medieval dagger

Scientists Find Amazing 5,000-Year-Old Crystal Dagger in Spain

When you hear about archeologists going to sites worldwide to dig up artifacts, what do you think of? Most likely, you think of Egyptian tombs, mummies, skeletons, and the occasional piece of jewelry. Well, this group of researchers found something quite interesting while inside a tomb in Southwestern Spain – a 5,000-year-old crystal dagger [1].

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From 2007 to 2010, archeologists excavated the Montelirio tholos located in southwest Spain. Other preserved crystal weapons were found inside the megalithic tombs, including 25 arrowheads and cores used to create artifacts [1]. Other items that were found include clothes made from beads, ivory objects, and gold blades [2].

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The crystal weapons were discovered inside the Montelirio tholos.
Image Credit: ipolca

Discovery of the Crystal Dagger

As you will see, the conditions this dagger were foud in are shocking. However, it’s the crystal dagger itself that is the most interesting.

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You see, 5,000 years ago, most of the tools and weapons used were made from the sedentary rock because it was ubiquitous and easy to work with.

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This availability made sedentary rock the obvious choice when choosing to build tools because why would you go searching for other materials when you have an abundance in front of you?

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Prehistoric crystal dagger with original handle
Image Credit: Miguel Ángel Blanco de la Rubia

That doesn’t mean crystal didn’t exist – it did. It was more difficult to come across, not to mention its tough nature made it more difficult to craft tools. But just as we cherish items in our lives like cars or jewelry, they cherished crystal tools. Having tools and weapons fashioned with crystal reflected on their social standing resulting in individuals with these exquisite tools to hold on to them dearly.

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What’s even more interesting about this dagger is the size. The blade is 214 mm in length, a maximum of 59 mm in width, and 13 mm thick, a significant size for the time. [3]

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A: Ontiveros arrowheads; B: Montelirio tholos arrowheads; C: Montelirio dagger blade; D: Montelirio tholos core; Montelirio knapping debris; F: Montelirio micro-blades; G: Montelirio tholos microblades. Photograph: Miguel Angel Blanco de la Rubia.
Source: Ancient Origins [2]

Where did the Crystal Dagger Come From?

Although this is an impressively sized crystal, scientists haven’t found any other remnants of crystals in the area. Currently, where the dagger was made is unknown. Analysis suggests it was made in either two geographical locations – both a great distance from Valencia [3]. The technical skills that would have gone into constructing these pieces is high. Researchers speculate that somone of high stature paid a steep price to have the dagger fashioned and shipped [3].

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They probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time period,” the researchers share. “On the other hand, rock crystal must have had a symbolic significance as a raw material invested with special meanings and connotations. The literature provides examples of societies in which rock crystal and quartz as raw materials symbolize vitality, magical powers, and a connection with ancestors”[4].

Bodies Found

Interestingly the crystal dagger and spearheads were not the only things found in the structure. Scientists found the remains of 25 bodies. It is believed that most of them were female, but they also found a young man’s corpse. The male was anywhere between 17 and 25 when he died. Scientists found his body in the fetal position with many valuable objects placed around him. Multiple female bodies were also found around him – it is believed that they consumed some sort of poison [1].

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The dagger its self was actually found in its own tomb. This is interesting and should give you more of an understanding as how the value this dagger was percieved.

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Think about this for a minute. This man, who is understood by scientists as being a leader and someone of status had the dagger placed somewhere else [2].

There are many unanswered questions about this discovery such as who these people were and why was the dagger constructed in the first place. We may never know these answers, but what this discovery does give us is an inside look at what societies cherished 5,000 years ago.

The study and its finding were published in the journal Quaternary International.

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