Bronze swords made from copper and tin aren't the most robust of weapons, and cannot be repaired easily. This has led to some uncertainty about whether weapons like swords, shields, and arrows made from these materials can survive battles. Some even claim that these weapons were used in celebrations, not in clashes.
An international team including researchers from the UK, Germany, and China has put an end to this uncertainty by creating seven middle to late Bronze Age swords using traditional methods, then tested them out in a simulated historic battle in which ancient bronze swords were used.
By analyzing the marks and indents left on the weapons by the mock battles, and comparing them with a study of 110 ancient Bronze Age swords (3000 BC – 1200 BC) found across Great Britain and Italy, the team was able to show that these weapons weren't just ceremonial items. The team announced their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.
This isn't the first study to explore the use of such weapons in wars, but it is the first to support its hypothesis with mock battles in which the researchers highlighted how combat marks got left on weapons, how swords would've been held in battle, and even the sorts of body areas that fighters would've aimed for.
What's more, by looking at differences between sword wear and tear across the centuries, the researchers were able to map out evolution in sword fighting, an early battling method across Britain and Italy.
In a report published on the Science Alert website, Archaeologist and Senior Author Barry Molloy from City University College Dublin in Ireland said: "One limitation of the study is the fact that we still know so little about how people fought in the Bronze Age. For the battle experiments, we recreated medieval (5th to 15th century CE) battles, as these are the techniques best described in the literature."
"It's hard to know whether the tests performed were accurate representations of how the blades would have been used, but at least we were able to demonstrate that bronze weapons were skillfully used in wars," he added.
PUKmedia/ Asharq Al-Awsat