Monday, 27 June 2016

THE DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY 2016 WILL BE HELD ON FRIDAY 29 JULY!




We are looking for people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeological world to participate with us in a “Day of Archaeology” in July 2016. The resulting Day of Archaeology website will demonstrate the wide variety of work our profession undertakes day-to-day across the globe, and help to raise public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world. We want anyone with a personal, professional or voluntary interest in archaeology to get involved, and help show the world why archaeology is vital to protect the past and inform our futures.

Explore posts from previous years here...

Unique Viking tomb contains remains of noble couple


A Viking tomb in Denmark contains the rare remains of two men and a woman and offers more evidence of an international Viking culture.

A tomb discovered as part of a large Viking burial ground in south west Denmark contains the remains of a Viking noble or at least a highly distinguished person.
The grave was discovered in 2012 when engineers were building a highway, and it has since been identified as a unique Viking tomb known as a ‘dødehus’ [death house].  The building measures four by thirteen metres and contained three graves dating back to 950 CE.
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

After 1,000 years, ‘forgotten’ Danish Viking fortress opens

The 'forgotten' Viking fortress is one of five in Denmark. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix

The historic discovery two years ago of a fifth Viking ring fortress was celebrated in grand style on Monday.

After lying forgotten for over 1,000 years, archaeologists uncovered a circular Viking fortress just west of the Zealand town of Køge in a find that shook up popular knowledge of the Viking Age
 
Researchers had long assumed that the four previously discovered Viking fortresses were all that remained in Denmark and the September 2014 find was the first of its kind in 60 years. 
 
On Monday, Queen Margrethe officially unveiled the fortress, dubbed Borgring. It opens to the general public on Wednesday, June 1st and is expected to draw upwards of 30,000 visitors per year. 

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Largest-ever Viking gold collection found in Denmark



Six gold bracelets and a silver one represent the largest-ever Viking treasure trove uncovered in Denmark. Photo: Nick Schaadt, Museet på Sønderskov

Three amateur archaeologists have uncovered the largest ever trove of Viking gold in Denmark.



The three archaeologists, who call themselves Team Rainbow Power, found seven bracelets from the Viking Age in a field in Vejen Municipality in Jutland. The bracelets, six gold and one silver, date to around the year 900. 
With a combined weight of around 900 grammes, the find is the largest ever discovery of Viking gold in Denmark. 
Team Rainbow Power member Marie Aagaard Larsen said that she had only been on the field for around ten minutes before striking gold – literally. 

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Viking Gold Hoard Discovered In Denmark


Denmark's main museum says amateur archaeologists have found seven bracelets - one of silver and six of gold - which are considered to be the largest Viking-era gold find in Denmark.
Viking Gold Treasure found at Vejen in 2016 [Credit: Museum of Sønderskov/Nick Schadt]

National Museum of Denmark spokesman Peter Pentz says finding one "is huge but it is something special to find seven."

Pentz says the bracelets weighing a total of almost one kilogram (2.2. pounds) were discovered last week near Vejen in western Denmark by people using metal detectors.

He said in a statement Thursday the bracelets could have been used by a Viking chieftain to reward faithful followers. They likely were part of a treasure that includes a gold chain found in the same field in 1911.


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Thursday, 16 June 2016

Viking Gold Hoard at the End of the Rainbow


It really feels as if we found  gold at the end of the rainbow, tells one of the amateur archaeologists, who last week found the largest treasure of Viking gold ever discovered in Denmark

Last week three amateur archaeologists found seven bangles from the 10thcentury in a field near Vejen in Jutland. The amazing thing is that six of the seven are made of gold, while the last is of silver.
– When we discovered the first ring, we really felt that we had found the gold at the end of the rainbow. And then more surfaced; it was almost unreal, says Marie Aagaard Larsen, who together with her husband Christian Nedergaard Dreiøe and their common friend Poul Nørgaard Pedersen is one of the three happy finders.

It took only about ten minutes to find the first three bangles; afterwards a phot was sent quickly to the local museum in Sønderskov where the curator was quick to secure the place.


