29 December 2018

What Really Happened at Viking Funerals? It’s Not What You Think!

Earlier this month the following article from Ancient Origins about the medieval Viking's beliefs about the afterlife were detailed.

Much of the author's statements can only be construed as supposition, but that it about all we have from a culture that existed more than 1000-years ago, for which we have no records written by the Vikings themselves, in spite of ongoing archaeological efforts.
As always, draw your own conclusions. (Ed.)


What Really Happened at Viking Funerals? It’s Not What You Think!

5 DECEMBER, 2018 - 22:58 DHWTY

Like many ancient societies, the Vikings believed in an afterlife, and these were based on the religious beliefs they held. The current understanding of Viking funerary practices has been discovered in both archaeological and textual sources. One of the best-known accounts describing a Viking funeral is to be found in the writings of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, a member of the Abbasid embassy that was sent to Volga Bulgaria.

What Did the Vikings Believe About the Afterlife?

Like many other ancient cultures, the Vikings believed that it was possible to take their worldly possessions into the afterlife with them. Therefore, an important feature of Viking funerals was the grave goods. The Vikings believed that warriors who fell in battle would earn the right to enter Valhalla, an enormous hall located in Asgard, the domain of Odin. There, the fallen warriors would feast and fight until the arrival of Ragnarok. Therefore, it was essential that dead Vikings be equipped by the living with the gear necessary for their journey to and stay in Valhalla. Apart from Valhalla, other Viking realms of the dead include Folkvangr (also for warriors), Helgafjell (for those who have led good lives), and Helheim (for those who died dishonorable deaths).

Funeral of a Viking - grave goods were buried with them for their journey and stay into the afterlife. igorigorevich / Adobe)

One of the most important objects required by a dead Viking was a warship. As the Vikings were great sea-farers, they believed that ships would also provide them with safe passage into the afterlife. Although the warship played a prominent role in Viking funerals, there was no typical ‘one-size fits-all’ custom and variations existed according to the status and wealth of the deceased.

Vikings Traveled to the Afterlife by Ship but Not by Sea

Archaeology has revealed that some Viking burial mounds were meant to resemble ships and stones were used to outline the shape of the vessels. Higher ranking Vikings, such as chiefs and kings, were even able to have actual ships accompany them into the afterlife. In some cases, the boats would be buried with its contents, while in others, they would be burnt before the burial. There is also the popular belief today that Viking ships would be set on fire before sent off to sea, though there is no archaeological proof for this practice if it did occur.

Funerary stone settings around Viking burial mounds. (Bunnyfrosch / Public Domain )

Apart from their ships, warriors entering Valhalla would be required to bring their weapons and armor along, and hence these objects were part of a Viking’s grave goods. Archaeologists have found that blades that were part of a Viking’s grave goods would usually be broken or bent. This was meant to symbolically signify the final death of the individual, as the Vikings believed that a warrior’s soul was linked to his weapon. Additionally, the destruction of the blade served as a deterrent to grave robbers.

o Vikings in Ireland: Recent Discoveries Shedding New Light on the Fearsome Warriors that Invaded Irish Shores

o Vikings in Ireland: Traces of Warriors Not Just Buried Beneath the Ground, They Are in the DNA

o Sword of Late Viking Age Burial Unveiled Exhibiting Links Between Norway and England

Archaeologists have found that blades were part of a Viking’s grave goods. Petr / Adobe)
Why Was Human Sacrifice Part of the Viking Funeral?

Viking funerals also involved human sacrifice, as servants and slaves were sent by this means to serve their dead master in the afterlife. The human sacrifice, however, depended on whether the deceased was cremated or buried. For the former, those accompanying the dead would be burnt alive, whereas for the latter, their bodies would be placed in a specific position so as to ensure that they would arrive in the afterlife.

If the deceased was cremated the human sacrifice would be burnt alive to accompany them to the afterlife.Erica Guilane-Nachez / Adobe)

Consequences of an Inadequate Viking Funeral Ritual

Grave goods also served to ensure that the deceased was satisfied in the afterlife. The Vikings believed that if the dead were not appeased, they could return as a draugr (or revenants) to haunt the living. These undead beings could cause much trouble for the living, including crop failure, defeat in war, and pestilence. If a draugr was suspected of causing such troubles, the Vikings would exhume the recently dead and look for signs of undead activity. When a draugr was identified, the Vikings would rebury the body with more grave goods, assuming that the person had been a highly respected person in life. Alternatively, a wooden stake could simply be used to pin the body to the ground and the head chopped off, so as to kill the creature.

