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A sword from the Talaiotic civilization has been found in Mallorca, Spain.       Source: Diario de Mallorca

Sword in the Stones: 3,200-Year-Old Weapon Unearthed Near Spanish Megalith


Archaeologists working on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca (Mallorca) have made a surprising discovery. They came across a 3,200-year-old sword, completely by accident at a Bronze Age site. It is one of the few weapons from that era found on the island. The find is allowing experts to have a better understanding of the mysterious Tailiotic culture.

Experts discovered the sword at the “Talaiot del Serral de ses Abelles archaeological site in the municipality of Puigpunyent” on the Balearic Island of Majorca reports the Archaeology Network.  The site contains a talayot (or talaiot) as they are known locally. These are stone megaliths that date from 1000 to 6000 BC. They were built by the Tailiotic culture, that flourished on the islands of Majorca and Menorca.  The talayot in Puigpunyent was first excavated by the Majorcan archaeologist and historian Guillem Rossello Bordoy, in the 1950s.

Example of a talayot in Majorca (this example is Talaiot quadrat de ses Llenques). (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Museum Opening Discovers Bronze Age Sword

The team was preparing the location to be opened as a museum for visitors when they unearthed the sword. Two archaeologists at the site picked up a rock and they saw something protruding from the ground. In a video released by the team they are shown carefully removing mud and earth from the unidentified item. To their amazement, a sword was revealed.

Jaume Deya and Pablo Galera, the head archaeologists at the site hailed the discovery as “a huge surprise” reports the Archaeology Network. They believed that nothing else would be found because the site had been thoroughly excavated over the years. Moreover, the megalith had been looted in the ancient past, by Romans and others.

The sword is the first to be found at the archaeological site and it is believed to date “from 1200 BC” according to Diario de Mallorca. Despite being over 3000 years old the weapon is in good condition. The sword is remarkably well preserved “apart from the tip of the blade appeared to have been snapped in the ground” reports the Daily Star.

Although broken, the sword was in a very good state of preservation. (Image: Diario de Mallorca)

A Religious Offering

The sword appears to have been deliberately left at the site. This has prompted the experts to believe that it was buried as an offering at the site. The megalith at the site was possibly an important religious and ceremonial site, although it may also have been used for defensive purposes. Experts believe that the weapon was buried was made when the Talaiotic culture was in serious decline after 600 BC. Most likely the sword was an offering from a noble or an aristocratic family.

The sword is believed to be only one of about 10 that have been found from the Talaiotic culture. They were handed over to the authorities, by farmers and builders who typically unearthed them by accident. This meant that experts “were unable to properly research the artifacts as they did not know where and how they had been found” according to Archaeology Network. The new find changes this.

Insight into Bronze Age

The fact that the sword was found at an archaeological site, specifically a megalith means that it can provide new insights into the Talaiotic civilization. Researchers now know the context of the sword, which is essential for their work. This means that they can understand the origin of the sword and its possible symbolic role in the Talaiotic civilization.

At present, the weapon is being investigated by a team of researchers. The find demonstrates that weapons were used as offerings and also underlines the role of the talaiots as places of religious worship. This is important as it may clarify the original role of these megaliths as some have claimed that they were used as signaling towers or defensive strongholds. The 3200-year-old weapon can be used to build up a picture of how the Bronze Age people interacted with the site and will soon be on display at the Museum of Majorca.

Top image: A sword from the Talaiotic civilization has been found in Mallorca, Spain.       Source: Diario de Mallorca

By Ed Whelan

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My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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