22 September 2020

 The medieval Vikings may not be exactly what we have always thought they were. (Ed.)

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DNA Study Investigates Viking Identities

Friday, September 18, 2020

Västergötlands Museum)


COPENHAGEN, DENMARK—Science Magazine reports that a team of researchers led by Eske Willerslev of the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen sequenced the genomes of people who lived in Scandinavia during the Viking Age, and the genomes of people who had been buried elsewhere in Europe, including Italy, Ukraine, and Greenland, in the Viking style or with Viking grave goods, from about A.D. 750 to 1050. The study suggests that Scandinavians were more likely to have black hair than those who live in the region today, and they rarely mixed with each other. “We can separate a Norwegian person from a Swedish person from a Danish person,” explained Søren Sindbæk of Aarhus University. The researchers also found that Vikings from Norway tended to travel to Ireland, Iceland, and Greenland; Vikings from Sweden traveled to the Baltics, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; and Vikings from Denmark headed to England. Several remains in Norway buried in the Viking style were found to have been indigenous Saami people, and no Scandinavian DNA was detected in the genomes of people buried in Viking-style graves on the Orkney Islands. But, some Vikings buried in Scandinavia had Irish and Scottish parents. “These identities aren’t genetic or ethnic, they’re social,” commented archaeologist Cat Jarman of the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. To read about investigations into the origins of the residents of a major Viking town in Sweden, go to "Land of the Ice and Snow."

IN THE CURRENT ISSUE

30 August 2020

Archaeology Student Finds Viking Trading Post in Norway

It has been a dry spell insofar as posts to this blog are concerned, but here's an excerpt from an article in Smithsonian Magazine to give you something to obsess about other than the worldwide CCP-19 (Chinese Communist Party)virus scam. (Ed.)

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Archaeology Student Finds Viking Trading Post in Norway

Artifacts unearthed at the site include jewelry, coins and pieces of silver

 

Artifacts found at the site include jewelry from Asia (left) and an inscribed weight possibly imported from Ireland. (Julie Holme Damman / Arctic University Museum of Norway / Tor-Ketil Krokmyrdal)

By Alex Fox

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM
JULY 24, 2020

 A graduate archaeology student has discovered a previously unknown Viking trading post in northern Norway, report Torgeir Skeie and Laila Lanes for Norwegian broadcast network NRK.

 As detailed in his newly published master’s thesis, Tor-Ketil Krokmyrdal of the University of Tromsø—the Arctic University of Norway used a metal detector to locate objects dated back to the Viking Age at the Sandtorg farm in Tjelsund, located between Harstad and Narvik.

Sandtorg farm in Tjelsund

Per David Nikel of Forbes, the artifacts include jewelry, coins and pieces of silver used as currency, as well as objects likely imported from the British Isles, Finland and mainland Europe.

Read more…

14 July 2020

The Baltic Finns were Vikings too, but the world ignores it

This excellent article excerpted from Estonian World focuses us on a largely ignored part of Viking history. The author points out that the word Viking is not an ethnicity, rather it is what they were called by others. We do not know what they called themselves, so the author is correct, Viking is not an ethnicity. It can be argued that the term should apply to all the seafaring people of the Baltic Seacoast. 

Assuming that Swedish and Finnish seafarers both have been referred to as Vikings, why not Finnic Estonia, after all that country is just across the narrow Baltic Sea from Sweden, and the area was no doubt part of the trade and pillaging routes followed by everybody from everywhere.

Männi is also correct in saying that archaeologists are not receptive to new ideas. Think how damaged their bloated opinions of themselves would be if they had to retract something, or correct something. Why the masses would then know that it was all guesswork anyway.

Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the author, Archaeologist Marian Männi, makes a good case that Estonia, at the least, should be included with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, and Poland, as being the Viking's homelands. (Ed.) 


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By Marian Männi / July 12, 2020 




The Estonian archaeologist, Marika Mägi, argues that the Baltic Finns – the people who lived in the territories of modern Finland and Estonia – were Vikings, too, but the world ignores this fact.

This article is published in collaboration with Research in Estonia.

A scientist’s long crusade for making the world see the hidden part of the Viking history. The Estonia and Denmark-based Tallinn University archaeologist, Marika Mägi, has spoken about the Viking Age sailors for many years, but still compares it with banging her “head against the wall”.

It is because she does not speak about the Norsemen, the Scandinavian Vikings, but the ones who lived a bit to the east, along the eastern Baltic Sea shores. And this is often uncomfortable to hear for other scientists and Viking experts, because it forces them to rethink their knowledge. If the world would accept the crucial role of the Baltic region in Viking communication, many stories would have to be retold and many knowledge gaps refilled. And that’s hard work. 

When Mägi points out that they missed a piece in the puzzle, her listeners politely nod and go on ignoring the region. Why make the effort?
The Baltic region, as usual, is seen like an empty void between Scandinavia and Russia.

But this is simply not the truth.



31 May 2020

1,000-Year-Old Buried Viking Ship Will be Raised!


Here is a follow-on article from Ancient Origins on the Viking ship burial found in Norway.

I posted the first article on this blog on the subject back in January, 2020.

Archaeologists and the Norwegian government intend to excavate the site to save the ship from impending destruction by natural events. (Ed.)

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6 MAY, 2020 - 16:33 ED WHELAN
  
Norwegian archaeologists have announced a plan to raise a buried Viking ship from the earth. The vessel is from a ship burial that is over 1000 years old. It is the first time in over a hundred years that a buried Viking ship has been excavated. But the experts have declared the excavation necessary and are in a race against time to salvage and preserve the very rare and important vessel.