A draugr aboard a ship, in sub-human form, wearing oilskins. (Groshek / Public Domain )

A Detailed Account of a Viking Funeral

Lastly, a few words may be said about Ahmad Ibn Fadlan’s famous description of a Viking funeral . Ibn Fadlan was a 10 th century Arab who was part of the embassy sent by the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to Volga Bulgaria (in modern day Russia). A detailed account of the Volga Vikings, including the funeral of a chieftain, may be found in Ibn Fadlan’s writing, known as the Risala. One of the funerary rituals recorded in the Risala is that of a peculiar form of human sacrifice. According to Ibn Fadlan, a slave girl had volunteered to accompany the dead chief into the afterlife. Before being sacrificed, however, she had sexual intercourse with six different men, so as to collect their ‘essence of life’ for the dead chief. It must be pointed out, however, that such a ritual was rare. Ibn Fadlan’s description of a Volga Bulgarian Viking funeral may be unique to that area and is not necessarily representative of Viking funerals elsewhere.

Top image: The Funeral of a Viking - painting 1893. Source (Manchester Art Gallery / Public Domain )

By Wu Mingren


01 December 2018

Do CanadianCarvings Depict Vikings? Removing Mammal Fat May Tell

This interesting article from Live Science features information on the continuing quest to answer the many questions arising from what archaeological findings in the Canadian Arctic really mean and when they were produced. (Ed.)


By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | October 16, 2018 07:38am ET

Credit: Shutterstock

Carvings uncovered in the Canadian Arctic may be the earliest portraits of the Vikings created in the Americas. But archaeologists have been puzzling over whether the artwork really shows the infamous seafarers.

Now, scientists think a simple, flammable liquid called acetone could help solve this mystery by removing sea-mammal oil and fat from these artifacts and other artifacts found near them. Until now, those contaminants have prevented scientists from getting an accurate radiocarbon date, according to a paper published in the August issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Oily problem
The Vikings, along with other peoples who lived in arctic or subarctic environments, used oils and fat from sea mammals for a variety of purposes, including preparing food and cooking. The substances interfere with radiocarbon dating, because rather than getting the date of the artifact, you may get the date for the oil and fat covering the object, study authors Michele Hayeur Smith, Kevin Smith and Gørill Nilsen wrote in the new paper.

Hayeur Smith is a research associate at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University in Rhode Island, where Smith is chief curator. Nilsen is an archaeology professor at the Arctic University of Norway. [In Photos: Viking Settlement Discovered at L'Anse aux Meadows]

Credit: Owen Jarus
The carvings were created by the indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arctic. The new method may help date them. This particular carving is from Axel Heiberg Island. 

Arctic environments often have little soil accumulation, making it easier for oil and fat to get on artifacts lying in the ground. "Across the Arctic, where most sites are shallow, reoccupation episodes thousands of years apart may be separated from one another by mere centimeters of soil development," the scientists wrote. This means that artifacts can intermix with oil and fat from a variety of time periods making it hard to tell when artifacts date to.

Acetone to the rescue
To solve this radiocarbon-dating problem, Nilsen developed a few methods to remove sea-mammal oil and fat from artifacts. To test the methods, Nilsen used samples of wood dated, via radiocarbon methods, to around 42,000 years ago. She drenched those samples in modern-day sea-mammal oil.

Her first method used a mix of acids and alkalis, but it failed, resulting in dates of 16,000 years ago. That suggested the process hadn't stripped off all of the oil and fats, Nilsen said. She then tried two acetone-based methods, and both were successful.

Solving mysteries
The ability to remove sea-mammal oils and fats from artifacts is a "major breakthrough" for archaeologists studying the Vikings and other Arctic peoples, the three researchers said. 

Credit: Michele Hayeur-Smith, Canadian Museum of History collection number KdDq-9 4268
A sample of spun yarn found in the Canadian Arctic. A new method of removing sea mammal oil from artifacts helped prove that the indigenous people of the Canadian Arctic already knew how to spin yarn when the Vikings arrived in the area.

