The acinaces (also akinakes) is a type of double-edged straight dagger or short sword used in the late Bronze Age / early Iron Age by peoples ranging from the Middle East to East Asia. While the name is seemingly of Persian origin, the weapon itself is attributed to the Scythian nomads of the Central Asian plains, with similar weapons appearing among the Xiongnu, and known in China as jinglu. It was in widespread use among the Medes and Achaemenid Persians, through which knowledge of the weapon diffused to Greece, and subsequently Rome.

The weapon itself is generally 14-18 inches long, with several styles: a lobed guard and hilt resembling that of a bollock dagger, an antenna-pommel, or a split pommel type particularly common among Scythian and Xiongnu specimens (described by Russian sources as a "gryphon-pommel"). All types included ornately decorated scabbards meant to hang off the right side of a belt, which serve to identify the type as much as anything else.

Later usage of the term acinaces in medieval Latin texts generalizes the meaning as "Persian sword", conflating this weapon (inaccurately) with the shamshir, which is of far later design, and, importantly, single-edged and curved. Other weapons misnamed as acinaces include the similarly single-edged sica, dusack, and katana. Better medieval analogues might include the kindjal and qama.

In biology, the term acinaces is used as a species name for several species of fish of South and Southwest Asia, including Salmophasia acinaces (the silver razorbelly minnow) and Cyprinion acinaces.


Greek ἀκινάκης akinakes < unattested Old Persian *akīnakah


Video GamesEdit

  • The acinaces appears in Final Fantasy XI as a dagger-class weapon, albeit with the appearance of a single-bladed, curved dagger similar to the dusack, completely unlike the historical weapon. link
  • In Titan Quest, the akinakes is represented as a chopper, closest in appearance to the khopesh. link



  • 1 bronze, Scythian -location unknown
  • 1 2 iron, Scythian - probably Siberia, Russia
  • 1 gold, Scythian or Parthian - Tillya Tepe, Jowzjan Province, Afghanistan
  • 1 bronze, Xiongnu / Eastern Zhou - Inner Mongolia, China


  • 1 based on original Scythian example from Kam'ianka, Cherkas'ka Oblast, Ukraine