Early Iron Age sword found in scrap metal

Early Iron Age sword found in scrap metal
Early Iron Age sword found in scrap metal

In the "Bulletin of NSU" (Novosibirsk State University), a work was published, the authors of which studied an iron double-edged sword that was not found during archaeological excavations. In the introduction to the article, they say that the blade, according to the owner, was found at one of the collection points for scrap metal in the south of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. This is not the first time non-professional archaeologists have found a weapon.

The authors mention that, unfortunately, it has become commonplace to study weapons from photographs posted on social networks, or according to information transmitted to scientists through various channels from researchers of "treasures" and "caches". It is clear that private researchers are, in fact, robbers. And in their hands a lot of very interesting finds settle.

One of the problems associated with the study of objects from such private collections is that it is impossible in most cases to understand and describe the conditions in which the find was made. Weapons can lie in burial mounds - it is important here what condition the bones of the deceased are in, whether he was buried or this is the place of the funeral pyre and much more. The artifact can also be found on the battlefield - a description of the place and other details is equally important.

In any case, a sword from a scrap metal collection point is so rare that the authors of the work introduce the concept of "Krasnoyarsk sword". They explain this by the fact that earlier this type of long-bladed weapon was not found among the weapons of the Early Iron Age of the Minusinsk Basin.


The sword of the early Iron Age from the territory of the Middle Yenisei / © Skobelev S. G.

The sword from the Krasnoyarsk collection has a wide straight blade, a flat handle, a rounded volute-like (spiral curls facing down) pommel and a butterfly-shaped crosshair - all these details make it look like the Scythian akinaki. The preservation of the product is poor: damage, traces of active corrosion and metal delamination can be traced along the entire length.

It is noticeable that the blade and the hilt of the sword are forged from one piece of metal. But still, due to poor preservation, the technology of fastening the crosshair and the pommel is unclear. The total length of the sword is 59.5 centimeters, the blade is 45 centimeters, the width is about seven centimeters, the greatest thickness in the center is four millimeters. In the last quarter of the length, the blade tapers seriously towards the point.

In the process of studying the archaeological finds of edged weapons of the early nomads of Eurasia, it became clear that the design of Scythian swords and daggers is absolutely the same, they differ only in size. In the middle of the last century in Russian Scythology the terms "sword", "akinak" and "dagger" were often used as equivalent. Later they began to be divided according to the meaning depending on the length of the blade. There are several classifications for this parameter - the researchers have not come to a common opinion. The authors of the work attribute the found weapons to short swords.

Short swords were actively used in combat: they were effective in delivering chopping blows, as well as in protecting the head and torso. At the same time, in hand-to-hand combat, the 60-centimeter blade made it possible to deliver stabbing blows, as when using shorter akinaks and daggers.

If we proceed from the shape of the sword, then it can be attributed to the V-IV centuries BC. And then it is an object of import, since nothing of the kind was done in the Minusinsk Basin at that time. The iron sword in the described era is a rarity that could only be made in serious centers of metallurgy. But scientists admit a different dating: III-II centuries BC (if we are talking about the manufacture of weapons with forms archaic for the III-II centuries BC). At that time, the mass production of weapons and tools from low-carbon steel began.

If the last dating is correct, then we are talking about the Tagar archaeological culture, which replaced the Karasuk culture. The area of its distribution is the Minusinsk and Kuznetsk basins, that is, the steppe and forest-steppe zones of the Middle Yenisei basin and partly the Ob-Yenisei interfluve. If we take the period of the early nomads of the steppes of Southern Siberia, then the Tagar culture is one of the most studied archaeologically and is part of the Scythian-Siberian cultural and historical region. This fully explains the fact that the Krasnoyarsk sword is so similar to the Scythian akinak.