22 Different Types of Spears with Pictures

The spear is a wooden pole weapon with a sharp pointed end. The sharp end is usually made of solid material such as iron, bone, steel or obsidian. When going to fights, a spear can be thrown or thrust at an enemy. The spear head often takes the shape of a leaf or a triangle.

The spear has been a common arm tool since ancient times. It comes in a wide variety of forms across the world. This article dives into the history of spears alongside the different types. 

History of Spears                                                                                  

Besides knife and club, the spear is one of the ancient weapons developed by man over 400,000 years ago. The earliest spears were sticks with a sharp end and primarily used for throwing. This weapon became a little advanced when military activities came about and took different variations, such as the lance and the pike. The early man also used the spear for hunting and fishing.

types of Spears

Studies and archaeological evidence shows that hominids were the first human creatures to make spears in Africa, close to 500,000 years ago. Around the same time, the West African chimpanzees were also seen making spears out of tree limbs. They would rip off the bark and then sharpen one end with teeth and use them for hunting bush babies.

Around 300,000 BP, the Neanderthals had begun constructing spears with stone heads and a few years later sharpened with fire. At the beginning of 200,000 BCE, humans made spear heads from stone blades in the Old Stone Age. They used resin or gum to fix the spear head to the shaft. In this age, there was a notable difference between melee (for thrusting) and throwing spears.

Sumerian armies started using spears in wars as early as 3,000 BC. Two thousand years later, the Greeks modified this idea by using pikes that were 2 to 3 metres long. The Macedonian sarissa was similar to the pikes but around 4 to 6 metres long and gave them more power over the Greeks.

The Roman soldiers used pilums in wars, a heavier and longer javelin (7 foot long). The Roman, Greek and Macedonian soldiers carried lances in the Middle Age period. In the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, intricate pikes such as the halberd were used. This spear had several other features, such as a hook and an axe blade.

As one of man’s primary tools for hunting and wars, the spear became a vital symbol represented in several things such as religion. Gods, sects and pantheons in many cultures had a spear with them. This showed significant historical times such as great hunts, victory in war and memories of old tales. The use of rifles and pistols saw a decline in the popularity of spears.

Different types of Spears

1. Migration Period Spear

The Migration period spear was a special weapon of the Germanic warriors at the time of the migration period and the middle ages. This spear otherwise the lance was used along with the bow, a sword, and a shield.

The migration period spear was attested to a name called Ger, the Ger and the cognates are the frequent names of the medieval period. The term has survived in the higher German as Gerh which means Gusset or Spear.

2. Bayonet 

The bayonet was a French weapon that looks like a sword or a dagger designed in such a way that it fits at the end of the muzzle for a rifle or similar firearms. This will allow the rifle holder to even use it as a sword. This was a main weapon in the seventeenth century until world war one, serving the purposes of infantry warriors.

3. Javelin

The javelin is a light spear that soldiers commonly used in historical times. It was mainly used for throwing or stabbing. When used in large numbers, javelins had a devastating effect on the enemies or prey. A user could stand at a distance and use his skills to aim and throw at the target. The Egyptian and medieval knight troops used javelins as an essential weapon in their activities. Today, javelin is used in sporting activities.

4. Boar Spear

The boar is a short and heavy spear mainly used to hunt boars. It had two tiny rear wings to protect the hunter from counterattack and going too deep into the prey’s skin. It became a popular weapon in medieval warfare as the wings prevented it from going deep into the shields and victims’ bodies. This made its withdrawal easier and reduced the chances of breaking. They were used until the early Middle Age before a longer shaft spear took over.

5. Trident

Also called a trishula or gig, a trident was a spear with three sharp prongs at the end. It was widely used for fishing and harvesting bullfrogs, suckers and flounders, as well as a combat weapon. In wars, the prongs could trap other weapons thrown at them, thus weakening the opponents. Tridents appear in many mythical and historical cultures. The Poisedon (Greek god of the sea), Neptune (Roman god of the sea) and Shiva (a Hindu god) sculptures are shown holding this spear.

