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South-Pawed Viking's Sword Discovered In 1000-Year-Old Burial Mound

South-Pawed Viking's Sword Discovered In 1000-Year-Old Burial Mound


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Norwegian archaeologists have discovered a 1000-year-old grave containing a rare Viking sword next to the body of what must have been an equally rare left-handed (south-pawed) Norse warrior.

Vinjeøra is a village situated at the end of the Vinjefjorden (Vinje Fjord) on the European route E39 highway, about 12 kilometers south of the municipal center of Kyrksæterøra in the municipality of Heim in the Trøndelag county of Norway. It was during recent road expansion works on the E39 route through Vinjeøra that four warrior's graves were discovered near a series of earthen mounds , and while one contained the body of a woman another yielded the remains of an 8th or 9th century local warrior who had been ceremonially buried with his spear, ax, shield and sword - but something was highly-unusual about the arrangement of this warriors grave.

Grave Evidence Included Bird Bones And A Very Heavy Sword!

The four, partially overlapping, graves were found in a circular ditch that was built around the base of one of the earthen mounds. Dr Raymond Sauvage, an archaeologist at the NTNU University Museum and project manager for the Viking warrior’s excavation, told Science Norway that he believes this burial practice is an expression of “how important the family's ancestors were on a farm in Viking times.” The doctor explained that in the Viking Age companion ancestor spirits , called “fylgjur,” were believed to live in these burial mounds.

One of the beads found in what was likely a Viking woman’s grave in the same group of four graves where the left-handed Viking warrior was discovered. (Raymond Sauvage / NTNU University Museum )

In the same ring ditch as the warrior’s grave, researchers discovered the cremated remains of a woman with an “oval brooch, a pair of scissors and beads.” They also recovered many more bones than is normal, including bird bones . One theory is that the bones might have had “magical properties,” and that they possibly played an important role in a Viking burial ritual .

According to the Science Norway article, it was archaeologist Astrid Kviseth who finally lifted the sword from its 1000-year-old grave and placed it in its specially prepared padded box. She said that while she didn't exactly know how heavy the sword would be, “it had some heft to it” and that you would need to be “pretty strong to be able to swing this sword!”

Viking Swords: Sacred, Named, Spiritualized Heirlooms

To Vikings, swords were exceptionally sacred, named heirlooms that were passed from father to son for generations. And in the Viking Age, swords were clear status symbols of elite warriors. Since swords were so difficult to forge, they were expensive and so swords were rare even in Viking times. Chapter 3 of the Icelandic Fóstbræðra saga states that from the “100+ weapons found in Viking Age pagan burials in Iceland, only 16 were swords.” And in Chapter 13 of Laxdæla saga the sword given by King Hákon to Höskuldur was said to be worth “a half mark of gold,” equal to the value of sixteen milk cows, a very substantial sum in the Viking Age.

Dr Sauvage said that during Viking burials in the early Middle Ages “swords were usually placed on the right side of the body in weapon graves like this,” because most people were right-handed, and therefore most warriors fastened their swords on their left side for ease of drawing. Dr Sauvage thinks the reason most swords are found on the right side is because Vikings believed the underworld was a “mirror image of the upper world.” In the newly discovered Norwegian grave, the warrior’s sword was found lying along his left side.

Swords are usually placed on the right side of the body in weapon graves like this. In this grave, it was laid on the warrior’s left side. (Ellen Grav Ellingsen / NTNU University Museum )

Viking Swords Were Rare But Lefty Warriors Were Even Rarer!

Trying to account for why this singular sword was discovered on the warriors left side, the logical side, Sauvage thinks this might have been because the Viking was “left handed,” which makes the sword, or at least the warrior, an exceptionally rare discovery. And putting this “rarity” into context, according to a 2014 paper published in Frontiers in Psychology most modern studies suggest that approximately 90% of the world population is and was right-handed, therefore, this Viking belonged to a sub-group of 10% of Norse warriors.

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The discovery of this left-handed Viking warrior’s sword has caused the team of Norwegian archaeologists endless excitement, but this prized ancient artifact is currently encased in a thick crust of corrosion, but when it’s eventually analyzed the archaeologists hope x-rays might reveal “ornamentation or pattern welding in the blade,” said Kviseth. And if this is the case, and Viking symbols are indeed discovered on the blade, then the University Museum will need to sit down with their insurance adjustors to discuss the new, and greatly increased, premium.


