Archaeologists find 1000-year-old Viking sword in the ancient city of Patara in Turkey

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As part of excavation works in the ancient city of Patara along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, archaeologists have uncovered an exceptional Viking sword, believed to be nearly 1,000 years old. Later renamed to Arsinoe, the region was once a thriving maritime city, situated on the south-west coast of Lycia close to the present-day village of Gelemiş in the Antalya Province. Speaking about the latest finding, Feyzullah Şahin, a member of the research team, said –

It is very difficult to determine how this Viking sword has come to Patara. However, this unearthed sword will shed new light on the history of the ancient city of Patara. Up until now, the only physical cultural remains that pointed to the existence of the Vikings on Anatolian geography was the Viking sword unearthed in 2010 at the Yumuktepe Mound. This is why [we believe that] the sword found at the Liman bathhouse in Patara is a Viking sword.

Dating back to around 7,000 BC, the original sword was discovered eight years back during digs in Turkey’s Mersin province. The newly-found one, however, is thought to be from the 9th or 10th century AD. The ancient blade, according to Şahin, is corroded and broken in many places. Measuring around 17 inches (43.2 centimeters) in length, the artifact sports an oval-shaped hilt.

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Read more: 10 Things You Should Know About Vikings And Their Warfare

Apart from that, the ‘pırazvana’ – essentially, the portion of the Viking sword that comes inside the holder’s grip – has a narrow shape, leading up to the ‘topuz’ or knob. The sword’s knob, as per the researchers, is single layered and is next to a flat guard situated on the handle’s upper side. Upon further inspection, the archaeologists also found traces on the sword blade which indicate that it might have been kept inside a wooden sheath. Şahin went on to state –

Based on this information, the sword dates from the 9th century or the first half of the 10th century. The sword may have belonged to a Vareg (Viking) soldier from the Byzantine Imperial Army that was trying to retake Crete from the Abbasis.  Alternatively, it may have belonged to the Varegs (Vikings) who were not in the service of the empire and who were trying to seize Constantinople (Istanbul).

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An Overview of Patara

Believed to have been founded by Patarus, the son of Apollo, the city of Patara housed a temple dedicated to Apollo during antiquity. Additionally, it served as the chief seaport of Lycia and was considered to be one of the major cities of the Lycian League. In circa 333 BC, all of Lycia – including Patara – came under the control of Alexander the Great.

However, post his death, it was taken over by Macedonian noblemen Antigonus and Demetrius during the Wars of the Diadochi. Eventually, it became a part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Under Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt, Patara underwent massive expansion and was later renamed to Arsinoe, after Ptolemaic queen Arsinoe II. Despite gaining freedom in circa 167 BC, the city continued to be subjected to a series of external invasions, starting with Mithridates IV in 88 BC and later at the hands of Brutus and Cassius. It was officially annexed to the Roman Empire in circa 43 AD as part of Pamphylia.

Earlier in 2016, goose hunters in Iceland stumbled across a 1000-year old legendary Viking sword. Showcasing a slightly curved profile, the metal of this well-preserved, double-edged blade, according to archaeologists, was corroded due to a millennium of rigorous exposure to outdoor elements.

Source/Image Credits: Hurriyet Daily News

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About the Author

Sukanya Mukherjee
With a master's degree in English Literature and several years of writing experience under her belt, Sukanya specializes in creating content particularly related to history, science, and technology. In the past, she worked as a business journalist at a reputable digital media company. Apart from being an avid fan of Victorian literature, she can found spending her free time baking and exploring the Great Himalayas!
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