Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Viking queen exhumed to solve mystery

SLAGEN, Norway (Reuters) - Archaeologists exhumed the body of a Viking queen on Monday, hoping to solve a riddle about whether a woman buried with her 1,200 years ago was a servant killed to be a companion into the afterlife.

As a less gruesome alternative, the two women in the grass-covered Oseberg mound in south Norway might be a royal mother and daughter who died of the same disease and were buried together in 834.

"We will do DNA tests to try to find out. I don't know of any Viking skeletons that have been analyzed as we plan to do," Egil Mikkelsen, director of Oslo's Museum of Cultural History, told Reuters at the graveside.

As rain pelted down, four men lifted an aluminum coffin containing the bones of two women after digging a 1.5 meter (5 ft) deep hole in the mound where the women were originally buried in a spectacular Viking longboat.

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