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In the two latter periods of the Stone Age, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, technology improved significantly. Their predecessors, the Paleolithic people, used roughly hewn flints as weaponry and tools, but the Mesolithic saw the wider use of more sophisticated implements, composed of wood, bone, antler and cordage as well as flints. Furthermore, the people of the Neolithic developed polished stone tools, among other things, which were more effective.

So, what is the closest a Neolithic or ideally a Mesolithic person could get to making a sword? I say "what is the closest" because I presume that the main impediment would be how the stone weapons shatter on impact with another blade. Instead, could they perhaps fashion a weapon somewhere between a very long knife and a sword?

Before I post this question, I'd like to ask a few things of you. If there are any errors in my question, or if there's something else impractical about this whole idea, by all means say so in the comments, but without any hate please. If you point it out to me, I'll edit it as soon as I can, and thus the crisis is resolved.

Edit: So, I've gotten a few answers now about real Stone Age sword-like weapons, or clubs embedded with microliths. On that note, I'm going to take the question further and ask - could Stone Age people build a sword that is essentially an elongated flint/bone, with one, thrusting blade?

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  • $\begingroup$ Metalwork was not available to them, I'd say the best/only chance would be finding a piece of metal already in a flattish shape that they could possibly sharpen, or just tie to a handle and use as a much more durable club. I guess if they were able to heat and soften it, that would rather classify as the start of the next age. $\endgroup$ – VBartilucci Apr 17 '18 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is an history question which clearly lacks any research effort $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Apr 17 '18 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ C'mon guys, give him a break - it's difficult to research this without knowing the technical terms. SealBoi - google "microliths" and "bladelets" and look at some of the tools which have multiple small blades hafted to form a single cutting edge. Also have a look at some of the Aztec weapons such as the macuahuitl: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl $\endgroup$ – DrBob Apr 17 '18 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Believe me, I've scrolled through Google under the searches "Mesolithic sword" or "Neolithic sword" and found nothing dating before the Bronze Age. Would you like to recommend a site? Sorry, if the question seems unresearched, but I did try. Additionally, the question isn't "Did Stone Age people have swords". It asks how they would make one, because I am not aware of any sword predating metallurgy. $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 17 '18 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ What do they want to do with the sword, actual combat or is it just a ceremonial item? $\endgroup$ – John Apr 17 '18 at 20:58
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There are a few options I can think of.

  1. Macuahuitl. A weapon used by the Aztecs (and others) which consisted of a wooden sword with the edges studded with obsidian (volcanic glass). Interestingly, these obsidian blades could be sharpened further than steel at the time, meaning they were sharper than the Spanish swords, although much more prone to edge damage.

  2. Shark-tooth swords. Many island societies like the Hawaiians and Polynesians made flat wooden clubs studded with shark teeth. Many of these are also very sword-like in form.

  3. Mere. Again similar to a club, but with an unbroken sharpened edge, is the Polynesian Mere constructed from a solid piece of polished jade. They have also been made from hardwood, whalebone and stone.

As an alternative that I haven't seen in our cultures (doesn't mean it doesn't exist! I'm far from an expert) is a formed bone sword. If your people have megafauna available then they could conceivably carve a bladed weapon from bone.

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    $\begingroup$ Fun fact: Obsidian blades are still sharper than blades made from standard steel and are (occasionally) used in surgical settings when an extremely fine blade is needed: finescience.com/en-US/Products/Scalpels-Blades/Micro-Knives/… $\endgroup$ – divibisan Apr 17 '18 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ The first two examples are what immediately popped into my head when reading this question. $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Apr 18 '18 at 4:12
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Yes, this is a Mayan sword made of obsidian. Without hilt (probably wood) it is still 68 cm long (almost 27 inches), which makes it a sword and not a dagger.

enter image description here

You just need a huge piece of obsidian and a lot of patience.

Flint was also used to make knives. But there were flintknapping blade cores 40 cm long, with a hilt they would fall in that intermediate area between long dagger and short sword:

enter image description here

The hilts could be made with bone and quite long:

enter image description here

Bone can also be sharpened, although it is only a piercing weapon:

enter image description here

Also check: https://gizmodo.com/5994118/15-human-weapons-made-from-animal-weapons

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    $\begingroup$ You should mention that such a sword (top one) would not survive combat, and might break just from being swung. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 17 '18 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @John I think that, if it was corded and hit flesh instead of bone, it might survive for a while. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Apr 18 '18 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ no the really large flint blades are purely ceremonial, they are so fragile you can break them just by swinging them. They are like the gold swords made for heads of state they are a status symbol. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 18 '18 at 14:26
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Surprisingly close. Aztecs had wooden swords with obsidian blades able to decapitate horses in one blow.

They had no point though, so they could not be used for thrusting.

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    $\begingroup$ Decapitate a horse in one blow? I doubt that. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 17 '18 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ That's what contemporary sources say. But again, contemporary sources say a lot of stuff. Note that the weight distribution might have been different from normal swords - more like a wood chopping ax than a sword. $\endgroup$ – Censored to protect the guilty Apr 17 '18 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ One stroke I'm not certain, but 3's definitely possible. Not exactly a scientific paper, but there's this: deadliestwarrior.wikia.com/wiki/Maquahuitl. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Apr 17 '18 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion, obsidian can take a sharper edge than steel. The reason we use steel rather than obsidian today is because steel holds its edge longer. $\endgroup$ – Mark Apr 18 '18 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark I'd also doubt that a human-strength person can decapitate a horse in one blow with anything short of a light saber. A horse has a lot of neck. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 18 '18 at 0:17
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On the wiki page for sickles is a nice stone age version, this should be easily extended to become a sword. There are much nicer versions of this seen on a Columbia university video of World History 8000 BCE - 1500 CE in one of the first videos.

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