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New discovery of a Late Bronze Age sword from Bytów, Pomorskie Voivodeship

DOI: 10.33547/PraceArch.69.16

New discovery of a Late Bronze Age sword from Bytów, Pomorskie Voivodeship

by Michał Bugaj 1, Kamil Kajkowski 2

1 – National Heritage Board of Poland, Katowice; 2 – The West-Kashubian Museum in Bytów, Poland

In: M. S. Przybyła, K. Dzięgielewski (eds.), Chasing Bronze Age rainbows. Studies on hoards and related phenomena in prehistoric Europe in honour of Wojciech Blajer, Prace Archeologiczne 69, Kraków: Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University / Profil-Archeo, 2019, pp. 349-361.

Abstract: In 2013 a fragment of a bronze sword preserved in two parts was acquired by the Museum in Bytów. The sword is a stray find without a direct context. The characteristic tanged blade with the so-called grip spike (Griffangelschwert) and remains of the hilt indicates that this specimen is most probably a relic of an antennae sword of M. Bugaj’s Rokitki type and it should be regarded as a local Pomeranian product of the late Bronze Age (Period V; ca. 950/900–750/700 BC). A unique feature of the Bytów sword is that its hilt is filled with lead. As shown by the X-ray examinations of bronze swords with the so-called full bronze hilt (Vollgriffschwerter), such a solution was very rare. The sword from Bytów is the only specimen of this kind found in Pomerania. In the area of today’s Poland the only one specimen with the probably lead-filled hilt chamber was known from Nieczajna (S Poland), but the closer analogies are formed by the group of nine specimens from eastern Germany (6 antennae swords and 3 of the Mörigen type). It is hard to unequivocally assess what was the goal of filling the inside of sword hilts with lead, however we opt for a utilitarian one. The swords with the lead-filled hilts probably attest for experiments of metal workers of that time searching for optimal solutions for making the weapon more effective or for repairing it. It seems that in case of at least a few specimens it could have been just about repairs, and some of these seem unprofessional. All things considered, this solution proved to be ineffective and probably therefore it did not become widespread in the Bronze Age.

Key words: bronze sword, lead, Late Bronze Age, Pomerania, Bytów

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