Huge 1,000-yr-old Viking Ship Grave Found in Norway

Using radar, the archaeologists could tell there was something big buried beneath the ground in a cemetery in Norway. To their astonishment, what they detected was a 66-foot-long ship–one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found.

The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) said that archaeologists discovered the anomaly in Østfold County. The ship was buried about 1.6 feet beneath the ground, they said in a statement. Outlines of the keel and the first few strakes, or lines of planking, were visible in the radar scans.

The leading theory is that the ship was buried more than 1,000 years ago to serve as the final resting place of a prominent Viking king or queen.

The outlines of a Viking ship within a burial mound. Photo by NIKU

Experts say intact Viking ship graves of this size are rare. “I think we could talk about a hundred-year find,” said archaeologist Jan Bill, curator of Viking ships at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, in an interview with National Geographic. “It’s quite spectacular from an archaeology point of view.”

The ship is part of a cemetery that also contains at least seven burial mounds, which are dome-shaped hills of dirt and stones piled on top of a grave.

The remains of five longhouses were also detected near the cemetery.

Østfold County, Norway. Photo by Vidariv CC BY-SA 3.0

A ship was a Viking’s most cherished possession, and if an elite Viking did not die at sea, he would be buried in a ship on land. The vessels used were real ships, and corpses were often surrounded by a mixture of weapons, pottery, and drinking horns. Another little-known facet about the Vikings is the amount of Viking words still used in the English language:

Ship burials held great meaning for the Norse people, and those buried in ships or boats were almost exclusively elite warriors and chiefs.

Viking Ship Museum – Oseberg ship. Photo by Vassia Atanassova – Spiritia CC BY SA 3.0

In interviews, the archaeologists re-created the discovery.

“In the middle of the mound, we discovered what is called an anomaly, something that is different,” said study author Dr Knut Paasche. The mysterious shape “clearly has the shapes and dimensions of a Viking ship.”

“What we cannot say for sure is the condition of the conservation. Yes there was a boat there, but it’s hard to say how much wood is left,” Dr Paasche told the Daily Mail.

Gokstad Viking ship excavation. Gokstad Mound, 1880.

Scientists hope that this discovery will yield insights on the Vikings’ expeditions in the Middle Ages.

“This find is incredibly exciting as we only know [of] three well-preserved Viking ship finds in Norway [that were] excavated [a] long time ago. This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance as it can be investigated with all modern means of archaeology,” said Paasche.

How the ship got there is intriguing.

The Gokstad ship at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. Photo By Karamell CC BY-SA 2.5

Archaeologists believe it would have been dragged onshore from the Oslo fjord nearby. “Ships like this functioned as a coffin,” says Paasche. “There was one king or queen or local chieftain on board.”

Paasche plans to return in the spring of 2019 to conduct more scans, including using a magnetometer to get more intense information on the site. It’s possible they will dig test trenches to see what the ship’s condition is. If they do find wood from the ship’s hull preserved beneath the ground, it will be very helpful to date the find.

The chances of finding a king’s treasure are slim, according to National Geographic. Because they were so prominent in the landscape, many Viking Age burials were robbed centuries ago.

The first Viking ship to be scientifically excavated in the UK was discovered in the most western part of Scotland. It held a man who was buried with his shield, sword, and spear and grave goods that included an Irish brooch and a drinking horn.


Archaeologists find 1000-year-old Viking sword in the ancient city of Patara in Turkey

As part of excavation works in the ancient city of Patara along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, archaeologists have uncovered an exceptional Viking sword, believed to be nearly 1,000 years old. Later renamed to Arsinoe, the region was once a thriving maritime city, situated on the south-west coast of Lycia close to the present-day village of Gelemiş in the Antalya Province. Speaking about the latest finding, Feyzullah Şahin, a member of the research team, said –

It is very difficult to determine how this Viking sword has come to Patara. However, this unearthed sword will shed new light on the history of the ancient city of Patara. Up until now, the only physical cultural remains that pointed to the existence of the Vikings on Anatolian geography was the Viking sword unearthed in 2010 at the Yumuktepe Mound. This is why [we believe that] the sword found at the Liman bathhouse in Patara is a Viking sword.

