An ancient sword has been discovered by accident and it’s opening up a whole new chapter in a mysterious lost civilization. Spain’s Majorca vacation island is a famous destination for jet setters, tourists, celebrities and just plain regular folk anxious to holiday on glorious beaches in the warm sun. However, it may soon be the number one destination for a different kind of traveler: archaeologists anxious to catch a glimpse of a recent, rare find on the island, a 3,200 year old sword.
The prized artifact was recently discovered by a team of experts who were digging at the archaeological site of “Talaiot del Serralde ses Abelles,” in Puigpunyent, a municipality on Majorca. The site is comprised of several stone megaliths, dating back to 1000 to 6000 B.C. The sword was found near one of these stone megaliths known locally as a talayot (or talaiot), built by the mysterious Tailiotic culture that thrived on the islands of Majorca and Menorca thousands of years ago. Hence the sword has been nicknamed the “Talayot sword” with some even going so far to call it the “Spanish Excalibur”.
Work has been underway at the site for decades, first begun by historian and archaeologist Guillem Bordoy in the 1950s. It was in mid-September, as the researchers were readying the museum at the site to finally be opened to visitors, that the team found the sword, to their shock and delight.
Diario del Mallorca, one of the team’s researchers, told the Daily Star recently that the sword dates back “to 1200 B.C.” He added, “the sword is in strikingly good condition, “apart from the tip of the blade, (which) appeared to have been snapped in the ground.”
The sword’s presence at this site had led scientists to conclude it was likely buried as part of a ceremony of some sort. For the culture that used it, the Talaiotic civilization, the sword may have been a defense weapon. But because of being found at this particular location, experts also believe it may have been used as part of religious rituals as well.
This sword is one of several that have been discovered in Spain, approximately 10, usually by agricultural workers who have come upon them randomly, while working in a field, for example. Consequently, researchers could not place those others is any kind of historical context because they were found merely by chance. Consequently, those other swords, while valuable, could not be properly studied in terms of their historical use and why they were placed in certain locations.
This sword changes those perceptions. It gives archaeologists and researchers new insights into the Talaiotic culture, which fell into decline and disappeared sometime after 600 B.C. This latest discovery allows researchers to link it to the practices and rituals of the Talaiotic culture, and they postulate that the sword was buried as part of a religious ceremony.
A full display, including the sword and other relics from this ancient era in Spanish history will soon be on exhibit at the Museum of Majorca, giving viewers a glimpse into life during the Bronze Age.
Megaliths like the one found in Puigpunyent were considered to be used primarily for defense purposes, structures that helped repel enemies. Now, however, archaeologists view them in a broader context, thanks to the discovery of this sword, which they say was intentionally buried at the megalith.
This site, the team initially believed, had been entirely excavated, since the dig first began in the 1950s. And so the discovery of the sword was “a huge surprise,” said Jaume Deya and Pablo Galera, the team’s two lead researchers, in an interview with the Daily Star.
They also noted that no other artifact as historically significant has been found at the site thus far, and both expressed joy — and a little amazement — that they had stumbled upon the ancient sword quite by accident. It was forged in approximately 1200 B.C., they confirmed, and was subsequently buried there as the civilization that prized it went into a steep decline.
It is just this kind of discovery — something ancient, something telling, something rare and revealing about the culture that used it — that are the prizes archaeologists live for. The thought of finding a one-of-a-kind artifact like this 3,200-year-old sword, in such marvelous condition, keeps these diggers going like detectives struggling mightily to solve a baffling case.