The 3,300-year-old Bronze Age sword discovered by chance in Northern Czechia is a very rare find; its casting was not of great quality, and it was not used in battle but was likely for ceremonial purposes. Photo: Ethnographic Museum of Jesenicko via Radio Prague
A rare bronze sword and a bronze ax from ca. 1,300 BC, the Bronze Age, have been discovered by accident by a mushroom picker in the Jesenik District in Northern Czechia.
The 3,300-year-old Bronze Age sword and ax have been found by a local man, Roman Novak, who was out picking mushrooms, Radio Prague International reports.
The man made the inadvertent archaeological discovery as part of the Bronze Age sword’s blade was sticking out of the ground.
“It had just rained and I went mushroom-picking. As I went, I saw a piece of metal sticking out of some stones," Novak is quoted as saying.
“I kicked it and found that it was a blade, part of a sword. I then dug some more to find a bronze axe," he added.
The man immediately contacted local archaeologists about his discovery of the ancient sword and ax, and they carried out several tests right away.
The Czech archaeologists have established that both bronze weapons, the sword and the ax, date to ca. 1,300 BC, which was still the Bronze Age in the respective region.
At the time, much of Central Europe saw the start of the so called Unrfield Culture, a Late Bronze Age culture, which existed from ca. 1,300 BC until ca. 750 BC).
It is generally distinguished by the custom of cremating its dead, placing their ashes in urns, and burying the urns in the fields.
The Bronze Age sword and ax found by accident in Czechia’s Jesenik District resemble weapons from today’s Northern Germany, according to Jirí Juchelka, head of the archaeology department of the nearby Silesian Museum.
“The sword has an octagonal handle. It is only the second sword of its type to be found here," he says.
The archaeology experts are quoted as saying that the discovery of the ancient bronze sword and ax in Czechia’s Jesenik District is surprising since the area had very sparse population during the Bronze Age.
Soil tests, however, have demonstrated that the artifacts from 3,300 years ago are local.
Juchelka points out that a sword would have been an expensive commodity in this part of Europe 3,300 years ago. That was the time of the emergence of the Late Bronze Age Urnfield Culture in today’s Czechia and much of the rest of Europe.
While iron swords and axes from the subsequent Iron Age were made with the smiths hammering the red-hot metal in order to shape it, during the Bronze Age, bronze swords were made by smelting the bronze into liquid, and then pouring the liquid bronze into a mould.
Juchelka says that the newly discovered 3,300-year-old Bronze Age sword from Czechia’s Jesenik District is not the best specimen of the above-mentioned bronze casting method.
“They were obviously trying their best, but the quality of the casting was actually pretty low. X-ray tests show that there are many small bubbles inside the weapon," he notes.
“This suggests that the sword was not used in combat, but was instead of symbolic value," the Czech archaeologist elaborates.
His colleague Milan Rychly from the Ethnografic Museum of Jesenicko is quoted as saying that the accidental discovery of the 3,300-year-old Bronze Age sword and ax is going to follow to archaeological excavations.
“It is like a puzzle. We just have four little shards from the story that took place right now, so we have to start piecing everything together," Rychly says.
The Silesian Museum has collaborated with other institutions to commission several expert analyses of the Bronze Age sword.
After that, the rare item will be put on display in both the Ethnographic Museum of Jesenicko and the Silesian Museum.