Chinese archaeologists have discovered an elaborately-made sword, which they believe is 2,500 to 2,600 years old, in an ancient tomb in the eastern province of Jiangxi.
"It is reckoned as the oldest ever excavated in the country," said Xu Changqing, chief of the excavation team.
The well-preserved sword, some 50 centimeters long, is black, gold and bright red. "A dragon pattern was carved on both ends of the scabbard, and the middle part of the scabbard was decorated with two rows of a W-shaped design," said Xu.
"First Sword under Heaven"
Xu and his colleagues have dubbed it the "First Sword under Heaven" in keeping with other two heritage pieces called "First Mat under Heaven" and "First Fan under Heaven", both of which were unearthed from the same tomb.
Since the start of excavation work last January, at least 1,000 relics have been found in the ancient tomb, which was built in the late Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.). The findings include 47 coffins.
The archaeologists are studying the valuable artifacts in hopes of discovering who was buried there and what the relics reveal about the funerary culture of the period.
"First Fan under Heaven"
"First Mat under Heaven"
(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2008)