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Robert Drews linked the Naue Type II Swords, which spread from Southern Europe into the Mediterranean, with the Bronze Age collapse.
The hilts of these swords were beautifully crafted and often contained false rivets in order to make the sword more visually appealing.
The spatha, as it developed in the Late Roman army, became the predecessor of the European sword of the Middle Ages, at first adopted as the Migration Period sword, and only in the High Middle Ages, developed into the classical arming sword with crossguard. The use of a sword is known as swordsmanship or, in a modern context, as fencing.
In the Early Modern period, western sword design diverged into roughly two forms, the thrusting swords and the sabers.
These are the "type A" swords of the Aegean Bronze Age. the 13th century BC in Northern Italy (or a general Urnfield background), and survives well into the Iron Age, with a life-span of about seven centuries.
Built for slashing and chopping at multiple enemies, often from horseback, the saber's long curved blade and slightly forward weight balance gave it a deadly character all its own on the battlefield.
Most sabers also had sharp points and double edged blades, making them capable of piercing soldier after soldier in a cavalry charge.
Swords were also used to administer various physical punishments, such as non-surgical amputation or capital punishment by decapitation.
The use of a sword, an honourable weapon, was regarded in Europe since Roman times as a privilege reserved for the nobility and the upper classes.