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Mostrando las entradas de julio, 2015

Rich and Powerful: The Image of the Female Deity in Migration Age Scandinavia


By Rudolf Simek Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society Proceedings of the 11th International Saga Conference 2-7 July 2000, University of Sydney, edited by Geraldine Barnes and Margaret Clunies Ross (Sydney, 2000)

Introduction: In the archeological sources that we have for the first millenium, there is no shortage of depictions of the human figure in the Germanic areas of Western and Northern Europe. The breadth of material ranges from carved wooden figures to metal figurines, cast figures on brooches and pendants, imprinted realisations in precious metal such as on gold bracteates and guldgubber, paintings and reliefwork on picturestones and gravestones, as well as wooden carvings and textile weavings with figurative patterns. In many cases we can easily distinguish between depictions of the male and the female, in others it is possible but less obvious. …


A note on the regional distribution of pagan burials in Iceland

By Orri Vésteinsson Archaeologia Islandica Vol.9 (2011)

Abstract: Comparison of the distribution of pagan burials in Iceland with medieval information about the number of farmers in different parts of the country allows a division of the country into three zones of low, medium and high frequency of pagan burials relative to the number of settlements. Possible explanations for these differences are briefly explored. This paper is a product of the project Death and burial in Iceland for 1150 years and sets out some of the problems it aims to solve. Introduction: It is a well known aspect of the Icelandic corpus of pagan burials that there are significant differences in their geographical distribution. In some regions there are many while in others there are few or none. There are two schools of thought to explain this. One holds that the difference is primarily an effect of discovery, that burials are more likely to come to light in regions where soil erosion has been act…

Decoding Anglo-Saxon art BRITISH MUSEUM

Rosie Weetch, curator and Craig Williams, illustrator, British Museum One of the most enjoyable things about working with the British Museum’s Anglo-Saxon collection is having the opportunity to study the intricate designs of the many brooches, buckles, and other pieces of decorative metalwork. This is because in Anglo-Saxon art there is always more than meets the eye. The objects invite careful contemplation, and you can find yourself spending hours puzzling over their designs, finding new beasts and images. The dense animal patterns that cover many Anglo-Saxon objects are not just pretty decoration; they have multi-layered symbolic meanings and tell stories. Anglo-Saxons, who had a love of riddles and puzzles of all kinds, would have been able to ‘read’ the stories embedded in the decoration. But for us it is trickier as we are not fluent in the language of Anglo-Saxon art. Anglo-Saxon art went throu…

An entire army sacrificed in a bog  (August 22, 2012)

Archaeologists have found skeletal remains of an entire army in an ancient mass grave in Denmark. The bones confirm reports from written sources of shocking Teutonic massacres. A Danish bog has been harbouring a terrifying secret for thousands of years. Archaeologists have spent all summer excavating a small sample of what has turned out to be a mass grave containing skeletal remains from more than 1,000 warriors, who were killed in battle some 2,000 years ago. “We found a lot more human bones than we had expected,” says Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum. The discovery of the many Iron Age bones has attracted international attention, partly because the body parts are macabre per se, but also because the bones are surprisingly well preserved. Furthermore, the find confirms a Roman source’s description of the Teutons’ atrocious war practices. The site is located in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø on…


Photo: Oppland County Authority. Viking Iron Age Ski c. 714 - Ski 172 cm (69 in) long and 14.5 cm (5.7 in) wide

With every passing year melting snow on the worlds glaciers reveal archaeological discoveries formally hidden from view.  Alpine conditions wonderfully preserve these antiquities with curator admiration.  A few days ago in the Oppland region of Norway, skis from the 8th century were discovered!  Photoed is archaeologist Runar Hole with the 1300 year old ski; C14-dated. 

Photo: Oppland County Authority. Viking Iron Age Ski c. 714 - Detail of the binding plate and lacing
Upon examination you will notice that the binding; a simple leather and wicker strap, sits on a raised platform in the middle of the ski.  Typically ancient skis were used primarily for hunting and traveling long distances.  They are usually found with up turned or rockered tips at both ends sim…

This ancient liquor popular among Vikings may be the answer to antibiotic resistance

cientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance. Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter's Elixir. Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health. "Mead is an alcoholic drink made with just honey and water, and it was regarded as the drink of the gods and you could become immortal or sustain a better health if you drank it," Olofsson said. "It was drunk by the Vikings for example and other cultures such as the Mayas, the Egyptians, and it was a drink that was regarded as a very beneficial drink." Honey production is key to the research. In previous research published in 2014, Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez discovered that lactic-acid bacteria foun…