Dating back to around 7,000 BC, the original sword was discovered eight years back during digs in Turkey’s Mersin province. The newly-found one, however, is thought to be from the 9th or 10th century AD. The ancient blade, according to Şahin, is corroded and broken in many places. Measuring around 17 inches (43.2 centimeters) in length, the artifact sports an oval-shaped hilt.

Read more: 10 Things You Should Know About Vikings And Their Warfare

Apart from that, the ‘pırazvana’ – essentially, the portion of the Viking sword that comes inside the holder’s grip – has a narrow shape, leading up to the ‘topuz’ or knob. The sword’s knob, as per the researchers, is single layered and is next to a flat guard situated on the handle’s upper side. Upon further inspection, the archaeologists also found traces on the sword blade which indicate that it might have been kept inside a wooden sheath. Şahin went on to state –

Based on this information, the sword dates from the 9th century or the first half of the 10th century. The sword may have belonged to a Vareg (Viking) soldier from the Byzantine Imperial Army that was trying to retake Crete from the Abbasis. Alternatively, it may have belonged to the Varegs (Vikings) who were not in the service of the empire and who were trying to seize Constantinople (Istanbul).

An Overview of Patara

Believed to have been founded by Patarus, the son of Apollo, the city of Patara housed a temple dedicated to Apollo during antiquity. Additionally, it served as the chief seaport of Lycia and was considered to be one of the major cities of the Lycian League. In circa 333 BC, all of Lycia – including Patara – came under the control of Alexander the Great.

However, post his death, it was taken over by Macedonian noblemen Antigonus and Demetrius during the Wars of the Diadochi. Eventually, it became a part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. Under Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt, Patara underwent massive expansion and was later renamed to Arsinoe, after Ptolemaic queen Arsinoe II. Despite gaining freedom in circa 167 BC, the city continued to be subjected to a series of external invasions, starting with Mithridates IV in 88 BC and later at the hands of Brutus and Cassius. It was officially annexed to the Roman Empire in circa 43 AD as part of Pamphylia.

Earlier in 2016, goose hunters in Iceland stumbled across a 1000-year old legendary Viking sword. Showcasing a slightly curved profile, the metal of this well-preserved, double-edged blade , according to archaeologists, was corroded due to a millennium of rigorous exposure to outdoor elements.


Girl, 8, pulls a 1,500-year-old sword from a lake in Sweden

Saga Vanecek found the relic in the Vidostern lake while at her family's holiday home in Jonkoping County.

The sword was initially reported to be 1,000 years old, but experts at the local museum now believe it may date to around 1,500 years ago.

"It's not every day that you step on a sword in the lake!" Mikael Nordstrom from the museum said.

The level of the water was extremely low at the time, owing to a drought, which is probably why Saga uncovered the ancient weapon.

"I felt something in the water and lifted it up. Then there was a handle and I went to tell my dad that it looked like a sword," Saga told the broadcaster Sveriges Television.

Saga's father Andy Vanecek told the English-language website The Local he initially thought his daughter had found an unusual stick or branch in the water.

It was only after he asked a friend to take a closer look did he discover that it was likely to be an ancient relic.

The local museum, where the sword is now being kept, said it was extremely well-preserved.

Saga's discovery led the museum and local council to carry out further excavations at the site, finding a brooch from the 3rd Century.

The Jonkoping county museum said that its investigation of the lake is unfinished and it could yet turn up more ancient items.


Viking longship discovery thrills archaeologists

Archaeologists in Norway have used ground-penetrating radar technology to discover an extremely rare Viking longship in what experts are describing as a “sensational” find.

A team from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) harnessed high-resolution georadar to locate the ship in Østfold County, southeastern Norway. The 66-foot vessel, which is located in a burial mound, is just beneath the topsoil at a depth of 1.6 feet.

“The data indicate that the lower part of the ship is still preserved,” said NIKU, in a statement, noting that the ship’s keel and floor timbers appear to be visible.

VIKING SWORD DISCOVERY: HUNTER FINDS 1,100-YEAR-OLD WEAPON ON NORWEGIAN MOUNTAIN

Dr. Knut Paasche, head of the department of digital archaeology at NIKU, described the find as “incredibly exciting” in the statement, adding that only three well-preserved Viking ships have been found in Norway.

