Internet Public Perception of Sword Find

Monday’s entry about the Djurhamn sword rocketed up the lists at the social bookmarking sites, and so Wednesday became the best day for traffic ever here at Aard. On an average day in the third quarter of this year, the blog saw about 650 unique visitors. For Wednesday, the number was 52,200. Someone to whom I owe thanks submitted the entry to Digg — under the heading “Offbeat News”, the section for entertainingly shaped carrots and blurry phonecam clips of poor dear Britney Spears’ genitalia.

Looking at sites that linked to the entry, I soon found with some amusement that the whole thing was being received in quite another way than the one in which I saw it myself. To my mind, it’s “Archaeologist Makes Rare and Illuminating Find”. But the archaeologist bit got lost almost immediately. The reported date of the find started to vary alarmingly, and a number of commentators appeared to believe that the mention of Djurhamn referred to the sword’s type instead of the find locality, that is, what had been found was “a Djurhamn sword”. In many readers’ perception, what had happened was that some dude with a metal detector had stumbled upon a cool sword and would probably make a fortune off it on eBay.

People apparently don’t think of the metal detector as an instrument used by scientists. Statistically, they are of course right: most detectorists are amateurs. And the entry is linked to by scads of web forums for detectorists and reenactors.

  • Unknown Highway (“… a strange journey into the offbeat, fringe areas of the Internet!”): “Metal Detector Dude Finds 16th Century Sword. Photos of an early-16th century sword unearthed from the depths.”

  • Clicked: “Using a metal detector this guy found a buried sword from the early 1600s. Following the headline, I was relieved to find that it’s not one of those ‘news of the weird’ stories about a retiree zig-zagging the beach at sunset. It’s an archaeology blog and the sword was found in a forest that used to be an active harbor.”
  • American Relic Hunters: “I’d have loved to see this guys chicken dance.”
  • SwordArts: “A Little Luck And A Metal Detector, yields 500 year old sword”
  • Digg:
    • “give it a month or so and im sure itll be on ebay”
    • “damn thats cool. i wanna find a kickass old sword. and then make a replica of it and put them side by side so you can see a before and after type thingy”
    • “This is why Europe is awesome: you can find f*cking swords in your f*ucking backyard.That is all.”
    • “someone is gunna be rich!. Good on him.”
    • “Oh dude Blizzard already put this sword into WoW, I think it’s the best one yet.”
    • “sick. did it say how much it was worth in there?”
    • “See OldPeople Still have a important things to do other then going 40mph on the freeway when the limit is 75mph”
  • Treasure Hunting: “A 16th Century Djurhamn sword was found by a man and his metal detector on August 30th, and now they’ve gathered a team and have managed to excavate it.”
  • Le Douche: “Some guy found this sword by using a metal detector around Harbour of the Sheaf Kings in Sweden.”
  • Viva la Revolution: “This dude geeking out with his metal dector and ends up finding a sword. Not just any sword. Its a sword that is over 300 years old.”
  • DrugMonkey: “Now this is one reason why science blogging is cool. Check that, this is why being a scientist is cool. I don’t care what your discipline, if you don’t get a little excited just reading about this discovery there is something wrong with you…”

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Comments

  1. #1 kai
    October 6, 2007

    OK, at the next blogmeet I want to see you do the chicken dance :-D

  2. #2 Mattias Niord
    October 6, 2007

    Oh, I do envy your fame now, Martin! Throw of that cloak of pacifism! Hire a blacksmith to make a replica of the sword and come and do some 16th-century re-enacting with me!
    And yes, make two version, one sharp or semi-sharp for living history and one blunted for re-enactment fighting!

    Words cannot describe the beauty and simplicity of that sword desgin. Must have been King Gustavs only true moment of good taste when he ordered that design. The weapon nerd inside me just…WANT that sword!
    Phew! What a wave of emotions!

    With the voice of Darth Vader:
    “Come over to the Dark side, Martin! You know you want too…”

  3. #3 John McKay
    October 6, 2007

    And here I had you pegged as a young punk. You look pretty good for an old metal detector dude.

  4. #4 paddy
    October 6, 2007

    Sounds like most of these comments came from the US. You can always tell when comments come from Americans:

    1 – They talk about “Europe” as if it were one country
    2 – They can’t spell

  5. #5 blf
    October 6, 2007

    Not any old metal detector dude, but an old chicken dancing metal detector dude (OCDMDD?)!

    At least none of the (quoted) articles claimed our favourite OCDMDD found the sword by drowsing!

    But, inquiring minds want to know, did OCDMDD dance his dance after the sword was uncovered?

  6. #6 Martin R
    October 6, 2007

    Matti, you know I’m an evil man.

    Blf, I don’t think I danced or shouted when I found the thing, but I seem to recall speaking to myself, something along the lines of “Well, I’ll be damned, haha!”.

  7. #7 Felicia Gilljam
    October 6, 2007

    OldPeople? Some guy geeking it out? This is just great. “liek, omg, this dude found a awesome sword. i went to his blog but its 2 hard 2 spel and i didnt get much. still cool tho!!1!”

  8. #8 Martin R
    October 6, 2007

    A lot of those comments sound like Beavis & Butthead to me. “Hurh hurh, he said ‘sword’, hurh hurh”.

  9. #9 Heathen Dan
    October 6, 2007

    So, ahem, how much will it really go for in eBay? You know, archeology research can be expensive. Hehehe ;)

  10. #10 Denis Vlasov
    October 7, 2007

    Well said on this comments, Martin! hurh, hurh…

  11. #11 coturnix
    October 8, 2007

    Blogging Social Sciences and Humanities. Oh, humanity!

  12. #12 Martin R
    October 8, 2007

    Exactly! Our disciplines will never be true sciences until we get all the people out of our data!

  13. #13 Katarina
    October 8, 2007

    Helt otroligt vilken genomslag detta fått på nätet –
    känner mig smått delaktig och en sann sword enthusiast. Hoppas vi ses i fler gropar fram?…
    Katarina

  14. #14 Arch Asa
    October 8, 2007

    Just when I’ve almost gotten my wind up defending the world of bloggers against the petty-minded onslaught of so-called journalists (who pay their rent by writing speculative stories about Idol-contestants no one has heard of and even less care about) – I see this…

    “Some dude”
    Googling the original story takes all of 0.023 sec moron!

    “The sword was almost 300 years old”.
    Please remove yourself from the internet until you’ve mastered first grade math.

    But on the bright side, Martin has succeeded in doing what Iron Age geeks only dream about: actually name a type of object or style. From hereon, they must all be known as Djurhamn type swords.
    Even cooler than naming a new subspecies of beetle…

  15. #15 Martin R
    October 9, 2007

    Katarina, yes, this certainly got people’s attention! I look forward to crouching in more pits with you.

    sa, I can come over any time you like and name your & Fredrik’s kitchen gear, stroller, bath tub, doormat… (-;

  16. #16 Katarina
    October 9, 2007

    Apparently Swedish is not the optimal language for this blog. So I have to get used to communicate without using our dear special swedish letters. Anyway – I love the way things are developing in this matter. Just imagine next time anyone in the worl is making a find of a typical “djurhamn sword”…wouldn?t that be nice…