The Gjellestad Viking Ship was found near Halden in southern Norway in 2018. It was discovered during a georadar survey , conducted by NIKU, overseen by Knut Pasche. Georadar technology allowed researchers to scan and image the vessel that had been buried here sometime between the 8th and the 10th century AD. They determined that it measures 65 feet (19.8 meters) and is made of oak.

Live Science quotes Sigrid Mannasaker Gunderson, an archaeologist with the local county, that the “vessel was likely made for travelling long distances at sea.” It is possible that it once had a mast and oars. Images show that there may be grave goods in one section of the buried ship.



02 May 2020

The History of Vikings in Derbyshire

From the Derbyshire Life and Countryside, UK, comes this interesting article on what archaeological information is gleaned from the coins contained in Viking coin hoards. (Ed.)

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Derbyshire

Part of the Tutbury coin hoard, British Museum

The History of Vikings in Derbyshire

Coins are ‘very small texts’ for Dr Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins and Viking material at the British Museum. They are full of clues to the history of a particular period and he can read them like a book. A historian by profession, he says the joy of working in a museum as opposed to a university department is that you can share your knowledge with a much wider range of people – a passion for communication that he shares with his wife, Lesley Smith, curator of Tutbury Castle.

We’re at Tutbury on a winter’s day, with the rain falling and the ancient castle wreathed in mist. Dr Williams has come into prominence at this particular time in relation to the large Viking hoard of gold jewellery, a silver ingot and coins discovered by two amateur metal detectorists in Herefordshire in 2015. The finders, George Powell and Layton Davies, were convicted and jailed in November last year for failing to declare the find as the law demands; for attempting to sell items from the hoard – only 30 coins have been recovered, along with the jewellery – and for denying that they had secreted coins worth millions.

The hoard was hidden in all likelihood by a Viking warrior as his army retreated into the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia following the victory of Alfred the Great in the year 878. Such hoards were generally buried for safety and ‘because the Vikings did not always trust each other’, Dr Williams suggests. ‘Alliances could change and members of an army could later find themselves on the opposite side, so it was worth burying your wealth when you were encamped, even if it was just overnight.’


He cheerfully confesses to a mixture of huge excitement and ‘a bit of irritation’ when he learned of the hoard in that summer of 2015: excitement because initial reports suggested it was something very special, and irritation because he was working on a book about hoards and the last thing he wanted was another one which ‘could upset everything you have got straight in your head…’. It didn’t do that. What the coins did, he rejoices, was to establish a clear connection between two kings, Alfred the Great, King of Wessex from 871-879, and Ceolwulf II (874-879), one of the lesser known kings of the independent kingdom of Mercia.

Read more...

23 April 2020

Meet Ratatoskr, mischievous messenger squirrel to the Viking gods


This is a total departure for this blog, but archaeology is not active at the moment, so some Norse mythology may be called for because we seem to be living a nightmare of mythic proportion on planet Earth. (Ed.)

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Meet Ratatoskr, mischievous messenger squirrel to the Viking gods

A depiction of Ratatoskr in a 17th-century illuminated manuscript.
A depiction of Ratatoskr in a 17th-century illuminated manuscript. (Johanna Olafsdottir)


By 
Columnist
April 13, 2020 at 2:05 p.m. MDT

When one ponders the case of Ratatoskr, the most celebrated squirrel in Norse mythology, one must eventually confront a question: Why is there a horn growing out of his forehead?

You can see it in a 17th-century illuminated manuscript in the collection of the Arni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies in Reykjavik. A drawing shows the symbol around which all Norse mythology is organized: the famed Ygdrasil, or World Tree. The tree is populated by various fearsome creatures. At the bottom left is Ratatoskr, looking like a dog with a horn coming straight out of his noggin.

“We have no text to explain [this] for us,” said Gisli Sigurdsson, a professor in the department of folklore at the University of Iceland’s Magnusson Institute.

We will speculate about that horn in a bit, but first, a crash course in Norse mythology and the role a squirrel plays in it: The Viking age began around A.D. 800 and ended about 300 years later. During that time, Norsemen (and women) poured forth from Scandinavia, pillaging and colonizing their way across Britain, through the scattered islands of the North Atlantic, into Iceland and Greenland and venturing as far as North America.

04 April 2020

Fantastic Voyages: Myth, Legend, and the Recreation of Ancient Boats


This excerpt comes from an article in Deeper Blue, a SCUBA diving travel publication. I encourage the reader to click one of the links I have provided to read the entire article. The author did a good job, and her article is very interesting. (Ed.)

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by Gemma Smith
March 12, 2020
 
Viking Long ship
 The ancient Vikings have long been admired both for their daring and their expertise in boatbuilding. There have been several modern reconstructions of Viking boats including the 30 meter (98 ft) long Sea Stallion which sailed in 2007 successfully from the Danish port of Roskilde 900 miles to Dublin, Ireland. It landed to a much warmer welcome than its predecessors had evoked more than 1000 years before! The Skjoldungen, a replica of the Skudelev 6 discovered sunk in Roskilde fjord, Denmark in 1962 sailed up the southwest coast of Greenland as part of an experimental archaeology trip.

Perhaps the most ambitious expedition of these Viking reconstructions was undertaken by the Draken Harald Harfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair, after a Norwegian king) in 2016. This ship set sail from Norway across the North Atlantic bound for Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the USA. A reconstruction of a Viking ‘great ship’ it carried a crew of 32 men and women of varying nationalities. The Draken Harald Harfagre is an open, clinker-built ship 35 meters (115 ft) from stem to stern, the largest reconstruction of a Viking-era ship to date. One of the aims of its builders was to explore the world as the Vikings did in the past, following the journey of the famous Leif Erikson who is believed by some to be the first European to land in America. The Draken’s landfall in Newfoundland was at St Anthony’s Harbour near the site of the Viking-era settlement at L’anse aux Meadows.