The new method has already helped solve one mystery, the scientists said. They used it to radiocarbon-date samples of spun yarn found by archaeologists at various sites in the Canadian Arctic.

A long-running debate disputes whether the Vikings taught indigenous peoples in the Canadian Arctic how to spin yarn when the invaders arrived in the region around 1,000 years ago. The team found that some of the spun yarn dates back at least 2,000 years, long before the Vikings arrived in the area. This shows that the indigenous peoples in the Canadian Arctic developed yarn-spinning technologies without any help from the Vikings, the scientists said.

Wooden carvings
Now it may be possible to solve the mystery of the wooden carvings from the Canadian Arctic. These carvings, which were created by the region's indigenous peoples, have features that some scholars believe identify the objects as Viking.

Researchers haven't radiocarbon-dated any of the wooden carvings so far, Hayeur Smith told Live Science, adding that the initial round of radiocarbon dating focused on textiles.

One of the carvings was excavated in the 1970s at the Okivilialuk site on southern Baffin Island.Two textiles found near the Okivilialuk carving date back to the 16th century, suggesting that the carving may also date back to that time, the scientists said. This carving may not show a Viking, but it could show someone from one of Sir Martin Frobisher's expeditions to the Canadian Arctic in the 1570s, the researchers said.

Researcher Patricia Sutherland urged caution on these findings, saying that excavation records indicate that the Okivilialukcarving was found at a lower level (meaning it was created earlier) than the textiles. Sutherland is a research associate at Carleton University in Canada who has excavated extensively in the Canadian Arctic but is not involved in the new research. That finding, Sutherland said, suggests that the carving may date back to earlier than the 16th century meaning it could show Vikings.  

Originally published on Live Science.

25 November 2018

Rare Thor’s Hammer Amulet Found in Iceland Casts New Light on Viking Life

 Ancient Origins comes through again with this excellent article on recent archaeological finds on Iceland in an area of the island where settlement existed during the Viking Age that nobody knew about. (Ed.)


The Thor’s hammer amulet. ( Fornleifastofnun Íslands )
19 OCTOBER, 2018 - 19:01 ED WHELAN
In archaeology, anything from the past can be of great importance, including artifacts that may seem rather small and unremarkable at first glance. For example, archaeologists have just announced the discovery of a small Viking era item in Iceland that is a first of its kind – it  has real historical significance.  During some routine work, the archaeologists uncovered a stone amulet that represents the hammer of the Norse God Thor. This small artifact is going to help experts to better understand Viking society at a critical stage in its development.

A Lucky Find
The find was made by chance and it is one of many fortuitous finds in Iceland in recent years. Another item discovered by accident was a warrior’s sword discovered in 2016. The site where the amulet was found is in the south of Iceland in the breath-taking Þjórsárdalur valley. A team of experts was registering sites in the valley when they made the discovery. A local man directed the team to an area where he claimed to have found some Viking artifacts.

The experts went to the location and as they were recording the previously unknown site, they uncovered a number of artifacts, that were, according to the Iceland Magazine ‘lying on the surface of the soil’’. There were several small artifacts also recovered with the amulet. Bergur Thor Bjornsson,  who made the discovery, is the descendant of an archaeologist who located many important Viking sites in Iceland in the early twentieth century.

The Thor’s hammer amulet. ( Fornleifastofnun Íslands )
A Unique Thor’s Hammer Amulet
The most important item discovered while exploring the site this time was the amulet of Thor. Inside Edition website has declared the Thor’s hammer amulet ‘the first of its kind found’.  It is so special because it is the first Thor’s hammer amulet to be found that is made from stone. All the other examples of this ornament have been fashioned from metal or bone.  

After a preliminary investigation, the style of the amulet is unusual and it appears to offer evidence that the Norse cults had come under the influence of Christianity. It is now being studied and analyzed to determine its origin and age.

Who was Thor?
Thor is a well-known figure in the movies and comics and is very well-known in modern popular culture. To the Vikings, he was the God of Thunder and second only to Odin in the Norse Pantheon. His hammer Mjollnir had magical properties and made him near-invincible and with it, he, slew his enemies and many monsters. Thor appeared very often in Norse myth and he is often portrayed as a somewhat comical figure, nevertheless, he was much-loved by the common Norse people. 

