Graduate Student Discovers One of World’s Oldest Swords in Mislabeled Monastery Display

Just weeks after a team of German researchers announced that an archaeology intern had unearthed a spectacular, 2,000-year-old Roman dagger in North Rhine-Westphalia, headlines are touting another student-led discovery centered on one of the oldest swords ever found.

Italian archaeologist Vittoria Dall’Armellina stumbled upon the blade in a monastery-turned-museum during her tenure as a graduate student at Venice’s Ca’ Foscari University in 2017. Billed in its display as medieval—perhaps several hundred years old at most—the sword struck Dall’Armellina, an expert in Bronze Age artifacts, as something far more ancient.

“I was pretty sure of the antiquity of the sword,” Dall’Armellina tells Live Science’s Tom Metcalfe in an email.

Housed at a monastery on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, the blade boasted a distinctive shape that reminded the young archaeologist of some of the oldest swords known to humankind, which date back to around 3,000 B.C. and were recovered from sites in western Asia. To confirm her suspicions, Dall’Armellina and her colleagues spent the next two years tracing the artifact’s origins back in time through a series of monastic archives.

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