Housed at a monastery on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, the blade boasted a distinctive shape that reminded the young archaeologist of some of the oldest swords known to humankind, which date back to around 3,000 B.C. and were recovered from sites in western Asia. To confirm her suspicions, Dallâ€™Armellina and her colleagues spent the next two years tracing the artifactâ€™s origins back in time through a series of monastic archives.
After much digging, the team realized that the sword was discovered at Kavak, a settlement near the ancient Greek colony of Trebizond in whatâ€™s now eastern Turkey, some 150 years ago. Shortly after, it fell into the hands of Armenian art collector Yervant Khorasandjian, who then gifted it to a monk named Ghevont Alishan. Upon Alishanâ€™s death in 1901, the monastery acquired his belongingsâ€”including the sword, which they mistook for a recent construction.
A chemical analysis of the sword solidified its ancient roots. Fashioned from a combination of copper and arsenicâ€”one of the earliest forms of bronzeâ€”the weapon almost certainly predates the late third millennium B.C., when humans first transitioned to blending bronze using tin. The bladeâ€™s sculpting resembles that of a pair of twin swords found at Arslantepe, another archaeological site thatâ€™s been dated to about the third or fourth millennium B.C.
HT: Karen L. Myers.