Oldest Swords Found in Turkey
The most ancient swords ever found were forged 5,000 years ago in what is today Turkey, according to Italian archaeologists who announced the results of chemical analysis at a recent meeting in Florence.
Digging at Arslantepe, a site in the Taurus mountains of southeast Anatolia, Marcella Frangipane, professor at the department of historical science, archaeology and anthropology of antiquities of Rome University, found nine swords dating back to about 3,300 B.C. Blade and hilt were cast in one piece; moreover, three swords were beautifully inlaid with silver.
"Their length ranges from 45 to 60 cm, and this leaves no doubt about their use. They predate of 1,000 years the most ancient swords found in Alaca Hoyuk, still in Turkey," Frangipane told Discovery News.
Analysis of the arsenic-copper alloys indicated great metallurgy skills. When forging the swords, arsenic was used as a deliberate alloying element in order to change the properties of copper and produce a stronger metal. The swords were found in a large, palace-like complex, along with eleven lance tips, made of the same alloys, driven into a wall. Dating from 3,350-3,000 B.C., the complex represents the most ancient administrative palace in the Near East.
"In Mesopotamia there are several temple areas, but only at Arslantepe we found a complex with connected buildings, storerooms, and decorated walls. A storeroom contained hundreds of mass-produced bowls, probably used to distribute food to workers," Frangipane said.
The archaeologists also found 2,000 clay lumps, or sealings, which worked like receipts when the contents of bags, jars, and sacks were taken out. Archived and disposed, the sealings made up an administrative and accounting system which worked without any writing but established one of the first examples of bureaucracy.
The swords and the lances were not some accidental findings. Frangipane and her team found other weapons, including another sword, in a royal tomb built right after the destruction of the palace in about 3,000 B.C. It contained a fortune in copper, silver and gold.
"This tomb is not important simply for its weapons and precious metals, but for the detailed insight it can give into the events which destroyed this center. Through the work of Frangipane's team, we can understand, as closely as one can in prehistory, the actions and decisions of people who transformed societies," Henry Wright, professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a leading scholar in the study of complex societies and the emergence of civilizations, told Discovery News.
"I believe this is the best work known being done on an early state administrative center in southwest Asia," he said.