Deadliest Warrior (2010): S02E03 – Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great


Deadliest Warrior is a 2009 documentary series in which the great warriors of history are examined for fantasy combat simulations.


Attila the Hun, the most feared barbarian of Central Europe, vs. Alexander the Great, the Macedonian General who conquered the Middle East.

  • Attila the Hun team: Robert Borsos (Mounted Weapon Specialist), Sean Pennington (Ancient Combat Specialist)
    Attila the Hun weapons: Sword of Mars, Lasso, Hunnic Composite Bow, Scythian Axe
    Attila the Hun armour: Leather Lamellar, Leather shield
  • Alexander the Great team: Peter Van Rossum (Sword & Shield Champion), Kendall Wells (Bladed Weapon Specialist), Rashad Evans (Former UFC Champion)
    Alexander the Great weapons: Kopis, Xyston, Gastraphetes, Ballista
    Alexander the Great armour: Bronze Cuirass, Chalcidian Helmet, Bronze Shield
  • This episode marked the first time combat on horseback was factored into a warrior’s combat skills and effectiveness.
  • For Short-Range weapons, Attila’s Sword of Mars went up against Alexander’s kopis. When both were tested on horseback (on both stationary and moving targets), the Sword of Mars dealt four killing blows in 34.5 seconds. With the head targets, the Sword of Mars caused a decapitation on one meat “neck” and cut through the cervical muscles to the spinal cord on the other. On the slabs of cattle meat, the Sword of Mars managed to slice four inches through the ribs(which are two to three times thicker than human ribs), causing two death blows. The kopis completed the test in 25.75 seconds; the kopis decapitated one meat “neck” and cut through the spinal cord on the other. However, the kopis failed to penetrate the cattle ribs, and would have inflicted collapsed lungs on a human and possibly scored instant kills, but Dr. Dorian could not say for sure that the wounds would have been instantly fatal. The Sword of Mars received the edge due to killing power.
  • For Mid-Range weapons, Attila’s lasso took on Alexander’s xyston lance. The xyston was tested against a pig carcass on a zip-line to simulate the weapon’s use on horseback. The xyston impaled the pig at 10 feet/second with almost no resistance. The xyston was also tested from horseback on an armoured carcass and was able to puncture through the front plate, impale the carcass through the sternum, and still puncture the back plate. The lasso could deliver enough force to the victim’s neck to cause a hangman’s fracture of the neck and crush the trachea, but was determined to not be a certain kill. The edge was given to the Xyston due to its raw killing power.
  • For Long-Range weapons, Attila’s Hunnic composite bow was put up against Alexander’s gastraphetes belly-bow. Both were tested on two moving targets. The composite bow was used from horseback, and demonstrated both speed and accuracy. The gastraphetes was tested on foot and could not match the speed or the accuracy of the composite bow, despite the gastraphetes’ superior power and target penetration. After this test, the hosts gave the edge to the composite bow.
  • For Special Weapons, Alexander’s ballista was tested against Attila’s scythian axe. The ballista was fired at a silhouette target of a mounted Hun at 200 yards, and hit its target at 198 mph. The ballista was also tested against a formation of enemies, and caused instant kills by impaling them. The scythian axe was tested against an unprotected ballistic gel head, tearing the back of the skull completely open, decapitating the skull, and severing the spinal cord with multiple strikes. The velocity of the Scythian Axe was measured at 69 mph. However, the axe failed to penetrate Alexander’s iron helmet, and could only strike the helmet with roughly 20 pounds of force per square inch; 89 pounds per square inch being the minimum amount of force required to inflict a lethal skull fracture. The edge went to the ballista because of its range, killing power, and the Scythian Axe’s failure.
  • The Greek sport of Pankration was also tested by the Alexander team. Rashad Evans was able to easily crush the trachea and fracture the skull of a ballistic gel torso with only his elbow and knee, respectively.
  • This is the first episode to feature multiple warriors on each team in an ancient match, and the only one where a member of the losing team is not known to be killed (Attila and his men were not seen killing one of Alexander’s soldiers, so either he escaped or was simply not seen dying).
  • Attila’s Hunnic composite bow scored the most kills of any pre-gunpowder projectile weapon of the first two seasons.
  • The sword of Mars and the ballista are the seventh and eight weapons to be given the edge and score fewer kills than the opposing weapons.

Re-enactment 11

The battle begins with two of Alexander’s men (with the warrior-king himself behind on horseback) pushing a ballista towards a ruined city. Inside the city, Attila and two men sit, eating a meal. As the Macedonian soldiers crank the ballista, birds fly off, warning the Huns of something wrong. Given the order, the Macedonians load and fire the ballista. The bolt sails into a Hun who had just risen to investigate and ironically, walking directly into it. Attila and his men get up and watch as Alexander (holding a Xyston) and his two men (one with a belly-bow, the other a Kopis) run down the small hill toward them. Aided by his other man, Attila mounts his horse, takes up a bow, and rides back a few feet. The belly-bowman arrives first, quickly pulling the string up, but Attila’s man fires his own composite bow, killing him. Alexander moves to the Hun, charging at him with his Xyston. Attila draws his bow and fires at Alexander, but the bronze cuirass shatters the arrow. Alexander rides by Attila’s bowman, impaling him with the Xyston and giving a shout of satisfaction. Attila rides in with a lasso and tries to throw it around the neck of his foe, but Alexander catches it. He pulls Attila off his horse and after a struggle, Attila does the same to him. The Great runs over to his fallen bowman and grabs his shield. Attila, Scythian axe and shield in hand, bounds toward him. Clashing, Alexander knocks Attila’s shield from his hands with a Kopis. Attila falls back, but when Alexander comes up and thrusts at The Hun, Attila sucks his stomach in, avoiding the sword. Turning to the pick side of the axe, Attila gives a mighty swing and punctures a hole through the bronze shield. Alexander discards the shield as Attila draws the Sword of Mars. They cross blades, with Attila cutting Alexander’s right arm. Attila charges Alexander who has dropped his Kopis but catches the Hun, and throws him to the ground. The two start fighting with their bare hands, until Alexander throws Attila onto the floor. Attila spots his sword on the floor and scrambles to retrieve his sword. Alexander grabs Attila’s leg and tries to pull him away from the sword, but Attila kicks Alexander in the face. He tries once again to grab his sword and succeeds. Alexander approaches Attila and is promptly stabbed through the neck. Attila thrusts his sword in the air and yells in victory.

Winner: Attila the Hun.

Deadliest Warrior Series

You can find a full index and overview of Deadliest Warrior here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 27 April 2010.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 42 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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