An 1872 representation by Mårten Eskil Winge of Thor wielding his famous hammer, Mjölnir, against the giants. ( Public Domain )
 It is only in recent years that experts have been able to definitively identify a large number of amulets as representing the hammer of the God of Thunder ; after finding one with an inscription, bearing the name ‘Thor’ in Denmark. These amulets were buried with people such as warriors . For example, one amulet was found in a mass grave of two Vikings who were part of the Great Heathen Army that invaded England in the 9th century AD.

A Major Discovery
The discovery of the amulet has also led to the identification of a new Viking site. It seems that early Norse settlers lived in the area until a volcanic eruption in 1014 AD forced them to leave. But the amulet was not the only important artifact found in the valley;  a portable whetstone, which is extremely rare, was also discovered. This stone was used to sharpen tools and implements and according to the Inside Edition website , it is ‘’now named Bergsstadir after the local that discovered it’’.

The whetstone. Whetstones are among the most common finds at Viking era archaeological sites. ( Fornleifastofnun Íslands )
This chance find is significant because it is helping experts to understand the importance of the Thor cult in Norse society. The design of the Thor’s hammer amulet is also suggestive of Christian influence and this may force researchers to rethink how the Vikings became converts to Christianity. Moreover, the find has helped to provide an insight into early Icelandic settler society and its relationship to the wider Norse world.

The Stenkvista runestone in Södermanland, Sweden, shows Thor's hammer instead of a cross. (Berig/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Top image: The small Thor’s hammer amulet was carved out of sandstone. 
Source: Fornleifastofnun Íslands

18 November 2018

Ancient Viking Ship Found Buried Next to Busy Norwegian Freeway

Virtually everything we have built in modern times sits atop or near something else built by other people from another age.

This interesting article about a Viking ship burial site recently discovered beside a Norwegian freeway confirms that supposition. (Ed.)



Ancient Viking Ship Found Buried Next to Busy Norwegian Freeway

George Dvorsky

10/16/18 9:40am

Filed to: VIKINGS

The buried ship as seen by ground-penetrating radar.Image: NIKU

 Using ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists in Norway have discovered an ancient Viking ship buried just 20 inches beneath the surface of a farmer’s field. The 66-foot-long ship, deliberately buried during a funeral ritual, appears surprisingly intact—and it could contain the skeletal remains of a high-ranking Viking warrior.

It’s called the Jellstad Ship, and it was discovered on farmland in Østfold county in southeast Norway. The site, known as Viksletta, is near the the large and fully intact Jelle burial mound, which can be seen from the busy Norwegian Rv41 118 freeway.

Archaeologists with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), with the help of radar specialists from Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro), detected the vessel using mobile ground-penetrating radar. The discovery is significant in that it’s only the fourth Viking ship burial ever discovered, according to Knut Paasche, head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU.

The Viksletta site: red circles show locations of the burial mounds, orange rectangles the longhouses, and the green eye-shaped object the ancient boat.
“There are only a small number of ship burials known from Scandinavia so far and only three of them (Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune ships) are actually well preserved,” Erich Nau, an archaeologist with NIKU, told Gizmodo. “The last one of these—Oseberg—was found and excavated in 1904, when archaeological methods were far less advanced than they are today. This new finding offers the possibility for modern, state-of-the-art research. Both further non-invasive methods and modern excavation and documentation methodology can now be applied and will probably lead to a much deeper understanding of the phenomenon of ship-burials.”

In addition to the ship, the scans revealed eight previously undiscovered burial mounds and several longhouses. All eight of the mounds had been plowed over by farmers, but enough evidence remained beneath the surface for the researchers to identify them as such.

In a statement, Morten Hanisch, the county conservator in Østfold, said the archaeologists “are certain that there is a ship there, but how much is preserved is hard to say before further investigation.”

The researchers haven’t dug into the topsoil yet, as they’re hoping to perform as much non-invasive work as possible using “all modern means of archaeology,” said Paasche. Indeed, the ship’s timbers, once exposed to the elements, will start to degrade immediately. What’s more, radar scans show the ship in its undisturbed condition. The researchers are planning to perform more scans of the area, but they haven’t ruled out an excavation of the ship at some point in the future.

The ship is resting just 20 inches (50 centimeters) below the topsoil, and it’s around 66 feet (20 meters) long. Preliminary scans suggest the ship’s keel and floor timbers are still intact. While the researchers have not yet dated this site, similar sites in Norway date to around 800 AD.

