Chicago’s Field Museum’s real replica sword made quite a splash earlier this year.
In January, the museum revealed that a seemingly ordinary artifact was far more significant than initially believed.
A museum discovers their replica sword is real
The sword, previously considered a modern replica, was revealed as an authentic weapon dating back to the Bronze Age by Dr. James Phillips, an archaeologist at the museum. He first identified the potential misclassification.
As a sword enthusiast, Phillips found himself intrigued by the detailed craftsmanship and specific features of the piece, which hinted at its potential authenticity.
The sword’s journey began with an acquisition by an art dealer in Iran. It eventually found its way into the hands of Mr. William Nelson Pelouze. His wife subsequently donated the sword to the Field Museum in 1947. For years, the museum had labeled the sword (and treated it) as a replica. It’s true historical value remained unknown to its keepers and the numerous visitors that came to see it.
A treasure in plain sight
This situation changed when Neal Spencer, from the British Museum, conducted a comprehensive X-ray fluorescence test. This test, which accurately dates and analyzes the composition of artifacts, determined that the sword was crafted between 1200 and 800 BC. That places it squarely in the Late Bronze Age.
The sword’s construction also offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. The way the blade and hilt are held together by rivets reflects ancient weapon-making techniques, providing an invaluable insight into the skills and methods employed by the metallurgists of that era. This expertise adds another layer of intrigue and importance to the artifact.
Now acknowledged as a true historical artifact, the sword fills a gap in the Field Museum’s extensive Luristan Bronze collection, which comprises a wide range of Bronze Age relics, including weapons, horse fittings, and jewelry, typically unearthed in western Iran.
A replica turned real reveals new insights
This discovery serves as a testament to the continuous evolution and revelation in historical study and museum practices. It underscores the necessity for constant re-evaluation of museum collections, breathing fresh life into the ever-evolving narrative of human history.
Moreover, it brings attention to the importance of museums as keepers of knowledge, mystery, and discovery. They are institutions that connect the present with the past, creating an ongoing dialogue between the then and now. The tale of the Bronze Age sword at the Field Museum is just one of many, reminding us that there is always more to learn, discover, and explore.