Swords have always been symbols of power, chivalry, strength, and masculinity. They also symbolize war. Warriors in many cultures use swords, and they have for centuries. Even mythical heroes such as King Arthur with Excalibur and Perseus. The Chinese have also used swords for centuries. This was proven when a group of archaeologists in Central China explored a network of subterranean tombs in 1965. There they found a waterlogged casket that contained a human skull and a sealed wooden box. Inside the box was a carefully crafted sword that had been hidden for over 2,400-years.
The Sword of Goujian
The sword that they found was impressive. Its workmanship was sublime, and the physical properties were incredible. Its discovery allowed historians to take a look at the ancient world from which it came. It was discovered during a survey of the Zhang River Reservoir’s second aqueduct in the city of Jingzhou. The area is 2,000-years-old, and it has an illustrious history. The kingdom lasted 411 years and saw 20 kings during this time. While investigating the area, a series of 50 toms were discovered. The tombs were hidden since the Chu era until the digging began in 1965. In total, the team recovered over 2,000 artifacts.
The Casket’s Location
The casket containing the sword was found about 4.3 miles away from the ruined city of Ying. This was once the capital of Chu. When it was discovered, the sword gained national media attention. Many people believe that it is the most important discovery of the dig.
Spring and Autumn Period
Experts believe that the sword was made during the Spring and Autumn period. These periods occurred during 771 and 476 BC. The Spring and Autumn Annals records show accounts of significant events such as marriages, deaths, rituals, and battles in the region. These annals are considered to be one of the Five Classics of Chinese literature. It is believed that the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, assembled the annals.
The Zhou King
During this period, the Zhou king was in charge of holding the empire together. Many of the king’s relatives and loyal generals managed their own fiefdoms, which gradually evolved into separate states. The 12 most powerful were known as the “twelve vassals.” As time went on, the kingdoms started to fight among themselves.
During this period, there were many technological developments, particularly when it came to weapons. Some of the finest swords were made during this era, including the Sword of Gouijan. The sword itself is 21.9-inches long, and it weighs just under 31-ounces. The handle of the sword, also known as the hilt, measures 3.3-inches long. What makes this sword so amazing is the surface of the blade. On each side, it is etched with diamond patterns, and the handle has blue stones embedded in it.
What makes this sword so remarkable is the state that it was found in. Despite being in a water-soaked tomb for over 2,000 years, it was found in pristine condition. It wasn’t tarnished, and the blade was incredibly sharp. According to researches, who observed the sword, it was capable of slicing through a pile of 20 sheets of paper. After soaking in a tomb for thousands of years, this is pretty impressive.
Experts believe that it was the sword’s air-tight sheath that was able to protect it from the elements. They say that it is also the blade’s composition that kept it so well preserved. It was made of copper, which gives the sword flexibility. It also contains tin, which keeps the sword sharp. The traces of sulfur throughout keep the sword from tarnishing.
The owner of the sword is named in two columns on the engraved script on both sides. It was written in seal script, known as bird-worm. According to the inscription, the sword belonged to the local king, King of Yue. It is believed that the sword was made for her personal use. Unfortunately, the sword didn’t specify which king the sword belonged to. There were nine different kings who ruled during this time, and researchers have different theories as to who the sword belonged to. After weeks of discussion, scholars believe that the sword belonged to Goujian, who was a warrior-king famous for his grit and determination during challenging times. He participated in the last great war of that time, and it is believed that he was one of the Five Hegemons.
In 1965 archaeologists in China discovered a perfectly preserved 2,400-year-old weapon. The find was truly amazing because not only was the sword in perfect condition, but it also told researchers a lot about the time when the sword was created.