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    4,000-year-old Copper Dagger Found in Polish Forest

    By Science in Poland

    A copper dagger from over 4,000 years ago was found in near perfect condition in the forests of Jarosław, Poland. It is the oldest dagger made of metal ever to be discovered in the province of Podkarpackie, in the southeast of the country. In the 3rd millennium BC, items made of copper were extremely rare in the area, Dr. Elżbieta Sieradzka-Burghardt, an archaeologist from the museum in Jarosław, told Science in Poland.

    A Last Minute Find

    This valuable item from over 4,000 years ago was discovered in November last year by Piotr Gorlach from the Historical and Exploration Association Group of Jarosław, who – with the permission of the Podkarpackie conservator of monuments in Przemyśl – was conducting a search using a metal detector in the forests of the Jarosław Forest District, near the town of Korzenica.

    “I was done searching for the day. When I returned to the car, I left the detector on out of habit. At some point there was a signal. When I was digging up the forest floor, I saw a flat metal object covered with green patina. I quickly realized that I was dealing with something much older than the military items from World War I and II that I was looking for in this area,” Gorlach said.

    The 4,000-year-old copper dagger. (Łukasz Śliwiński/PAP)

    The 4,000-year-old copper dagger. (Łukasz Śliwiński/PAP)

    The discoverer informed the Podkarpacie conservator of monuments in Przemyśl about the find, as well as archaeologists from the nearby Orsetti House Museum in Jarosław, who carried out a preliminary identification of the artifact.

    On the Cusp of Change

    According to archaeologist Dr. Marcin Burghardt from the Jarosław museum, the dagger discovered in Korzenica can be dated to the second half of the third millennium BC.

    “In Polish lands, this is a period of enormous changes related to, among others, a change in the main raw materials for the production of tools. Instead of flint tools commonly used in the Stone Age, more and more metal products appear, heralding the transition to the next period – the Bronze Age,” noted Dr. Burghardt.

    He added that in this new era, tools, ornaments and weapons were made of bronze, an alloy created by combining two metals: copper and tin.

    The metal detectorist holding the rare artifact at Orsetti House Museum. (Museum in Jarosław Orsetti House)

    The metal detectorist holding the rare artifact at Orsetti House Museum. (Museum in Jarosław Orsetti House)

    However, the currently discovered dagger from Korzenica – as noted by Dr. Elżbieta Sieradzka-Burghardt, an archaeologist from the museum in Jarosław – was not cast in bronze, but made of copper.

    “So it predates the development of bronze metallurgy,” the archaeologist noted. “In the third millennium BC, items made of copper were extremely rare, so only people with the highest social status could afford them. There is no doubt that the dagger is not a local product,” added Dr. Burghardt-Sieradzka.

    She indicated that it was made either in the Carpathian Basin or somewhere in the Ukrainian steppe or forest-steppe. She expressed hope that the mystery of the artifasct’s origin would be solved in the future by specialized metallurgical analyses.

    She noted that daggers were a universal attribute of warriors. As grave finds indicate, they were worn plugged or attached to the belt.

    “Although the dagger from Korzenica is only 10.5 cm (4.1 inches) long, compared to other similar objects it is already a large dagger, which shows how valuable metal products were in the period in question. It is worth paying attention to the characteristic shape of the artifact, which resembles the flint daggers (so-called shosh) used at the same time,” the archaeologist pointed out.

    She also emphasized that this is the oldest metal dagger found so far in Podkarpacie.

    The dagger has already been added to the collection of the Orsetti House Museum in Jarosław. It will be on display from June at the permanent exhibition devoted to the oldest history of the Jarosław land.

    Dr. Marcin Burghardt noted that the unique dagger from Korzenica is not the first archaeological relic found by members of the Historical and Exploration Association Group of Jarosław and donated to the Jarosław museum, and expressed his satisfaction with the developing cooperation between the museum and the association.

    So far, the association has donated several dozen small monuments from the modern period to the Jarosław museum.

    Top image: Close up of the 4,000-year-old copper dagger found in Jarosław, Poland.   Source: Łukasz Śliwiński/PAP

    This article is a translated version of the press release first published on Science in Poland, titled, Jarosław/ A dagger from over 4,000 years ago found in the forest. years ago by Agnieszka Pipała.

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