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2,300 Years and Still Shining: Archaeologists Unearth Brilliantly Preserved Chinese Sword

2,300 Years and Still Shining: Archaeologists Unearth Brilliantly Preserved Chinese Sword

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A team of Chinese archaeologists have excavated a brilliant sword that is still sharp and shining despite its age of more than 2,300 years. The amazing discovery was made in an ancient tomb in the city of Xinuang. The unique artifact was found inside its scabbard, which helped to preserve it in great condition.

​A painting of Ou Yezi (a sword maker from the Spring and Autumn period) forging swords in a temple in Longquan City dedicated to Ou Yezi. (Public Domain) Detail: A bronze sword from the Chinese Warring States period.

A painting of Ou Yezi (a sword maker from the Spring and Autumn period) forging swords in a temple in Longquan City dedicated to Ou Yezi. ( Public Domain ) Detail: A bronze sword from the Chinese Warring States period. (Gary Lee Todd/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Not the First Time a Sword is Discovered in Henan

This is not the first time Henan Province has been generous with archaeologists. During a 2015 excavation, another group of archaeologists made an impressive discovery at a construction site in Zhoukou City, Henan Province : a tomb complex containing 21 ancient tombs filled with treasures, including a 2,000-year-old bronze sword.

The Chinese news reported that the age of the tombs spanned from the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC) to the East Han Dynasty (25 – 220 AD). Within the tombs researchers found numerous grave goods including: jewelry, ceramics, utensils, tiles, and bronzeware, but the treasure that stood out the most was the 2,000-year-old bronze sword.

A Late Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period cast bronze sword (jian) with chevrons.

A Late Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period cast bronze sword (jian) with chevrons. ( LACMA)

The “Ferocious” Warring States Period (475-221 BC)

The 250 years between 475 and 221 BC has been named the “Warring States Period” by historians because the region of the Zhou Dynasty was divided in eight states at the time. These states had frequent wars until 221 BC - when Qin conquered them all. The battles that took places during the long 250 years have been described as extremely fierce and excessively gory. Many kings of that era were fighting to survive or retain their power, while some others wanted to expand their influence and territory.

Warring States, about 350 BC.

Warring States, about 350 BC. ( Public Domain )

A major example of brutal force could be seen in the Qin rulers, who used extreme violence in several cases to achieve their goals and conquer everyone else. The main philosophy of the Qin rulers was “Legalism,” which fully justified harsh control, forced labor, and subservience to the emperor. They used their manpower to construct immense structures that allowed them to field and supply big armies.  Most historians describe them as ruthless, violent, and merciless at all times (in war and during peacetime).

As the states warred, philosophies and religions such as Daoism, Legalism, Confucianism, and Moism emerged in the region and were spread by those that survived the bloody battles.

A Remnant of the Warring States Period

The 2,300-year-old sword found in Xinuang is believed to come from that vicious and violent period. In a video published by China Radio International (CRI) , the ancient object looks razor-sharp and is still glistening as an archaeologist pulls it from its sheath. As the experts attempted to slowly remove the sword – while wearing gloves in order not to damage it – the ancient artifact easily slid from its cover, proving its great condition more than 2000 years after its creation.

Even though there has been no official announcement on the sword’s fate, it’s almost certain that it will be put on display at a national museum after the experts examine it further.

Detail of the sword and its cover.

Detail of the sword and its cover. ( Sina Weibo )

Top Image: The sword that was discovered in Xinuang, Henan Province, China. ( Sina Weibo )

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Comments

Could you share what metal this particular Sword is made of? Bronze? Iron based? It appears to maybe be iron based?

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