A dagger is a double-edged blade used for hitting, stabbing or thrusting. They often fulfill the role of a secondary defense weapon in close combat. In most cases, a tang extends into the handle along the centreline of the blade.
Daggers may be differentiated from knives on the basis that daggers are intended primarily for stabbing whereas knives are usually single-edged and intended mostly for cutting. However, many knives and daggers are capable of either stabbing or cutting.
Much like battle axes, daggers evolved out of prehistoric tools. In Neolithic times, daggers were made of materials such as flint, ivory or bone and were used as weapons since the earliest periods of human civilization. The earliest metal daggers appear in the Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BC, predating the sword, which essentially developed from oversized daggers. Although the standard dagger, in many cases, was not as effective as axes, spears, or even maces due to its limited reach, it was an important step towards the development to what is often seen as a more useful close-combat weapon, the sword.
However, from pre-dynastic Egypt, daggers were adorned as ceremonial objects with golden hilts and later even more ornate and varied construction. One early silver dagger was recovered with midrib design. Traditionally, some military and naval officers wore dress daggers as symbols of power, and modern soldiers are still equipped with combat knives and knife bayonets. In the second century BCE, socketed daggers were known to be used in Minoan Crete as evidenced by archaeological recovery at the Knossos site.
Historically, knives and daggers were always considered secondary or even tertiary weapons. Most cultures mainly fought with pole weapons, swords, and axes at arm's length if not already utilizing bows, spears, slings, or other long-range weapons. Roman soldiers were issued a pugio.
From the year 1250 onward, gravestones and other contemporary images show knights with a dagger or combat knife at their side. The hilt and blade shapes began to resemble smaller versions of swords and led to a fashion of ornamented sheaths and hilts in the late 15th century.This is also a symbol of the church because the dagger look much like a cross.
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