Mace (club)

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A mace is a simple weapon—or, alternatively, a ceremonial club or virge—that uses a heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows. A development of the club, the military mace differs from a hammer in that the head of a mace is radially symmetric so that a blow can be delivered just as effectively with any side of the head. A mace consists of a strong, heavy, wooden or metal shaft, often reinforced with metal, featuring a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron, or steel.

The head of a military mace can be shaped with flanges or knobs to allow greater penetration of plate armor. The length of maces can vary considerably. The maces of foot soldiers were usually quite short (two or three feet, or 70 to 90 cm). The maces of cavalrymen were longer and thus better suited for blows delivered from horseback. Two-handed maces could be even larger. The terms flail and mace are often, though incorrectly, used interchangeably.

Maces are rarely used today for actual combat, but a large number of government bodies (for instance the British House of Commons, the U.S. Congress), universities and other institutions have ceremonial maces continue to display them as symbols of authority. The are often employed in academic, parliamentary or civic rituals and processions.

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History

Prehistory

Archaeological evidence suggests that maces were used extensively in prehistory. The mace was first developed around 12,000 BC and quickly became an important weapon.[citation needed] It was the first weapon developed specifically for killing humans.[1] The first wooden maces, studded with flint or obsidian, became less popular due to the development of leather armour that could absorb the blows. Some maces had stone heads.

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