In 1965 a rare ancient sword was found in a tomb in China that was assessed to be over two thousand years old. But that wasn't the most impressive feature. Despite its grand age, the sword had not tarnished or rusted at all.
The blade was as sharp as the day it was forged and even cut the archaeologist's finger to prove the point. How could that be?
It was discovered in an airtight box in a damp tomb next to a skeleton. The sword was sheathed and found to be made from bronze with a high copper content, which means that it was less likely to shatter, with traces of other metals such as iron and lead. However, it also contained quite a lot of sulfide cuprum and it is this that made it rust resistant. The sharpness of the blade is down to the edge being covered with tin, which would also make it hard too.
The perfect condition allows us to see the finer details that have been lost on so many of the early swords found. There are two columns of text that can easily be read. They say that the sword was made for the personal use of Goujan, King of Yue. The handle is embedded with blue and turquoise glaze and the grip is bound with silk. What a specimen.
The Sword of Goujan is a double edged straight sword, a style known as 'Jian'. It is one of the earliest types of Chinese sword, dating from around 771 to 403 BC, and as such is closely linked to the ancient myths and Chinese folklore. It is considered as 'The Gentlemen of Weapons' and the most important out of the staff, spear and sabre.
It is to the Chinese what Excalibur is to us. Only the Sword of Goujan is solid, real and sharp. Very sharp.