6. Lance

A lance is a spear used by warriors on horsebacks. It is typically longer and heavier, making it unsuitable for foot soldiers who otherwise throw spears by hands. It was a common weapon used in Asia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Their heavyweight made them less effective during melees. Since it was only used once during a melee, soldiers also carried swords, hammers and daggers, among other things, as secondary use at a short-range distance.

7. Harpoon

A harpoon is a long spear primarily used to hunt marine creatures such as fish and whales. It pierces into the animal then secures it with claws allowing the hunter to pull it with a rope attached to the end. Harpoons were also used as weapons about 90,000 years ago. It was categorized into two: one flue and a two flue harpoon. The one flue harpoon was suitable for whaling as it would penetrate deeper into the skin preventing the catch from escaping.

8. Kontos

The Kontos was a Greek lance spear (used on horsebacks) with different names depending on where it was used. German soldiers referred to it as the pike, while Iranians used it like a lance. It was first used in the 1st century AD. It was a powerful weapon compared to other lances and only used by highly skilled warriors. It was long, about 4 metres and was thrown using two hands, which reflects the expertise needed in using them.

9. Assegai

Also known as assagai, this was a throwable light spear consisting of a wooden handle and a sharp iron end. It was a widely used weapon in Africa, especially among the Zulus and Nguni tribes. King Zulu, the founder of the Shaka kingdom, introduced a shorter spear, about two feet long which was known as the iklwa. It had an otherwise larger blade. The Zulus used both the assegai and iklwa in wars, with the former being used for range attacks and the latter for close attacks.

10. Arbir                                     

Originally from Indonesia, the arbir is a five-foot-long weapon classified under the halberd and commonly used in the 14th and 15th centuries. It had a wooden shaft with an axe blade at the top. The axe had a hook on its back for pulling down mountained soldiers. It was the primary weapon for the Swiss armies, who later added pikes and daggers for closer combats when fighting knights. The arbir’s end could be spear-butted, spike-butted or spike-butted with a visible groove.

11. Yari

The yari is a Japanese straight-headed spear about 3 feet or longer in length. The blade was made out of durable steel, the same as that used in arrowheads. The blades hand a long tang (typically longer than the sharpened ends) which went deeper into the shaft, making them well reinforced and less likely to fall off. The shafts were in different lengths, shapes and widths. Throughout history, yari blades were made in different variations.

12. Hoko Yari

It is an ancient yari or Japanese spear used in the 8th century AD. It was typically disguised as a guard’s spear, and they would use it to defend themselves when guarding gates. It was made up of an 8 inches blade attached to a 6-foot shaft. The metal blade appeared in a leaf shape and had a hollow socket for the shaft, unlike the yari, which had a long tang. Some were also sickle-shaped to push back an enemy.

13. Spontoon

Sometimes known as a half pike, the spontoon was invented alongside the poke in the Middle age and was used until the beginning of the Modern Age period. It measured about 2 metres long and had an advanced head than a pike. The head or main blade had a pair of shorter blades on each side, making it look like a trident or a military fork. Italians first used this weapon for combat before it became symbolic to the British Army commissioners who carried it to show their ranks.

14. Qiang

Qiang is a Chinese word that means spear. It was a Chinese spear with a leaf-shaped blade with a red tassel below it. The tassel represents the elite status, and its purpose was to blur the enemies’ vision before striking. They could not tell where the blade would strike from. Typical qiangs ranged between 9 feet to 21 feet in length.

15. Pike

Pike is a long thrusting weapon commonly used by foot soldiers in Europe in the late medieval age. Swiss mercenaries used pikes as their main weapons, while Macedonians used the sarissa, a similar weapon. This weapon was long and heavy, measuring between 3 to 7 metres and weighing 2.5 to 6 kgs. It had a steel or iron spear head fixed to a wooden pole using metal strips. Pikes were used as defensive weapons and to attack in aggressive situations.

16. Ox Tongue Spear

Widely used in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, the ox tongue was a double-edged spear with broad blades. They were typically huge and heavy spears used on horsebacks and needed both hands when operating. This meant the wielder needed good training to use them and skills to direct the horse simultaneously. They were not commonly used in wars because of their nature and complexity of use.

