Unique Celtic sword discovered by archaeologists in East Bohemia

Photo: Czech Television

Archaeologists from East Bohemia have announced a unique discovery. While surveying the site of a former Celtic oppidum in the village of České Lhotice near the town of Chrudim, they came across a number of iron artefacts, including a sword dating back to the 2nd or 1st century B.C.

The discovery of the unique, 2000-year-old sword was made by archaeologists from the Vysoké Mýto Regional Museum already at the end of May. In order to prevent the site from being damaged by illegal use of metal detectors, they only made the announcement this Thursday.

Archaeologist David Vích:

“The grassy area which is located near the oppidum had recently been ploughed up and we used the occasion to survey the place using metal detectors. Our search yielded a collection of iron artefacts, including arrow spikes and fragments of buckles.

“The most significant discovery we made was a sword made in the late La Tène culture. It is a double-bladed weapon with a blunt tip and a rib in the middle of the blade.”

David Vích,  photo: Czech Television

The handle of the sword was likely made from wood or leather, but unlike the metal part of the weapon, it hasn’t survived to this day.

According to Mr Vích, the discovery of a sword dating to this era is very unusual. While the early Celts used to bury their dead with items next to their bodies to prepare them for the afterlife, they later started to burn the deceased on a pyre, leaving no traces.

“During the late La Tène culture, Celts started to bury people without leaving any archaeological traces. And without graves, you can hardly find any burial items.”

“Finding weapons from the late La Tène culture is very unique, unlike from the previous centuries, when Celts buried their deceased in graves. Weapons dating to that era are discovered quite frequently.”

How the iron sword ended up buried in the ground will probably remain a mystery. According to Mr. Vích it could have been linked to a ritual sacrifice.

The oppidum in the village of České Lhotice is one of the seven Celtic settlements discovered on the territory of the Czech Republic, and the only one located in East Bohemia.

“The oppidum in České Lhotice is not as well-known as the other Celtic settlements. Excavations took place here mainly in the 1970s and then at the start of the new millennium.

“The artefacts discovered here include some ten bronze and ten glass objects and a few items made from metal, so the collection is not that extensive.

“That’s why we really welcomed the new discovery, which can shed some light on the life of the local community.”

All the previous discoveries made in the 1970s are deposited in the Chrudim Regional Museum. After being analysed and x-rayed, the newly discovered items will join the existing collections.