Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
While the name 'scimitar' is quite prevalent when speaking of Middle-eastern swords, in reality there is no such 'historic sword' called a scimitar. The word scimitar is a derivative from the Persian shamshir. This is indeed a deeply curved sword found in middle eastern history: however scimitar has become a catchall which often includes the Indian tulwar and the archetypal Turkish kilij. Modern vendors sell scimitars which are in fact fantasy blades with no historical bearing. These often come from stylized artistic representation of Middle-Eastern arms (paintings, and film); similarly the romanticized notion that these curved swords were used to combat the crusaders in the 11th to 13th century is inaccurate (swords of the time were mostly straight with a slightly curved tip).
Scimitars can be found in one or two handed variants, with blades ranging in length from around 30" to 36", and the blades, while commonly depicted as being very wide (from cutting edge to the rear of the blade), seem most often have been very thin.
It seems likely that scimitar-type weapons were developed from examples of swords brought by the conquering Macedonians under Alexander the Great, such as the kopis sword, itself derived from the Egyptian khopesh sword. Further, it is possible that the falchion swords employed in the Middle Ages by Europeans were inspired by the scimitars of the Turks. Modern examples of similar blades are cavalry sabers and cutlasses of pirate fame.
Scimitars in fiction
In fiction, warriors of Middle Eastern cultures often use scimitars.
A notable example of a character who does not come from a Middle Eastern culture who uses scimitars is Drizzt Do'Urden, a drow who is the main character of several fictional Forgotten Realms books by R. A. Salvatore. Drizzt Do'Urden is a master of the use of scimitars; a pair of them are his preferred weapons.
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