat or in large troop formations. This tradition continued from the first Mesopotamian cultures, through the various ancient Egyptian dynasties, to the period of the Ancient Greek city states.
The Greeks

The spear is the main weapon of the warriors of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. The use of both a single thrusting spear and two throwing spears are mentioned. It has been suggested that two styles of combat are being described; an early style, with thrusting spears, dating to the Mycenaean period and a later style, with throwing spears, from the Archaic period.

In the 7th century BC, the Greeks evolved a new close-order infantry formation, the phalanx
Phalanx formation
The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons...

. The key to this formation was the hoplite
Hoplite
A hoplite was a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek city-states. Hoplites were primarily armed as spearmen and fought in a phalanx formation. The word "hoplite" derives from "hoplon" , the type of the shield used by the soldiers, although, as a word, "hopla" could also denote weapons held or even...

, who was equipped with a large, circular, bronze-faced shield (hoplon) and a 7–9 ft. (2–2.75 m) spear with an iron head and bronze butt-spike (doru
Dory (spear)
The dory or doru - ie not pronounced like the fish - is a spear that was the chief armament of hoplites in Ancient Greece. The word "dory" is first attested in Homer with the meanings of "wood" and "spear". Homeric heroes hold two dorys...

). The hoplite phalanx dominated warfare among the Greek City States from the 7th into the 4th century BC.

The 4th century saw major changes. One was the greater use of peltast
Peltast
A peltast was a type of light infantry in Ancient Thrace who often served as skirmishers.-Description:Peltasts carried a crescent-shaped wicker shield called pelte as their main protection, hence their name. According to Aristotle the pelte was rimless and covered in goat or sheep skin...

s, light infantry armed with spear and javelins. The other was the development of the Sarissa
Sarissa
The sarissa or sarisa was a 4 to 7 meter long spear used in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic warfare. It was introduced by Philip II of Macedon and was used in the traditional Greek phalanx formation as a replacement for the earlier dory, which was considerably shorter. The phalanxes of Philip...

, a two-handed pike 18 ft. (5.5 m) in length, by the Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ians under Phillip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. The pike phalanx, supported by peltasts and cavalry, became the dominant mode of warfare among the Greeks from the late 4th century onward until Greek military systems were supplanted by the Roman legions.

Cavalry spears

During this time the spear was also used by cavalry. The majority of ancient cavalry units were equipped either with javelin
Javelin
A Javelin is a light spear intended for throwing. It is commonly known from the modern athletic discipline, the Javelin throw.Javelin may also refer to:-Aviation:* ATG Javelin, an American-Israeli civil jet aircraft, under development...

s or a one-handed thrusting spear similar to that used by infantry. Some, however, used longer spears. The Macedonian Xyston
Xyston
Not to be confused with XystosThe xyston |javelin]]; pointed stick, goad") was a type of a long thrusting lance in ancient Greece. It measured about long and was probably held by the cavalryman with both hands, although the depiction of Alexander the Great's xyston on the Alexander Mosaic in...

 was 12–14 ft. (3.6–4.2 m) in length and could be used with one or two hands. The use of the two-handed Kontos by heavily armored soldiers on horseback, known as Cataphracts, was developed first by nomadic eastern Iranian tribes and spread throughout the ancient world. These would be used to great effect by the Successor
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

 kingdoms and the Parthians and, later, by the Sassanians and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

. Later Roman and Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 armies also made use of these troops.

The Romans

In the pre-Marian
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 Roman armies the first two lines of battle, the hastati
Hastati
Hastatii were a class of infantry in the armies of the early Roman Republic who originally fought as spearmen, and later as swordsmen. They were originally some of the poorest men in the legion, and could afford only modest equipment — light armour and a large shield, in their service as the...

 and principes
Principes
Principes were spearmen, and later swordsmen, in the armies of the early Roman Republic. They were men in the prime of their lives who were fairly wealthy, and could afford decent equipment. They were the heavier infantry of the legion who carried large shields and wore good quality armour. Their...

, often fought with swords
Gladius
Gladius was the Latin word for sword, and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Roman soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks. From the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early...

 and pila
Pilum
The pilum was a javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about two metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank about 7 mm in diameter and 60 cm long with pyramidal head...

