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This 3,500-Year-Old Dagger Made a Really Great Doorstop

One man’s doorstop is another man’s rare, ancient artifact

The ancient artifact was found in a field and used as a doorstop for years before being identified as a rare ceremonial dirk. (Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery)
smithsonian.com

Sometimes, history is in plain view. Especially if you're using an ancient artifact as a doorstop.

The History Blog reports that a farmer in Norfolk, England, unearthed a bent piece of bronze while plowing a field. He put it to work as a doorstop, and it served that purpose for more than a decade. Eventually, the farmer started thinking about getting rid of the four-pound thing. But a friend convinced him to ask an archaeologist about its origins before consigning it to the local dump.

That’s where things get interesting—because the farmer's doorstop wasn’t trash at all. Experts have identified the piece as “the Rudham Dirk," a bronze ceremonial dagger dating from 1,500 B.C.

“Bending a metal object as a symbolic act of destruction before burial was a common practice in the Bronze Age,” notes the History Blog. These ceremonial dirks were prestige pieces, used specifically for rituals. Historians think that the dirk may have been made by the same artisan who created the five other dirks known to exist in the world—evidence of both ancient artistry and complex trade.

Now the dirk has a new home at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, which bought the farmer’s hunk of junk for over $64,000. (Similar pieces have sold for up to $75,000 at auction.) And what of the farmer? He'll join the annals of people who have turned seemingly commonplace finds into big bucks—enough to give anyone pause before tossing a piece of so-called trash.

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