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A mysterious Chinese sword over 2700 years old has somehow retained its sharpness after all these years and is showing minimal signs of tarnish or degradation.
Experts are unsure for certain as to how the sword of Goujihan, displayed at the Hubei Provincial Museum, has retained its brilliance over two and a half thousand years after it’s creation.
The sword is made of copper and tin and was discovered during a series of archaeological digs beginning in October 1965 in Jiangling County, after over fifty tombs containing individuals from the Chu State were discovered. The sword was found alongside 2000 other artifacts from the site but stood out immediately after archaeologists noticed it’s excellent condition.
The front line of his troops were criminals sentenced to death
Chemical analysis of the blade has revealed that the balance of different materials in the making of the sword have likely contributed to its condition, as did the scabbard which was near air tight. The fact that it is in such phenomenal condition and still retains a sharp edge, however, is very unusual.
Having been submerged under water for over 2000 years, the sword once unsheathed from its wooden scabbard was found to be remarkably untarnished. It was found alongside an unidentified corpse now thought to be a king of the time.
Along the blade of the sword are two lines of inscriptions which took experts some time to translate fully. Initial studies were able to identify six of the eight characters, which are written in a variant of the ancient bird-worm character set. This left experts with the original translation of: “Possession of King of Yue, for personal use”
This left the question of which king of Yue the sword had belonged to as there were nine kings in the period between the state’s sovereignty in 510 BC and its possession by the Chu in 334 BC. The remaining two characters, however, were not so easy to decipher but were later agreed upon to represent Goujian, identifying the sword’s original owner.
The full translation now reads: “Possession of King Goujian of Yue, made for his personal use.”
King Goujian (勾踐) was known as a great general who lead his armies to conquer the rival state of Wu sometime around 470BC. He was also renown for scaring his enemies by having the front line of his troops, who were criminals sentenced to death, decapitate themselves in front of the enemy.