The ship burial (circled) forms part of a larger mound cemetery and settlement site. (Illustration: Lars Gustavsen, NIKU)

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

Archaeologists have also identified eight previously-unknown burial mounds, which have been destroyed by plowing, at the site. Additionally, georadar data revealed five longhouses, some of which are “remarkably large.”

MYSTERY BEHIND MASS GRAVE OF VIKING WARRIORS FINALLY SOLVED

Viking families lived in windowless longhouses, which also served as a shelter for their cattle.

The Viking ship was found by georadar at Viksletta right next to the monumental Jelle Mound in Østfold. (Photo: Lars Gustavsen, NIKU)

The site is the next to a monumental Viking burial mound. The longship thus forms part of a cemetery that is clearly designed to display power and influence, according to NIKU project leader Lars Gustavsen. “The ship-burial does not exist in isolation,” he said in a statement.

Archaeologists are now planning to digitally map the site, uncovering more details about the ship without unearthing it and exposing it to the elements. However, experts are not ruling out the possibility of an excavation at some point in the future.

TINY VIKING CRUCIFIX COULD REWRITE HISTORY

The georadar used in the research project was developed by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro). The Institute’s technology was also used to discover a Roman gladiator school in Austria and provide evidence of additional structures at Stonehenge.

Georadar revealed the outline of the Viking ship. (NIKU)

The longship is just the latest fascinating archaeological find from the time of the Vikings. An 8-year-old girl recently discovered a 1,500-year-old Viking sword in a Swedish lake.

Earlier this year, an incredible trove of silver treasure linked to the era of a famous Viking king was discovered on an island in the Baltic Sea. Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins, rings, pearls, and bracelets were found on the German island of Ruegen.

Last year, an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway. In 2016, archaeologists in Trondheim, Norway, unearthed the church where Viking King Olaf Haraldsson was first enshrined as a saint.

VIKING DISCOVERY: EXPERTS USE TECH TO REVEAL SETTLEMENT BENEATH SAINT-KING&aposS CHURCH

Also, in 2016, a tiny Viking crucifix was found in Denmark.

Fox News&apos Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this article.


1,000-year-old Viking sword found lying on the ground in Iceland

One day, Arni Bjorn Valdimarsson set out to hunt geese in the Skaftarhreppur region of Southern Iceland, along with four of his friends. As far as hunting was concerned, the trip was a dismal failure as they failed to shoot any birds, but it was very successful from an archaeological point of view. The five friends stumbled upon an extremely well-preserved Viking sword lying partially covered on the ground. As Runar Stanley Sighvatsson told The Iceland Monitor in an interview, “It was just lying there, waiting to be picked up. It was obvious and just lying there on the ground.”

Valdimarsson posted photographs of the sword on his Facebook page because he and his friends were hoping to collect a large reward, but all that he attracted was the attention of the Icelandic Cultural Heritage Agency, which contacted him to inform him that all archaeological artifacts found in Iceland automatically belong to the state. They made arrangements to meet Valdimarsson to collect the sword.

Ancient Viking sword discovered in pagan boat grave near #Akureyri in #Iceland – look out for a new shore excursion!https://t.co/8JnxO0enSM pic.twitter.com/y9U4ph7Abm

— Shorexpert (@shorexpert) June 15, 2017

The director of the Cultural Heritage Agency, Kristin Huld Sigurdardottir, said that the sword was an important and rare find, as it was one of only 20 Viking swords discovered in Iceland. For this reason, the exact location of the find has been kept secret so that archaeologists have a chance to scientifically survey the area before any horde of tourists and amateur researchers descend on it. The sword was dated to the 10th century and is thought to have been placed in a pagan grave. There had been bad flooding in the area of the discovery, and that may have disturbed a previously unknown grave site.

The Archaeology News Network: Tenth century Viking sword discovered in Iceland https://t.co/HRFH1iYbT8 pic.twitter.com/e4BActwBhr

— ArchaeoNewsNet (@ArchaeoNewsNet) September 12, 2016

The sword was X-rayed and the plates show that the sword is a type-Q, decorated with a pattern that runs from the guard to the point, and is some 950 to 1,000 years old.

The hunters speculated that the sword might have belonged to Ingolfr Arnarson. The name Ingolfr Arnarson is very well known in Iceland, as he is credited with being the first Viking settler in Icelandic territory. He arrived with his wife Hallveig Frodesdatter, his brother Chiorleif, and his step-brother Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson. The Icelandic Book of Settlements claims that Arnarson settled in Reykjavik in 874.

