This Rare, Ancient Crystal Dagger Reminds Us of DUNE

To wield a crysknife in Dune is to make a statement. Fremen craft the dangerous weapons from the teeth of dead sandworms. And if one draws the sacred weapon, they cannot resheath it until it draws blood. All of that came to mind when we learned about the discovery of a 5,000 year old crystal dagger in Spain from The Daily Mail. Detailed in a published study from the Quaternary International in 2015, the eight-and-a-half-inch dagger was found in a tomb at the Tholos de Montelirio site. The dagger in and of itself isn’t unusual, but what it’s crafted from sets it apart: rock crystal.

Stone and flint typically comprise daggers and sharp points of this era. They’re common materials; our ancestors used them in ancient tools around the world. But rock crystal is unusual. Experts call the dagger and the other tools found with it “the most technically sophisticated and esthetically impressive collection of rock crystal material culture ever found in Prehistoric Iberia.”

An image of a crystal dagger

Quaternary International

The excavating team’s discoveries include the impressive crystal dagger as well as four shorter blades and ten arrowheads. A cache this large means the published paper will contribute hugely towards the study of the role of rock crystals in the Copper Age. And it’s not only about the creation of these tools and usage; it’s about what they symbolize.

Rock crystal tools rarely show up in digs from this era. Given that, only the elite likely utilized them. The published paper states, “It had a social significance due to the exoticism of the material and the fact that its transformation required very specific skills and probably some degree of technical specialization. These objects would have had a ‘surplus value’ based on the exoticism and rarity of the raw material, the techno-economic investment of their manufacture (a know-how limited to very few people) and their use linked to the world of beliefs and funerary practices.”

The presence of rock crystal could symbolize magical powers and vitality as well.

We know the crystal is transparent and not like the opaque ivory of sandworm teeth. However, we can still imagine Fremen wielding something like this in the deserts of Arrakis.

Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of The Jedi Mind, available now. Follow her on  Twitter and Instagram.

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