The Folk-Stories of Iceland


By Einar Olafur Sveinsson (Viking Society for Northern Research, 2003) English translation of Einar Olafur Sveinsson’s book, originally published in Icelandic in 1940 Introduction: An Icelandic old wives’ tale tells of a princess, Mjadveig M‡anad—ttir, who fled from her stepmother and found herself a refuge far from all human habitation some say at the tip of a peninsula out in the sea, some say in a hut in a forest which was so protected by magic that she was invisible to her persecutors. Her sanctuary is described in this little verse There cuckoos sing
and herbs spring
and there the ram sheds his fleece. Mjadveig’s name is not to be found in any church register, nor does any historical source tell us where she lived for this is a fairy-tale. Her father’s name (M‡ani, ‘Moon’) adds a mythical overtone, and her own name is peculiar to her and suggestive; a personal-name scholar has speculated that she was…

Kulthalle in slawischer Tempelburg am Kap Arkona entdeckt

Kap Arkona
Kulthalle in slawischer Tempelburg am Kap Arkona entdeckt Die Überreste der slawischen Tempelburg auf Rügen stehen unmittelbar an der Kliffkante am Kap Arkona. Vor dem unvermeidlichen Absturz ins Meer sichern Archäologen die Funde. Jetzt entdeckten sie die Überreste einer besonderen Kulthalle.
Für die Archäologen war es eine «riesige Überraschung»: Bei Ausgrabungen an der Tempelburg am Kap Arkona auf der Insel Rügen sind sie auf die Überreste eines in der slawischen Welt bislang unbekannten Gebäudes gestoßen. Sie entdeckten Hinweise auf eine rund acht mal zwölf Meter große Halle, die offenbar kultischen Handlungen diente. «Das Gebäude ist größer als alle anderen Gebäude, die zwischen Elbe und Polen in der Slawenzeit entstanden», sagte der wissenschaftliche Projektleiter, Fred Ruchhöft, am Dienstag. Ersten Rekonstruktionszeichnungen zufolge könnte das im 1…

Russia: Arctic mummy from lost civilization discovered in Siberia

A team of archaeologists have unearthed a well preserved mummy believed to belong to a lost civilisation in northern Russia which dates back to the 12th or 13th century AD. Found at a site close to the Arctic Circle near Salekhard, Russia, the team believe that the remains could be that of a child or teenager, although they are yet to open the coffin. The remains were wrapped in birch bark containing copper, which, when combined with the freezing conditions, created a tomb, according to the Siberian Times. Alexander Gusev, Fellow of the Research Center for the Study of Arctic, is quoted by the Siberian Times as saying: "We decided, after consulting with colleagues, to take the find as a whole piece, that is without opening it in the field, taking for further research in the city. "The birch bark 'cocoon' is of 1.3m in length and about 30cm at the widest part. The head and skull …

Large Viking Hall found in Reykjavik in Iceland


Archaeologists digging on Lækjargata in central Reykjavik were looking for traces of a farm cottage built in 1799 – and found a Viking longhouse 900 years older

The longhouse is at least 20 m long at 5.5m wide at it widest point. The ‘long fire’ in the centre of the hut is one of the largest ever found in Iceland, which visible traces suggesting it was over 5.2 m long. “This find came as a great surprise for everybody,” says Þor­steinn Bergs­son, Managing Director of Minja­vernd, an independent association working for the preservation of old buildings in Iceland. “This rewrites the history of Reykjavik”, said Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir, archaeologist at the Icelandic Institute of Archaeology to the Iceland Monitor. She says there is no way of knowing who could have lived in the longhouse. “We have no records of any building on this spot other than the cottage built in 1799,” she explains. The…

Cwenthryth of Mercia

The Freelance History Writer Cwenthryth of Mercia For those who have watched the television series “Vikings”, you will recall there is an ambitious and malicious character named Cwenthryth of Mercia. There is a scene on the show where Cwenthryth serves her brother poison in front of an entire dinner party. This scene reminded me of another eighth century Anglo-Saxon queen named Eadburh who was accused of poisoning her own husband by accident while trying to kill her husband’s favorite. Needless to say, I was intrigued. Was Cwenthryth a real person and did she kill her relative? I discovered there really was a royal princess named Cwenthryth in the ninth century. The origins of her story begin during the reign of the powerful and ruthless King Offa of Mercia. Offa went to great pains to ensure that his son by his wife Cynethryth named Ecgfrith would inherit his throne upon his death. Offa even had him crowned and anointed while he was still living, an unusual practice in England althou…