30 December 2019

It escapes me why anyone would concern themselves, 1000-years or so after the event – when some hungry Norseman killed the last Icelandic walrus on earth – but, here we have an article on just that concern.

Norsemen killed or produced everything they ate, there were no grocery stores to go shopping in for food. So, did they kill lots of animals? You bet, and so would you if you were hungry. Oh, and they even ate their dogs when necessary, and probably each other - only when necessary, of course.

Whoever was able to kill the last walrus on Iceland, I say well-done, I am certain the fat and meat fed your family for quite some time. (Ed.)


Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia

Ancient DNA says the extinct Icelandic walruses were a genetically distinct population.

KIONA N. SMITH - 11/4/2019, 7:24 AM

There are no walruses in Iceland, but, at one time, there were hundreds. The timing of the walruses' disappearance suggests that the population's loss may be one of the earliest known examples of humans driving a marine species to local extinction.

The ghost of walruses past
Walruses used to be a major feature of life in Iceland. Several settlements and landmarks along Iceland’s coast still bear names that refer to walruses, and a few of the medieval Sagas (the stories of the island’s early settler families) even mention them. The Saga of Hrafin Sveinbjarnarson, written down sometime in the late 1100s, tells the story of a chieftain who killed a walrus and brought its tusks and skull to Canterbury Cathedral in England. But the walruses themselves have been reduced to only a few ancient bones and tusks.

Did the walruses disappear before or after the Norse arrived? In other words, did the Norse kill off Iceland’s walruses, or did the population die of natural causes? Because Iceland has no living walruses today, historians have debated whether the place names referred to places where walruses were living when people arrived or just places where settlers found the skulls and tusks of long-dead animals. The walrus tusks that Hrafin Sveinbjarnarson delivered to England could have been part of a thriving Icelandic walrus population, but it could also have been only a lost wanderer from more distant shores.

To learn more about Iceland’s pinniped past, evolutionary genomicist Xenia Keighley of the University of Copenhagen and her colleagues radiocarbon dated and sequenced DNA from 34 samples of bones and tusks from walruses in the Icelandic Museum of Natural History. The DNA studies also showed that Iceland’s long-lost walruses were a distinct branch of the walrus family. The oldest walrus remains in the museum, dating to 5502-5332 BC, were related to the ancestors of today’s Atlantic walrus population. More recent samples, though, belonged to a separate mitochondrial branch of the walrus family tree, genetically distinct from every group that’s known in the North Atlantic—including the older Icelandic walruses.

“I would suspect that the most recent clade represent a colonization event that replaced the lineage represented by the old sample, rather than the old sample being a direct ancestor to the more recent clade,” co-author Morten Olsen, also an evolutionary genomicist at the University of Copenhagen, told Ars.

Radiocarbon dates of the bones, combined with the walruses’ genomes, provided an estimate of the size of their breeding population, which suggested that walruses had lived on Iceland’s coasts for around 7,500 years. Although their numbers had been small—perhaps around 1,000 walruses at any one time—their foothold on the island had been pretty stable until around 1213-1330 AD, well after Norse settlement began in 870 AD.

21 December 2019

Mysterious 'Battle Axe Culture' reveals its secrets thanks to DNA discovery

FoxNews produces again for us by reporting these discoveries of what archaeology has termed the Battle Axe Culture of Scandinavia.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, even the left wing morons of America. (Ed.)


The skeleton of a male individual associated with the Neolithic Age Battle Axe culture on exhibition in Linköping, Sweden. (Jonas Karlsson, Östergötlands museum)

An international team of researchers is shedding new light on the mysterious ancient “Battle Axe Culture” of Scandinavia.

Experts studied bones recovered from a burial site discovered in 1953 during the construction of a traffic circle in Linkoping in southern Sweden. The Battle Axe Culture is named after the battle axe that was buried with the remains of a man, a woman and a child. A dog was also buried at the Linkoping burial site.

A study on the research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The Battle Axe Culture dates back around 5,000 years and is said to resemble another ancient group of people, the European Corded Ware Culture, named for the cord-like designs on its pottery.

 Using genomic sequencing, the Linkoping bones were compared to the remains of other prehistoric individuals from what are now Sweden, Estonia and Poland. The Scandinavian Battle Axe Culture was found to share a common genetic ancestry with the European Corded Ware Culture.

"This suggests that the introduction of this new cultural manifestation was associated with movements of people,” said Torsten Günther, a population geneticist at Sweden’s Uppsala University, and co-author of the study, in the statement. “These groups have a history which we ultimately can trace back to the Pontic Steppe north of the Black Sea."

Experts from Stockholm University and Sweden's Ostrgotlands Museum also participated in the research. “The collaboration of archaeologists with geneticists allows us to understand more about these people as individuals as well as where their ancestors came from," said the study’s lead author, Helena Malmström, an archaeogeneticist at Uppsala University, in the statement.

Scandinavia continues to reveal new aspects of its rich history. Two Viking boat graves were also recently uncovered in Sweden in what archaeologists are describing as a “sensational” discovery. In another project, an incredible Swedish grave containing the skeleton of a Viking warrior, long thought to be male, was recently confirmed as female. Last year, a Viking “Thor’s hammer” was discovered in Iceland and archaeologists in Norway used ground-penetrating radar technology to reveal an extremely rare Viking longship.

14 December 2019

Mysterious 1,000-year-old Viking ship discovered on Norwegian island

Fox News brings us this article on a recent archaeological discovery. The outline of a Viking ship buried in a grave mound can be clearly seen in this geo-radar photo. Discovered on the Norwegian island of Edøya - north central Norwegian coast - it has not been excavated yet, perhaps next summer, but the ship should contain something that will be of interest to all. (Ed.)
The buried Viking ship at Edøy. (NIKU)

Archaeologists in Norway have used radar technology to discover a 1,000-year-old buried Viking ship.

Researchers have spotted a 43-foot keel just beneath the topsoil of a burial mound on the island of Edøy in western Norway. The fore and aft sterns, however, appear to have been destroyed by plowing, and the ship is thought to have once been up 56 feet long.

The discovery was made by experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), using high-resolution georadar developed by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro).

In a statement, Knut Paasche, Ph.D., head of the department of digital archaeology at NIKU, explained that only three well-preserved Viking ship burials are known in Norway, all of which were excavated a long time ago. The ship will be of great historical significance, he added.

The ship is from the Merovingian or Viking period and more than 1,000 years old, according to Paasche.

However, it is not yet known whether human remains and Viking artifacts are located within the buried ship, although they have been found at other ship burials.

“The survey [at Edøy] has been purely non-intrusive,” a spokesman for NIKU told Fox News. “Our equipment is getting better, so we can be pretty sure of what we have here. On top of that, the island itself is smack in the middle of Merovingian and Viking activity more than a thousand year[s] ago. The locals were really happy with the find - but not really surprised.”