As an extreme close-quarter combat weapon, the pugio was the Roman soldier's last line of defense.
When not in battle, the pugio served as a convenient utility knife.
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The 1924 opening of the tomb of Tutankhamun revealed two daggers, one with a gold blade, and one of smelted iron. One of the earliest objects made of smelted iron is a dagger dating to before 2000 BC, found in a context that suggests it was treated as an ornamental object of great value.
It is held that mummies of the Eleventh Dynasty were buried with bronze sabres; and there is a bronze dagger of Thut-mes III. Found in a Hattic royal tomb dated about 2500 BC, at Alaca Höyük in northern Anatolia, the dagger has a smelted iron blade and a gold handle.
The disadvantage of employing the medieval dagger in this manner was that it could easily be blocked by a variety of techniques, most notably by a block with the weaponless arm while simultaneously attacking with a weapon held in the right hand.
Another disadvantage was the reduction in effective blade reach to the opponent when using a reverse grip.
As the wearing of armor fell out of favor, dagger fighting techniques began to evolve which emphasized the use of the dagger with a conventional or forward grip, while the reverse or icepick grip was retained when attacking an unsuspecting opponent from behind, such as in an assassination.
In English, the terms poniard and dirk are loaned during the late 16th to early 17th century, the latter in the spelling dork, durk (presumably via Low German, Dutch or Scandinavian dolk, dolch, ultimately from a West Slavic tulich), the modern spelling dirk dating to 18th-century Scots.
In some cultures, they are neither a weapon nor a tool, but a potent symbol of manhood; in others they are ritual objects used in body modifications such as circumcision.
A wide variety of thrusting knives have been described as daggers, including knives that feature only a single cutting edge, such as the European rondel dagger or the Persian pesh-kabz, or, in some instances, no cutting edge at all, such as the stiletto of the Renaissance. C 1300), we read it in the list of his loot, after the Prosopis battle, of bronze armour, swords and daggers.
Beginning with the 17th century, another form of dagger—the plug bayonet and later the socket bayonet—was used to convert muskets and other longarms into spears by mounting them on the barrel.
They were periodically used for eating; the arm was also used for a variety of other tasks such as mending boots, house repairs and farm jobs.
The knightly dagger evolved into the larger baselard knife in the 14th century.