March 14, 2003
What is being described as the oldest sword known, dating back 5000 years, will be the subject of a presentation at the fourth Incontro nazionale di Archeologia Viva "La voce del passato, un messaggio per il futuro", at the Palacongressi in Florence on March 16. The sword was found at Arslantepe in Anatolia by an Italian team led by Marcella Frangipane. Their excavations have uncovered a group of nine swords, eleven spearheads, and a copper-arsenic plaque, all found in a large "palace" of c. 3350-3000 BC which appears to be a complex of regional administrative buildings. The swords were each cast in a single piece and then beautifully engraved; they are older than other arms of this type by a full millennium. Arslantepe is also being described as the location of the oldest known governmental building, in which were found over 2000 clay seals used to record transactions in a "bureaucracy without writing". From La Repubblica (in Italian).
UPDATE: It took a week and a half, but there's now a writeup in English at Discovery News, with photos.
Posted by David on March 14, 2003 8:40 AM