A 1000 year old viking sword has been discovered in Iceland… just lying around! https://t.co/AKWhX2Cn4A pic.twitter.com/eV7874VSEw

— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) September 7, 2016

According to legend, Arnarson left Norway due to a blood feud and set off to find a new island that he had heard had been discovered in the ocean. When he sighted land, he took his high seat pillars and threw them into the sea, proclaiming that he would build his settlement wherever the gods saw fit to bring the pillars to land. High seat pillars were a pair of decorative wooden poles that flanked the chair of the head of a Scandinavian household and were a sign of a chieftain or king. Two of Arnarson’s slaves searched for three years before they found the pillars, and Arnarson then founded his settlement at Reykjavik. Little is known about his life after this, but his son Torstein became an important chieftain and is credited with founding the first Thing, or parliament, in Iceland–a forerunner of the modern Althingi.

This valuable sword is one of the top finds in Iceland. It will be carefully preserved and studied to confirm who it belonged to and where it fits into the story of the Icelandic nation.


8-Year-Old Girl Pulls 1,000-Year-Old Sword From Lake

Sure, the story of King Arthur drawing Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake is pretty cool. But have you heard about the eight-year-old girl who pulled a sword that’s at least 1,000 years old out of a Swedish lake?

The Swedish news site The Local reports that Saga Vanecek was playing in Vidöstern Lake this summer when she stepped on something that felt kind of like a stick.

“I picked it up and was going to drop it back in the water, but it had a handle, and I saw that it was a little bit pointy at the end and all rusty,” she told The Local. “I held it up in the air and I said �y, I found a sword!’ When he saw that it bent and was rusty, he came running up and took it.”

The Jönköpings Läns Museum estimates that the sword is at least 1,000 years old, and may even date to the 5th or 6th century A.D. If so, this would mean the sword pre-dates the Viking era by a few hundred years.

“Why it has come to be there, we don&apost know,” said the museum’s Mikael Nordström, according to The Local. “When we searched a couple of weeks ago, we found another prehistoric object a brooch from around the same period as the sword, so that means—we don&apost know yet𠅋ut perhaps it&aposs a place of sacrifice. At first we thought it could be graves situated nearby the lake, but we don&apost think that any more.”

Saga, who is Swedish-American and lived in Minneapolis until last year, had to keep her discovery a secret until the museum released details about it to the public. The only person she told besides her family and the museum was her best friend.

When news of the sword broke on Thursday, she was finally allowed to tell her classmates. Her teacher celebrated the day with a party, and played the TV and radio interviews Saga had conducted about the sword for the class.

Her father told The Local that some of his friends have joked that Saga’s discovery makes her the Queen of Sweden. On Twitter, many others agreed.

𠇊h, finally an end to our post-election limbo,” tweeted Carl Fridh Kleberg, a reporter in Stockholm. “Tell the political parties someone else has been chosen by fate to form a government.” Some even joked (or hoped) it made her ruler of the world.

Other Twitter users, like Brooklyn-based editor Emily Hughes, cautioned against this by recalling the words of Monty Python: “strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.”

Some, though, just couldn’t get over how perfect the eight-year-old girl’s name was for all this. One Swede declared: “She will get a saga written about her, The saga of Saga.”


Archaeologists uncover 1,000-year-old Viking ship burial site in Norway

Archaeologists in Norway have uncovered a unique Viking burial site, hidden deep underground, dating back over 1,000 years ago. Using only a radar, researchers identified a feast hall, cult house, farmhouse and the remnants of a ship.

According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Antiquity, the burial site is located in Gjellestad, in southeastern Norway. Gjellestad is home to the Jell Mound, which is one of the largest Iron Age funerary mounds in Scandinavia, according to the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research.

Researchers were able to use a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to map features below the Earth's surface, finding the site without having to dig underground. The research originally began in 2017 to look for at-risk burial sites ahead of a construction project.

Archaeologists classified the site as "high-status" after finding copper brooches and rings, a silver coin and, most notably, a gold pendant. Boats, which were symbols of safe passage into the afterlife, were also reserved for powerful Viking individuals.

"The site seems to have belonged to the very top echelon of the Iron Age elite of the area, and would have been a focal point for the exertion of political and social control of the region," lead author Lars Gustavsen said in a press release.