, heavy javelins that were specifically designed to be thrown at an enemy to pierce and foul a target's shield. Originally the Principes
Principes
Principes were spearmen, and later swordsmen, in the armies of the early Roman Republic. They were men in the prime of their lives who were fairly wealthy, and could afford decent equipment. They were the heavier infantry of the legion who carried large shields and wore good quality armour. Their...

 were armed with a short spear called a hasta
Hasta (spear)
Hasta is a Latin word meaning spear. Hastae were carried by early Roman Legionaries, in particular they were carried by and gave their name to those Roman soldiers known as Hastati...

, but these gradually fell out of use, eventually being replaced by the Gladius
Gladius
Gladius was the Latin word for sword, and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Roman soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks. From the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early...

. The third line, the triarii
Triarii
Triarii were one of the elements of the early Roman military Manipular legions of the early Roman Republic . They were the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army, and could afford good quality equipment. They wore heavy metal armour and carried large shields, their usual position being...

, continued to use the hasta.
From the late 2nd century BC, all legionaries
Legionary
The Roman legionary was a professional soldier of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 BC. Legionaries had to be Roman citizens under the age of 45. They enlisted in a legion for twenty-five years of service, a change from the early practice of enlisting only for a campaign...

 were equipped with the pilum. The pilum continued to be the standard legionary spear until the end of the 2nd century AD. Auxilia, however, were equipped with a simple hasta and, perhaps, throwing spears. During the 3rd century AD, although the pilum continued to be used, legionaries usually were equipped with other forms of throwing and thrusting spear, similar to auxilia of the previous century. By the 4th century, the pilum had effectively disappeared from common use.

Middle East and North Africa during Islamic period

Muslim warriors used a spear that was called az-zaġāyah. Berbers pronounced it zaġāya. In English it is generally called an Assegai
Assegai
An assegai or assagai is a pole weapon used for throwing or hurling, usually a light spear or javelin made of wood and pointed with iron.-Iklwa:...

.
It is a pole weapon used for throwing or hurling, usually a light spear or javelin made of hard wood and pointed with a forged iron tip.The az-zaġāyah played an important role during the Islamic conquest as well as during later periods, well into the 20th century. A longer pole az-zaġāyah was being used as a hunting weapon from horseback. The az-zaġāyah spread far into sub-saharan Africa as well as India.It was the weapon of choice during the Fulani jihad as well as during the Mahdist War
Mahdist War
The Mahdist War was a colonial war of the late 19th century. It was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese and the Egyptian and later British forces. It has also been called the Anglo-Sudan War or the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt. The British have called their part in the conflict the Sudan Campaign...

 in Sudan. It is still being used by Sikh Nihang
Nihang
Nihang is an armed Sikh order. Early Sikh military history is dominated by the Akali Nihang military order, particularly for many famous military victories won while often heavily outnumbered. The Akali Nihang have historically been held in great affection and respect by Sikhs due the pivotal role...

s in the Punjab as well as certain wandering Sufi ascetics (Derwishes).

European Middle Ages

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the spear and shield continued to be used by almost all Western European cultures. Since a medieval spear required only a small amount of steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 along the sharpened edges (most of the spear-tip was wrought iron), it was an economical weapon. Quick to manufacture, and needing less smithing
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

 skill than a sword, it remained the main weapon of the common soldier. The Vikings, for instance, although often portrayed with axe or sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

 in hand, were armed mostly with spears, as were their Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

, Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

, or continental contemporaries.

Infantry spears

Broadly speaking, spears were either designed to be kept in hand (thrusting spears), or to be thrown (throwing spears). Within this simple classification, there was a remarkable range of types. For example, M.J. Swanton identified thirty different spearhead categories and sub-categories in Early Saxon England. Most medieval spearheads were, however, broadly speaking, leaf-shaped. Notable types of Early medieval spears include the Angon
Angon
The angon was a type of javelin used during the Early Middle Ages by the Franks and other Germanic peoples including the Anglo-Saxons...

, a throwing spear with a long head similar to the Roman pilum
Pilum
The pilum was a javelin commonly used by the Roman army in ancient times. It was generally about two metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank about 7 mm in diameter and 60 cm long with pyramidal head...

