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2,000-year-old Bronze Sword Unearthed in China

Tombs, Treasures, and 2,000-year-old Bronze Sword Unearthed in China


In 2015, archaeologists in China made a spectacular 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. 2018 would bring over 100 more ancient burials to light in Zhoukou.

According to China Daily, the 2015 discovery was made when archaeologists carried out a search for any cultural relics ahead of an infrastructure project in the city's Xiangcheng area.

Xinhuanet news reports that the age of those tombs span from the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC) to the East Han Dynasty (25 – 220 AD). Nineteen of the tombs are earth pits, while another two are brick-chambered tombs.  Most of the tombs had been looted in the past, but five of the tombs remained intact.

Archaeologists uncovering relics in one of the newly-discovered tombs.

Archaeologists uncovering relics in one of the newly-discovered tombs. [Photo/IC]

Within the tombs researchers found numerous grave goods including jewelry, ceramics, utensils, tiles, and bronze wares. One of the more significant findings was a bronze sword that has been dated to around 2,000 years old. Research Han Yanzhen, a scholar with cultural heritage institute of Zhoukou City, explained that the sword was well preserved due to the soil conditions.

“The sword belonged to the tomb owner and was buried with him when he died,” reports China Daily. In addition, researchers found two bronze spears and a bronze dagger-axe.


The finding adds to another discovery of an ancient sword in China. In late 2014, an 11-year-old boy was washing his hands in the Laozhoulin River in Gaoyou County, China, when he felt something hard and metallic. He pulled out the object and found that it was a rusty sword, later dated to around the time of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, more than 3,000 years ago, which is among the oldest swords ever recovered – the first bronze swords are believed to have first been developed in China around 3,200 years ago.

A bronze Shang dynasty sword.

A bronze Shang dynasty sword. Credit: Huhan Provincial Museum.


Archaeologists have said that they hope the new discovery will bring a greater understanding of the culture and customs between the Warring States Period and East Han Dynasty.

And continued work in the area almost certainly has shed more light on those time periods and others. March 2018 brought a further 120 ancient tombs to light in Zhoukou. Xinhua reports that 105 have been dated to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), four come from the Song Dynasty (960-1276) and 11 were made during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Artifacts found in the tombs include pottery, bronze, iron, silver and stone items. Three spade-shaped coins and 14 pottery figurines were amongst some of the more interesting finds. But Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology researcher Zhu Shuzheng described what may be the most intriguing artifact from those excavations, saying, “One copper stamp is extremely valuable. It is a reference to the official ranks and social culture in rural communities during the Han Dynasty.”

Featured image: A well-preserved bronze sword was unearthed in Zhoukou, Henan province. [Photo/IC]

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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