Interpretation map of the mound cemetery based on the full depth-range of the GPR dataset (left). Corresponding depth slices below the ground's surface (right). Map source: Kartverket/CC-BY-4.0. Figure by L. Gustavsen

GPR data revealed that the boat is about 62 feet long &mdash considered very large and rare &mdash and buried up to 4.6 feet underground. Though some have been demolished, the radar also revealed 13 burial mounds once existed in the area, some nearly 100 feet wide.

Trending News

The site offers unique insights into the lives of Viking people. In addition to the ship, researchers found a farmhouse, a large building they believe to be a feast hall and another structure that may have been a cult house or alternative religious structure.

Researchers believe the Jell Mound may have been used for centuries, possibly as early as the 5th century AD, though the ship appears to have been buried centuries later. It likely overlapped with a crucial period in Scandinavia's history, from the collapse of the Western Roman Empire to the rise of the Vikings.

"We suggest that the site has its origins in an ordinary mound cemetery, which was later transformed into a high-status cemetery represented by monumental burial mounds, hall buildings and a ship burial," researchers said.

A full excavation of the ship burial is currently underway, marking the first time a Viking ship burial has been excavated in almost 100 years &mdash the first with modern technology.

"It forms a stepping stone for further research into the development and character of social, political, religious, and economic structures in this tumultuous period," Gustavsen said.

First published on November 11, 2020 / 12:24 PM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sophie Lewis is a social media producer and trending writer for CBS News, focusing on space and climate change.


South-Pawed Viking's Sword Discovered In 1000-Year-Old Burial Mound - History

Manuel Gabler/NIKU Scientists discovered a 1,000-year-old Viking ship burial on a Norwegian farm using georadar technology.

With a bit of luck and a lot of technology, archaeologists recently discovered a 1,000-year-old Viking ship buried underneath a farm in Norway. The discovery was made on the western island of Smøla after researchers scanned a field with advanced ground-penetrating radar.

According to Ars Technica, the Viking ship’s burial mound was plowed down by farmers over the last thousand years, filling the surrounding ditch with soil.

“This is a very common trait for grave mounds,” said Dag-Øyvind Solem, an archaeologist of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) and one of the lead researchers on the georadar project. “In addition to having a potentially symbolic meaning, it is thought that [ditches] have the very practical function of making the mounds seem bigger than they really were.”

The ship’s burial mound was desecrated but that proved to be a blessing in disguise as the loose soil’s moisture reflected more visibly on the researchers’ radar. Scan images of the Viking ship show the hull of the 56-foot-long ship perfectly encircled by the remains of the mound.

Manuel Gabler An animation of the radar images that detected the viking ship.

Funnily enough, this exciting discovery almost didn’t happen.

“We had actually finished the agreed upon area, but we had time to spare and decided to do a quick survey over another field,” said Manuel Gabler, another researcher co-leading the project. “It turned out to be a good decision.” The team also lucked out with the cooperative farmer who owns the field where the Viking ship was uncovered.

“We couldn’t have wished for a more agreeable landowner,” Solem said. “He is very interested in history, especially local history, and is very enthusiastic about the project.” The archaeological project at Edøy was carried out under a collaboration between Møre and Romsdal County, Smøla municipality, and NIKU.

The team has yet to excavate the ship, but their findings so far have been remarkable. Judging from the radar images, the central parts of the ship appear intact but the ship’s fore and aft sterns seem to have been destroyed by centuries of plowing. They believe the Viking ship to be no less than 1,000 years old, most likely from Norway’s Merovingian or Viking period.

“We only know of three well-preserved Viking ship burials in Norway, and these were excavated a long time ago,” Knut Paasche, head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU and a Viking ship expert, said of the discovery. “This new ship will certainly be of great historical significance and it will add to our knowledge as it can be investigated with modern means of archaeology.”

Manuel Gabler The ship was found on a small island in western Norway, in the town of Edøy.

The Viking ship burial at Edøy is certainly remarkable, but it’s not the only recent one. In 2018, another team uncovered the largest Viking ship burial to date, known as the Gjellestad ship, using the same georadar technology.

The massive ship was found 20 inches underneath a well-known archaeological site south of Oslo and measured about 65 feet long. Smøla, where the most recent ship was found, is about 300 miles northwest.

