Ancient Swords in Combat. A look at the swords birth and evolution in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Starting around 2000 BC Swords evolved from primative basic edged weapons into a carbon steel instruments of death over the span of two thousand years.
Weapon development went from the stick and the rock, to edged weapons sometime during the early Bronze Age of around 2000 BC. The sword developed from these original edged blades carried into combat. Bronze swords had to be less than 30 inches or so in length due to the poor quality and strength of the metals used. Apparently among the ancient swords the scimitar started playing a noteworthy role in Middle Eastern warfare. Written accounts by the scholar Zahi Hawass asserts that the Ancient Egyptians of the 18th Dynasty (circa 1600 B.C.) used scimitar swords. Primitive Leaf shaped swords made of bronze became popular in the Mediterranean lands at about the same time as did Dao sword production in China during the Shang Dynasty.
The Iron Age ushered in longer and stringer swords. Starting around 1300 BC Nordic tribes began using iron swords as did many Celtic tribes, the Greeks and the Hittites. Iron had the advantage of being easier malleable than bronze and was capable of being made in greater qualities due to iron ore being widely available. These early swords however were typically weaker than their Bronze Age predecessors and were even found to be brittle and prone to breaking. This problem was solved by ancient smiths learning to add carbon (typically from burned charcoaled wood) to the iron during production and making steel.
Steel swords of basic varieties were first seen around the 4th Century BC and lead to entire armies being armed with steel. The best known of these early steel sword designs evolved into a short thrusting sword that would be adopted by the Romans called the Gladius.