A sword that was being kept in the Mekhitarist Monastery on Saint Lazarus Island in the Venetian Lagoon, was mislabeled as medieval. The mistake was spotted by a Ph.D. student during her visit to the museum. During the reassessment that followed, the weapon has been found to be 5000 years old!
Who Noticed the Mistake
Vittoria Dall’Armellina, a Ph.D. student of the Università Ca’ Foscari in Venice, noticed this weapon during her visit to the Mekhitarist Monastery, which includes a church, museums, a library, picture galleries, and much more. Seeing the weapon surrounded by medieval artifacts, she noticed that it seemed to be much older. Her Ph.D. studies included the origins and evolution of swords from the Ancient Near East. The weapon bears great similarities to swords found in the Royal Palace of Arslantepe. As it was reassessed to be around 5000 years old, that makes it one of the oldest known swords in the world.
The Origins of the Sword
The weapon lacks any inscriptions, decorations, and embellishments that many Arslantepe swords have. However, its metallic composition and close resemblance to the twin swords of Arslantepe led archeology specialists to believe that it dates back to the end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd century BC. Arslantepe had a thriving civilization since the 6th millennium BC, and 9 metal swords were found in its ruins. The weapon itself is made of arsenical bronze, which is an alloy of copper and arsenic. Such swords were found in Eastern Anatolia and further analysis could help pinpoint the exact origins of the metal.
It’s believed that the weapon came to Venice from Trebizond in Turkey in the late 19th century, because of a worn-out note that came with the weapon. Written in Armenian, the note mentions a donation to Father Ghevond Alishan – a poet who died in Venice in 1901. As further studies are being made, the sword’s true origins remain a mystery.