Vittoria Dall’Armellina was a PhD candidate at Ca’ Foscari University in 2017 when she realized that a sword at the Saint Lazarus monastery was mislabeled by thousands of years.
Dall’Armellina, who specializes in Bronze Age weaponry, said that a 17-inch metal sword spotted near the end of a guided tour at the monastery “immediately” caught her attention, CNN reported Wednesday.
The sword had been labeled as being from the Middle Ages, but after two years of research, Dall’Armellina confirmed that the artifact actually dates back as far as 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest weapons ever found, according to CNN.
Elena Rova, the professor who supervised Dall’Armellina’s research, told CNN that she was “a bit skeptical” at first when her student told her she thought it was older than labeled.
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“I had visited the monastery several times throughout the years and never noticed the sword,” Rova said, calling Dall’Armellina’s finding “unbelievable.”
The sword now has its own display at the monastery, which is currently closed amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Dall’Armellina and Rova worked with the monastery’s archival researcher, Father Serafino Jamourlian, to determine the sword’s history.
By searching through the monastery’s archives, the researchers were able to find that sword came from Turkey to Italy in 1886 as part of a shipment from Yervant Khorasandjian, a civil engineer in the Ottoman Empire.
Jamourlian told CNN that he believes the sword was a “a gift of thankfulness” from Khorasandijian to Father Ghevont Alishan, who had been his principal at school in Paris in the late 1800s and died in Saint Lazarus monastery.
This idea was corroborated by correspondences found in the monastery’s archives between Father Minas Nurikhan and Father Alishan, CNN reported.
Dall’Armellina said that Jamourlian’s research and chemical analysis on the sword brought her initial hunch “full circle.”