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Reproduction of the oldest swords in the world


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Around 5355-5000 hundred years ago in a city in Turkey, how called Arslantepe, a palace burned down and collapsed. Inside the palace, a set of weapons, including 9 swords and 11 spearheads were discovered. These swords are by far the oldest known swords in the world. Aside from another sword from a grave from the same site, there are no other swords known until the mid 3rd millenium BC, some 5 to 8 centuries later. Despite being so old, they already have pretty advanced blades. The swords were made with arsenic copper, containing an average of 4% arsenicum, which leads to a considerable higher hardness after workhardening, as well as a much greater ease in casting. The blades have hollow, hammer hardened edges, with a thick strengthening midrib, making them great thrusting weapons, and possibly also good for light cutting. The hilts were cast with the blade, and are pretty thin. The swords vary in length, most around 45cm, but one example around 60cm in total length.

 

They are quite oddly shaped, with the metal aparently mimicing a pommel and guard/bolster. It's possible that there were organic hilted swords that had similar hilts made from organic materials. The sword from the grave is a tanged sword with identical blade, but no hilt remains are preserved on that one. It's mysterious that no other swords are found prior or after these examples. Only short daggers are known from the 5 millenium BC onwards, generally under 20cm in length.

 

Here are some pictures of the original swords:

 

17.jpg

 

m7fg9.jpg

 

54558440.Malatya_2017.jpg

 

54558441.Malatya_2019.jpg

 

arslantepe_swords_3300-3000BC.JPG

 

More information on the Arslantepe site:

http://w3.uniroma1.it/arslantepe/chronology_stratigraphy.htm

Edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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I set to make 3 reproductions of these swords. Due to health reasons, I replaced the arsenic by tin, which has roughly the same effect on the copper as arsenic, without the toxicity. The swords are cast in a modern mould, and finished with modern tools. With these the focus on the result, rather then the production method as I do with my regular bronze work. Here's one of the swords as cast from the mould, with only the feeding cup and flash removed:

 

06270004.jpg

 

The blade had quite a lot of shaping by hammering, going from around 3mm thick at the edge nearly to sharp. I also hammered the midrib down somewhat. This hardened up the blade considerably. In fact, when I tried to remove some warping in the blade due to the hammering, the handle warped, rather then the blade straigthening, despite the cross-section of the handle being much greater! :) (was easily corrected though).

 

On some of the original blades, there is silver inlay. This was done by using thin silver sheat, and attaching it by folding the edges of the silver, inserting these into grooves hammered into the copper and then hammering shut the grooves. The process how I did this on my swords can be seen here:

 

http://1501bc.com/files/Inlaying_silver_in...ntepe_sword.jpg

 

This was a pretty difficult process. I think I used too thick silver for it (around 0.2mm), as it was pretty difficult for it to stay in while hammering down the copper. The silver also wants to expand while you hammer the copper inwards, making the silver pop out frequenty.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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Bronze is truly a beautiful metal polished.

Nice job, Jeroen! Good to see them finished.

 

Quick question, and how often did you need to anneal in the process of hammering out the edges?

Edited by GEzell

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."
Buffon


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that's too cool! i like how the triforce from zelda is on them... makes you think...

jared Z.

 

lilzee on britishblades.

 

From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.

-Sir Winston Churchill

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Bronze is truly a beautiful metal polished.

Nice job, Jeroen! Good to see them finished.

 

Quick question, and how often did you need to anneal in the process of hammering out the edges?

No annealing was necessary. The metal starts out very soft, so it can take a lot of shaping. This makes the workhardening quite easy, as you can get really close to the maximum obtainable hardness without cracking the metal.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbarianmetalworking

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a really beautiful reconstruction work, Jeroen!

your knowledge of all these old working processes is always astonishing !

thanks to share it with us :D

nice pics, too !!!

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Cool. So freaking cool.

My life is like shaving with a razor sharp machete. It's a bit awkward and I feel a sting every now and then, but in the end I'm happy with the results.

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That was VERY interseting Jeroen, thanks a lot for showing this. I love seeing differant sword types from differant times and people and this is one of the neatest. Thanks a lot!

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