Artist’s depiction of the ship prior to its burial.Illustration: NIKU

The researchers say the ship was deliberately buried in a burial mound, which is not as extraordinary as it might sound. Boats and ships were an indelible aspect of Viking culture, used for transportation, trade, and conquest in northern Europe until about 1,000 years ago. Ships were precious and considered symbols of wealth and status. Archaeologists have found buried ships before, some even containing bodies. In 2011, for example, archaeologists in Scotland discovered a 15-foot-long (5-meter) boat with a warrior inside, along with his shield, sword, spear, and other grave goods.

“Ship burials are a tradition that only exist in Scandinavia and adjoining areas during the Late Iron Age in Scandinavia—from the 6th to the 11th century—and the majority of the already excavated examples can be dated to the 9th and 10th century which is also called the Viking Age,” said Nau. “Therefore we can assume that the new one is also from this period and thus between 1,000 and 1,200 years old. However, we cannot date the new findings with certainty yet—this will probably be possible only within the framework of an excavation.”

This newly discovered ship may have been part of a cemetery, which was “clearly designed to display power and influence,” archaeologist and project leader Lars Gustavsen said in a statement. There’s a very real possibility that the Jellstad Ship contains the remains of a high-ranking Viking, but that still needs to be proven.

It’s not immediately clear if ground-penetrating radar could pick up traces of a body, or bodies; for that, ground excavations may be necessary.

Five longhouses, or halls, were also discovered by the researchers, some of which were quite large. The scientists said the site is reminiscent of another Viking site: the Borre site in Vestfold County, on the opposite side of the Oslofjord.

These findings are all very preliminary, and the researchers are preparing for the next stage of the project, which will involve more thorough scans of the Viksletta site using additional non-invasive geophysical methods. The discovery of this ancient ship is very exciting, but the best may be yet to come.

This post was updated to include comments from Erich Nau.

[Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research]

10 November 2018

Viking Warrior Women?

This interesting article comes to us from Medievalists. Click on the title link to watch the video from the author of the study, Dr. Leszek Garderla, Bonn University, Germany.

The subject of women warriors comes to us from movies which generally bear little to no resemblance to reality during the Viking Age, including several illusions to Viking female warriors.

Not a shed of evidence exists  for Viking female warriors, and Dr Leszek makes that point as he combs through manuscripts and museums for definitive proof of what has become contemporary fantasy. As has been stated previously, grave goods that include weapons is not proof that the erstwhile occupant of the grave was a warrior.


Published on Oct 30, 2018

Medieval texts tell of Viking warrior women taking part in battles, but are these stories describing reality or pure fiction? What can archaeology tell us about women in the Viking Age? 

The search for answers is being done by ‘Amazons of the North: Armed Females in Viking Archaeology and Old Norse Literature,’ a research project led by Dr Leszek Gardeła (Bonn University, Germany) and funded by the DAAD German Academic Exchange Service.

You can follow the project on Facebook and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/archeoleszek/ https://www.facebook.com/Amazons-of-t...

Script and production: Leszek Gardeła and Mira Fricke

Music: “TYR” written by Einar Selvik. Copyright BMG Platinum Songs US. Used by kind permission of BMG Management GMBH. “Hagal” written by Einar Selvik. Copyright BMG Platinum Songs US. Used by kind permission of BMG Management GMBH.

27 October 2018

The Ancient Swedish Village That Predates the Vikings

Another interesting article from Ancient Origins that details a reconstructed village from the Vendel Period complete with some of the artifacts dug from the site of the original village that dates to 1500-years ago. (Ed.)

Reconstructed longhouse at Gene Fornby


Located just outside Örnsköldsvik in northern Sweden, Gene Fornby is a reconstructed archaeological open-air museum based on the finds of an ancient settlement. It became a popular tourist attraction when it opened to the public in 1991 and demonstrates how the village would have appeared during the period of occupation more than 1500 years ago.

The family that lived there lived well, and they had been doing so for generations. Food was plentiful as they farmed the land, and the sea gave them fish and seals. During occupation the water would have reached the edge of the village, although currently the site sits 65 feet (20 meters) above sea level due to environmental changes in the area. The family lived there when iron, bronze and pearls were considered precious goods. They traded with nearby settlements and provided items they made in the smithy. The surrounding forests provided them with timber from which they built their homes, their boats, and made crafts.

