Researchers have found incredible weapons made of crystal dating back to at least 3000 BCE.
Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed an extremely rare set of weapons dating back to at least 3000 BCE. The incredible find includes a dagger blade, twenty-ﬁve arrowheads and cores used for creating the artifacts, all made of crystal! The discovery was made inside megalithic tombs in the southwest of Spain.
Excavated between 2007 and 2010, the enormous site of Montelirio tholos is made from large slate slabs and stretches over 143 feet. Researchers from the University of Granada, the University of Seville, and the Spanish Higher Research Council have now published their study of the crystal tools found there.
Along with the weapons, the team uncovered at least 25 individuals within the structure. Analyses suggested that there was one male and numerous females who had drunk a poison substance. The remains of the women sit in a circle in a chamber adjacent to the bones believed to be of their chief.
The tombs also contained many grave goods such as “shrouds or clothes made of tens of thousands of perforated beads and decorated with amber beads, as well as ivory objects and fragments of gold blades. The crystal arrowheads were found together in a cluster, which makes the researchers believe that they may have been a ritual offering.
The arrowheads sport the distinctive long lateral appendices of flint arrowheads from the region, but archaeologists noted that even greater skill must have been required to produce these unique features when using rock crystal.
And the dagger? It was found on its own in a separate chamber, “in association with an ivory hilt and sheath.” Measuring nearly 8.5 inches long, it’s similar in shape to other daggers of the period. (Of course, the difference is that those daggers were made of flint instead of crystal.)
Since there were no crystal mines in the area, the materials for these items would have been sourced from far away. In light of this, the researchers suggest they might have been intended for a select elite who would have been able to afford to gather such materials and have them shaped into weapons. Also, none of the weapons were ascribed to a single individual, but appear to have been for collective use.
“They probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time period,” the researchers note. “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.”
Although we can’t be certain of the objects’ exact purpose, the discovery and study of these weapons continue to give a fascinating insight into the prehistoric cultures that populated Earth 5,000 years ago.