In addition to the Gjellestad ship, researchers also found five buried longhouses which were timber-framed halls used as communal housing for the Vikings.

Now that researchers have uncovered evidence of a Viking ship burial in the area, they hope to return to conduct more surveys.

“We hope to engage in a research project together with local authorities where we can conduct a larger investigation out here with several non-invasive methods of investigation,” said Solem.

As the use of advanced archaeological methods like georadar grow increasingly common in archaeological research, we’ll be sure to hear about more unexpected discoveries hidden right below us.


The True History Behind Netflix’s ‘The Dig’ and Sutton Hoo

In the summer of 1937, as the specter of World War II loomed over Europe, Edith Pretty, a wealthy widow living near Woodbridge, a small town in Suffolk, England, met with the curator of a local museum to discuss excavating three mounds of land on the far side of her estate, Sutton Hoo. (The name is derived from Old English: “Sut” combined with “tun” means “settlement,” and “hoh” translates to “shaped like a heel spur.”) After Pretty hired self-taught amateur archaeologist Basil Brown, the dig began the following spring.

Over the next year or so, Brown, who was later joined by archaeologists from the British Museum, struck gold, unearthing the richest medieval burial ever found in Europe. Dating back to the sixth or seventh century A.D., the 1,400-year-old grave—believed to belong to an Anglo-Saxon king—contained fragments of an 88-foot-long ship (the original wood structure had deteriorated) and a burial chamber filled with hundreds of opulent treasures. The British Museum, which houses the trove today, deemed the find a “spectacular funerary monument on epic scale.”

The importance of the Sutton Hoo burial cannot be overstated. Not only did the site shed light on life during the early medieval Anglo-Saxon period (roughly 410 to 1066) but it also prompted historians to revise their thinking about the Dark Ages, the era that followed the Roman Empire’s departure from the British Isles in the early fifth century. Contrary to long-held beliefs that the period was devoid of the arts or cultural richness, the Sutton Hoo artifacts reflected a vibrant, worldly society.

Basil Brown (front) led excavations at Sutton Hoo. (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

“The discovery in 1939 changed our understanding of some of the first chapters of English history,” says Sue Brunning, a curator of early medieval European collections who oversees the British Museum’s Sutton Hoo artifacts. “A time that had been seen as being backward was illuminated as cultured and sophisticated. The quality and quantity of the artifacts found inside the burial chamber were of such technical artistry that it changed our understanding of this period.”

Given the inherent drama of the excavations at Sutton Hoo, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood offered its own take on the events. The Dig, the new Netflix film starring Carey Mulligan as Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Brown, is adapted from a 2016 novel of the same name by John Preston, nephew of Peggy Piggott, a junior archaeologist on the Sutton Hoo team. The film follows the excavation, including the stories of the main characters, tensions between them, and romantic involvements. Pretty, who had a young son, has always been fascinated by archaeology and recruits Brown to begin excavating the mounds which they both believe to be Viking burial grounds. When Brown unearths the first fragments of a ship, the excavation proceeds full steam ahead.

Minus a few plot points inserted for the sake of dramatic storytelling (Brown’s relationship with British Museum archaeologist Charles Phillips wasn’t nearly as contentious as portrayed, for instance), the movie mostly adheres to the real story, according to screenwriter Moira Buffini. But Buffini professes that in the script, she did omit Pretty’s obsession with “spiritualism” and penchant for speaking to the dead.

Even with its historical discrepancies, the Netflix film does a public service in that it introduces the extraordinary Sutton Hoo story to a new generation of viewers. At the same time, The Dig illuminates the role archaeology plays in unearthing previously unknown narratives.

Buffini, who adapted Jane Eyre for the screen in 2011, conducted extensive research on Sutton Hoo, poring over Brown’s notebooks, inquest reports and photos and drawing inspiration from “each bit of treasure recorded, measured and drawn for posterity.”

“One is struck by the tenderness Brown felt for all of the artifacts,” Buffini says. “He spoke of the respect and almost familial love hidden in the artifacts, and how there was incredible culture and craftsmanship outside and beyond the Roman Empire.”

Gold shoulder clasp with inlays of garnets and glass (Rob Roy via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.5)

Over the course of several excavations in 1938 and 1939, Brown and the archaeological team found 263 objects buried in the central chamber of the enormous Anglo-Saxon ship. Iron rivets, identified as being part of the seafaring vessel, was the first clue that alerted the archaeologist of the huge ship buried on the site, according to Brunning.

