The Ancient Sword of Goujian, discovered over 60 years ago, is perhaps one of the rarest and most unusual weapons found by archaeology.
Its inexplicable workmanship and the condition in which it was found 2,500 years after it was forged are the reason why today it is a national treasure of China and one of the most important discoveries from the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history.
1. The Sword is undamaged with no signs of rust on it
The striking condition of the sword over 2500 years after it was forged was what made it such a significant discovery. How could it be possible that a blade would not have a single mark of rust after millennia in a wooden box?
2. The sword is razor-sharp as if it is brand new
What are the chances for a blade to be razor-sharp after thousands of years? Little, especially if it has ever been in use. Well, the Sword of Goujian had such sharp edges that it cut an archaeologist who tested the sharpness of its edges.
3. It is decorated with blue and turquoise crystals
Besides its obvious killing potential thousands of years later, the most striking feature of the sword is its decoration. It is apparent that the sword was made for a king but historians have been wondering who had such wealth to commission such a masterpiece.
4. It is debatable to which King it belonged
The markings on the sword revealed that it was made by the King of Yue for his personal use but the last two characters have been subject to debates. The archaeologists took months to reach an agreement about the most plausible King from this period that could have issued and owned the sword.
The final conclusion was that it was one of the most famous rulers of Ancient China – Goujian.
5. A workman damaged the sword in 1994
As a historical artifact, the sword was loaned for exhibitions and during one such loan to Singapore, a workman accidentally hit the sword and caused a minor crack.
As you can probably guess, it caused a major outrage in China and lead to the final forbiddance for the sword to leave the country. It has not been loaned to exhibitions out of China since then.
6. The craftsmanship behind it is far superior to most from the later periods in history
Researchers have been able to identify the combination of metals used in the forging of the sword through the use of modern technology.
It appears that the ancient Chinese craftsmen had an incredible knowledge of weaponry and were able to combine the proper metals to enhance the properties of each section of their blades.
For instance, they used copper for the body of the sword which made it stronger and less likely to shatter. The tin used for the edges is the main reason why it remained razor-sharp although it would be unlikely if it was used in battle.
And finally, researchers found sulfur in the composition which is what protected it from tarnish and rust.
7. The condition of the sword suggests it was never used in battle
Now again, even the greatest craftsmanship cannot protect a sword from the damage of a fight. All you need is the tiniest bit of knowledge of forging and you would know that a few powerful blows are, in most cases, enough to damage the edge of a sword.
Knowing that the sword is absolutely undamaged, we could assume that the King never actually used it in battle. Such a theory would never get a proper answer but we can generally accept that it could have been commissioned as a sign of power instead of a weapon for battle.
8. It is shorter in length than most double-edged straight swords
Most double-edged straight swords of this kind are longer than the Sword of Goujian. It could be because it was made for the King or simply because it is one of the earliest swords of its kind.