, used by the Franks and Anglo-Saxons and the winged (or lugged) spear, which had two prominent wings at the base of the spearhead, either to prevent the spear penetrating too far into an enemy or to aid in spear fencing. Originally a Frankish weapon, the winged spear also was popular with the Vikings. It would become the ancestor of later medieval polearms, such as the partisan
Partisan (weapon)
A partisan is a type of polearm that was used in Europe during the middle ages. It consisted of a spearhead mounted on a long shaft with protrusions on the sides which aided the user in parrying sword thrusts...

 and spetum
Spetum
A spetum was a pole weapon of Europe during the 13th century. It consisted of a long pole some 6-8 feet long which was mounted with a spear head with two projections at its base. Many variations of this design flourished over time; some feel that the ranseur is a variation of the spetum...

.

The thrusting spear also has the advantage of reach, being considerably longer than other weapon types. Exact spear lengths are hard to deduce as few spear shafts survive archaeologically but 6 ft. - 8 ft. (1.8m - 2.5m) would seem to have been the norm. Some nations were noted for their long spears, including the Scots and the Flemish. Spears usually were used in tightly ordered formations, such as the shieldwall or the schiltron
Schiltron
A sheltron is a compact body of troops forming a battle array, shield wall or phalanx....

. To resist cavalry, spear shafts could be planted against the ground. William Wallace drew up his schiltrons in a circle at the Battle of Falkirk
Battle of Falkirk (1298)
The Battle of Falkirk, which took place on 22 July 1298, was one of the major battles in the First War of Scottish Independence...

 in 1298 to deter charging cavalry, but it was a widespread tactic, sometimes known as the "crown" formation.

Throwing spears became rarer as the Middle Ages drew on, but survived in the hands of specialists such as the Catalan Almogavars
Almogavars
The almogavars were a class of soldiers from the Crown of Aragon, well-known during the Christian Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula. They were much employed as mercenaries in Italy, Latin Greece and the Levant during the 13th and 14th centuries.-History:The Almogavars came mainly from the...

. They were commonly used in Ireland until the end of the 16th century.

Spears began to lose fashion among the infantry during the 14th century, being replaced by pole weapons that combined the thrusting properties of the spear with the cutting properties of the axe, such as the halberd
Halberd
A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word halberd comes from the German words Halm , and Barte - in modern-day German, the weapon is called Hellebarde. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on...

. Where spears were retained they grew in length, eventually evolving into pike
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

s, which would be a dominant infantry weapon in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Cavalry spears

Cavalry spears were originally the same as infantry spears and were often used with two hands or held with one hand overhead. In the 11th century, after the adoption of stirrup
Stirrup
A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle by a strap, often called a stirrup leather. Stirrups are usually paired and are used to aid in mounting and as a support while using a riding animal...

s and a high-cantled saddle, the spear became a decidedly more powerful weapon. A mounted knight would secure the lance by holding it with one hand and tucking it under the armpit (the couched lance technique) This allowed all the momentum of the horse and knight to be focused on the weapon's tip, whilst still retaining accuracy and control. This use of the spear spurred the development of the lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

 as a distinct weapon that was perfected in the medieval sport of jousting
Jousting
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

.

In the 14th century, tactical developments meant that knights and men-at-arms often fought on foot. This led to the practice of shortening the lance to about 5 ft. (1.5m.) to make it more manageable. As dismounting became commonplace, specialist pole weapons such as the pollaxe
Pollaxe
The pollaxe is a type of European polearm which was widely used by medieval infantry. It is also known by the names poleaxe, pole-axe, pole axe, polax, and Hache ....

 were adopted by knights and this practice ceased.

Infantry weapons

The development of both the long, two-handed pike
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

 and gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 in Renaissance Europe saw an ever increasing focus on integrated infantry tactics. Those infantry not armed with these weapons carried variations on the pole-arm, including the halberd
Halberd
A halberd is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. Possibly the word halberd comes from the German words Halm , and Barte - in modern-day German, the weapon is called Hellebarde. The halberd consists of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on...

 and the bill
Bill (weapon)
The bill is a polearm weapon used by infantry in medieval Europe.The bill is similar in size, function and appearance to the halberd, differing mainly in the hooked blade form...

