They Thought Their Bronze Age Sword Was A Replica. It’s The Real Deal.

The Chicago Field Museum bought a bronze age sword from the Hungarian National Museum in the 1930s thinking it was a replica. Now, nearly 100 years later, an archeologist for the Hungarian museum says there must have been an error at some point, the Field Museum announced Tuesday.

The 3-foot-long “replica” sword is actually 3,000 years old. It was initially discovered at the bottom of the Danube River, the second-longest river in Europe, in the 1930s in Budapest, Hungary. The Hungarian archeologist uncovered the truth behind the sword last summer during a visit to the Chicago museum.

“So I pull it out and he said after half a minute, this isn’t a replica, this is a real sword,” Bill Parkinson, the Chicago Field Museum curator of anthropology, said. “This is a real 3,000-year-old sword that was thrown into the Danube River at the end of the Bronze Age. And usually it goes the other way. It’s seldom that you’ve got something in your collection that said in the collection records for 100 years, ‘this is a replica,’ that you find out that no, it’s actually the real deal.”

“I think there was a clerical error when it got here,” Parkinson added. “Someone just wrote it down wrong.”

It was found more than 100 yrs ago in the Danube River in Budapest, stored at the @FieldMuseum ever since. It was labeled a “replica” but it turned out to be a real 3500 yr old Bronze Age sword. Coming up today @WBBMNewsradio, the story behind the museum’s newest display.⚔️ pic.twitter.com/UBuOUjLRda

— Lisa Fielding (@Lisa_Fielding) January 17, 2023

To confirm that the sword was actually from the Bronze Age, researchers compared the chemical makeup of the museum’s artifact with known swords from the Bronze Age using an X-Ray fluorescent detector, according to WBBM NewsRadio. The testing showed that the comparison produced nearly identical makeups of bronze, tin, and copper.

During the Bronze Age, which lasted from approximately 3300 BC to 1200 BC, throwing swords into rivers was commonplace as a way to celebrate treaties, Parkinson says. This tradition helps explain why swords from the Bronze Age are often found at the bottoms of rivers. Metal weapons and tools were first used in the Bronze Age, replacing stone, according to History.com.

The discovery was made while preparing for the museum’s upcoming exhibit called “The First Kings Of Europe.” The sword is now on display in the Field Museum’s Stanley Hall and will be included in the new exhibit, according to CBS.

“Starting their journey 8,000 years ago during the Neolithic Period and ending 2,500 years ago in the world of Iron Age kings, visitors will encounter archaeological finds that have never been shown in North America,” the museum says of the exhibit. It will also include weapons, tools, and jewelry to “tell the story of how individuals gained power and influence by amassing wealth and controlling trade, technology, rituals, and warfare.”

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