Reconstructed long house at Gene Fornby under snow. ( CC BY 2.5 )

Gene Fornby is operated by the Örnsköldsvik Museum & Art Gallery and is open during summer with interpreters and historians dressed in period costume. While education and entertainment are deemed important, both the university and the local museum are still involved in ongoing research.

The area was excavated primarily from 1977 to 1988 by archaeologists from the University of Umeå who found traces of human activity in the area dating back to the Nordic Bronze Age (1700–500 BC), but the settlement itself dates back to the Roman Iron Age and the Migration Period, from around the years 400-600 AD.

The Smithy Was Large Enough To Contain Four Forges
The forge is believed to have been one of the largest in prehistoric Scandinavia. Traces of iron production and processing were uncovered as well as bronze casting refuse, and even a textile workshop. The bronze casting molds for embossed buckles are an unusual type that have only been found at about ten locations throughout the Nordic region, and Genes Fornby is the only known manufacturing site. The archaeological evidence show that an iron industry had been an important part of the settlement.

Iron objects made in the forge (Örnsköldsvik Municipality)

A cemetery with nine low burial mounds was found in the main excavation area, while four more burial mounds were found not far away. The thirteen burial mounds, thought to be chieftain graves from the years 100 to 600 AD, are of great significance. Contrary to the previous archaeological assumption that there was probably no resident population in the northern parts of Sweden before the Viking Age (792 to 1066 AD), the graves prove Gene Fornby was one of the earliest settlements in this part of Sweden.

Among the artifacts found at the site are knives, arrowheads, bone combs, pottery, clothing buckles and buttons, as well as beads of bronze, glass, bone and clay.  Waste from handicraft production indicates that a great number of objects were made on site.

Gene Fornby spans over two periods - during the first phase there was a longhouse, a barn which held corn, as well as a workshop. Then the second phase started when they demolished the old buildings and built a new longhouse, a barn and also the large smithy.

In total, fourteen houses were found in the excavation area. Thirteen of the buildings belong to the Iron Age settlement, and one house dates to the 1200s.

A ‘grophus’ or house at Gene Fornby ( CC BY SA-3.0 )

Found just northwest of the settlement were, among other things, several charred logs, nail like objects, flint flakes and an iron key. Samples of the charred wood have been dated to the Migration Period, which is consistent with the dating of the key.

The Fight For Preservation Lasted Over Ten Years
The site, however, was not without controversy. For many years, the politicians of the City Council of Örnsköldsvik argued over the ‘use’ of Gene Fornby and the site was at risk even though it was marked by The Swedish National Heritage Board as an archaeological location. 

After several years of struggle, those who fought for the preservation of the site generated more and more followers and were eventually victorious in 2012. The site was transferred to the Örnsköldsvik Municipality for preservation in 2013.

Top image: Reconstructed longhouse at Gene Fornby    Source: CC BY-SA 3.0

13 October 2018

Eight-year-old pulls a 1,000-year-old pre-Viking era SWORD from the bottom of a lake in Sweden

An interesting article from the Daily Mail tells a story of a young girl's accidental find of a sword that may pre-date the Viking age.

If the experts, who haven't dated the sword yet, are correct, and the sword is over 1000-years old it might possibly be a weapon from the Vendel Period of ancient Sweden - 500-700 AD. The Gotar tribe inhabited the modern area of Smaland, where the sword was found, so if the sword is that old it might be a weapon of the Gotar tribe. Now that would really be something. (Ed.)


The ancient sword was discovered by 8-year-old Saga Vanecek in Vidöstern lake
The child at first thought she'd pulled out a stick, before realizing it was a sword
Experts estimate it's at least 1,000 years old, likely dating to pre-Viking era 
They're now working to preserve it before putting it on display at a museum  

PUBLISHED: 16:19 EDT, 4 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 EDT, 5 October 2018
An 8-year-old girl skipping rocks at a lake in Sweden earlier this summer made a remarkable discovery that now has many locals joking she should be crowned the new queen, in a nod to tales of King Arthur.

While wading in Vidöstern lake in Tånnö, Småland, Saga Vanecek stumbled upon what she thought was 'some kind of stick' – but, it turned out to be a sword dating back more than 1,000 years to the pre-Viking era.

