Ancient sword China
A bronze Shang dynasty sword. This image is for illustration purposes only. Huhan Provincial Museum

A Chinese boy has found a 3,000-year-old bronze sword in a river in China's Jiangsu Province.

Yang Junxi, 11, discovered the sword while he was playing near the banks of Laozhoulin River, in Linze Township, Xinhua news agency reported.

While Yang was washing his hands in the river, he touched something hard. When he extracted the object, he realised it was an ancient sword.

Yang brought the sword home and gave it to his father. After the news spread in the village, dozens of people visited Yang's house, with some offering large amounts of money to buy the relic.

However, Yang's father sent the sword to the Gaoyou Cultural Relics Bureau, where a team of cultural relics experts found that the artefact could be dated back to more than 3,000 years ago, around the time of the Shang and Zhou dynasties.

"There was no characteristic or decorative pattern on the exquisite bronze sword," said Lyu Zhiwei, head of the bureau's cultural relics office. "Made in a time of relatively low productivity, its owner would have been an able man with the qualification to have such artefact.

"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."

He added that the city has conducted several rounds of dredging in the river, which might have caused the sword to surface from the bottom of the river.

The sword is the second bronze artefact found in the region, after a bronze instrument was discovered in the nearby Sanduo Township.