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8,000-year-old skull found in Norway

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Archaeologists in Norway have found what might be an 8,000-year-old skull, possibly containing brain matter, in a dig site in Stokke, southwest of Oslo. They say the find could help explain living conditions in the Stone Age.

The team has been digging at the Stokke site for two months and believe that the site consists of two separate Stone Age settlements. Among many other findings at the dig, the latest find is a human skull, which still appears to contain brain matter, and they hope that the find will tell them something about how it was to live in the Stone Age.

Experts are not yet sure whether the skull belongs to an animal or a child, According to Gaute Reitan, dig site leader, “It is too early to say. We need help from bone experts.” Read more.

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Akseli Gallen-Kallela (Finnish, 1865 – 1931)

Lemminkäinen’s Mother, 1897

In the Finnish epic Kalevala, Lemminkäinen drowns in the river of the underworld while attempting to capture the Black Swan. His mother fishes her dead son’s body parts from the river and sews him back together. The only thing that can restore his life is a drop of honey from the dwelling of Ukko, the God of the Sky.

In this painting, Lemminkäinen’s mother waits for the bee to deliver the precious drop of honey to revive her son.

(via scarlettlillies)

Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’

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A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.

The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.

Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough. Read more.

The Hammer of Thor

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A small hammer dating to the 10th century was found recently on the Danish Island of Lolland. Over 1000 of these amulets have been found across Northern Europe but the pendant from Lolland is the only one with a runic inscription.

This particular torshammere (Thor’s Hammer Amulet) was found at Købelev and reported to the Museum Lolland-Falster archaeologist Anders Rasmussen by detectorist Torben Christjansen.

Hammer pendants are interpreted as amulets shaped like Mjölnir, the hammer owned by the Norse god, Thor. Viking men and women often wore Thor’s hammer for protection.  “It was the amulet’s protective power that counted, and often we see torshammere and Christian crosses appearing together, providing double protection”, said Peter Pentz, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Denmark. Read more.

im-sylien:

In case some of you Viking fans, wants to hear what music sounded like in Denmark around 1300. It’s the oldest written song in all of Scandinavia. 

(via salmiakkivodka)

Archaeological sites targeted in Finland

archaeologicalnews:

Evidence of illegal, clandestine excavations has been recently discovered at two of Finland’s well-known prehistoric sites. Pits have been found at these separate locations, apparently the work of amateurs looking for ancient artifacts.

Acting on a tip from the public, Finland’s National Board of Antiquities has found a number of pits dug and then covered over in one of the graveyards associated with Rapola Castle, a prehistoric hill fortress in the municipality of Valkeakoski in Pirkanmaa. Earlier this spring, similar illicit digging was discovered at another hill fortress known as Hakoinen Castle in Janakkala. In both cases, there was damage to the archaeological integrity of the sites. Read more.

Viking Age Revninge woman: an exceptional find

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A newly discovered female figurine amulet from Revninge in the east of Denmark represents a very interesting find due to her remarkably detailed Viking Age dress.

On April 22, 2014, Paul Uniacke had started to explore a field near Revninge with his metal detector – several items had already been recovered when to his astonishment a small fine figurine appeared. He instantly recognised it as Viking Age and immediately contacted Østfyns Museums, who confirmed his thoughts and started the process of conservation.

It is not always easy to imagine how people of the Viking age really looked. However, the discovery of this small gilt silver figurine contains a wealth of detail giving new knowledge about costume and jewellery of the period. Read more.

Skeleton found on archaeological dig could be Irish Viking king

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It is believed that a skeleton discovered on an archaeological dig in East Lothian may be that of an Irish Viking king.

Olaf Guthfrithsson was the King of Dublin and Northumbria from 934 to 941. Archaeologists think the skeleton could belong to him or one of the members of his entourage.

The remains, which were excavated by AOC Archaeology Group at Auldhame in East Lothian in 2005, are those of a young adult male who was buried with a number of items indicating his high rank. These include a belt similar to others from Viking Age Ireland. Read more.

Genomic diversity and admixture differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian foragers and farmers

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An international team led by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University reports a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans. A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers and that the hunter-gatherers were historically in lower numbers than the farmers. The study is published today, ahead of print, in the journal Science.

The transition between a hunting-gathering lifestyle and a farming lifestyle has been debated for a century. As scientists learned to work with DNA from ancient human material, a complete new way to learn about the people in that period opened up. But even so, prehistoric population structure associated with the transition to an agricultural lifestyle in Europe remains poorly understood. Read more.

hedendom:

Galdrakver (‘Little Book Of Magic’)

The ‘Little Book Of Magic’ is a seventeenth-century Icelandic manuscript, written on animal skin and containing magical staves, sigils, prayers, charms and related texts.

