Rare Bronze Age sword found in Bohemia

A Bronze Age sword in excellent condition has been discovered near Rychnov in northeastern Bohemia. While its handle is long gone, the blade is intact with its hilt and the decorative fine line engraved along its edge is clearly visible to the naked eye. Its cutting edge is still sharp.

It is one of only five prehistoric swords found in the Czech Republic in recent decades. A Bronze Age sickle hoard was unearthed by Very Good Boy Monty and his owner just last year in the Rychnov area, but it’s been 130 years since a prehistoric sword was found around there and that was an iron antenna sword from the Early Iron Age.

The sword dates to around 1200 B.C. and was produced by the Lusatian culture, a Late Bronze Age agrarian society that ranged over what is now Poland, eastern Germany and the western Czech Republic. Lusatian artifacts are rich on the ground in eastern Bohemia, often found in hoards like Monty’s. The sword find is unusual not only because so few of them have ever been discovered, but also because it was made at a location where no known Lusatian settlement or archaeological material has been recovered before.

It was found by a private individual who reported it to the Rychnov Museum on Saturday, November 2nd, and handed it in the next morning. He had no idea of its age or historic significance until a friend told him to alert the museum. Archaeologists searched the find site and discovered rivets used to attach the sword’s handle. (The handle was made of organic material that has long since decomposed.) They also found a bronze spear head from the same period.

Rychnov Museum archaeologist Martina Beková believes the sword was a ritual deposit, likely buried on its own as a votive offering to a deity. The spear head is from around the same period, but it does not appear to have been buried together with the sword.

The exact find site is being kept secret to prevent looters from disturbing it before archaeologists are able to explore it thoroughly. The artifacts will be conserved and stabilized for future display at the Rychnov Museum. Since the only other prehistoric sword discovered in the area is now in the National Museum in Prague, this will be a centerpiece of the museum’s collection.

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5 Comments »

Comment by Alphonse T. Gollum
2019-11-18 01:18:09

Actually, it is hard to tell for me, how much coal there is in northern Bohemia, but a so-called ‘bucket-wheel excavator’ (BWE) is a heavy equipment machine used in surface mining.

Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, however, is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. Mainly, it is the coal industry in the region that destroyed dozens of Lusatian villages and threatens some of them even now.

Thus, a lot of swords and settlements might by now have gone forever :no:

 
Comment by Trevor
2019-11-18 05:59:58

As swords go, it is a handsome enough piece. The riveting, though, looks less, ah, riveting with one of the holes positioned too far out.

 
Comment by Jim
2019-11-18 06:04:35

The deformation of the one rivet would have been enough to split most handle-scale materials.

 
Comment by Mica
2019-11-18 06:51:31

I don´t know about Czech procedures regarding open-pit mining (brown coal in Lusatia), but here in Germany every “Vorfeld” of an open-pit mine is searched for remains by teams of archaeologists before the BWE come through.

 
Comment by Eugene Wilson
2019-11-18 20:11:30

Would have been nice to know the dimensions of the sword. It’s very well-preserved.

 
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