Yang Junxi, an 11-year-old boy, discovered upon the rusty sword on July 2 when he was playing near the Laozhoulin River in Linze Township of Gaoyou County, according to the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau.
While washing hands in the river, Yang touched the tip of something hard and fished out the metal sword. He took it home and gave it to his father Yang Jinhai.
Upon hearing the news, people began flocking to Yang's home, the father said.
"Some people even offered high prices to buy the the sword, but I felt it would be illegal to sell the cultural relic," Yang said.
After considering his options, the father sent the sword to the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau on Sept. 3.
The bureau arranged initial identifications on the sword with a joint team of local cultural relics experts on the sword's material, length, shape and other major factors.
Initial identifications found the 26 cm-long yellow-brown sword could be dated back to more than 3,000 years ago, around the time of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, said Lyu Zhiwei, head of the cultural relics office of the bureau.
"There was no characteristic or decorative pattern on the exquisite bronze sword. Made in a time of relatively low productivity, its owner would have been an able man with the qualification to have such artifact," he said.
"The short sword seems a status symbol of a civil official. It has both decorative and practical functions, but is not in the shape of sword for military officers."
It is the second bronze artifact found in the region after a bronze instrument was excavated in the nearby Sanduo Township.
The sword was found in the Laozhoulin River, which crosses the ancient Ziying River which was excavated in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC).
It also interlinks the ancient Han Ditch as the "predecessor" of China's Grand Canal, the world's longest artificial waterway with a history of more than 2,400 years.
The 1,794-km canal runs from Beijing to Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang Province. It was entered into the World Heritage list in June 2014.
The city has conducted several rounds of dredging in the Laozhoulin River, which might surface the sword from the river bottom, said Lyu, adding that the township government has prepared a further archeological dig into the river and in the nearby areas.
The relics bureau and municipal museum of Gaoyou City have sent the collection certificates and bonus for the boy and his father in honor of their deeds of protecting and donating cultural relic.
Yi, Yang. 2014. “China Exclusive: Teenager stumbles on 3,000-year-old bronze sword in river”. Xinhua Net. Posted: September 6, 2014. Available online: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/sci/2014-09/06/c_133625745.htm