. Ultimately, the spear proper was rendered obsolete on the battlefield. Its last flowering was the half-pike or spontoon
Spontoon
A Spontoon is a type of European lance that came into being alongside the pike. The spontoon was in wide use by the mid 17th century, and it continued to be used until the mid to late 19th century....

, a shortened version of the pike carried by officers and NCOs. While originally a weapon, this came to be seen more as a badge of office, or leading staff by which troops were directed. The half-pike, sometimes known as a boarding pike, was also used as a weapon on board ships until the 19th century.

Cavalry weapons

At the start of the Renaissance, cavalry remained predominantly lance armed; gendarmes with the heavy knightly lance and lighter cavalry with a variety of lighter lances. By the 1540s, however, pistol-armed cavalry called reiter
Reiter
Reiters were a type of cavalry, which appeared in the armies of Western Europe in the 16th century in place of the outmoded lance-armed knights, at the same time that cuirassiers and dragoons began to attain typological distinction from other kinds of cavalry...

s were beginning to make their mark. Cavalry armed with pistols and other lighter firearms, along with a sword, had virtually replaced lance armed cavalry in Western Europe by the beginning of the 17th century, although the lance persisted in Eastern Europe, from whence it was reintroduced into the European mainstream in the 19th century.

Vietnam

Spear is the most common ancient arm found in Vietnam along with the axe. Spear heads are of various sizes and shapes, some are only dozen centimeters in length, while some are thirty to forty centimeters long. Spear shafts also varies greatly. Soldier figures on 13th century vases show very short spears that used together with shields, on the other hand, cavalry spears up to three to four meters long, much resemble the European lance are drawn by 17th century Westerner.

Warring States and early Sinitic empires

Spears (Qiang
Qiang (spear)
Qiang is the Chinese term for spear. Due to its relative ease of manufacture, the spear in many variations was ubiquitous on the pre-modern Chinese battlefield...

) were used in Asia first as hunting weapons amongst the ancient Chinese. They became popular as infantry weapons during the Warring States and Qin
Qin
-Chinese dynasties and states:*Qin , a state of China during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty*Qin Dynasty , which followed Qin's unification of China in 221 BC and ended in 206 BC*Da Qin , Roman Empire, 202 BC to AD 220...

 era, when spearmen were used as especially highly-disciplined soldiers in organized group attacks. When used in formation fighting, spearmen would line up their large rectangular or circular shields in a shieldwall manner. The Qin also employed long spears (more akin to a pike) in formations similar to Swiss pikemen in order to ward off cavalry. The Han Empire would use similar tactics as its Qin predecessors. Halberds, polearms, and dagger axes were also common weapons during this time.

Spears were also common weaponry for Warring States, Qin, and Han era cavalry units. During these eras, the spear would develop into a longer lance-like weapon used for cavalry charges.

Medieval Japan

Medieval Japan employed spears for infantrymen to use, but it was not until the 11th century in Japan that samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 began to use spears over bows.Several spears(Yari
Yari
is the term for one of the traditionally made Japanese blades in the form of a spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear...

) and pole weapons were very fearsome in the Japanese theatres; the naginata
Naginata
The naginata is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades in the form of a pole weapon. Naginata were originally used by the samurai class in feudal Japan, and naginata were also used by ashigaru and sōhei .-Description:A naginata consists of a wooden shaft with a curved...

 was a heavy, but powerful pole arm often used by mounted samurai in the 16th century. It was described as a sword attached to a spear and although it was unwieldy, skilled users could fight many opponents at once.

Korea

In Korea, spear infantry were used regularly by the Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

 armies. Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

 and Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 soldiers were well-trained and hardened by years of war. By fighting lifetimes of war, they discovered that heavily armored spear infantry was very effective in breaking apart thickly defended areas and charging cavalry units.

Halberd-like pole weapons were also common weapons amongst Asian armies. A notable use of a pole weapon in Asia would be during the Imjin Wars, between the Koreans and the Japanese. Korean castle and fort defenders typically, were armed with the dangpa
Dangpa
Dangpa is the Korean name for a three-pronged spear first described in the Muyejebo, a 16th century martial arts manual from the Joseon Dynasty.-Types:...

