August 11, 2009

4,000-year-old dagger found in Scotland

A gold-banded dagger still wrapped in an animal-skin sheath was found in a grave dating from the early Bronze Age, Scottish archaeologists said Tuesday.

Kenneth Brophy of the University of Glasgow said archaeologists were even more amazed by other objects in the grave, The Scotsman reported. These were organic materials preserved for 4,000 to 5,000 years, including a wooden bowl, a skin bag and bits of bark and remains of plants.

The high quality of preservation is of exceptional importance for understanding the centuries when metals were first introduced into Scotland, Brophy said.

Brophy is co-director of the Strathearn Environs & Royal Forteviot project, which is excavating the grave near Foreviot, a village in Perthshire.

Last week, a crane was used to remove the capstone of the tomb, allowing archaeologists to reach the grave. The tomb is believed to be that of an important chief.

Brophy called the dagger a spectacular and unusual find, saying it is better preserved than the few other Bronze Age daggers found in Scotland.