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Audio guide: Iron sword

Audio guide stop: 2204

Crowdsourced transcription of the audio file

An iron sword
An iron sword
Creative Commons Licence

This sword dates from the sixth century BCE and was excavated from a tomb at Tamassos in central Cyprus. Julie Dawson of the Museum's Antiquities department evokes something of its past splendour and describes what we see today.

'It's obviously a weapon that's intended for slashing rather than thrusting straight into somebody, and you can see the midrib here for strengthening it for taking blows.

If you look quite hard at the paler brown areas up the blade, you can actually see where there are remains of the wooden scabbard, and underneath that, this rather syrupy layer, which almost certainly is deteriorated leather.

But really the magnificent workmanship of this piece is actually when you get up to the hilt, and what you're seeing there, or the paler parts that you can see on the hilt, are actually ivory.

It would have been laid in sheets across the hilt and then held in place with copper rivets, or more likely bronze rivets. You can see hints of the lilac colour and possibly even a little bit of the silver, so you have to imagine when it was first made, this was a sort of gleaming cream and silver top to this object.

So it looks pretty awful now, but once upon a time this would have been a truly fantastic piece of workmanship.'

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The transcription of the audio file for this stop was enabled by the AHRC funded crowd-sourcing platform MicroPasts. The below generously gave their time to transcribe the file.

Katherine Barnes, Elena Doran, Terence Gould, Adi Levin and Louisa de Gooijer

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