, a variation of a pole weapon called a trident
Trident
A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

. The dangpa was a favorite amongst the Korean vanguards because of its usefulness in siege combat, its striking power, and its piercing capabilities. It was particularly effective against Japanese samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 and ashigaru
Ashigaru
The Japanese ashigaru were foot-soldiers of medieval Japan. The first known reference to ashigaru was in the 1300s, but it was during the Ashikaga Shogunate-Muromachi period that the use of ashigaru became prevalent by various warring factions.-Origins:Attempts were made in Japan by the Emperor...

 armor and was used, en masse, to corner multiple swordsmen. The dangpa was used by a few Korean marines in Admiral Yi's naval operations as "pushing" infantry, literally meaning to push back Japanese marines; the remainder of Korean marines carried swords to board Japanese ships, or bows and arrows to attack from a distance. Other Korean pole arms included the woldo
Woldo
The Woldo , was a Korean pole weapon that closely resembled the Chinese guandao , though proportionally smaller. It was so named because of its curved blade...

, which resembled the Chinese Kwan Dao.

The spear in Mesoamerica

As advanced metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 was largely unknown in pre-Columbian America
Pre-Columbian era
The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during...

, most weapons in Meso-America were made of wood or obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

. This didn't mean that they were less lethal, as obsidian may be sharpened to become many times sharper than steel. Meso-American spears varied greatly in shape and size. While the Aztecs preferred the sword-like macuahuitl
Macuahuitl
The maquahuitl is a weapon shaped like a wooden sword. Its sides are embedded with prismatic blades made from obsidian, a volcanic glass stone frequently used for tool making by the Aztec and other pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures...

 for fighting, the advantage of a far-reaching thrusting weapon was recognised, and a large portion of the army would carry the tepoztopilli
Tepoztopilli
The tepoztopilli was a common front-line weapon of the Aztec military. The tepoztopilli was a pole-arm, and to judge from depictions in various Aztec codices it was roughly the height of a man, with a broad wooden head about twice the length of the users' palm or shorter, edged with razor-sharp...

 into battle. The tepoztopilli was a pole-arm, and to judge from depictions in various Aztec codices, it was roughly the height of a man, with a broad wooden head about twice the length of the users' palm or shorter, edged with razor-sharp obsidian blades which were deeply set in grooves carved into the head, and cemented in place with bitumen or plant resin as an adhesive. The tepoztopili was able both to thrust and slash effectively.

Throwing spears also were used extensively in Meso-American warfare, usually with the help of an atlatl
Atlatl
An atlatl or spear-thrower is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing.It consists of a shaft with a cup or a spur at the end that supports and propels the butt of the dart. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup...

. Throwing spears were typically shorter and more stream-lined than the tepoztopilli, and some had obsidian edges for greater penetration.

The spear in Africa

The Zulu people of eastern South Africa were known for their particular skill with shortened thrusting spears called iklwa and throwing spears called assegai
Assegai
An assegai or assagai is a pole weapon used for throwing or hurling, usually a light spear or javelin made of wood and pointed with iron.-Iklwa:...

. These spears were designed for close combat and often were wielded in conjunction with a large oval shield. Advanced skills in close combat allowed the Zulu military to conquer much of southeast Africa.

Spear hunting

One of the earliest forms of killing prey for humans, hunting game with a spear and spear fishing continues to this day as both a means of catching food and as a cultural activity.

Types of hunting spear

  • Barred spears: A barred spear has a crossbar beneath the blade, to prevent too deep a penetration of the spear into an animal. The bar may be forged as part of the spearhead or may be more loosely tied by means of loops below the blade. Barred spears are known from the Bronze Age, but the first historical record of their use in Europe is found in the writings of Xenophon
    Xenophon
    Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

     in the 5th century BC. Examples also are shown in Roman art. In the Middle Ages, a winged or lugged war-spear was developed (see above), but the later Middle Ages saw the development of specialised types, such as the boar-spear and the bear-spear. The boar-spear could be used both on foot or horseback.
  • Javelin
    Javelin
    A Javelin is a light spear intended for throwing. It is commonly known from the modern athletic discipline, the Javelin throw.Javelin may also refer to:-Aviation:* ATG Javelin, an American-Israeli civil jet aircraft, under development...

  • Harpoon
    Harpoon
    A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or large marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal...