Experts are now working to preserve the delicate relic before it's eventually put on display at the Jönköpings Läns Museum.

While wading in Vidöstern lake in Tånnö, Småland, Saga Vanecek stumbled upon what she thought was 'some kind of stick'

It turned out to be a sword dating back more than 1,000 years to the pre-Viking era.

Though Vanecek found the sword months ago, the news was kept under wraps until this week to give researchers time to scour the area for any other artefacts that could be nearby, according to The LocalAnd in doing this, they found an ancient brooch from the same time period, as well as an 18th century coin.

29 September 2018

Archaeologists Have Discovered A Treasure Trove Of Ancient Artifacts In Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Danish archaeologists from Aarhus University and representatives of the Southwest Jutland Museum, have discovered numerous Viking artifacts beneath the streets of Ribe, Denmark, according to this article in Inquisitr.

There is a virtual certainty that more will be discovered as the dig progresses; however, a lack of sufficient operating funds may call a halt before the work is completed.

Almost all ancient cities have modern ones setting atop the original site, making digging expensive or impossible, as is the case in Ribe.

Click the title link to read the original article on Inquisitr. (Ed.)


Archaeologists Have Discovered A Treasure Trove Of Ancient Artifacts In Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Archaeologists in the west Denmark town of Ribe have excavated 330 feet of the first Viking city in Scandinavia, and have discovered artifacts from beads to lyres, which still have their tuning pegs intact.

September 15, 2018

Archaeologists have been busy excavating beneath the streets of Ribe, the first Viking city ever established in Scandinavia, and have discovered a treasure trove of ancient artifacts. Ribe, which can be found in west Denmark, is the subject of important new research that is known as the Northern Emporium Project, which is currently being conducted by archaeologists from Aarhus University and the Southwest Jutland Museum.

After digging just 10 feet beneath this ancient Viking city, archaeologists discovered thousands of artifacts such as coins, amulets, beads, bones and even combs. Lyres (ancient string instruments) have also been found, with some still having their tuning pegs attached to them, Science Nordic reports.

However, besides the numerous artifacts that have been excavated, archaeologists were also keen to learn more about how the city of Ribe would have originally been created. After all, none of the people who originally inhabited this site had ever lived in a city before, and the population would have consisted of lyrists, craftsmen, seafarers, innkeepers, and tradesmen.

While archaeologists have known about Ribe for quite some time, excavating this site was another matter entirely. Due to high costs and the amount of time required, up until recently, only small sections of this city were investigated.However, now that the Carlsberg Foundation has joined in, the funding for the project has been taken care of, and archaeologists are using 3D laser surveying techniques in combination with the study of soil chemistry and DNA analysis to learn much more about the first Viking city in Scandinavia.

Archaeologists discovered that not long after the creation of Ribe, houses had been built on the site which shows that this city quickly developed its residents, and would have been a largely urban community.

When it comes to ancient cities that existed in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, cities were packed tightly together, yet here in Ribe, the closest city would have easily been hundreds of miles away. However, archaeologists believe that despite such great distances, the earliest settlers of this Viking city would still have traversed great distances in order to network with others.

It was also determined that as 800 AD is when the Viking era is asserted to have truly started, Ribe would have been part of what is known as the sailing revolution. With this new era, archaeologists noted many changes in the artifacts that were found. For instance, craftsmen who made beads originally had quite small workshops that may have only been used for a matter of weeks.

During the height of the Viking age, the production of these beads appears to have slowed down immensely, and archaeologists spotted evidence of other imported Middle Eastern beads that would have taken their place. It was also discovered that gemstones weren’t that important to residents of Ribe. Gold, on the other hand, certainly was, and it is believed that much of the gold in use during the early days of this city would have been stolen from Roman graves.

With around 330 feet of the first Viking city excavated, archaeologists are progressing steadily with their study of Ribe, and will continue to publicize their finds in the upcoming years.

22 September 2018

How Human Error Led the Vikings to Canada

An article from Live Science features work done on the theory that Norse ship crews may have used sun stones to sail to their desired destinations across the North Atlantic.

Seems reasonable since the Greenland Norse sailed back and forth across the North Atlantic for 400-years taking their trade goods to markets in their Scandinavian homelands. They certainly used something to navigate. 

