Archeologists in Spain have discovered a 5,000-year-old crystal dagger dating all the way back to prehistoric civilizations. Not only is the relic quite rare, but researchers believe its users hoped to access “magical powers” through wielding it, among other uses.
In the megalithic tomb of Montelirio tholos, located in southwestern Spain, researchers discovered a treasure trove of artifacts. Within it were 25 crystal arrowheads, a core for making the weapons, and most remarkable, a crystal dagger dating back as far as 3000 BCE.
According to My Modern Met, the dagger would’ve taken incredible skill to craft. It isn’t uncommon to find rock crystal such as this in the late prehistoric Iberian sites, but it’s the context of the tomb that sheds light on how the items were used.
The excavation itself took three years, from 2007 to 2010, and researchers finally published their findings in 2015.
Researchers say the placement of 25 bodies discovered inside the tomb is significant. The remains of several women were found seated in a circle near the remains of an individual who may have been a chief. Analysis also revealed that several females and at least one male died from ingesting poison.
Within the tomb were found broken pieces of gold blades and ivory objects, as well as “shrouds or clothes made of tens of thousands of perforated beads and decorated with amber beads.”
Researchers believe the crystal arrowheads were a ritual offering of some sort, due to their placement together in a cluster.
The 8.5-inch crystal dagger was discovered in a completely separate chamber, where it had been housed with an ivory hilt and sheath.
Due to the scarcity of crystal in the area, as well as the skill required to craft such a weapon, researchers believe that the dagger belonged to an individual in a position of power.
“The [crystal weapons] probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time period,” researchers wrote. “On the other hand, rock crystal must have had a symbolic significance as a raw material invested with special meanings and connotations. The literature provides examples of societies in which rock crystal and quartz as raw materials symbolize vitality, magical powers, and a connection with ancestors.”
The exact purpose of the crystal dagger and the other crystal weapons remain a mystery. However, it’s clear that this discovery offers unprecedented insight into prehistoric cultures.
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