  • Multi-bladed spears

Modern spear hunting

Spear hunting fell out of favour in most of Europe in the 18th century, but continued in Germany, enjoying a revival in the 1930s. Spear hunting
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

 is still practiced in the USA, notably by retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene Morris, NFL Defensive End Jared Allen
Jared Allen
-Kansas City Chiefs:Allen was drafted by the Chiefs in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft, and signed for a one-year, $100,000 contract. On May 21, 2007, Allen, as a restricted free agent, signed the Chiefs' one-year tender offer of $2.35 million for the 2007 season. Allen credited his early...

, and "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent
Theodore Anthony "Ted" Nugent is an American guitarist, musician, singer, author, reserve police officer, and activist. From Detroit, Michigan, he originally gained fame as the lead guitarist of The Amboy Dukes, before embarking on a lengthy solo career...

. Animals taken are primarily wild boar
Boar
Wild boar, also wild pig, is a species of the pig genus Sus, part of the biological family Suidae. The species includes many subspecies. It is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig, an animal with which it freely hybridises...

 and deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

, although trophy animals such as cats and big game as large as a Cape Buffalo are hunted with spears. Alligator
Alligator
An alligator is a crocodilian in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. There are two extant alligator species: the American alligator and the Chinese alligator ....

 are hunted in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 with a type of harpoon
Harpoon
A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or large marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal...

.

Symbolism

Like many weapons, a spear may also be a symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

 of power. In the Chinese martial arts
Chinese martial arts
Chinese martial arts, also referred to by the Mandarin Chinese term wushu and popularly as kung fu , are a number of fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. These fighting styles are often classified according to common traits, identified as "families" , "sects" or...

 community, the Chinese spear (Qiang
Qiang (spear)
Qiang is the Chinese term for spear. Due to its relative ease of manufacture, the spear in many variations was ubiquitous on the pre-modern Chinese battlefield...

 槍) is popularly known as the "king of weapons".

The Celts would symbolically destroy a dead warrior's spear to prevent its use by another.

In classical Greek mythology Zeus'
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 bolts of lightning may be interpreted as a symbolic spear. Some would carry that interpretation to the spear that frequently is associated with Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, interpreting her spear as a symbolic connection to some of Zeus' power beyond the Aegis
Aegis
An aegis is a large collar or cape worn in ancient times to display the protection provided by a high religious authority or the holder of a protective shield signifying the same, such as a bag-like garment that contained a shield. Sometimes the garment and the shield are merged, with a small...

 once he rose to replacing other deities in the pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

. Athena was depicted with a spear prior to that change in myths, however. Chiron
Chiron
In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur among his brethren.-History:Like the satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents...

's wedding-gift to Peleus
Peleus
In Greek mythology, Pēleus was a hero whose myth was already known to the hearers of Homer in the late 8th century BCE. Peleus was the son of Aeacus, king of the island of Aegina, and Endeïs, the oread of Mount Pelion in Thessaly; he was the father of Achilles...

 when he married the nymph Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

 in classical Greek mythology, was an ashen spear as the nature of ashwood with its straight grain made it an ideal choice of wood for a spear.

The Romans and their early enemies would force prisoners to walk underneath a 'yoke of spears', which humiliated them. The yoke would consist of three spears, two upright with a third tied between them at a height which made the prisoners stoop. It has been surmised that this was because such a ritual involved the prisoners' warrior status being taken away. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the arrangement has a magical
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 origin, a way to trap evil spirits. The word subjugate has its origins in this practice (from Latin sub = under, jugum=a yoke).http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=subjugation

In Norse Mythology, the God Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

's spear (named Gungnir
Gungnir
In Norse mythology, Gungnir is the spear of the god Odin.-Poetic Edda:In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, the Æsir-Vanir War is described as officially starting when Odin throws a spear over the heads of an assembly of Vanir gods. Whether or not this was specifically Gungnir is, however, unstated...

) was made by the sons of Ivaldi. It had the special property that it never missed its mark. During the War with the Vanir, Odin symbolically threw Gungnir into the Vanir host. This practice of symbolically casting a spear into the enemy ranks at the start of a fight was sometimes used in historic clashes, to seek Odin's support in the coming battle. In Wagner's opera Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

, the haft of Gungnir is said to be from the "World-Tree" Yggdrasil
Yggdrasil
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. It was said to be the world tree around which the nine worlds existed...

.

