A Comparative Analysis of Viking and African Weapons in the Medieval Ages, with a Focus on the Viking Axe

A Comparative Analysis of Viking and African Weapons in the Medieval Ages, with a Focus on the Viking Axe
3 min read

The medieval ages were marked by diverse cultures and civilizations, each with its unique weaponry that reflected the technological, cultural, and geographical influences of the time. In this article, we will compare Viking weapons, with a special emphasis on the iconic Viking axe, against African weapons from the medieval period.

Viking Weapons:

  1. Viking Axe: The Viking axe stands out as one of the most iconic weapons from the medieval Norse arsenal. Typically featuring a broad, bearded blade with a distinct wedge-shaped design, the Viking axe was a versatile tool that found dual use on the battlefield. Its primary function was for cutting and cleaving in close combat. The length of the handle varied, allowing for one-handed or two-handed use, providing Vikings with adaptability in different situations.
  2. Swords: Vikings were also known for their swords, which were typically straight-bladed and double-edged. While not as common as axes, swords were highly prized and often reserved for the elite warrior class.
  3. Spears and Seaxes: Vikings utilized spears for thrusting and seaxes, which were single-edged knives or short swords, as secondary weapons.

African Weapons:

  1. Swords and Blades: African civilizations had a rich diversity of weapons, often reflecting the technological advancements of their respective regions. Swords were prevalent, such as the Ethiopian shotel with its curved blade or the West African Takouba, a straight-bladed sword with a distinctive crossguard.
  2. Throwing Weapons: Many African cultures developed sophisticated throwing weapons, such as the Zulu Iklwa, a short stabbing spear used with a throwing technique, and the Assegai, a spear designed for both thrusting and throwing.
  3. Blunt Weapons: Some African societies favored blunt weapons like clubs and maces, showcasing a different approach to combat than the Norse emphasis on cutting and slashing.


  1. Material and Design: Viking weapons were often forged from iron and featured a practical design with an emphasis on slashing and cutting. African weapons displayed a variety of materials and intricate designs, reflecting the diverse cultures across the continent.
  2. Combat Tactics: Viking tactics often revolved around shock and awe, with the Norse axe as a fearsome close-combat weapon. African societies, with a broader range of weapons, employed diverse tactics, including throwing weapons and specialized techniques.
  3. Cultural Influences: Viking weapons reflected the Norse culture's emphasis on individual valor and martial prowess. African weapons were shaped by the unique societal structures, terrain, and cultural values of different regions.

In comparing Viking and African weapons from the medieval ages, it is clear that each culture developed weaponry based on its specific needs and circumstances. The Viking axes, with their distinct design, holds a special place in Norse history, while African weapons showcase the diverse and innovative approaches to warfare across the continent. Understanding these differences provides valuable insights into the complexities of medieval weaponry and the cultures that shaped them.


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Lubna Mobeen 22
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