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Monday, 13 June 2016

Body in well confirms Viking Saga

Archeologists from NIKUnorway working in the well. 
Image: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research

Archaeologists working in Trondheim in Norway are amazed by the discovery of a human skeleton in the bottom of an abandoned castle well. The skeleton provides evidence that confirms dramatic historical events mentioned in the Sagas.
The location and contents of the well are mentioned in Sverre’s Saga, a chronicle of one of the kings of Norway, and one of very few historical manuscripts describing events in the Norwegian Viking age and medieval period.
Scholars have questioned the chronicle’s trustworthiness as a historical document. But now, at least one part of the saga seems to hold truth – down to the tiniest detail.
This is truly astonishing. As far as I know there is no known example of the discovery of an individual historically connected with an act of war as far back as the year 1197. And the fact that this actually corroborates an event described in Sverre’s saga is simply amazing“, says lead archaeologist at the site, Anna Petersén.
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Sunday, 29 May 2016

New Lead in the Search for Elusive Norse Settlements

Wayne MacIsaac stands near what he believes may be the remnants of a Norse fortification wall. (Tara MacIsaac/Epoch Times)

CODROY VALLEY, Canada–A story passed down in my family for generations may be the clue to finding a lost Norse settlement.
The only Norse settlement in the New World thus far confirmed by archaeologists is in L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern tip of Newfoundland, Canada. But the Norse sagas tell of other colonizing expeditions.
Last summer, archaeologists announced that they had found evidence of a Norse presence–a hearth used for roasting bog iron ore, which is the first step in the production of iron–at Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland. My uncle, Wayne MacIsaac, was so excited he said he didn’t sleep for three days. He felt vindicated in his long-cherished, but long-ignored, theory that he had found an ancient Norse site in the nearby Codroy Valley where he lives.
His previous attempts to attract the interest of archaeologists to the site had met with failure, but that has now changed. An international team of archaeologists are due to investigate in July.
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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Viking 'parliament' site uncovered on Scottish island


IT is an ancient meeting place where Vikings would gather to decide laws, settle disputes and make key political decisions.
Now archaeologists believe they have identified one of the Norse parliament sites – known as a ‘thing’ - on the island of Bute, which points to it being the headquarters of the powerful Norse King, Ketill Flatnose, whose descendants were the earliest settlers on Iceland.
The significance of the mound site at Cnoc An Rath, which has been listed as an important archaeological monument since the 1950s, has been unclear for decades. Some had suggested it could have been prehistoric or a medieval farm site.
However, the idea of the location being a Viking site had been raised through a recent study of place-names on the island, which suggested long-lost names in the area may have contained the Norse word ‘thing’.
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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Meta-Vikings: Runestone Long Thought to Honor Kings Actually Monument to Writing Itself

This is Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rök Runestone. 
Photo: University of Gothenburg

The Rök Runestone was carved in Sweden in the late 800s. Since it was discovered in the 1940s, interpretations of the writing honed in on supposed references to heroic journeys, battles and warrior-kings.
But a new interpretation says the Runestone is in fact referencing itself – and the power of writing, according to a new study.
“The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so-called futhark,” said Per Holmberg, associate profess of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenberg.
The three-part “arc” of the stone concerns the daylight needed to write and read the stone, the carving of the stone itself, and the legacy that is produced by the writing, according to the paper, published in Futhark: The International Journal of Runic Studies.
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New Interpretation Of The Rok Runestone Inscription Changes View Of Viking Age

Per Holmberg, researcher at University of Gothenburg, with the Rok Runestone 
[Credit: University of Gothenburg]

The Rok Runestone, erected in the late 800s in the Swedish province of Ostergotland, is the world's most well-known runestone. Its long inscription has seemed impossible to understand, despite the fact that it is relatively easy to read. A new interpretation of the inscription has now been presented -- an interpretation that breaks completely with a century-old interpretative tradition. What has previously been understood as references to heroic feats, kings and wars in fact seems to refer to the monument itself.