17. Kamayari

This is a Japanese Middle Age sickle spear falling under the yari spears. It featured a vertical blade and a horizontal blade at its base. The horizontal blade helped hook up things, with a classic example being to bring down soldiers off their horses. Besides the military use, a kamayari was used by firefighters to plunge and bring down burning roofs to contain the situation.

18. Dangpa

The Dangpa or otherwise Dang Pa was a Joseon Dynasty sword of Korea. The weapons design was specially made in such a way that it has sharp ends on either side.

On one side of the Dangpa will be a three-point sword, in which two are crooked reducing the chances of the weapon being stuck in the body and the middle point was longer than the other two.

On the other end of the sword, there was a one-point long spear. This lets the user to defend the enemies from either side in the combat.

19. Gichang

The Gichang a Korean spear described as Muyesinbo, a Korean martial arts manual published in 1759.

This weapon comes with a spear to which a flag was attached as if a pole. The Gichang which means a short spear was about 2.75meters long and a 23-centimeter blade was attached to the pole. The Gichang in Korean history was used in ceremonies and horse riding and cavalry fights.

20. Ahlspiess

The ahlspiess which was also named under awl pike was a weapon developed and was commonly used in Austria and Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries.

This was a spear with a long thin spike that comes of 39 inches and has a wooden shaft for grip. At the bottom of the spike where the shaft was attached, there was a metal plate which acts as a guard to protect hands. Well, most of the Ahlspiess are thin there are some of them which come in thick spikes.

21. Brandistock

This 16th and 19th-century weapon was a war weapon that was used for both infantry and civilians. This weapon was most likely a sliding blade with long-handled out the front gravity knife.

The head of the Brandistock used to be either a single tip spear or a trio of ling thing pointed shafts.

Other than these there are other spears that are popular in the European continent that include. Here are some of the European types of spear names:

  • Dory
  • Fauchard
  • Goedendag
  • Halberd
  • Half pike
  • Hasta
  • Military fork
  • Ox tongue spear
  • Partisan
  • Pike
  • Plançon a picot
  • Ranseur
  • Sarissa
  • Spetum
  • Spontoon

22. Horseback Spears

Other than the continental historical spears, there are also spears that were meant for horsebacks which were spread all over the world. Some types of horseback spear names,

  • Barcha
  • Kontos
  • Xyston

These are the type of spears that were made of long shafts to which a pointed spear was attached. The Barcha was south Asian origin weapon from the 16th century which was light in weight and easier to carry while in war or any armed combat.

The Kontos, on the other hand, was a Greek origin weapon most used at the south of German as a pike. On a note, the Lance was a historical weapon which has its origins from Madival warfare spreading in most of the countries in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are small spears called?

Javelins or darts were the smallest spears in history. They were mainly used for throwing with one arm and were the most suitable for foot soldiers. They were sometimes used for thrusting in special instances.

What is the most famous spear?

Trident was the famous spear in Greek mythology. It was associated with the Gods of the seas among the Greek (Poisedon), Romans (Neptune) and Shiva (Hindu). The trident could form an earthquake and control water. This spear is featured in modern works of art such as movies to show oceanic power.

Why is the spear often referred to as the king of weapons?

This is because it is a versatile weapon and carries a lot of power. Its sharp point makes it easy to kill an enemy with one thrust. It is also the best weapon to defend in the non-mechanized weapons category.

How did cavemen make spears?            

Man in the Stone Age made spears out of wood. They would sharpen one end to form a spearhead. As the period progressed, they made the end out of a sharpened stone before they began using steel and iron blades.

How do you carry a spear?

The most convenient way to carry a spear is on your shoulder or the back. A rope or string is typically tied to the two ends of the sword. It is passed on your shoulder and the chest, leaving the weapon hanging on the back.


The spear is an ancient item used for hunting and as a combat weapon. It was widely used in the early age as it was easy to construct and use. Different types of spears have different techniques of use. Even with the slightest skills, a spear can control space around the user and thrust into the prey easily. It bears special meaning in different cultures and mythologies as seen in novels and movies.

 Here also read: types of swords

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