Extraordinarily Well-Preserved 3,000-Year-Old Octagonal Sword Unearthed In Germany

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
July 27, 2023

 A very rare 3,000-year-old sword has been found in Bayern, Germany. The sword from the Middle Bronze Age is still in such good condition that it almost still shines.

Archaeologists have been excavating in Närdlingen, a town in the Donau-Ries district in Swabia, Bavaria, where they discovered the two-and-a-half-foot-long sword in a burial.

Like the blade, the octagonal handle is made entirely of bronze. This type is called an “octagonal sword” after the shape of the handle.

Detailed view of the Bronze Age sword found in Nördlingen Credit: Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments

Scientists have hailed the discovery as “extraordinary,” considering the sword is so well-preserved. According to a statement of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Protection, this is a “very rare” find.

The state of preservation is exceptional! A find like this is very rare,” Mathias Pfeil , Head of the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments , says.

The sword does not have signs of being used, but scientists think it was a weapon. According to Die Welt, the manufacture of such octagonal swords was complex because the handle was cast over the blade. Two of the recognizable rivets are real connections. The other two are only suggested.

Despite the effort involved in making it and the lack of any traces of a blow, the Bavarian archaeologists assume that it was a real weapon, i.e. not just a showpiece. The center of gravity in the front part of the blade indicates that this sword was primarily aimed at slashing.

According to preliminary dating, the octagonal sword is from the late 14th century B.C. Swords from this era are rare. Those that have been encountered are either from burial mounds that were deliberately opened in the 19th century or have surfaced as individual, presumed sacrificial finds.

“According to the body, the octagonal form of the sword’s hilt is typical to historical southern Germany, where it was found. Such swords are also found in the north, but it is claimed these were either imports from “wandering craftsmen” who carried their art with them, or copies of the design made locally. Swords were of an advanced type, as noted by the Monuments office: “The production of octagonal swords is complex because the handle is cast over the blade (so-called overlay casting). The decoration is made with an inlay and using hallmarks,” Breitbart reports.

Archaeologists have found a bronze sword in Nördlingen that is more than 3000 years old and in excellent condition Source: DPA

According to the current state of research, there were two separate main areas of distribution for such octagonal swords. One such place was southern Germany, and other areas were northern Germany and Denmark.

The sword was found among the bones at the site. You can also see some arrowheads Credit: Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments

A comparison of the casting techniques and the decoration shows that the octagonal swords in the north were apparently either replicas of southern German models or actually imported pieces. However, it cannot be ruled out that “wandering craftsmen” manufactured such weapons in different places. Another possible interpretation of the findings is that warriors from the south had come to northern Germany.