'The inscription on the Rok Runestone is not as hard to understand as previously thought,' says Per Holmberg, associate professor of Scandinavian languages at the University of Gothenburg. 'The riddles on the front of the stone have to do with the daylight that we need to be able to read the runes, and on the back are riddles that probably have to do with the carving of the runes and the runic alphabet, the so called futhark.'

Previous research has treated the Rok Runestone as a unique runestone that gives accounts of long forgotten acts of heroism. This understanding has sparked speculations about how Varin, who made the inscriptions on the stone, was related to Gothic kings. In his research, Holmberg shows that the Rok Runestone can be understood as more similar to other runestones from the Viking Age. In most cases, runestone inscriptions say something about themselves.

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

All aboard! Nordic Viking ship ready for Atlantic voyage


The world's largest Viking ship in modern times is about to set sail across the Atlantic.
Named after Harald Hårfagre, the king who unified Norway in the 10th century, the ship's Swedish captain Björn Ahlander was originally supposed to have ordered the great dragon vessel to weigh anchor from Avaldsnes in Norway's Haugesund on Sunday, but the departure was delayed by bad weather.
And time is of the essence. Following in the historical tailwind of Leif Eriksson, the Viking thought to have discovered America centuries before Christopher Columbus, the ship has a long journey ahead, taking a route via Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland before it finally drops anchor in the United States.
"We've got one month because the only gap, if you don't want to battle low pressure and harsh winds, is May. That's your chance to make it across," Ahlander told the Swedish news agency TT on Monday.
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The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns


The Viking Great Army in England: Torksey, treasure and towns

Tuesday 3 May 2016, 5.30PM

Speaker: Julian Richards


From AD 865 to 879 a Viking army wreaked havoc on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, leading to political conquest, settlement on a substantial scale, and extensive Scandinavian cultural and linguistic influences in eastern and northern England. This critical period for English history led to revolutionary changes in land ownership, society, and economy, including the growth of towns and industry, while transformations in power politics would ultimately see the rise of Wessex as the pre-eminent kingdom of Anglo-Saxon England. 

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Did volcano eruptions tip Europe into Dark Ages?


Back-to-back volcanic eruptions in the mid-6th century darkened Europe's skies for more than a year and may have ushered in the Dark Ages, according to finding to be presented Friday at a science conference in Vienna.
"Either would have led to significant cooling of Earth's surface," said Matthew Toohey, a climate modeller at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel Germany who led the research.
"But taken together, the two eruptions"—in 536 and 540—"were likely the most powerful volcanic event affecting the northern hemisphere climate over at least the past 1,500 years," he told AFP at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union.
Their combined impact lowered temperatures by two degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during what is probably the coldest decade in the last two millennia, he added.
This sudden drop, caused by a Sun-blocking blanket of sulphur particles in the stratosphere, had a devastating impact on agriculture, provoking famine throughout much of Europe and beyond.
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Friday, 22 April 2016

Searching for the Vikings: 3 Sites Possibly Found in Canada


Another possible Viking site, located at a place called Point Rosee in southern Newfoundland, was discovered using satellite imagery. 

Three archaeological sites that may have been used by Vikings around 1,000 years ago were excavated recently in Canada.

If confirmed, the discoveries would add to the single known Viking settlement in the New World, located at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Excavated in the 1960s, that Viking outpost was used for a short period of time around 1,000 years agoas well.

Sagas from the time of the Vikings tell tales of their journeys into the New World, mentioning places named "Helluland" (widely believed to be modern-day Baffin Island), "Markland" (widely believed to be Labrador) and "Vinland," which is a more mysterious location that some archaeologists have argued could be Newfoundland. [See Photos of the Newfound Viking Sites]

Even so, pinpointing actual Viking remains or other clues of Viking settlements has been difficult, making the three sites — two in Newfoundland and the other in the Arctic — intriguing to archaeologists.

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Monday, 18 April 2016

'Woman in Blue' sheds light on Iceland’s first settlers


Iceland’s “woman in blue,” the partial skeleton of a young woman found in 1938 in a grave with Viking-era objects, was a child of some of the island’s earliest settlers, researchers reported April 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Tooth development and wear suggest she was between 17 and 25 years old when she died.