It is known to have once been owned by Icelandic Bishop Hannes Finnson who was alive from 1739 until 1796 and known for having a vast library containing many volumes of magic related texts and manuscripts.

Full manuscript here.

(via cousinnick)

The History Channel’s popular show Vikings, now well into its second season, is based on the sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ragnar is a legendary viking king known for leading many raids until his final capture and defeat by King Ælla of Northumbria, after which his sons mounted a bloody invasion of England to avenge his death.

The historical existence of Ragnar Lothbrok is debated, as many of the deeds attributed to him are also attributed to other kings through different sources. Although his sons are known historical figures, there is little to no evidence that Ragnar himself actually existed as described in the sagas. Regardless, it seems that at least parts of Ragnar’s story are based in historical fact, though it is likely that his character is an amalgam of various kings and warriors that lived during his time. 

erikkwakkel:

Sealed with a kiss

This discovery about a secret Viking message is special - and will put a big smile on your face. For years researchers have tried to crack a Viking rune alphabet known as Jötunvillur. It is found in some 80 inscriptions, including the one above, which dates from the 11th or 12th century. Recently the news broke that a runologist in Norway was successful. It turns out that you had to replace the rune character with the last letter of the sound it produced. So the rune for “f”, which was pronounced like “fe”, represented an “e”. And so researchers were able to decode the 900-year-old message on the piece of wood above, which turned out to be - wait for it… - “Kiss me”! It gets better, however. It turns out that coding and decoding such messages was a playful game, a leisure activity. This is clear from the fact that some of the inscriptions invite the reader to solve the code, stating for example “Interpret these runes.” This, of course, makes the discovery of the “Kiss me” message even more sensational. The kiss was no doubt the reward for the successful individual who cracked this particular message. Two Viking lovers entertaining themselves with a playful coding game - that came with a delightful climax. Awesome.

More information: this Norwegian article originally reported the story, which is also the source of the image (made by Jonas Nordby, the researcher who cracked the code). I picked up the story from the invaluable Medievalists blog (here).

(via salmiakkivodka)

Two battles from the 1814 war between Norway and Sweden are to be re-enacted this year to mark the bicentenary of the last time the two countries took up arms against one another.

The Norwegian Napoleonic Alliance, a group of history re-enactors from Norway, are going head to head with some like-minded Swedes to recreate two battles, the siege of Fredriksten and the Battle of Lier.

This year also marks the bicentenary of the first Norwegian constitution, which was a direct consequence of the 1814 war, and eventually lead to the unification of Norway and Sweden for nearly the next century.

[Picture: Photograph of a 2006 re-enactment of a historic battle between Norway and Sweden, source The Local Norway]

Swedish divers unearth Stone Age ‘Atlantis’ relics

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"One-of-a-kind" Stone Age artefacts left by Swedish nomads 11,000 years ago have been discovered by divers in the Baltic Sea, prompting some to claim that Sweden’s Atlantis had been found.

"What we have here is maybe one of the oldest settlements from the first more permanent sites in Scania and in Sweden full stop," project leader and archaeology professor at Södertörn University Björn Nilsson told The Local.
Nilsson’s team has been diving in Hanö, a sandy bay off the coast of Skåne County, and has been given the resources by the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) needed for a three-year excavation of an area 16 metres below the water’s surface.

So far, they’ve uncovered a number of remnants that are believed to have been discarded in the water by nomadic Swedes in the Stone Age, objects which have been preserved thanks to the lack of oxygen and the abundance of gyttja sediment. Read more.

New Iron Age Sites Discovered in Finland

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It was in the autumn of 2010 when local amateur archaeologists discovered evidence of harbor facilities thought to date from around 1000–1200 AD near Ahvenkoski village at the mouth of the western branch of the Kymi River in southeastern Finland. The findings included a smithy, an iron smelting furnace, and forceps, as well as hundreds of iron objects such as boat rivets similar to those found at Viking settlements in different parts of the Baltic, Scandinavia, Scotland and Iceland.

Then, in 2011, a possible 2 x 3-meter-wide cremation grave was uncovered, confirmed later through rescue excavations by archaeologists from the Finnish National Board of Antiquities and through osteological analysis at the University of Helsinki. Artifacts included a battle axe, a knife, and a bronze buckle, all associated with burned human bones, initially thought to be dated to around 1000 - 1200 CE before analysis. Read more.