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Title: Metal, Swords, and Birds. A Myth Spanning Time, Place, and Cultures


Kucypera, Paweł

Date issued/created:


Resource type:



Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae. Fasc. 30 (2017)


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Polish Academy of Sciences ; Polish Academy of Sciences. Łódź Branch

Place of publishing:



ill. ; 29 cm

Type of object:



During the late 1950s, a discovery of precipitates interpreted as nitrides in the structure of Iron Age iron objects led to the forming of a hypothesis, in which deliberate nitriding of iron in the distant past was implied. The allegedly purposeful introduction of nitrogen to form compounds with iron was linked to the Þiðriks saga. There, in a fragment devoted to the making of the sword Mimming, Velent the smith feeds domestic fowl with filings from a ground down blade, which he later picks up from the birds’ droppings and reforges into a new weapon of superior quality and performance. Bafflingly, this seemingly unbelievable story appears in faraway lands, in different time periods. The paper presents the context and circumstances of the occurrence of this myth and provides a technological commentary.


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Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae



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oai:rcin.org.pl:63759 ; doi:10.23858/FAH30.2017.005


IAiE PAN, call no. P III 348 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P III 349 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P III 368 ; click here to follow the link



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Copyright-protected material. May be used within the limits of statutory user freedoms

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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Projects co-financed by:

Ministry of Science and Higher Education ; Activities popularizing science (DUN)



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Apr 9, 2021

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Nov 27, 2017

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