Israeli archaeologists led by Avi Eitan, director of Israel’s Department of Antiquities, have discovered a sword with a blade of tempered, carburized iron—a primitive form of steel. The meter-long sword was unearthed just south of the modern city of Jericho and dates back to the late seventh century B.C., possibly to the reign of King Josiah, whose ministry ended eleven years before Lehi began to prophesy.
Though swords of this size from Assyria are pictured on wall reliefs, this weapon is the only complete sword of its size and type yet discovered from the first temple period (which ended 587 B.C.). The three-foot-long sword is badly damaged, but the tempered iron tip, the bronze shaft, and pieces of the wooden grip survive intact.
The find demonstrates that the Jews had the ability to make or the means to obtain sophisticated weaponry. It thus helps to authenticate historical and scriptural records that refer to steel weapons.
Said Nephi of Laban’s sword at about 600 B.C.: “I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.” (1 Ne. 4:9.)