Crystal skull? Pah. That pales in comparison to what a group of archaeologists have found at a 5,000 year old tomb in southern Spain.

Sometimes you meet an artefact that is so striking, so unusual, that you can barely believe it’s real. This 5,000 year old crystal dagger is definitely one of them, but it is real… and it’s not even the only one!

Archaeologists in Spain spent three years excavating the Dolmen del Montelrio – a megalithic tomb near Seville. The monument, built with slate, extends nearly 44m in total and contains at least 25 individuals buried inside its many chambers – each with an extraordinary collection of grave goods.

In one chamber, archaeologists found a young man with clothes made of tens of thousands of beads, a set of 23 flint blades, an elephant tusk laid above his head, and numerous ivory objects. The whole lot (including his body) had been sprayed with a red pigment made from cinnabar.

But the most striking artefact is by far and away the cache of exquisite crystal weapons, including a dagger, some arrowheads, several blades and a few cores.

Cache of rock crystal arrowheads from Montelrio.

The arrowheads have the characteristic barbs of flint arrowheads from the area – but investigators remarked that even greater skill must have been required to produce these unique features when using rock crystal.

Together, they form part of “the most technically sophisticated and aesthetically impressive collection of rock crystal material culture ever found in Prehistoric Iberia“.

You can read more about their discoveries in The allure of rock crystal in Copper Age southern Iberia, published in Quaternary International.

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Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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