A rare sight greeted archaeologists excavating a gravesite in the southern Bavarian town of Nördlingen last week: Nestled near the grave’s occupants was a 3,000-year-old sword.
The weapon barely shows its age. It has remained so well-preserved that it “almost still shines,” says Bavaria’s State Office for Monument Protection in a statement, per Google Translate.
The weapon sports an octagonal bronze hilt that was cast over the blade, which few smiths were skilled enough to make at the time, according to Live Science’s Laura Geggel. Only two manufacturing regions were known to have made swords of this kind: one near the excavation site in southern Germany, and the other in northern Germany and Denmark.
The octagonal hilt was cast directly over the blade of the sword, something only certain smiths were skilled enough to do. Archäologie-Büro Dr. Woidich / Sergiu Tifui
The sword shows no wear and tear indicating use in battle, but archaeologists say “its center of gravity made it suitable for use as a real weapon, and it was capable of being used to slash opponents,” reports Newsweek’s Jess Thomson.
Bronze swords first emerged around 1600 B.C.E. and were used until roughly 600 C.E., as Smithsonian magazine’s Alex Fox wrote in 2020. Researchers say that the Bavarian artifact dates to the end of the 14th century B.C.E.
The archaeologists say that swords like this one are quite rare, particularly because “many middle Bronze Age graves were looted over the millennia,” per Live Science.
You missed visiting bombed-out, rubble-strewn Berlin post-1945? Don’t worry. You’ll have another chance, just a few short years down the road, to see entire empty neighborhoods comprised of falling-down, abandoned buildings.
New York City had square miles of buildings like that, back in the 1970s, thanks to Rent Control.
When Government Price Controls gift tenants with give-away rents and buildings’ incomes fail to suffice to pay taxes and buy heating oil, their owners have no choice but to walk away. Nobody wants to abandon valuable real estate, but when the Government expropriates all the income and destroys a property’s value, abandonment becomes inevitable. In NYC, countless thousands of buildings, entire neigborhoods, were once boarded up and abandoned. Berlin’s turn is obviously coming.
Germanyâ€™s capital is taking extreme measures to stay (relatively) affordable and not go the way of San Francisco or London. Beginning in early 2020, Berlinâ€™s left-leaning government will freeze rents for five years. Landlords will be required to show new tenants the most recent rental contracts to prove they arenâ€™t jacking up prices. Theyâ€™ll also have to follow new rent-cap rules, which for many landlords could mean lowering rents by as much as 40%. Those who donâ€™t comply will be hit with fines as high as â‚¬500,000 ($553,000) for each violation.
Even more radically, tenant groups and thousands of activists are demanding that large corporate landlords be expelled from the city altogether, their property expropriated. The goal is to get the government to buy back roughly 250,000 propertiesâ€”almost one-eighth of Berlinâ€™s housing stockâ€”and turn them into public housing. And while the move may sound far-fetched, itâ€™s won support from anywhere from 29% to 54% of Berliners, according to yvarious polls. Two of the cityâ€™s three ruling political parties have even endorsed a nonbinding public referendum on whether to force big landlords to sell their real estate to the government. (The biggest party, the Social Democratic Party, or SPD, is against the move, as is German Chancellor Angela Merkelâ€™s Christian Democratic Union. Theyâ€™ve signaled their intentions to challenge the new regulations in court.)
Berlinâ€™s landlords, big and small, are reeling. The cityâ€™s publicly traded real estate companies, whose share prices fell for most of the summer after the government announced the planned freeze in June, complain that Berlinâ€™s new regulations will scare off needed capital. Fewer companies will invest in modernizations to make buildings more appealing or energy-efficient, they say, and construction of new units may suffer, which would exacerbate Berlinâ€™s shortages. â€œAlmost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it seems that some people want the former conditions back,â€ Michael Zahn, chief executive officer of Berlinâ€™s largest publicly traded landlord, Deutsche Wohnen SE, said in an earnings call in November, referring to the former East Germanyâ€™s all-controlling government. â€œTenants and landlords will face great uncertainty. Thatâ€™s a poison pill for investment.â€
In 1867, when she was just 17, Caroline Christine Walter died from tuberculosis. Devastated, her sister Selma commissioned a sculptor to carve an eerily beautiful memorial to remember her by.
The grave shows Walter as if she had just fallen asleep while reading. In the open book, visitors can read â€œIt is certain in Godâ€™s wisdom that from our dearest loved one we must part.â€
The grave itself is rather ordinary, as it isnâ€™t unusual for a family member to create an ornate memorial to a lost loved one. However, whatâ€™s unusual is the fact that fresh flowers have inexplicably appeared on the grave every day since Walter died.
Walter has been dead for more than 150 years, and her sister and all the people that knew her in life have long since died as well. Still, each day, rain or shine, even on holidays, there are fresh new flowers carefully tucked beneath the statueâ€™s arm.
Over 50,000 flowers have been placed on the grave of a young girl who died almost 145 years ago in Freiburg, Germany. Who places them there, no one knows. Every morning, under summerâ€™s sun and winterâ€™s snow, a fresh flower has been placed on the grave of Caroline Christine Walter. …
In the early summer of 1867, just before she turned 17, Caroline contracted tuberculosis and passed away a few short weeks later.
Her sister Selma wanted to create a lasting memorial and asked a sculptor to cast a grave in her sisterâ€™s likeness. The life size and life like sculpture depicts Caroline just as if she fell asleep reading in her own bed.
The grave was placed against one of the outer walls of the Alter Friedhof cemetery which had already been in existence for more than 200 years. It was a peaceful setting, made more peaceful by the beautiful grave of the sleeping girl.
It was soon after Caroline passed away, and the flowers on her grave from the funeral were wilting, that her sister began to notice that a fresh flower was always on the grave when she visited. Months and then years passed and still no one had discovered who might be leaving the flowers. The cemetery groundskeepers could provide no clue but perhaps they were sworn to secrecy.
Caroline had never mentioned any young man in particular to Selma however legends abound. The most common one is that the flowers were placed by one of Carolineâ€™s tutors who had fallen in love with her and mourned her passing for the rest of his life. But, even had he lived to be a hundred, he still would have died more than half a century ago. Did he leave instructions for future generations to carry on the tradition?
Today, only a little sunlight filters through the boughs of the trees overhead, moss has grown over the place where she sleeps but every morning since that fateful day in 1867, a fresh flower blooms on Carolineâ€™s grave.
This object was prized, though not unique; other versions survive, all targeted at the wealthiest clientele. A wind-up mechanism once moved the group forward on hidden wheels, making it vibrate as if with life. Uniting modern technology, precious casework, and visual appeal, automatons were celebrated as a novelty entertainment for guests of the most moneyed classes. Removing the stagâ€™s head reveals a drinking vessel; the diner in front of whom the piece stopped had to drain the cup.