Archaeologists Say 12th Century Sword Could Have Belonged To Russia’s Ivan The Terrible

Researchers in Siberia believe that they may have made a remarkable archaeological discovery: a centuries-old sword unearthed in Novosibirsk may well have belonged to Russian Czar, Ivan the Terrible.

The Siberian Times carried the story of the centuries-old sword this week, noting that it was initially discovered in 1975 by accident in the Novosibirsk region. The sword was found buried under a tree, and it has mystified archaeologists and scientists since its discovery.

What’s the mystery? The sword appears to have originally been made in central Europe, most likely in the Rhine basin of Germany. The markings on the blade, though, indicate that it was engraved in Sweden at some point. Topping it off, the sword apparently dates back to the late 12th or early 13th century.

So how did it wind up in Novosibirsk?

Siberian experts now believe that the sword – which features an ornate silver handle in addition to the detailed Norse rune engraving – may have been given as a gift to Ivan the Terrible some time in the 16th century. The sword then may have been taken into battle by the warrior Ivan Koltso as the Czar’s forces sought to conquer the region of Siberia.

ivan the terrible sword
Russia's Ivan the Terrible may once have owned this ancient sword.

The main inscription on the meter-long blade is an abbreviation: NMNStEtDSE on one side and CtIhCt on the other. Fully written out, the inscription would read: Nomine Matris Nostri Salvatoris Eterni Domini Salvatoris Eterni on the one side, and Christus Ihesus Christus on the other. Translated, the inscription would read “In the name of the mother of our savior eternal, eternal Lord and Savior. Christ Jesus Christ.

And just how did the blade come to rest under that tree? One researcher put forward a theory that Ivan Koltso might have carried the sword into battle as he sought to advance Russia’s empire. Koltso was ambushed and killed alongside 40 of his men, 18 months after he took the capital of the Siberian Khanate, and that could well have been when the intricate sword was dropped.

“Ivan’s leg is already in the stirrup,” archaeologist Vyacheslav Molodin posited to The Siberian Times, “and he is racing on the steppe… And then, suddenly, the sword falls out of the hands of the hero and drops to the ground under a young birch tree.”

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