5000 Year-Old Anatolian Sword Discovered On Venetian Island – Ancient Origins

A historian has discovered one of the oldest Anatolian swords in existence in a monasterys cabinet of ancient curiosities.

San Lazzaro degli Armeni, or Saint Lazarus Island, is a small islet in theVenetian Lagoonlocated 1.2miles (2kilometers) to the southeast ofVenice and it covers an area of about 7.4 acres (3 hectares). First settled in the 9th century, the island was a leper colony during the Middle Ages and in 1717 AD Venice signed the island over toMkhitar Sebastatsi, an ArmenianCatholic monk who opened the Mekhitarist Monastery.

Saint Lazarus Island and the Mekhitarist Monastery where the sword was discovered. (Centpacrr / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Now recognized as the most important site of the Armenian diaspora , communities of Armenians outside Armeniawhere they are considered an indigenous population , the monastery holds 3,000 Armenian manuscripts representing the third largest collection in the world. The monastery also contains a large collection of books, journals, and artifacts, and it was in this collection that Dr. Vittoria Dall Armellina, of the Ca Foscari University of Venice , discovered the deeply-ancient sword in a cabinet of medieval artifacts.

When Dall Armellina saw the sword she immediately noticed resemblances with other swords found in the Royal Palace of Arslantepe (Eastern Anatolia) and according to a report on Heritage Daily the scientist knew that the weapon had been incorrectly identified as medieval. Once it was established that the sword was not listed in the museum s catalogue of ancient Middle Eastern objects, Elena Rova, a professor of archaeology at the Department of Humanistic Studies and her supervisor, Dall Armellina, continued the research.

The Anatolian sword recognised after a millennia. ( Ca' Foscari University of Venice )

DallArmellinas suspicions have now been supported by a new scientific study which has dated the sword to having been forged around 3000 BC, making it incredibly rare and one of the oldest swords in the world. And the only reason this newly discovered sword is being called one of the oldest swords in the world is because an extremely similar weapon dating to 3000 BC is kept by the Tokat Museum in Turkey that was discovered in the Sivas Province at the eastern part of the Central Anatolia region of Turkey.

An analysis of the swords metallic composition was carried out in collaboration with Ivana Angelini, professor at the University of Padua , and the CIBA, an interdepartmental center studying and preserving archaeological, historical, and artistic heritage. The weapon was found to be made of a copper and tin alloy frequently used in Anatolia before the Bronze Age and the specialists have dated the sword to between the end of the 6th and start of the 3rd millennium BC.

Analysis of the swords metallic composition. ( Ca' Foscari University of Venice )

Anatolian warriors migrated into central Europe between 4000 and 3000 BC and defused across greater Europe from this time. The researchers say this type of sword was common in a relatively small region in Eastern Anatolia, between the high course of the Euphrates and the southern shore of the Black Sea. And the dating of the sword, around 3000 BC, was a time at which Anatolian and Caucasian warrior elites were buried with grave goods including jewelry and weapons.

Because the sword has no inscriptions, embellishments, or distinctive features, and was in a poor condition, specialists were unable to detect any traces of usage and it is unclear whether the weapon was ever used in combat or if it was a ceremonial sword or a symbolic grave item.

After determining the origins of the sword the researchers focused on how the sword had come to be kept in the monastery museum and what connections it has with the community of the Armenian monks. According to an article in Arts Culture & Style, consulting Father, Serafino Jamourlian, of the Mekhitarist Monastery of San Lazzaro , accessed the archives of the museum and discovered that in the mid-1800s the sword had been gifted by an art merchant and collector, Yervant Khorasandjian, and it had been transported from Trabzon to Venice.

Top image: An ancient Anatolian sword discovered in the cabinet of the Mekhitarist Monastery. Source: Ca' Foscari University of Venice .

By Ashley Cowie

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5000 Year-Old Anatolian Sword Discovered On Venetian Island - Ancient Origins

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