A female’s jaw dating to the early 900s, with some flesh still attached, floats  in a jar filled with light paraffin oil. The jaw belonged to one of Iceland’s earliest  colonizers, known as the “woman in blue” for her indigo-dyed apron
[Credit: Ivar Brynjólfsson/The National Museum of Iceland]

It’s not known if the woman was a Viking or if she came from another northern European population, said bioarchaeologist Tina Jakob of Durham University in England. A chemical analysis of one of her teeth indicates that, between ages 5 and 10, she started eating a lot of fish and other seafood for the first time after having previously consumed mainly plants and land animals, a team led by Jakob and Joe Walser III of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik found.

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Monday, 11 April 2016

Viking Treasures seen for the first time in a thousand years

More than ten centuries after being buried in a field in Galloway, conservators are releasing images that reveal the contents of a pot of Viking treasure for the first time.


Although the objects are not currently on  display, a series of images will give the public a chance to see the Viking treasure for the first time, following a painstaking conservation project to remove and conserve the rare items, which date from 9th-10th centuries AD.
The project is being funded by Historic Environment Scotland, working in partnership with the Treasure Trove Unit, and the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR).

The cache of objects were, until recently, contained in a ‘Carolingian’ (West European) vessel, or pot, which was part of a wider hoard, amounting to around a hundred items, which includes a large number of silver ingots and armrings, a beautifully-preserved cross, and an ornate gold pin in the likeness of a bird. 


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Monday, 4 April 2016

Did Alabama space archaeologist just help rewrite history of Vikings in North America?

Sarah Parcak revealed her plan for a $1 million grant to the world during an impassioned speech on stage at the TED2016 event in Vancouver on Tuesday night. 
(Photo courtesy TED)

An expert team of archaeologists, including University of Alabama at Birmingham archaeologist Sarah Parcak, has uncovered what may be the first new Norse site discovered in North America in decades.

Parcak's international renown grew last year when she was announced as the winner of a $1 million TED prize, which she is using to fight looting using satellite technology.

Now she is part of a group of scientists who have uncovered what could prove to be North America's second Viking site.

Parcak, a researcher and professor of anthropology at UAB, was awarded the 2016 TED Prize because of her innovative work preserving ancient Egyptian sites using satellites. She has discovered 17 lost pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs and more than 3,100 ancient settlements in Egypt.

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A Viking village in Canada, spotted from space


Space archaeologist Sarah Parcak on the site of a possible Viking settlement on the southern coast of Newfoundland in July 2015.
Credit: Freddie Claire/ BBC

Evidence at an archaeological site in southern Newfoundland suggests it may once have been inhabited by a group of the seafaring Scandinavians. If borne out by further research, this would be only the second Viking site in North America, and the first uncovered in more than 50 years.

“You can explain away one site,” said Sarah Parcak, the archaeologist from the University of Alabama at Birmingham who led the discovery. “It’s a one-off. But I think if there’s two, there’s definitely more.”

Parcak first discovered the ancient ruin in a thoroughly modern fashion: through satellite images taken hundreds of miles above earth. Her team scanned the coastline of eastern Canada and northern New England using Google Earth to search for evidence of past human settlements.   

When the team found areas where plant growth seemed disrupted, they ordered high-resolution satellite imagery for a closer look. That led them to the southwestern corner of Newfoundland and a site researchers are now calling “Point Rosee.”

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Discovery Could Rewrite History of Vikings in New World

Archaeologists have unearthed a stone hearth that was used for iron-working, hundreds of miles away from the only other known Viking site in North America.


It’s a two-mile trudge through forested, swampy ground to reach Point Rosee, a narrow, windswept peninsula stretching from southern Newfoundland into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Last June, a team of archaeologists was drawn to this remote part of Canada by a modern-day treasure map: satellite imagery revealing ground features that could be evidence of past human activity.
The treasure they discovered here—a stone hearth used for working iron—could rewrite the early history of North America and aid the search for lost Viking settlements described in Norse sagas centuries ago.
To date, the only confirmed Viking site in the New World is L’Anse aux Meadows, a thousand-year-old way station discovered in 1960 on the northern tip of Newfoundland. It was a temporary settlement, abandoned after just a few years, and archaeologists have spent the past half-century searching for elusive signs of other Norse expeditions.

