Bronze Age Dagger - SOLD 14" Showcase Dagger
Bronze Age Dagger - SOLD 14" Showcase Dagger
Over 3,000 years ago, the Ancient Mediterranean was filled with vibrant cultures and kingdoms. These groups engineered new technologies, explored the world, and facilitated vast networks of trade. Then, in only half a century, political and economic turmoil spread through the region, bringing about the Bronze Age collapse.
This specimen is a one-of-a-kind, 14-inch Bronze Age dagger that dates to the 12th century BCE.
A Weapon of the Bronze Age
For 2,000 years, the eastern Mediterranean was home to a series of sophisticated cultures and complex trade routes. Then, in the late 12th century BCE, empires and kingdoms from Greece to Egypt collapsed in a rapid wave of famine, political upheaval, and war. Known today as the Late Bronze Age Collapse, the cause of this catastrophic event remains a matter of debate.
The Mycenaeans were one such culture, an ancient Greek kingdom that flourished from 1750 BCE to their fall in 1050 BCE. Their diverse culture produced the earliest records of written Greek, figures of the Olympic pantheon, and cultivated trade across the Mediterranean.
This specimen is a one-of-a-kind, complete, 14-inch Bronze Age dagger that dates to the 12th century BCE.
The bronze dates back 3,000 years into the history of the Mediterranean. In this time, the copper-tin alloy was crucial to trade and craftsmanship, as iron smelting techniques had not yet become widespread.
This item was first acquired along with material for the Second Edition of the Mini Museum. We are excited to now offer it as a fantastic showcase specimen!
The dagger comes with a certificate of authenticity and we have paired it with a beautiful, handmade olive-wood stand made by an artist in Ukraine.
A piece like this does not appear often and we hope it will make a fantastic addition to your collection!
"Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter." - Homer, the Illiad
MORE ABOUT the bronze age
📸 A Mycenaean fresco
Behind the Bronze Age Collapse
Contemporary accounts document repeated attacks by “Sea Peoples,” a loosely affiliated group of outside invaders that menaced the Mediterranean world. However, there is a more nuanced view of these events. More recent studies have questioned the violent perception of these groups, suggesting that they were in fact migrants fleeing areas affected by famine induced by dramatic climate change and war.
In fact, the “Sea Peoples” narrative may have been a work of propaganda by the collapsing regimes. In reality, a cooling climate triggered massive crop failures that dominoed into a wider political crisis. The kingdoms that ruled the known world fell in a short period of a few decades, leaving behind ample evidence of the violence that came at the end of their rule.
The Mycenaeans (1750-1050 BCE)
The Mycenaeans were one such culture, an early Greek civilization that disappeared with the end of the Bronze Age. They left behind an abundant amount of weapons: swords, spears, and nimble daggers. Weapons such as these were not simply instruments of war—Mycenaean daggers were often ornate works of art, with metal inlays of precious metals.
Floral rosettes decorated the surface of the daggers while gold, silver, and niello, a metallic mixture, traced dramatic scenes imprinted on the metal. Many of these specimens are known from the shaft graves of Mycenae, with these daggers depicting hunting scenes, great battles, and simple pastoral vistas.
As the Bronze Age came to its cataclysmic end, these decorative flourishes vanished from Greek swords, replaced by utilitarian weapons free of ornamentation.
📸 Thetis and her son Achilles
The Trojan War
In the songs of the Iliad, Homer tells a tale of war between the Mycenaeans and the Trojans. The scene painted on this urn depicts the sea nymph Thetis giving her son Achilles weapons forged by the god Hephaestus. The urn, which is housed in the Louvre, dates to 550 to 575 BCE, or roughly 600 to 700 years after the supposed timeline for the Trojan War.
Whether the Trojan War took place as written is still a matter of debate among scholars. What is clear is that the mysterious and rapid Late Bronze Age Collapse speaks to the fragility of human relations and civilization itself.
Allen, Susan Heuck. Finding the Walls of Troy: Frank Calvert and Heinrich Schliemann at Hisarlik. Univ of California Press, 1999.
Cline, Eric H. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Princeton University Press, 2014
Drake BL. The Influence of Climatic Change on the Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Greek Dark Ages. Journal of archaeological science. 2012;39(6):1862-1870. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2012.01.029
Hampe R, Simon E. The Birth of Greek Art, from the Mycenaean to the Archaic Period. Oxford University Press; 1981.