3,500-year-old sword at the Field Museum was mislabeled as 'replica' for 100 years

The Field Museum
A sword, now on display at the Field Museum, was long thought to be a replica. As it turns out, the artifact was actually a 3,500-year-old sword that dates back to the Bronze Age. Photo credit The Field Museum

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A Bronze Age sword, found 100 years ago in the Danube River in Budapest, was labeled as a replica when it was sent to the Field Museum.

As it turns out, that wasn't the case.

Curator of Anthropology Bill Parkinson said the artifact, which is now on display, is a 3,500-year-old sword that dates back to the Bronze Age — and a new analysis verified it as the real thing.

“It came in as part of a much larger group of artifacts, and some of them were real, and some of them were replicas,” Parkinson said. “So, here we are 100 years later, we thought it was a replica — turns out it’s the real deal.”

The museum was preparing for its “First Kings of Europe” exhibition, which will open in March and features artifacts from 11 Balkan countries, when Hungarian archaeologists working with Field Museum scientists asked to see what was thought to be a replica sword.

According to a press release, the group of scientists used an X-Ray fluorescence detector to compare the chemical makeup of the museum’s sword to other known Bronze Age swords in Europe. The content of bronze, copper, and tin were nearly identical.

“Oh, it was amazing. It was super exciting … what a great story, because it never goes that way.”

Parkinson said  experts tend to come through with a determination that an object thought to be real was, in fact, a fake.

Although the sword won’t be included in the “First Kings of Europe” exhibition, as the authentication came too late in the planning process, museum officials said the sword will be on display in the museum’s Stanley Field Hall through April 3.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: The Field Museum