Other spears of religious significance are the Holy Lance
Holy Lance
The Holy Lance is the name given to the lance that pierced Jesus' side as he hung on the cross in John's account of the Crucifixion.-Biblical references:The lance is mentioned only in the Gospel of John and not in any of the...

 and the Lúin of Celtchar, believed by some to have vast mystical powers.

Sir James George Frazer
James Frazer
Sir James George Frazer , was a Scottish social anthropologist influential in the early stages of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion...

 in The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion is a wide-ranging, comparative study of mythology and religion, written by Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer . It first was published in two volumes in 1890; the third edition, published 1906–15, comprised twelve volumes...

noted the phallic nature of the spear and suggested that in the Arthurian Legends the spear or lance functioned as a symbol of male fertility, paired with the Grail (as a symbol of female fertility).

Tamil
Tamil people
Tamil people , also called Tamils or Tamilians, are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 15th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada,...

 (Thamizh) people worship the spear as the weapon of the god Murugan
Murugan
Murugan also called Kartikeya, Skanda and Subrahmanya, is a popular Hindu deity especially among Tamil Hindus, worshipped primarily in areas with Tamil influences, especially South India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and Reunion Island. His six most important shrines in India are the...

. Murugan's spear is called the Vel
Vel
The Vel is the divine javelin/spear of the Hindu Deity Murugan.The spear used by ancient Tamils in warfare is also commonly known by this name.-Vel in Hindu Mythology:...

. In Srilanka and India there is a dominant caste named Vellalar.
The name vellalar is derived from vel + aalar, which means "ruler of the spear".

Legendary spears

  • Amenonuhoko
    Amenonuhoko
    is the name given to the naginata in Japanese mythology used to raise the primordial land-mass, Onōgoro-shima, from the sea. According to the Kojiki, the gods Izanagi and Izanami were responsible for creating the first land. To help them do this, they were given a naginata decorated with jewels,...

    , spear of Izanagi
    Izanagi
    is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto, and is also referred to in the roughly translated Kojiki as "male-who-invites" or Izanagi-no-mikoto. It is also pronounced Izanaki-no-Okami....

     and Izanami
    Izanami
    In Japanese mythology, is a goddess of both creation and death, as well as the former wife of the god Izanagi-no-Mikoto. She is also referred to as Izanami-no-kami.-Goddess of Creation:...

    , creator gods in Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology
    Japanese mythology is a system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculturally based folk religion. The Shinto pantheon comprises innumerable kami...

  • Gáe Bulg
    Gáe Bulg
    The Gáe Bulg , meaning "spear of mortal pain/death spear", "gapped/notched spear", or "belly spear", was the name of the spear of Cúchulainn in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology...

    , spear of Cúchulainn
    Cúchulainn
    Cú Chulainn or Cúchulainn , and sometimes known in English as Cuhullin , is an Irish mythological hero who appears in the stories of the Ulster Cycle, as well as in Scottish and Manx folklore...

    , hero in Irish mythology
    Irish mythology
    The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

  • Gáe Buide and Gáe Derg , spears of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne
    Diarmuid Ua Duibhne
    Diarmuid Ua Duibhne or Diarmid O'Dyna is a son of Donn and a warrior of the Fianna in the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. He is most famous as the lover of Gráinne, the intended wife of Fianna leader Fionn mac Cumhaill in The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne...

     which could inflict wounds that none can recover from
  • Green Dragon Crescent Blade, a guan dao
    Guan dao
    A Guan Dao, Kwan Dao, or Kuan Tao is a type of Chinese pole weapon that is currently used in some forms of Chinese martial arts. In Chinese it is properly called a 偃月刀 yan yue dao , the name under which it always appears in texts from the Song to Qing dynasties such as the Wujing Zongyao and...

     wielded by General Guan Yu
    Guan Yu
    Guan Yu was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period, of which Liu Bei was the...

     in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms
    Romance of the Three Kingdoms
    Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, is a Chinese historical novel based on the events in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, starting in 169 and ending with the reunification of the land in...

  • Gungnir
    Gungnir
    In Norse mythology, Gungnir is the spear of the god Odin.-Poetic Edda:In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, the Æsir-Vanir War is described as officially starting when Odin throws a spear over the heads of an assembly of Vanir gods. Whether or not this was specifically Gungnir is, however, unstated...

