Truly Unusual Discovery: Archaeologists Discover Well-Preserved Bronze Sword in Germany

During excavations in the German city of Nördlingen, a bronze sword dating to more than 3,000 years old was found by archaeologists. The discovery was announced by the Bavarian State Office for Monuments Conservation in a press release. The sword was discovered among the rubble of graves, weapons and the bodies of a child, a mother and a man. What types of connections these individuals may have with each other are unknown.

The sword is made entirely of bronze, has an octagonal blade and hilt. Because the hilt is cast above the blade, making an octagonal sword requires complex technology (called applied casting).

Photo by Dr. Woidich

During the Bronze Age, decorative artifacts made using bronze casting were applied. It requires layering high-grade copper on top of a cheaper metal or clay core. This made it possible for artisans to create intricately detailed artifacts without having to use a lot of expensive bronze.

A core of the desired shape must be created and that core must be covered with clay. The required pattern is then carved from this clay, creating a negative mold. The cut-out sample is filled with molten copper as it is poured into the mold, creating a thin coating over the core. The copper piece is removed from the mold after cooling and solidifying, and the clay core is also removed.

Photo by Dr. Woidich

A variety of items, including jewelry, weapons, and everyday objects, were made using applied bronze casting. Mycenaean culture made extensive use of this method, which was especially popular in the eastern Mediterranean. Applied bronze objects from this era are displayed in museums around the world.

We can definitely guess that this is a real weapon despite being meticulously crafted and showing no signs of impact. The balance favoring more stabbing is indicated by the center of gravity at the front of the blade.

Investigation work is being carried out to determine whether the sword was made in Bavaria or imported. During the Bronze Age, there were three main distribution centers for this type of octagonal sword: one in southern Germany, two in northern Germany, and one in Denmark.

In the north, certain octagonal swords may have been genuine imports or created by “itinerant craftsmen”, while others may have been imitations of Japanese designs. Southern Germany, according to a comparison of molding and decoration techniques.

Director of the Bavarian State Monument Protection Office, Matthias Pfeil, stated: “In order for our archaeologists to classify this find more accurately, the sword and the buried remains must be investigated. However, we can say that this situation is extraordinary! Such a truly rare find!”

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