Can /his/ tell me about this weapon and other Mesoamerican weapons? Can this weapon be considered a sword? I know obsidian is brittle but sharp so would the pieces of the obsidian sticking out of the wood break off when tearing through skin? And if all of the obsidian pieces fall of would they(mesoamericans) use the wood as a club?
Weapon classifications are usually pretty flimsy in the first place, but no I would say this is more like a spiked club.
It's unique 'stick n drag' type action is distinct enough to potentially have its own classification I guess. But again most weapon experts can't even agree on what 'Shortsword' means so maybe we should just leave it alone.
The Aztecs were an empire and empires typically don't fight people as well equipped as them. They fight smaller weaker nations. Since all the Aztecs really had were macuahuitl, helmets, and padded armor I don't think the people the Aztecs fought were well armored against obsidian blades.
Additionally, Aztecs needed survivors for sacrifices. Drawing a macuahuitl across someone a few times seems like a better way of obtaining a living human sacrifice than impaling them with a bronze tipped spear.
I think it depends on what you hit, if you miss and the tip impacts a rock then it'll snap or shatter. But if it was into flesh, and i'd say contact with bone too, then it'd be much less likely to become useless, perhaps a flake might detach. flint and obsidian are about the same hardness as steel, 5.5 on mohs scale.
I haven't seen any comprehensive test but I would imagine they would hold up better than you would think but less than you would hope. They seem like they would be very effective against targets without metal armor.
A short sword? I mean the Longsword (One word) is a distinctive weapon, but I know of no "Shortsword". I guess you might call a Gladius or short arming sword a Shortsword, but that's exactly what I'm saying, a shortsword is a short sword.
That's exactly my point. The terms can be really vague. Shortsword is a term you hear fairly often, not two separate words but one term, and it doesn't have a real definition. The Romans certainly didn't consider the Gladius especially shorter, it was just their normal sword. All Gladius means is sword. That was my point. Broadsword and Bastard-sword are in similar positions for instance.
Copper and bronze may have replaced flint and obsidian tipped weapons, but that may have more to due with the availability of flint and obsidian than copper and bronze weapons being superior in combat. Flint and obsidian may not be available in every region to replace broken flakes but copper and bronze can be reshaped once dulled.
1. It was relatively expensive.
2. They used a special glue to maintain the pieces in its place and be able to replace them easily when broken.
3. Albeit it could slice through the neck of a horse, still unclear if they used the weapons just to injure and restrain movement considering that broken obsidian remains in the tissues.
4. Its important to remember that a prisoner's capture was not only for personal prestige, in the Mesoamerican warfare when the captain was captured all his soldiers immediately surrender.
>Can this weapon be considered a sword?
Sure. It cuts like a sword.
>I know obsidian is brittle but sharp so would the pieces of the obsidian sticking out of the wood break off when tearing through skin?
Most definitely. But the thing could also lop the heads off horses. So I don't think that's really a strike against the weapon.
>And if all of the obsidian pieces fall of would they(mesoamericans) use the wood as a club?
I wouldn't see why not. But I imagine the whole weapon would break before that point. And if that happens, you find a new one or quit the field to get one from camp. (Assuming it's an organized battle), or you whip out something for a backup.
It doesn't help that people in the period just called most things "swords", and passingly made distinctions when they felt like it. Kinda like how we call all pistols "handguns", but a revolver is a different beast from a semi-automatic handgun with a box magazine. And technically a machine pistol is also a handgun or pistol, but has either high capacity magazines or full automatic capabilities.
And all these weapons are mechanically different, but perform the same sidearm function. We've got hundreds of models of handguns, and all of them do the same thing. But we all call them handguns.
Likewise, people in previous time periods had hundreds of variations of fucking poleaxes, and they called them all the same damn thing. Sometimes they even just call them axes. (Fiore dei Liberi does this in the Pisanni Dossi manuscript.)
But a modern weapons historian will get autismal butthurt if you mistake a glaive for a fauchard or a hewing spear.
Díaz del Castillo mentions them as a 'Montante' resemblance, which was the Spanish word for a two handed sword.
Pic related is the only record of an original Macuahuitl.
Throughout Mesoamerica the Pipils were the people, alongside the Chinantecs, who used the longest spears which reached approximately of 6.3 - 6.4 meters according to the Alvarado's chronicles.
>Since all the Aztecs really had were macuahuitl, helmets, and padded armor I don't think the people the Aztecs fought were well armored against obsidian blades.
That's not how technology works.
They had those weapons and defenses because that's all they knew how to make.
