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Martina Bekova of the Rychnov Museum with the Bronze age sword.             Source: David Tanecek, CTK

Bronze Age Sword Found at Secret New Site in Czech Republic

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Archaeologists in the Czech Republic have announced the discovery of a Bronze Age sword that dates from over 3000 years ago, which is providing new insights into prehistoric Eastern Europe. The location where the Late Bronze Age weapon was found is being kept a closely guarded secret.

The sword was found in Rychnov nad Kneznou in the Bohemia region, which is in the north of the Czech Republic . In the past, many Bronze Age artifacts have been uncovered in the general area but recently a team of Czech archaeologists has uncovered an important new archaeological site in the region.

Ancient sword

During work at the site, the team unearthed a prehistoric sword made of bronze which, after being so long in the ground, is corroded but otherwise is in good condition. The “sword has an ornamental engraving, along with a very sharp blade” according to the International Business Times . A number of rivets were found near the blade and they “were used to secure the sword handle to the blade” reports the Hans India .

The sword has what is known as a tongue handle. (David Tanecek, CTK)

Lusatian Culture

The handle of the sword is a type that is known as a ‘tongue handle’ and it is elaborately engraved with animal motifs. The style of the handle allowed the sword to be dated and its origin established. The Daily Express quotes Martina Bekova of the Rychnov museum as saying “The bronze sword with its tongue handle is dated around 1200 BC, it belongs to the Lusatian culture ”. This culture was one that stretched from Ukraine to Germany and was very important in the prehistory of Eastern Europe. It lasted from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age and was later much influenced by Celtic culture.

The discovery of Bronze Age artifacts from the Lusatian culture is not a surprise in this part of the Czech Republic but the unearthing of a sword is important because they have been rarely found in this region. The Hans India quoting Bekova “The findings of this culture are numerous in East Bohemia, but this is not true of swords”.

Also found with the sword was a bronze spear point. It seems likely that the sword and spear once belonged to a member of the elite as only they could afford such expensive bronze weapons.

 

Bronze sword and spear point found at the secret archaeological site near Rychnov, Czech Republic. (David Tanecek, CTK)

Bronze sword and spear point found at the secret archaeological site near Rychnov, Czech Republic. (David Tanecek, CTK)

An offering to the gods?

It is believed that the sword was not lost or misplaced during a battle, rather it was deliberately deposited in the ground. The fact that it was deliberately discarded in this way would indicate that it was probably a sacrifice as part of a religious ceremony. Bekova, is reported as stating that, “It is most likely a unique votive gift to an unknown deity. This is typical of the Bronze Age”, by the International Business Times.

The sword would have been sacrificed during an important phase in the prehistory of Europe. This weapon comes from a time when the Lusatian culture was developing proto-kingdoms and states. According to the International Business Times , the Bronze Age was “marked by the rise of states or kingdoms and large-scale societies joined under a central government by a powerful ruler”. The sword was forged just before bronze began to be replaced by iron in many parts of Europe, such as the Aegean.

The local authorities are reluctant to disclose the location where the sword was unearthed. All that is known is the general location, which is somewhere in the Rychnov region. It is possible that they do not want to identify it, so as to protect it from looters and thieves. There is also the possibility that more artifacts could be uncovered by archaeologists in the future, at the site where the Bronze sword was brought to light.

Top image: Martina Bekova of the Rychnov Museum with the Bronze age sword.             Source: David Tanecek, CTK

By Ed Whelan

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