The dagger which Odysseus shows his weapons training group, in Chapter 8 of Murder at Mykenai, is very similar to a real dagger which was probably found on Ithaka and dates from Odysseus’s time. The original weapon is in the British Museum. Here it is:
Finding out about this dagger was one of the more exciting research adventures I experienced while writing the book. Years ago I was trawling the internet, looking for Greek Bronze Age weapons, when I found a replica Bronze Age sword blank on an armoury site. I printed the page out, filed it and forgot about it.
When I wrote Chapter 8, I wanted a prototype for the dagger Odysseus had made, and I found the printout amongst a pile of other stuff and decided to use it, even though it was a sword, not a dagger. More years went by, and it was only when Murder had already gone off to the printers that I went looking for the original armoury site, Albion, hoping for a good-quality image for my website. This is what they sent me (the sword I copied is the one on the top).
They no longer make the sword, but more trawling led me to a blog written by someone who had bought the blank and – just as Odysseus had done – finished the blade,
I was staggered to find out that the original prototype for the sword was actually a dagger – Albion had lengthened it – and that I could find the real one in the British Museum. Here’s a picture of the dagger again, in real life and as a drawing, the rough casting opf the Albion sword, and the finished sword.
So the dagger I invented was an actual dagger after all. Maybe it really was Odysseus’s dagger! How scary is that?
Then the most amazing thing of all happened – the blogger decided to sell the sword. I bought it and it now lives beside my computer, in case I need inspiration while writing a battle scene.