2,300-Year-Old Sword Unearthed in China is Still Sharp
Wait until those people pushing the razor-blades-by-mail-club hear about this! Archeologists examining a 2,300-year-old tomb in China found a sword covered in mud but still in its original scabbard. When they unsheathed it, the sword shined like new and cut like it has just been sharpened. Imagine what a razor with five blades like this one would feel like on your face or legs!
Researchers from the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology discovered the sword in late December 2016 inside a tomb in Xinyang, China. Buried inside a wooden coffin presumably with its owner, the archeologists dated the sword to China’s Warring States period from around 475 to 221 BCE. During that aptly-named time, at least eight states between Beijing and Shanghai were at war and the man in the coffin was most likely a warrior for one of them.
The double-edged straight bronze sword is called a jian and would have been one of the first swords used for warfare in China. Less than a meter in length, jians were made with high-tin hard bronze for the cutting edges and low-tin flexible bronze for the spine. They were often coated with copper sulfides to prevent corrosion. The sharp edges and shiny surfaces were also protected by the fact that tomb was humid and sealed tightly from outside air. Bronze doesn’t rust and the lack of outside air prevented tarnishing.
Who did the sword belong to? The archeologists found no name but the style of the tomb suggested this was a family burial place for “affluent people” or “aristocrats.” A poem in the tomb referred to a “loyal general” who had died but his sword was still “glittering.”
Will burying your razor blades in a simulated Chinese warrior’s tomb keep them sharp for thousands of years – or at least a few weeks? That will work about as well as keeping them in a pyramid. Also, today’s razors are made with stainless steel, not bronze.
However, it would be interesting to see if that 2,300-year-old blade shaved like a sharp straight razor. Perhaps one of the archeologists could be persuaded to try it in return for a lifetime membership in the Dollar Shave Club.