Archaeologists in Nördlingen, western Bavaria, have discovered Bronze Age sword in exceptionally good condition. The handle is octagonal, completely made of bronze. It dates from the late 14th century BC, Middle Bronze Age, but is in such good condition that it retains its luster.
The age, shape, material and condition of the sword make it an extremely rare find, especially since it was discovered in its original context: in an untouched burial mound. Most mounds from this era were looted long ago for their valuable inventory, and many of the famous swords from this era were looted from mounds destroyed in the 19th century. Others have been unearthed in archaeological excavations, but these were isolated finds, probably from ritual deposits.
The sword was recovered from a grave that contained the remains of three people: an adult male, an adult woman, and a teenager. They were buried with rich burial utensils, but there is no direct evidence of family relations or any other connection between them yet. The octagonal shaped hilt was made by casting the hilt over the blade, a complex process known as hardfacing. It is intricately decorated with carved geometric patterns and inlays.
Swords with an octagonal handle are common in two regions: in southern Germany and in northern Germany/southern Denmark. A comparison of casting and decoration methods shows that the octagonal sword found in the north consists partly of copies of South German originals and partly of imports. Some of these may have been made by migrant blacksmiths who brought their signature overlay casting method north.