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Friday, 1 April 2016

New evidence of Viking life in America?


A new discovery has revealed that the Vikings may have travelled hundreds of miles further into North America than previously thought. It's well known that they reached the tip of the continent more than 1,000 years ago, but the full extent of their exploration has remained a mystery, writes historian Dan Snow. 

After a long hike across boggy ground and through thick pine forests, clutching pepper spray to protect against bear attacks, Sarah Parcak and her small team of archaeologists stood on an exposed, wind-blasted headland in North America.

Exhausted but happy, they had been led to Point Rosee in Newfoundland by the most high-tech weaponry in the modern archaeological arsenal - satellite data captured 383 miles (600km) above the Earth. But once here they were back to using trowels and brushes. I joined them to see how this powerful combination of new and old allowed them to make what could be a seismic discovery.

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New satellite images reveal fresh evidence that Vikings settled in North America

Credit BBC

The Vikings' claim to be the first Europeans to reach North America will receive a huge boost, with the announcement of the discovery of a new site that marks the farthest known westerly point of the Norse exploration across the Atlantic.

Scientists working with the BBC will today reveal that they believe they have discovered only the second known Viking site in North America, on the Canadian island of Newfoundland, 400 miles south-west of a settlement discovered in the 1960s – the farthest known point of all the Viking voyages.

The remains of metal and turf, dating to sometime between 800AD and 1300AD, were excavated after sophisticated new satellite searches, and give further credence to the claim that it was the Vikings, not Columbus, who were the first European explorers to discover the Americas.

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View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America

 Douglas Bolender, left, and Sarah H. Parcak, right, looking for evidence of a Viking presence at a remote site, called Point Rosee by researchers, in Newfoundland. If confirmed, the site would be the second known Viking settlement in North America. Credit Greg Mumford

A thousand years after the Vikings braved the icy seas from Greenland to the New World in search of timber and plunder, satellite technology has found intriguing evidence of a long-elusive prize in archaeology — a second Norse settlement in North America, further south than ever known.

The new Canadian site, with telltale signs of iron-working, was discovered last summer after infrared images from 400 miles in space showed possible man-made shapes under discolored vegetation. The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.

Since then, archaeologists, following up clues in the histories known as the sagas, have been hunting for the holy grail of other Viking, or Norse, landmarks in the Americas that would have existed 500 years before Columbus, to no avail.

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Unique jewellery from the British Isles found in Danish Viking grave

A Danish Viking burial site contains a buckle that may have come from Ireland or Scotland.

 The history of this bronze buckle might share some light on just how “global” the Vikings were. (Photo: Ernst Stidsing)


At just 6 cm in diameter, this little buckle is causing quite a stir in archaeological circles.

The small gilt bronze buckle once held a petticoat together and was buried between 900 and 1,000 years ago with its female owner in a Viking grave in west Denmark.

It is a rare find for Denmark, as the buckle appears to have come from Scotland or Ireland.
But just to determine this has been quite a journey, says project manager and archaeologist Ernst Stidsing, from the Museum East Jutland, Denmark.

The find is described in a collection of articles "Dead and buried in the Viking Age", published by Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Lost forest language to be taught in Swedish preschool


Elfdalian, a rare Viking language, is getting a revival after local politicians agreed to build a new preschool in Älvdalen, the small forest community that still uses it.

While its name might conjure up images from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, Elfdalian is a real language that is believed to date back to Viking times and is in danger of becoming extinct.
 
Fewer than 60 children can currently speak Elfdalian, but politicians in the remote town of Älvdalen in central Sweden have this week voted to try to save it, by setting up a new preschool where it will be taught. Pupils who begin learning the language aged six will keep it as part of their curriculum until they turn 18.
 
"The decision was made yesterday that they will start to build the preschool," Lotte Andersson, a press spokesperson for the municipality, confirmed to The Local on Wednesday.