And, according to the Norse Sagas, Bjarni Herjulfsson did miss Greenland in the late decades of the 9th century during a storm and sighted what must have been North America, but he did not land. He told Leif Eiriksson about his sighting and Lucky Leif later went to see what his friend had sighted. Leif landed on Newfoundland and the rest is history. But you all know that, right?

Original Live Science article may be seen by clicking the title link. (Ed.)

How Human Error Led the Vikings to Canada
By Tom Metcalfe, Live Science Contributor | April 12, 2018 06:54am ET

Credit: Shutterstock
Viking navigators guided by mysterious crystal "sunstones" may have accidentally sailed on to the mainland of North America while looking for Greenland, according to new research.
The new study shows that so-called sunstones — crystals of translucent minerals like Iceland spar, which split the polarization of light passing through them — would have been "surprisingly successful" as navigation devices, by revealing the position of the sun on cloudy days, a common occurrence in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Vikings had no knowledge of the use of magnetic compasses for navigation at sea.
But observations with these crystal sunstones might have helped Viking ships steer a course due west from Norway to Greenland, the site of several Viking settlements after the 10th century, said Dénes Száz, an optical physicist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.Száz is the lead author of the new study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science this month. [7 Secrets of Viking Seamen]

Computer simulations showed that Viking navigators who made observations of the position of the sun at least once every 3 hours had a very high chance of sailing due west and reaching the coast of Greenland, Száz told Live Science in an email.
" may have accidentally sailed on to the mainland of North America while looking for Greenland

But Vikings who made observations of the sun less frequently ran the risk of drifting south and missing Greenland altogether — and, if they didn't all die at sea first, of eventually reaching the coast of Canada.
"Through archaeological findings, we know for sure that the Vikings were present in North America centuries before Columbus," Száz said. "But we do not know whether they got there through such a misnavigation, or started discovery expeditions from previous colonies on Greenland."

Viking sunstone mystery
For the new study, Száz and co-author Gábor Horváth, also of Eötvös Loránd University, ran 36,000 computer simulations of Viking-ship voyages across the North Atlantic, to determine the expected success of navigations guided by sunstones.

Their research builds on earlier studies that measured the human error involved in navigating with sunstones of Icelandic spar and other translucent crystals that create a double or bright single image, depending on the polarization of the light passing through them.
Száz explained that, while there is little archaeological evidence for the use of such crystals by Viking navigators, the 13th-century Icelandic saga of St. Olaf described mysterious sunstones — sólarsteinn, in Old Icelandic — that were used in cloudy or foggy weather to find the position of the sun.

Viking navigators are thought to have used a nonmagnetic sun compass to measure the angle of the sun at midday, which would have enabled them to steer along a constant line of latitude — due west from Norway to Greenland, for example. 

But because the North Atlantic is plagued by cloudy weather and fog for much of the year, the sun often can't be seen for days or weeks at a time.
In a hypothesis proposed in 1967 by Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou, Száz said, Viking navigators could find the sun on cloudy days by rotating sunstones in front of the sky and observing where the images in the crystals aligned or brightened.

Simulated sea voyages
The computer simulations of Viking voyages revealed that sunstones used to find the position of the sun on cloudy days would have been "surprisingly successful" as navigation aids, especially when the observations were made at least every 3 hours and taken evenly around midday. [Images: Viking Twilight Compass Helps Navigate North Atlantic]

The simulations showed that Vikings from Norway who kept to this regular schedule of observations could sail close enough to due west to reach the coast of Greenland in three to four weeks, Száz said. "We showed that if the navigation periodicity was 1, 2 or 3 hours, the navigation success was very high, between 80 and 100 percent," Száz said.

But the research also showed that Vikings who made sun observations only every 6 hours or more, or none at all, tended to stray south on their voyages, with a very high chance that they might have sailed right past Greenland entirely.

If that happened — and if the Vikings on board did not perish from thirst, hunger or storms at sea — some of those Viking voyages might have sailed all the way to the coasts of what are now Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada, Száz said.

The computer simulations used in the current research took into account weather changes, the different mineral types of sunstone that might have been used, and the times of year when the voyages between Norway and Greenland were undertaken.

Future research would add factors to the simulations, including the effects of storms, water currents and varying winds, he said.
Original article on Live Science.