As the archaeologists dug deeper, they found themselves stunned by the scale, quality and sheer diversity of the trove. Among the artifacts unearthed were fine feasting vessels, deluxe hanging bowls, silverware from Byzantium, luxurious textiles and gold dress accessories set with Sri Lankan garnets.

The grave’s burial chamber was laden with weapons and high-quality military equipment. A shield found inside is believed to have been a diplomatic gift from Scandinavia shoulder clasps appear to be modeled on those worn by Roman emperors, suggesting the armor’s owner drew from different cultures and power bases to assert his own authority.

The artifacts also included a gold belt buckle with a triple-lock mechanism, its surface adorned with semi-abstract imagery featuring snakes slithering beneath each other. Brown found 37 gold coins, which were probably held in a leather pouch, and an ornate purse lid, which would have covered the pouch. It hung from three hinged straps from a waist belt and was fastened by the gold buckle. The purse-lid, adorned with reddish garnets, is considered one of the finest examples of cloisonné, a style in which stones are held by gold strips.

Though metal items survived in Suffolk’s acidic soil better than organic objects like fabric and wood, the team did find a number of unexpected artifacts, including a well-preserved yellow ladybug.

“Every part of the burial site is an important piece of the puzzle, even something as simple as small wooden cups,” says Brunning. “Most people (who see the collection) tend to walk past them because they’re not shiny. But when we analyze these objects and look at how they are laid out and the type of labor that went into them, they would have taken time to make. So even the smallest, most shriveled objects are important.”

Elaborate ship burials filled with treasures were rare in Anglo-Saxon England, particularly toward the latter end of the early medieval period. The wealth of grave goods found at Sutton Hoo—as well as the positioning of the ship and its contents, which would’ve required a considerable amount of manpower to transport—suggest its onetime inhabitant was of a very high social status, perhaps even royalty, but the individual’s identity remains a mystery. (An oft-cited candidate is King Raedwald of East Anglia, who died around 625.) By 1939, notes the British Museum, all that was left of the deceased was a “human-shaped gap among the treasures within.”

According to Brunning, Raedwald ruled around that time and “may have had power over neighboring kingdoms, which would have earned him a good send-off.”

A replica of the famed Sutton Hoo helmet (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The most iconic item to come out of Sutton Hoo is a helmet decorated with images of fighting and dancing warriors and fierce creatures, including a dragon whose wings form the headgear’s eyebrows and tail its body and mouth. Garnets line the eyebrows, one of which is backed with gold foil reflectors. Found highly corroded and broken into hundreds of fragments, the armor was painstakingly restored by conservators at the British Museum in the early 1970s.

On July 25, 1939, Pretty hosted a reception at the Sutton Hoo site to celebrate the conclusion of the dig. The land next to the excavation site was fashioned into a viewing platform. The British Museum’s Phillips delivered a short speech about the ship, but was drowned out by the roar of the engine of a Spitfire flying overhead as England prepared for war. Shortly after that, news of the excavation’s findings started to appear in the press, in part from information leaked by a member of the excavating team. A few days later, the Sutton Hoo artifacts were transported to the British Museum, and after some legal wrangling, they officially became part of the collection as a gift from Pretty.

The public first got a look at the artifacts in a 1940 exhibit, but that opportunity would be short-lived as they were secreted away in the tunnels of the London Underground for safekeeping during the war. After the Allies’ victory in 1945, the trove was returned to the British Museum where conservation and reconstruction work began.

But analysis of the artifacts generated more questions, and the Sutton Hoo burial ground was re-excavated using advances in science to improve analysis. In 1983, a third excavation of the site led to the discovery of another mound, which contained a warrior and his horse.

Today, the Sutton Hoo artifacts remain on exhibition at the British Museum, where each year, in non-pandemic times, visitors view the extraordinary treasures of an Anglo-Saxon king buried in grandeur 1,400 years ago. More than 80 years after Brown started sifting through the sandy soil of Sutton Hoo, the treasures he unearthed are undiminished. As he wrote in his diary in 1939, “It’s the find of a lifetime.”


Watch the video: Ο Μπέρτραντ Ράσελ για το Θεό 1959 - Ελληνικοί Υπότιτλοι (July 2022).


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