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New light shed on life of Sweden's King Erik


The saint's legend speaks of a king who died a dramatic death in battle outside the church in Uppsala, Sweden, where he had just celebrated mass. But what can modern science tell us about his remains? A joint research project headed by Uppsala University now reveals more of the health condition of Saint Erik, what he looked like, where he lived and what the circumstances of his death were. New light shed on life of Sweden's King Erik 


On April 23, 2014, the reliquary was opened at a ceremony in Uppsala Cathedral. After this, researchers from several scientific disciplines set to work running tests on the remains in an attempt to learn more about the medieval king [Credit: Mikael Wallerstedt] 

No contemporary sources mention Erik Jedvardsson, the Swedish king who was later sainted. The only account of his life is the saint's legend, in its preserved form written in the 1290's. Such legends are often unreliable. The Erik legend is, however, based on an older legend which has been lost, and this longer legend may have been much older. 

The preserved legend says that Erik was chosen to be king, ruled fairly, was a devoted Christian, led a crusade against Finland, and supported the Church. He was killed in 1160, in his tenth year of rule, by a Danish claimant to the throne. His remains have rested in a reliquary since 1257.

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After 250 years, ‘lost’ rune stone found at Dane's home

Experts were able to match the runes to a 1767 drawing. 
Photo: Lisbeth Imer, National Museum of Denmark

A rune stone likely dating back to around the year 1000 has been discovered in northern Denmark, some 250 years after it was last seen, the National Museum of Denmark said on Thursday.

Researchers had long since given up hope of ever recovering the lost Viking artefact when a farmer contacted Museum Thy in November to say that he had a large stone with some stripes on it in his back yard that he thought experts might want to see. 
 
The museum’s archaeologist Charlotte Boje Andersen and runologist Lisbeth Imer from the National Museum visited the farmer this week and were absolutely shocked by what they found.

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1,100 year-old Denmark crucifix ‘may change history’


A cross discovered by an amateur Danish archaeologist may "change history" according to an expert, who believes the cross may date from before Christianity is thought to have reached Denmark.

An amateur archaeologist on the island of Funen made a startling discovery last week – a necklace resembling Jesus on the cross. But after posting a picture of the discovery on Facebook, Dennis Fabricius Holm quickly found that the item may have a lot more significance than he had initially thought.

“I finished work early last Friday, so I decided to spend a couple of hours searching with my metal detector,” Holm told national broadcaster DR.

“Suddenly I hit upon something,” continued Holm. “Ever since I turned over the clump of earth and saw the cross, I’ve been unable to think of anything else.”

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British Buckle Found in Danish Viking Grave



A gilt bronze buckle dating to more than 1,000 years ago has been found buried with a woman in a Viking grave in west Denmark. Determining the origin of the 2.4-inch-wide buckle has been a major challenge, according to archaeologist Ernst Stidsing of the Museum of East Jutland. Stidsing sent photos of the buckle to a colleague who was stumped and who sent them on to other experts. They agreed that it was from the British Isles, but were divided on exactly which part—some said Ireland, others the south of Scotland. They agreed, however, that the disc was originally a decoration on a religious box and was only used as a buckle after it was stolen.

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Friday, 4 March 2016

Was Viking ruler Rollo Danish or Norwegian?


Norwegian researches opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian? 

Norwegian researchers opened a tomb containing the remains of descendants of Viking leader Rollo in Normandy, France on Monday with the aim of putting an end to a centuries-long debate: was Rollo Danish or Norwegian?
 
“We have worked on investigating this for about seven years, so to finally obtain material that we can test for DNA is huge,” historian Sturla Ellingvåg told NTB.

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Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered


The remains of an Anglo-Saxon island have been uncovered in one of the most important archaeological finds in decades. 

Anglo-Saxon 'island' settlement discovered Liason officer Adam Daubney and metal detectorist Graham Vickers have discovered a 'significant' archaeological site [Credit: University of Sheffield] 

The island which was home to a Middle Saxon settlement was found at Little Carlton near Louth, Lincolnshire by archaeologists from the University of Sheffield. 

It is thought the site is a previously unknown monastic or trading centre but researchers believe their work has only revealed an enticing glimpse of the settlement so far.

