Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes
There were Viking swords 800 years ahead of their time, made of crucible steel. These blades bear a Frankish name, “Ulfbehrt.” It is unknown if this was the sword maker’s name or used in connection with crosses by the Vikings to invoke magic or like a coveted logo, such as Gucci or Apple is today. So prized were these swords that someone went to the trouble of making counterfeits. The difference? Well, the steel quality, primarily, but also the brand. Genuine Ulfbehrt swords are marked as follows: “+Ulfbehr+t.” The fake version has this mark, instead: “+Ulfbehrt+.” Modern metallurgists are puzzled by the existence of these weapons. A medieval swordsmith should not have been able to make such swords before the Industrial Revolution.
To put that notion to the test, a blacksmith in Wisconsin set out to recreate the blade using medieval technology. It took a lot of work, but he replicated the Ulfbehrt sword. Even so, he wondered where the ancient swordsmith could get the steel he used to make these superior blades. The leading hypothesis was that the steel originated in the Middle East and traveled into Europe via the Volga trade route. Viking traders could trade Nordic goods for steel. Whatever the origin, Ulfbehrt swords remain a remarkable testimony of workmanship, whether medieval or modern.
I should not be surprised that people esteem our ancestors as inferior to modern man. The prevailing thought is that ancient peoples were comparatively ignorant. Plus, they lacked our “superior technology.” Hence, as an example of ludicrously held beliefs, some say the ancient Egyptians must have needed extraterrestrials to help build the pyramids. No, the truth is the Egyptians were intelligent and figured it out on their own. If you go back to our recorded beginning, you will note men working with brass and iron just a few generations after Adam and Eve (Genesis 4.22). Some religious people, still unable to accept our brilliant ancestors, likewise make excuses that other heavenly visitors, the fallen angels, gave man such technologies as metallurgy. So, rather than Tubal-Cain, the apocryphal book of Enoch says that Azazel taught men how to make swords.
Yet, God created a being intelligent enough that at a few minutes old, not only could he ascertain his situation, that he lacked a helpmeet suitable to him, but could also provide names to all the animals (Genesis 2.18-20). Let us not forget, as the adage states, “With age comes wisdom.” Our primordial ancestors lived hundreds of years. That is hundreds of years of trial and error teachable to subsequent generations. And given that these early men and women were close to being “very good,” the status assigned to the initial creation by God (Genesis 1.31), why wouldn’t their IQ be likewise? If anything, if entropy applies to intelligence, as some suggest, perhaps WE are the ones running out of it?
So, the next time you are watching a documentary in which someone expresses surprise at the skill or intelligence demonstrated by the ancients, remember Tubal-Cain. Long before what archaeologists dubbed the “iron age,” he worked with iron. Why? Because God created us with the requisite intelligence.
Kliger, Isabelle. “The Secret Science behind the Viking Supersword ‘Ulfberht.’” Linde Stories, Linde, 22 Jan. 2018, linde-stories.com/the-secret-science-behind-the-viking-supersword-ulfberht/.