The Marvelous 5000-Year Old Crystal Dagger from Spain
The discovery of weapons from various ages and civilizations has helped us understand two very major aspects of history, war, and religion. Although most wars in history have been fought based on religion, there are many mysteries in the vaults of history that can only be opened with the key of weaponry. From the birth of civilization in the laps of the Indus and Euphrates rivers to the World Wars, weapons have played an integral part in world politics and the growth and expansion of civilization. But what happens when we find a mysterious weapon, one whose origin and purpose are ambiguous or rather nefarious?
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This goes back to the times when the written word did not exist and so any account of what or how something happened completely relies on the artifacts found by archeologists via excavating probable locations of ancient cities or sites. One such site excavated by archeologists was Montelirio Tholos in Seville, Spain. Belonging to the Chalcolithic Age, this megalithic tomb site probably dates back to 2900 to 2800 BC and was inhabited by a sizable population that practiced agriculture. One of the most important megalithic monuments of the Iberian peninsula, it bears great resemblance with the Metal Age monuments found in Valencia which led the archeologists to believe that Montelirio Tholos, along with other sites, was part of an organized chiefdom.
The Crystal Dagger and Its Origin
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One of the most mysterious finds from this megalithic site was that of a crystal dagger which was found in pristine condition, considering its age. The unique 22-centimeter dagger has an ivory hilt common to other items found at the site. It was carefully preserved in a sheath which meant that the dagger definitely had significance for the people that lived here. The shape and design of the dagger point to us that it was probably not a weapon used in wars or battles but a precious object that was either kept in a religious cove to be worshipped or a special dagger used for sacrifices and other rituals.
Specialized daggers were a common thing among chalcolithic cultures that practiced early religion such as animism or totemism. These daggers were specially designed to signify something, either something from nature or a supernatural being. The Mayans, Aztecs, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Mauryans, and many more civilizations have produced pieces of evidence of such elaborate daggers being used for rituals and sacrifices. But what makes this specific dagger stand out is that it belongs to a time when these large civilizations did not exist in their prime form.
There are some embellishments on the hilt of the dagger that suggest that the dagger did not belong to a common person and was used by someone who held power and position among the people of those times.
What Else was Uncovered with the Dagger?
The megalithic tomb of Montelirio Tholos did not just give us this mysterious crystal dagger but was also filled with several artifacts from that period. Along with the dagger, archeologists found ivory objects, gold items, amber artifacts, ceramics, stone objects, bones, and fabrics. This tomb site is also home to the largest collection of amber found in the Iberian Peninsula which led archeologist Elman R. Service to believe that Tholos was a religious site in the entire structure of the chalcolithic sites of the Iberian land.
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Ivory was also peculiar about this site as over 159 objects made of ivory were uncovered from this site. Around 5 combs, 8 acorns, and 19 zoomorphic figurines made out of ivory were excavated from Tholos.
Another thing found in Montelirio Tholos that led researchers to believe that this site had religious significance was burials. The site unearthed remains of around 25 humans, mostly women, arranged in a circle and buried with ample amounts of burial artifacts. This arrangement of the burial suggests that they might have been part of a ritual and was probably led to their demise by the blade of the same crystal dagger found at the site. The tomb contained richly decorated clothes, partially preserved golden blades, and jewelry. The analysis of the corpses found in the burial site revealed that the women were probably poisoned to death and were then buried according to ritual. Since there is no written record of the site, determining the religion is out of bounds.
What’s with The Crystal?
Crystals even today are considered to be objects of mysterious or mystical properties and are used by shamans, psychics, and many more such people to reveal the secrets of the universe, nature, and the human mind. This dependency on crystals as mystical objects has been seen for centuries or moreover, eons. This is probably the reason that the people who lived in Tholos built their ceremonial dagger using a crystal. But what is astonishing with this specific culture is the precision with which the crystal was used to make the dagger. Crystals are fragile objects and even today need specialized cutting tools for being made into exact shapes and sizes. Although the 5000-year-old dagger is roughly cut as compared to the crystals we find today, achieving that level of accuracy is also something fascinating for the people of that time.
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The dagger was not the only crystal object that was excavated from the site. Tholos housed over 20 artifacts that were made of rock crystals which included arrowheads, smaller simpler daggers, and jewelry.
The crystal dagger is being researched even today. From 3D analysis to thermos-luminescence mapping, several tests are being carried on the dagger to understand the complexity of the object and finding more information about the object and the period it belonged to. Montelirio Tholos is being excavated even today and who knows what 5000-year old secrets of the Iberian Peninsula are yet to be unearthed. Only time will tell what the megalithic tomb spits out in the future and how our understanding of the chalcolithic culture in Europe is formed.