An amazing historical find

Ancient weapons are seldom found intact.  Most have rusted, or been damaged, or buried in bogs for centuries.  Therefore, a recent discovery in China is pretty exciting news.  According to Sina News:

Chinese archaeologists have recently unearthed a 2,300-year-old sword, discovered in an ancient tomb in Xinyang city, central China’s Henan Province. It is believed to date from the period of the Warring States (475 BC -221BC). Amazingly it was still shining as an archaeologist pulled it from its scabbard.

Here’s a video showing the sword being removed from its scabbard.

That’s in amazingly good condition for a weapon forged well over two millennia ago.  The Roman Republic was still a small nation at the time, and the Roman Empire had not yet been founded.  Interestingly, its size and shape are reminiscent of the Roman gladius, or short sword.



  1. This certainly raises more questions than it answers. I wonder if the place it was found was in a bog, or someplace rather anaerobic. The metal (I have to assume steel) looks great. I hope modern non-destructive tests allow them to figure out how it was made.

  2. I can't tell by looking (with my aging eyes) if the metal is iron or bronze. If the latter, its survival is not amazing; bronze is very resistant to corrosion, and older bronze blades have found in Europe and MENA in nearly perfect condition.

  3. I'm guessing a bronze blade.
    And a gladius pattern makes the best use of the capability of bronze or iron.
    As metal smiths discovered the techniques necessary to produce good steel blades became longer and thinner.
    The Roman Spatha remained an officer's weapon for a long time as its greater length required better steel.
    The Roman pilum or short spear had a soft iron head both because the metal was cheaper and because once thrown against an enemy the head would bend making it impossible to throw back.

  4. Under the assumption that it is true, than I'm wondering about one thing:

    Is the hilt not very small in relation to the hands of the presenters, or is the hilt damaged and therefore shorter than original?

  5. No, it's a small grip and hilt. It could be a child's sword, or just made for a small man. The length of the sword itself seems accurate, which makes me think it was made for a diminutive fellow.

  6. The size is typical for bronze swords with that profile. It reflects the limitations of the material. Towards the end of the Greek Bronze Age one finds longer swords with heavy reinforcing ridges down the middle. It wasn't until the very end of the GBE that one finds swords that resemble more modern patterns (Naue Type II, which successfully transitioned into iron).

  7. @Anonymous: the ancients were shorter, but not by much; ISTR that measurements of Egyptian Old Kingdom mummies gave an average adult male height of 167 cm; short, but not freakishly so (my own height, as it happens).

    The hilts of European Viking-era swords were constructed with a very short grip, so that the hand was "locked in" between the guard and pommel and wouldn't slip out when covered in gore. Something of the sort may be the case here.

  8. "The thing still looks usable."

    They just need to find an SJW to test it on. Oh, wait, did I say that in my loud voice

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *