The swords, coins, and other items were discovered in the German state of Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania.
Volunteer archaeologists made a number of stunning finds while working in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania last year: fragments of seven Bronze Age swords that they were able to reconstruct, thousands of 11th-century coins, and a trove of jewels, pottery, even more coins, and two reliquary containers.
“Around 250 volunteers are currently active in the preservation of archaeological monuments… They are indispensable for preserving our cultural heritage in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,” Culture Minister Bettina Martin said, according to a statement from Germany’s State Office for Culture and Monument Preservation.
Martin continued: “We also have the volunteer archaeologists to thank for the three outstanding finds. I would like to thank you very much for that.”
Of the three finds, the seven swords are perhaps the most remarkable. As the statement notes, they were originally unearthed in fragmented pieces in the German town of Mirow.
“Originally the swords were probably sunk into the lowlands as consecration or sacrificial offerings,” the statement explains. “Although such deposits of valuable items are not uncommon, so many Bronze Age swords have never been discovered in one place in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.”
The Bronze Age swords are around 3,000 years old. Through diligent and painstaking work, the volunteer archaeologists collected so many fragments that they were able to almost entirely reconstruct the ancient artifacts.
Bronze Age swords were stronger and more effective than previous iterations, and the Bronze Age could be a violent time. In the Tollense Valley, near where the swords were found, Europe’s oldest battle (recently reclassified as a massacre given the number of women and children who were killed) took place some 3,300 years ago.
In addition to the swords, the volunteer archaeologists also came across a cache of medieval silver coins in Rügen, a German island 120 miles north of Mirow. The 6,000 silver coins are from the 11th century and were discovered across a large area, although most of them were found in a clay pot.
Intriguingly, the majority of the coins are of German origin, but about 10 percent come from England, Denmark, Bohemia, and Hungary. Not only is the cache of coins the “largest Slavic coin hoard of the post-war period to date,” but it also paints an insightful picture of medieval trade routes.
Finally, the volunteer archaeologists also came across a “very unusual find” in the town of Mölln. A volunteer uncovered an additional 1,700 coins in a pot, finger and neck rings, a pearl necklace with gold, rock crystal, and carnelian beads, and two reliquary containers. One container was flat; the other was shaped like a crucifix.
The two reliquary containers “are very unusual,” according to the statement, because they indicate the presence of Christianity in a region that was “still largely influenced by other beliefs” during the medieval era.
Together these finds paint a fascinating picture of a long ago time and place.
After reading about the Bronze Age swords, medieval coins, and other treasures discovered by volunteer archaeologists in Germany, learn how a scuba diver stumbled upon tens of thousands of Roman coins while diving near Sardinia. Or, discover how archaeologists in Germany uncovered a 3,000-year-old sword in such good shape that “it almost still shines.”