An incredibly rare and well-preserved bronze sword, dating back to the 14th century BCE, has been unearthed in the town of Nördlingen, Bavaria. So remarkable is the preservation that the weapon hasn’t lost its luster, despite being crafted more than 3,000 years ago.
The extraordinary find was made alongside the discovery of a Bronze Age burial, according to a statement from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection. The sword, and other bronze goods, were found in the grave of a man, woman, and child. It is not known if the trio were related, only that they were buried in quick succession.
“The condition [of the sword] is exceptional!” Mathias Pfeil, head of the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments, said in the translated statement. “A find like this is very rare.”
Preliminary dating places the sword in the late 14th century BCE – the Middle Bronze Age – an era from which sword discoveries are scarce, especially in this condition. Those that have been found in this region of Germany have come from burial mounds that were deliberately opened in the 19th century or have cropped up individually, as presumed sacrificial finds.
The Bronze Age weapon is so well preserved “it almost still shines,” reads the statement, and features an ornate octagonal hilt, which, like the rest of the sword, is made of bronze. Because of the three millennia that have passed since the sword was forged, its hilt has weathered and is now a glossy green color.
Its octagonal shape makes the find rarer still, as only skilled blacksmiths were capable of such craftsmanship.
"The production of octagonal swords is complex because the handle is cast over the blade (so-called overlay casting). The decoration is made with an inlay and using hallmarks. While there are two real rivets, another pair of rivets are only implied," a translation of the statement reads.
Such swords were only made in two areas in Bronze Age Germany: one in the south and one in the north and Denmark. However, the origins of the newfound sword are unknown.
As for whether it was ever used in combat, the evidence is contradictory. While the archaeologists note there are no signs of wear on the blade, they add that its center of gravity lends itself to a slashing motion, making it suitable for use as a weapon.
With further examination, the team hope some of the mysteries surrounding this strange, shiny sword will be unveiled.