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Sunday, 28 February 2016

No Wool, No Vikings

Fosen Folk High School students sailing a square-sail-rigged boat in the Trondheim Fjord. Square sails were the norm in Viking days. Photo by Claire Eamer

Gray clouds hang low over the Trondheim Fjord, a huge, convoluted indentation in the central Norwegian coast. A gusting wind blows the tops off the waves, tosses rain in my face, and fills Braute’s great square sail. It heels over, water splashing over its leeward gunwale and through the oar-ports, soaking everyone on that side of the long, open, Viking-style wooden boat.

Braute is sailing out from Fosen Folk High School, located in Rissa, on the north shore of the fjord. I’m sharing a hard wooden bench with some of the school’s students—mostly young Norwegians, with a sprinkling of foreigners. They’ve just spent nine months studying traditional skills that date back to the Viking Age, from boatbuilding and sailing to traditional farming and wool working.

On this, the last trip of the school year, we’re heading for Utsetøya, a little island near the mouth of the fjord. That’s where the school’s small flock of sheep, which provides both meat and wool, runs wild for most of the year, hemmed in only by the sea. Most of Fosen’s student body is crammed aboard Braute and two other Viking-style boats, along with staff, food, mounds of camping gear, and one shivering Canadian journalist. The plan is to camp on the island for several nights, check on the flock, and collect next year’s supply of raw wool.

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Did the Vikings use crystal 'sunstones' to discover America?


Vikings may have used the interaction of sunlight with particular types of crystal to create a navigational aid that may even have worked in overcast conditions.


Leif Erikson discovers America. (Photo: Christian Krogh/Wikimedia Commons)

Ancient records tell us that the intrepid Viking seafarers who discovered Iceland, Greenland and eventually North America navigated using landmarks, birds and whales, and little else. There’s little doubt that Viking sailors would also have used the positions of stars at night and the sun during the daytime, and archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a kind of Viking navigational sundial. But without magnetic compasses, like all ancient sailors they would have struggled to find their way once the clouds came over.

However, there are also several reports in Nordic sagas and other sources of a sólarsteinn “sunstone”. The literature doesn’t say what this was used for but it has sparked decades of research examining if this might be a reference to a more intriguing form of navigational tool.

The idea is that the Vikings may have used the interaction of sunlight with particular types of crystal to create a navigational aid that may even have worked in overcast conditions. This would mean the Vikings had discovered the basic principles of measuring polarised light centuries before they were explained scientifically and which are today used to identify and measure different chemicals. Scientists are now getting closer to establishing if this form of navigation would have been possible, or if it is just a fanciful theory.

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Monday, 15 February 2016

Lost in Translation? Ibn Fadlan and the Great Unwashed


Lost in Translation? Ibn Fadlan and the Great Unwashed

14–15 March 2016 

MBI Al Jaber Building, Corpus Christi College, Oxford


Ibn Fadlan’s vivid eye-witness report of his mission to the Bulgars on the Middle Volga in 921/2 is probably one of the most widely known and intensively studied of early Arabic texts. Yet the importance of Ibn Fadlan and his mission has yet to receive a full and rounded assessment.

Our two-day interdisciplinary conference will draw on historians, numismatists, textual scholars and archaeologists and will attempt to set Ibn Fadlan’s account within the broader context of tenth-century Europe, the Islamic world and the Eurasian steppes.

Further details...

Friday, 5 February 2016

From genes to latrines: Vikings and their worms provide clues to emphysema


In a paper published today in Nature: Scientific Reports a group of researchers led by LSTM have found that the key to an inherited deficiency, predisposing people to emphysema and other lung conditions, could lie in their Viking roots.
Archaeological excavations of Viking latrine pits in Denmark have revealed that these populations suffered massive worm infestations (link is external). The way that their genes developed to protect their vital organs from disease caused by worms has become the inherited trait which can now lead to lung disease in smokers. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema affect over 300 million people, or nearly 5% of the global population. The only inherited risk factor is alpha-1-antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency, and this risk is compounded if individuals smoke tobacco.

