Thursday 28 September 2023

Shimmering item in dirt turns out to be rare 1,200-year-old treasure in Norway.

Thirty years ago, while driving along a highway in Norway, Harald Jacobsen noticed some peculiar-looking soil — and stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient pagan temple. 

Since then, archaeologists have uncovered 30 gold foil pieces at the temple of Hov in Lillehammer, but there has never been a full excavation. Now, due to construction on the road, an extensive survey of the remains is taking place.

Despite the success of previous archaeologists, the team conducting the current excavation prepared itself for the possibility that there could have been no more gold figures at the site. 

But their preparation was for naught. While on the site, archaeologists spotted something shimmering from the dirt and unearthed five more gold foil pieces, according to a Sept. 19 article from Sciencenorway shared by the Kulturhistorisk museum, which is overseeing the excavation.

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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Impressive Textile Reconstruction Shows What Viking Age People Dressed Like


The finished outfits in the Viking Age exhibition, The Raid, at the National Museum of Denmark. Credit: Charlotte Rimstad

Some historical movies can give us a surprisingly accurate image of the ancient past. Still, when we want to gain a solid knowledge of ancient history, most prefer to rely on archaeologists, historians, and other specialized experts rather than movie producers. This brings us to the subject of this article – How did Viking Age people dress?

How Did Scientists Reconstruct Viking Age Clothing?

The impressive Viking Age project led by the National Museum of Copenhagen gives us an outstanding view of the Viking Age society.

The museum has collaborated with the Centre for Textile Research (CTR) at University of Copenhagen and leading Scandinavian textile experts from several universities to recreate the fashion of the Viking Age.

Scientists have successfully produced clothes our ancestors wore by analyzing archaeological finds of textile tools, textiles, skins, and fibers from graves and settlements.

Textile samples were taken from Hedeby, and the male and female cloth reconstruction was based on the content in two famous Danish Viking Age inhumation graves

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British Museum asks public and experts to help recover stolen artefacts

The British Museum has asked the public to help identify and recover ancient artefacts that have gone missing from its collection.

Last month a member of staff was sacked and police launched an investigation after around 2,000 treasures were reported "missing, stolen or damaged" over a "significant" period of time.

The museum has now said most are Greek and Roman gems and jewellery, and shared pictures of similar items.

Sixty objects have been returned.

In a statement, the museum added that 300 more had been "identified and [are] due to be returned imminently".

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Wednesday 20 September 2023



Excavations have found five tiny pieces of rectangular sheet gold decorated with motifs and stamped imagery depicting a man and a woman. The objects were discovered in the remains of a pagan temple, where previous excavations have uncovered thirty similar stamped gold objects in the vicinity over the past three decades.

The building measures around fifteen metres in length and was likely used for ritual drinking, however, it is unlikely that any feasting took place due to the lack of domestic archaeological evidence.

The latest objects were found beneath the structure in the wall runs and in adjacent postholes, suggesting that they were ritually placed as votive offerings in the form of a sacrifice or a religious act to protect the building before it was constructed.

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1400-year-old gold foil figures found in pagan temple

Archaeologists have discovered a votive gold hoard during road development works in Vingrom, south of Lillehammer on the shores of Lake Mjøsa Norway.

The 5 gold pieces are tiny, about the size of a fingernail. They are flat and thin as paper, often square, and stamped with a motif. Usually, they depict a man and a woman in various types of clothing, jewelry, and hairstyles.

The objects were discovered in the remains of a pagan temple, where previous excavations have uncovered thirty similar stamped gold objects in the vicinity over the past three decades.

Archaeologist Kathrine Stene was the project leader for the excavation, which has been ongoing along the road here all summer and into autumn, due to the upgrade of the E6 highway between Mjøsa Bridge and Lillehammer.

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Friday 1 September 2023

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers

The 2013 Michaelmas Term of the University of Oxford online course “Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers” will begin on Wednesday, 27 September.

You can find further details of this course here…

What Viking Funerary Flatbread Teaches Archeologists About Ancient Baking

When most people think of the Vikings, they probably envision what the Vikings did way before picturing what they ate. But if food is fuel, then it's safe to say that the nomadic and infamously chaotic lifestyle of the Vikings needed lots of it. Most of what culinary archaeologists know about the Viking diet has been compiled from a combination of dig sites, the foods eaten by heroes in Norse sagas, and even a limited selection of ancient cookbooks. The Vikings as a people left behind precious few records and accounts. But one momentous archeological dig site uncovered a historical gem: Viking Funerary flatbread.

The loaves were uncovered in graves at Birka — a large, formerly hopping Viking trading post near Stockholm — earning this flatbread the name "Birka bread". Miraculously, the loaves were charred and therefore remained preserved through time. Whether the loaves were intentionally charred as a culinary choice or if they were burned in funeral pyres remains unclear.

The flatbread loaves found at Birka were made from a simple combination of salt, eggs, and flour, specifically barley and wheat. Other types of Viking bread used oats or spelt flour. For closest replication, curious home cooks should make their Birka bread over a campfire. But today's foodies don't value the loaves just for their recipe; the bread tells a much larger story than the sum of its parts.

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