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Tell El Daba khopesh reproduction


Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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For my next small series of reproductions, I've selected one of the early khopeshes. This one was found in a tomb in Tell El Daba, modern Hyksos in Egypt. It dates to roughly 2000BC. Interesting fact: this khopesh was still in its leather sheat when found (possibly shown here), making this the only khopesh sheet found that I'm aware of.

 

Here's a photo of the original:

 

khopesh_warrior_tombe_Tell_El_Daba_eastern_nile_delta.jpg

 

And drawings:

 

Tell_el_daba_area_A-II_khopesh_areal_a2_4.JPG

 

The drawings and the scale in the photo gave me enough information to make an accurate model. These early khopeshes are a lot smaller then you'd expect (actually late ones are also often pretty small). The total length incl. hilt will be 46cm. I made the model in lime wood as I usually do. The wood does not allow me the high detail of the midrib and ridges perfectly (well it could, but would take too much time), but this can be finished further after casting:

 

IMG_4691a.jpg

 

Next up is casting them! :)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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Super cool...as a longtime Ancient-Egypt nerd, I look forward eagerly to this one...

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The first one is cast! It's a 3-4% tin bronze, the alloy I use for arsenic copper reproductions (the tin gives it the same colors and properties as the toxic arsenic). I'm not sure whether the original is arsenic copper or tin bronze, but as it's such an early one I suspect arsenic copper. The casting was the easy part (getting a good imprint in the sand is more difficult with this one), well aside from the weather. Just as I started melting the rain started pouring down. So I place the mould inside the house, and decided to keep on melting, as the furnace itself is under a small roof. So there I was sitting in the pouring rain melting bronze :) Fortunately the rain stopped just when the bronze had molten, so I took out the mould and casted it. First one is directly a nice casting, so I'm happy :)

 

IMG_4695a.jpg

 

The only ironic thing is that I'm making these to get money for the drought victims in the horn of Africa, and I'm having trouble casting them because of the continuous rain :huh:

 

B.t.w. this is another weapon which made me change my view on the effectiveness by making one. I expected these small ones to be too dinky and small to be serious weapons. But it's got a good weight, with the balance point quite far forward. This makes it feel like a much larger weapon, capable of quite a powerful blow. The curl at the tip also has a substantial mass in it, and could be quite effectively used as a mace by hitting someone with the back of the curl. I'm getting more and more fond of this thing looking and handling it :)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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Awesome... :)

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Nice! :D

 

Have you done any test-cutting yet? They do look like they would be a sort of cross between an axe, a short sword, and a mace, devastating no matter which side you employ.

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which areas were sharp, and how sharp do you think it will be? How about the originals, any idea how sharp they were? This is awesome. I have always been interested in these. Great stuff.

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That's really great. Forgive me if these questions have been asked in earlier projects, but I was curious what work you do to finish it after casting. Do you work harden the edges? Have you got special tools or abrasives that you use for these kinds of unusual blade profiles?

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Nice! :D

 

Have you done any test-cutting yet? They do look like they would be a sort of cross between an axe, a short sword, and a mace, devastating no matter which side you employ.

I haven't done any test cutting, but they will likely work a lot like axes. The sections on khopeshes are usually quite thick, and they usually have a large angle at the cutting edge. So they're not very good cutters in that respect. The functionality of khopeshes in general is still a bit of a mystery to me, considering that quite a lot of them, including the earliest ones are not sharpened. Does that mean that the non-sharpened ones were non-functional, symbolic weapons (kinda like the scepter and crown for that matter for more recent kings).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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That's really great. Forgive me if these questions have been asked in earlier projects, but I was curious what work you do to finish it after casting. Do you work harden the edges? Have you got special tools or abrasives that you use for these kinds of unusual blade profiles?

I workharden the edges. As this bronze is very soft after casting, I left the edge about 2-3mm and hamered it down to near sharp. I don't have special tools or abrasives for this profile, this will just be a lot of delicate polishing by hand. Once the blade is tidied up, I'll hammer in the grooves next to the midrib, defining the two ridges. This will be tricky though, so fingers crossed I won't screw that up :)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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How does the tin bronze act under the hammer? I know silicon bronze doesn't take to forging very well, it sorta cracks no matter what you do and doesn't take much to do it. If you're going to work harden the edges I'd be careful. Also, the force of it hitting something might break it if it acts like silicon bronze. I mean, this doesn't look like your first try haha, but just a thought, and this is an awesome project!