Basically, onle one source seems to explicitly say it can do this-two of three don't specify how many times the horse is hit, or even say it's decapitated-and THAT level of cutting power is actually a liability when you want captives more than corpses.
the only time it's been tested was on deadliest warrior. As shitty-and wrong- as that show was, that one test was surprisingly decent.
Díaz del Castillo:
"and then they slashed at the mare, and cut her head off at the neck so that it hung by the skin, and she fell dead"
The Anonymous Conqueror:
"the same day I saw another Indian give another horse a blow in the neck, that stretched it dead at his feet"
Francisco de Aguilar: "One Indian at a single stroke cut open the whole neck of Cristóbal de Olid’s horse, killing the horse"
All of them personally witnessed the event.
>"the same day I saw another Indian give another horse a blow in the neck, that stretched it dead at his feet"
It got hit in the neck and died. This is not the same as decapitation.
>"One Indian at a single stroke cut open the whole neck of Cristóbal de Olid’s horse, killing the horse"
And this can be interpreted either way-it could be anything from decapitation to cutting the horses throat.
By any definition, it's definetly not a sword. I don't know how effective the little obsidian thingies are at cutting. With an actual blade you can cut by making a drawing/pushing motion without having to stick the blade into the flesh first. I'm not sure how that thing would fare in creating a continuous, clean cut wound by just that. Also, it looks quite differently weighted and balanced than most swords, I'd assume it swings somewhere between a club and a sword regarding the physics. Also, it has no point at all, which most swords do, even if they are not primarily for thrusting. So no, I would't technically call it a sword.
I'm not a weapons expert, though. Just my thoughts.
Good video, I've made a few amateur but functional arrowheads and can confirm how incredibly difficult it would be to knapp something like pic related
So, in the case they learned to make swords somehow, do you think they would use them over the much cheaper obsidian weapons in order to fight enemies who would be just as vulnerable to either?
>ALL YOU HAVE TO KNOW IS THAT IT DID FUCK ALL AGAINST THE SPANIARDS
This isn't really very accurate
From a European perspective the most "advanced" armament the Mesoamerican peoples had turned out to be not any of their weapons, but their armor. The esquipil of the natives, torso armor fashioned variably from maguey or cotton, was basically equivalent (some argue superior) to the wool or linen gambesons of the conquistadores, and widely used among them as primary armor.
Surely obsidian weapons fare poorly against metal armor, but metal armor was as far as we can tell actually rather rare among the Spanish expeditionary forces. Many may have had no significant metal armor aside from a helmet and maybe a gorget. Bernal Diaz recorded that Cortez's men had very little armor initially, so he had cotton "jackets" made for them, either inspired by/copied from the native esquipil or simply re-creations of Spanish gambesons with native materials. Against Spanish soldiers so equipped, the effectiveness of the Macuahuitl would probably not be very different from its effectiveness against native forces with the esquipil.
All in all, I'm sure the Aztecs would have preferred a steel sword, but obsidian weaponry doesn't seem to have been a tremendous handicap for them, especially considering that most of the enemies they were fighting during the conquest were not in fact Spanish, but native allies of Cortez with equipment similar to the Aztecs themselves.
Essentially a club with razors sticking out of it. Great for beating the fuck out of naked incans running around the rainforest in a loin cloth. Spanish with muskets and plate armor not so much.
Spaniard losses: 45-61%
Not so overpowered i think.
>outnumbered by 100k at least
>max of 220k
Actually, that's not a remarkable casualty rate for a siege if a city of that size even if you're not outnumbered at all.
When you'[re outnumbered by a bare minimum of 30%?
It's fucking impressive-most armies would have simply failed entirely.
I would say that at Otumba, cavalry was more than just "mop-up;" they led the attack and were highly effective, as the Aztecs - by choosing an open plain for their attack - had unwittingly given the Spanish the best possible ground for use of their cavalry.
That said, it's entirely true that the lion's share of Spanish manpower was not, in fact, Spanish, and that the conquest by Cortez would have been impossible without the native allies. At one point the Aztecs sent feelers out to the Tlaxcalans to see if they would be willing to join forces against the foreigners; had the Tlaxcalans agreed and switched sides, Cortez and his men almost certainly would have been crushed. Cortez knew this, and according to Diaz he "begged us, while we were in Tlaxcala, not to cause the Tlaxcalans any annoyance or take anything from them."
As far as I know, strict weapon classifications are a Victorian invention. Obsidian is not just sharp, it is extremely sharp. While the weapon could become damaged, I think that aspect of the weapon is very overstated. If you're in close combat long enough to render your weapon unusable, then you're very lucky to be alive enough to use it.