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Archaeologists pull 'incredibly well-preserved' 3,200-year-old sword from a rock near megalith site in Majorca

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 21/09/2019 MailOnline Reporter
3200 year-old sword 3200 year-old sword

Archaeologists working on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca (Mallorca) have accidentally stumbled across a 3,200-year-old sword, one of only few weapons from the Bronze Age found on the island better known for its sunny beaches.

The sword was found near a stone megalith known locally as a talayot (or talaiot), which were built by the mysterious Tailiotic culture that flourished on the islands of Majorca and Menorca some 1000-6000 BC. 

a close up of a rock wall: Talayot megalith structures, like the one seen in the distance, were probably used as places of religious worship © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Talayot megalith structures, like the one seen in the distance, were probably used as places of religious worship

The team was preparing the location for a museum site when two archaeologists picked up a rock and saw something protruding from the ground. To their amazement, a sword emerged after they carefully removed mud and earth from the item.

'It was a huge surprise. We did not expect to find anything like this because the area had already been excavated,' Jaume Deya one of the head archaeologists told CEN.

The megalith had been looted in the ancient past, by Romans and others, and has been thoroughly excavated since the 1950s, so no one expected to find any further remains.

Apart from a broken tip, the sword is in good condition despite being over 3000 years. The team thinks it dates to around 1200 BC.

They believe the sword was deliberately left at the site, possibly buried as an offering from a noble or an aristocratic family at the megalith which is thought to had been an important religious and ceremonial site. 

a close up of a stone wall: The sword is in pretty good shape with only one break in in, despite being 3,200 old © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The sword is in pretty good shape with only one break in in, despite being 3,200 old

What was Talayotic culture?

The prehistoric Talayotic civilization existed in the Balearic island in the Bronze age

It is a prime example of a pre-Roman culture from this time, comprising building sites, pottery, ands weaponry

The word ‘talayotic’ is related to one of the most typical elements of this culture, buildings in the form of a tower and known by the island's inhabitants as ‘TALAYOT’

a close up of a rock: The sword is expected to be on display soon at the Museum of Majorca © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The sword is expected to be on display soon at the Museum of Majorca

Talayotic Culture of Minorca, which is is made up of 25 archaeological sites, has been proposed for inclusion in the tentative List of World Heritage of the Spanish State

Talayots in nearby Majorca and Minorca are similar, but also differ in technical building solutions: for example, the Minorcan ones had inner chambers crowned with a false dome, something not present in Majorca 

The sword could have also been left there for defence; experts believe that the weapon was buried was made when the Talaiotic culture was in serious decline.

a close up of a rock wall: Ruins of a talayot in Majorca, similar to the ones where the sword was found © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Ruins of a talayot in Majorca, similar to the ones where the sword was found

Only around ten such weapons from the Talaiotic culture have been found before, mostly by farmers and builders who typically unearthed them by accident and then handed over to authorities. This meant that experts were unable to properly research the artefacts as they did not know where and how they had been found'.

The fact that the sword was found at an archaeological site, researchers now know the context in which it was found, which is essential to understand the origin of the sword and its possible symbolic role in the Talaiotic civilization.

For example, the find seems to demonstrate that weapons were used as offerings and it also underscores the role of the talaiots as places of religious worship rather than as signaling towers or defensive strongholds as some have suggested.

The sword is expected to be on display soon at the Museum of Majorca.

Slideshow: Mysterious wonders discovered by archaeologists

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