Warriors of the Iron Age bent the swords of defeated enemies. Scientists figured this out by discovering an ancient Iron Age armory in West Germany.
According to archaeologists from the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL), a metal detector searching the ancient site has found “one of the largest Iron Age weapons treasures in West Germany.”
The treasure contains over 150 items, including an intentionally bent weapon – 40 spearheads, swords, and shield fragments. Archaeologists also found various tools, belt hooks, horse equipment, three silver coins, bronze jewelry, and one fibula, Manuel Sailer, an archaeologist at the LWL, told Live Science.
This arsenal is the largest in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Moreover, the damaged weapon, which the ancient people deliberately destroyed by bending it, gives scientists new clues about the rites of the victorious warriors of the Iron Age.
The Iron Age in Germany and the rest of Europe originated at the end of the Bronze Age when a new metal became the material of choice for making weapons, agricultural tools, and other utensils. The early Iron Age in Germany lasted from about 800 to 45 BC. It was followed by the Late Iron Age, which lasted until about 1 BC when the Romans conquered the region.
The excavation site, a former hill fort, was a type of sublime fort made of stone, clay, or other local materials. Such buildings served as small fortifications from the invasion of enemies. In the new work, the researchers have taken a new approach to detecting iron artifacts hiding under the earthen floor – using metal detectors. Accurate dating of the finds is impossible, but the surrounding material suggests that the artifacts date back to 300–1 BC.
Researchers have known about a possible treasure at the Iron Age settlement for several decades. In the 1950s, when workers were building a pavilion on the site of the settlement, they accidentally discovered two swords and spearheads. In this case, the swords were bent, and their tips were deliberately deformed. But it wasn’t until 2013 that archaeologists carried out more extensive excavations at the site to reveal the full context of the archeology at the site. From 2018 to 2020, scientists searched the site for additional metal artifacts.