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Viking 'sunstones' put to the test


Ancient records tell us that the intrepid Viking seafarers who discovered Iceland, Greenland and eventually North America navigated using landmarks, birds and whales, and little else. There's little doubt that Viking sailors would also have used the positions of stars at night and the sun during the daytime, and archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a kind of Viking navigational sundial. But without magnetic compasses, like all ancient sailors they would have struggled to find their way once the clouds came over. 


Viking 'sunstones' put to the test Leif Erikson discovers America 
[Credit: Christian Krogh/WikiCommons] 

However, there are also several reports in Nordic sagas and other sources of a sólarsteinn "sunstone". The literature doesn't say what this was used for but it has sparked decades of research examining if this might be a reference to a more intriguing form of navigational tool.

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber


Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber: Rituale Früher Jäger
5.12.2015 - 28.3.2016
Archäologische Museum Frankfurt 

Warum hat man Bären feierlich bestattet?
Weshalb tanzten Schamanen mit einem Hirschgeweih auf dem Kopf?
In welchen Zauberwelten weilten sie bei ihren Séancen?
Und wozu dienten Äxte und Stäbe, die wie Köpfe von Elchkühen gestaltet waren?

Bärenzeremoniell, Hirschtanz sowie Ren- und Elchkult waren religiös-schamanische Rituale zahlreicher indigener Jägervölker im Norden Skandinaviens und Sibiriens. Mit Faszination und Abscheu begegneten Geistliche und Reisende des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts diesen Praktiken. Sie verdammten sie als „erschröcklichen Abgötterej vnnd verehrung der Teuffel". Dahinter stand jedoch eine urtümliche Vorstellungswelt und Religiosität, die in der Lebensform archaischer Jäger-Fischer-Sammler-Kulturen wurzelte.


Staunen erweckt jedoch nicht nur die weite Verbreitung dieser Kulte über die gesamte zirkumpolare Zone, sondern noch mehr ihr unergründliches Alter. Denn die Verehrung von Bären und Geweihträgern, verbunden mit schamanischen Ritualen, ist schon für die Altsteinzeit überliefert, dem Auftreten des modernen Menschen in Europa vor etwa 40 000 Jahren und noch darüber hinaus. In den religiösen Phänomenen neuzeitlicher Ethnien der nördlichen Hemisphäre werden somit Züge einer menschlichen „Urreligion" sichtbar.

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Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber


Bärenkult und Schamanenzauber: Rituale Früher Jäger
5.12.2015 - 28.3.2016
Archäologische Museum Frankfurt 

Warum hat man Bären feierlich bestattet?
Weshalb tanzten Schamanen mit einem Hirschgeweih auf dem Kopf?
In welchen Zauberwelten weilten sie bei ihren Séancen?
Und wozu dienten Äxte und Stäbe, die wie Köpfe von Elchkühen gestaltet waren?

Bärenzeremoniell, Hirschtanz sowie Ren- und Elchkult waren religiös-schamanische Rituale zahlreicher indigener Jägervölker im Norden Skandinaviens und Sibiriens. Mit Faszination und Abscheu begegneten Geistliche und Reisende des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts diesen Praktiken. Sie verdammten sie als „erschröcklichen Abgötterej vnnd verehrung der Teuffel". Dahinter stand jedoch eine urtümliche Vorstellungswelt und Religiosität, die in der Lebensform archaischer Jäger-Fischer-Sammler-Kulturen wurzelte.


Staunen erweckt jedoch nicht nur die weite Verbreitung dieser Kulte über die gesamte zirkumpolare Zone, sondern noch mehr ihr unergründliches Alter. Denn die Verehrung von Bären und Geweihträgern, verbunden mit schamanischen Ritualen, ist schon für die Altsteinzeit überliefert, dem Auftreten des modernen Menschen in Europa vor etwa 40 000 Jahren und noch darüber hinaus. In den religiösen Phänomenen neuzeitlicher Ethnien der nördlichen Hemisphäre werden somit Züge einer menschlichen „Urreligion" sichtbar.

Read the rest of this article...