    , spear of Odin
    Odin
    Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

    , a god in Norse mythology
    Norse mythology
    Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

  • Holy Lance
    Holy Lance
    The Holy Lance is the name given to the lance that pierced Jesus' side as he hung on the cross in John's account of the Crucifixion.-Biblical references:The lance is mentioned only in the Gospel of John and not in any of the...

    , said to be the spear that pierced the side of Jesus
    Jesus
    Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

  • Octane Serpent Spear of Zhang Fei (Yide) from the Three Kingdoms
    Three Kingdoms
    The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an era of disunity called the "Six Dynasties" following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 and the...

     period in China
  • Spear of Fuchai
    Spear of Fuchai
    The Spear of Fuchai is purportedly the spear of King Fuchai of Wu, the arch-rival of King Goujian of Yue. It was unearthed in Jiangling, Hubei in November 1983. The script on it is a kind of script used only in the states of Wu, Yue, and Chu called 鸟虫文 or bird and worms script, a variant of seal...

    , the spear used by Goujian's arch-rival, King Fuchai of Wu, in China
  • Spear of Lugh
    Spear of Lugh
    In the Ulster Cycle of early Irish literature, the Lúin of Celtchar is the name of a long, fiery lance or spear belonging to Celtchar mac Uthechar and wielded by other heroes, such as Dubthach, Mac Cécht and Fedlimid....

    , named after Lugh
    Lugh
    Lug or Lugh is an Irish deity represented in mythological texts as a hero and High King of the distant past. He is known by the epithets Lámhfhada , for his skill with a spear or sling, Ildánach , Samhildánach , Lonnbeimnech and Macnia , and by the...

    , a god in Irish mythology
    Irish mythology
    The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

  • Trident
    Trident
    A trident , also called a trishul or leister or gig, is a three-pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and was also a military weapon. Tridents are featured widely in mythical, historical and modern culture. The major Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer and the sea god Poseidon or Neptune are...

    , a three-pronged fishing spear associated with a number of water deities
    Water deity
    A water deity is a deity in mythology associated with water or various bodies of water. Water deities are common in mythology and were usually more important among civilizations in which the sea or ocean, or a great river was more important...

    , including the Etruscan Nethuns
    Nethuns
    In Etruscan mythology, Nethuns was the god of wells, later expanded to all water, including the sea. The Etruscan conception of the deity affected Roman Neptune...

    , Greek Poseidon
    Poseidon
    Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

    , and Roman Neptune
    Neptune (mythology)
    Neptune was the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe,...

    .
  • Trishula
    Trishula
    A trishula is a type of Indian trident but also found in Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a Hindu-Buddhist religious symbol. The word means "three spear" in Sanskrit and Pali....

    , a three-pronged spear wielded by the Hindu deities Durga
    Durga
    For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

     and Shiva
    Shiva
    Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

  • Rhongomyniad, or simply 'Ron,' the spear of King Arthur according to british tradition.

See also

  • List of types of spears
  • Arrow
  • Atlatl
    Atlatl
    An atlatl or spear-thrower is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing.It consists of a shaft with a cup or a spur at the end that supports and propels the butt of the dart. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup...

  • Dart
    Dart (missile)
    Darts are missile weapons, designed to fly such that a sharp, often weighted point will strike first. They can be distinguished from javelins by fletching and a shaft that is shorter and/or more flexible, and from arrows by the fact that they are not of the right length to use with a normal...

  • Spearfishing
    Spearfishing
    Spearfishing is an ancient method of fishing that has been used throughout the world for millennia. Early civilizations were familiar with the custom of spearing fish from rivers and streams using sharpened sticks....

  • Viking Age arms and armour
    Viking Age arms and armour
    Knowledge about arms and armour of the Viking Age is based on relatively sparse archaeological finds, pictorial representation, and to some extent on the accounts in the Norse sagas and Norse laws recorded in the thirteenth century.According to custom, all free Norse men were required to own...

  • Woomera
    Woomera (spear-thrower)
    A woomera is an Australian Aboriginal spear-throwing device used for when there is a greater distance to be overcome. It is highly efficient and made of wood. Similar to an atlatl, it enables a spear to travel much further than by arm strength alone...


Historical


Modern

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