Edited by MassArtTom
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What kind of bronze did you cast it out of? I immagine that the originals were out of tin bronze but what was the approximate percentage of tin in the mix. Also, what, if anything, did you use to deoxidize the bronze? The reason that I'm asking is that I'm thinking of casting some guards from a simple tin bronze. As I have not found any suppliers of said alloy, I'm expecting to have to make my own.

 

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How does the tin bronze act under the hammer? I know silicon bronze doesn't take to forging very well, it sorta cracks no matter what you do and doesn't take much to do it. If you're going to work harden the edges I'd be careful. Also, the force of it hitting something might break it if it acts like silicon bronze. I mean, this doesn't look like your first try haha, but just a thought, and this is an awesome project!

Tin bronze hardens well, as long as there's no antimony or lead in the bronze, and it's a good casting with low porosity. It depends a lot on the tin contents too though. The khopeshes I've cast in 4% tin bronze, which very soft and ductile. Pretty much every % you add, you notice a significant difference under the hammer. At 14% and up I wouldn't bother workhardening, because it can crack at the first hit (becomes a different matter with 17%-21% tin and quenching, after which it becomes somewhat ductile again). In general, an average of about 10% tin is used in the bronze age, which can bend a lot before breaking (if again a good casting), but gives plenty enough strength for the sword designs of the period.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

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What kind of bronze did you cast it out of? I immagine that the originals were out of tin bronze but what was the approximate percentage of tin in the mix.

The early blades were usually arsenic bronze, with on average about 4% arsenic, with little or no tin in it. As I don't have metallurgical data on this blade, due to the dating the chance is great that it was arsenic bronze. But as I'd like to stay clear from arsenic poisoning, I replace the arsenic by the same percentage of tin. As arsenic has the same hardening effect per % added, and the color change is about similar, it's the best substitute.

 

Also, what, if anything, did you use to deoxidize the bronze?

Tin :) And my furnace runs on charcoal. If there's only a small piece of charcoal floating in the metal, it keeps any oxygen away.

 

The reason that I'm asking is that I'm thinking of casting some guards from a simple tin bronze. As I have not found any suppliers of said alloy, I'm expecting to have to make my own.

Make sure to use pure copper (f.e. electric wire, not copper pipes) and tin (so not recycled tin plates etc. which contain lead and antimony).

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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When you first posted the images, I saw something a little different. Particularly being where you are, the design could be adapted to ice skates and might even attract a following...

Brian

Yeah, they do remind a lot of the early curled ice-scates :)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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The first one is done!:) It's been a lot of work. It's not 100% perfect, but I can't reach that without having to ask a much higher price for it. At least it's a finish that would be close to what would be attainable in the bronze age.

 

TellElDaba_Khopesh1.jpg

 

More photos are in the sale thread:

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=20638

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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excellent work.. it is very nice !

Thanks! :)

 

your casting is quite fine.. have you thought of doing one of those complex viking broaches.. ( the ones with all the complex lines )

I've done some early medieval broaches, like these: http://1501bc.com/metalworking/08100002.jpg. But as most of the Viking stuff is already being reproduced in large quantities, I prefer to stick to the areas where few or no reproductions are available yet (preferably sharpies :))

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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I've done a bit of test cutting:

 

IMG_4730.JPG

 

This is a new casting, where I hadn't fully defined the edge yet. The edge still had a bit of a burr, and was a bit thinner then the final edge, so a bit weaker. It cut fine into a piece of dry wood. As I expected, the midrib stops the cut going in deeper. It feels a lot like an axe when cutting with it. The edge is fine, though needs a little toughing up after the cutting. But that will be less the case when the edge is finished further. I also test cut my finger with it when sharpening it and it does that pretty good as well ;)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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  • 1 month later...

And here is the second Tell El Daba khopesh finished. This one has a hilt of olive wood:

 

IMG_4760a.jpg

 

IMG_4758a.jpg

 

I was planning to do another one for myself, but I'll put that on hold for the time being. They're a bit too time consuming :)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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