‘Extremely Rare’ 4,000-Year-Old Copper Dagger Found In Polish Forest

Published February 26, 2024
Updated February 27, 2024

The dagger found in Jarosław Forest probably came from outside of Poland as copper objects in the region were considered "extremely rare" 4,000 years ago.

Ancient Dagger Found In Jarosław Forest

Museum in Jarosław Orsetti HouseThe dagger was found by chance by a metal detectorist.

Thousands of years ago, deep in the forests of Poland, someone dropped a copper dagger. Now, it’s been found by chance near the city of Korzenica. Not only is the 4,000-year-old dagger a rare object for the region and the time, but it’s also the oldest metal dagger ever discovered in Poland’s Podkarpackie province.

Still, questions about this remarkable object remain. Where was it originally made? How did it find its way to Poland? And who owned it?

Discovering The Dagger In Jarosław Forest

When Piotr Gorlach of the Historical and Exploration Association Grupa Jarosław took his metal detector into Jarosław Forest, he hoped to find military artifacts from World War I or II. Instead, as he packed up his things for the day, Gorlach stumbled upon something much more ancient.

“I had already finished my search for the day. When I returned to the car, I left the detector on out of habit,” he said, according to Archaeology News.

Polish Copper Dagger

Łukasz ŚliwińskiThe copper dagger discovered by Piotr Gorlach in Jarosław Forest.

He continued: “At some point, there was a signal. When I was digging up the forest floor, I saw a flat metal object covered with a green patina. I quickly realized that I was dealing with something much older than the military items from World War I and II that I was looking for in this area.”

Upon realizing its significance, Gorlach contacted the Podkarpacie conservator of monuments in Przemyśl and the Orsetti House Museum. Experts soon determined that Gorlach had stumbled upon a rare copper dagger that was made some 4,000 years ago.

The Story Behind This “Extremely Rare” Copper Dagger

The copper dagger discovered by Gorlach in Jarosław Forest was remarkable for a number of reasons, aside from its impressive age.

“There is rather no doubt that the dagger is not a local product,” Dr. Elżbieta Sieradzka-Burghardt from the Museum in Jarosław remarked.

Ancient Polish Dagger

Museum in Jarosław Orsetti HouseNot only is the copper dagger 4,000 years old, but it’s also a unique find for this region in Poland.

The copper blade is four inches long and dates to the third millennium B.C.E., before the development of bronze metallurgy in the region. Experts suspect that the copper dagger did not originate in Poland, but actually came from the Carpathian Basin or Ukrainian steppe. At the time, the technology surrounding tool making was undergoing a dramatic transition.

“In the third millennium B.C., objects made of copper were extremely rare in these areas,” Sieradzka-Burghardt noted.

“This is a period of enormous change in the main raw materials for the production of tools,” she explained, according to Heritage Daily. “Instead of flint tools commonly used in the Stone Age, more and more metal products appear heralding the transition to the next period — the Bronze Age.”

But not only is the copper dagger ancient and rare, but it also likely belonged to someone with a high status in society. As Heritage Daily notes, daggers of the era were normally owned by warriors, but this dagger’s composition and impressive size suggest that its owner likely had considerable social clout during their lifetime.

Still, questions about the dagger remain. Where exactly did it come from? How did it find its way to Poland, and who owned it there? The answers may be lost to time, but the copper dagger stands as a remarkable discovery — all the more remarkable since it was discovered by accident.

After reading about the 4,000-year-old copper dagger discovered by a metal detectorist in Poland, discover the story of Poland’s strange “crooked forest.” Or, learn about the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, one of the most astonishing underground cities in the world.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.