Category Archives: SWEDEN

Human Skulls Mounted on Stakes Found at 8,000-Year-Old Burial Archaeological Site in Sweden

Human Skulls Mounted on Stakes Found at 8,000-Year-Old Burial Archaeological Site in Sweden

In a mysterious underwater grave that has baffled archeologists, a group of 8,000 years old human skulls has been discovered, some of them embedded in stakes. One of the pierced skulls, found preserved in what was once a prehistoric lake in Sweden, was discovered with some of its brain tissue still intact.

Two 8,000-year-old human skulls have been found embedded on stakes in a mysterious underwater grave that has baffled archaeologists. One of the pierced skulls(pictured) was discovered with some of its brain tissue still intact

This terrible discovery challenges our understanding of the culture of the European Stone Age, said, researchers. The reports from researchers in the University of Stockholm and the Swedish Foundation for Cultural Heritage (CHF) are the first evidence that hunter-gatherers from the Stone Age displayed heads on wooden spikes.

‘ We have here a very nuanced example of a very organized ritual ‘ CHF lead researcher Dr. Fredrik Hallgren told Live Science. Even though we can’t decipher the meaning of the ritual, we can still appreciate the complexity of it, of these prehistoric hunter-gatherers.

Uncovered at the Kanaljorden excavation site near Sweden’s Motala Ström river, the skulls were found alongside the remains of at least 12 individuals, including an infant.

Of the adults found, four were identified as male, and two as female. One of the men was in his fifties when he died, while two were younger, aged between 20 to 35. The infant skeleton is nearly complete, suggesting the child was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.

The finding is the first evidence that Stone Age hunter-gatherers displayed heads on wooden spikes. The gruesome discovery challenges our understanding of European Stone Age culture and how these early humans handled their dead, experts said

Seven of the adults likely died in agony and had suffered serious trauma to their head before they died, which researchers suggest were the result of non-lethal, violent blows. These may have been the result of interpersonal violence, forced abduction, warfare and aids of socially-sanctioned violence between group members.

The bodies were placed atop a densely packed layer of large stones in what would have been an elaborate underwater burial between 7,500 and 8,500 years ago.  Only one of the bodies still had a jawbone when it was buried, which experts suggest were removed as part of the burial ritual.

Interestingly, the group’s head injuries were gender-specific, with males found with marks near the top of the head, above the so-called hat brim line, while the females had cracks near the back and right side of their skulls.  Scientists said they don’t know what sort of weapon was used to inflict the damage, and that the wounds were serious but could not be tied to the cause of death.

Examples of blunt force trauma from analyzed individuals.

‘Though the lesions were not lethal, they must have affected the individuals – induced pain, bleeding, and a risk of secondary infections,’ study coauthor and Stockholm University archaeologist Dr. Anna Kjellström told Gizmodo.

‘Furthermore, even less severe head trauma may cause loss of consciousness, internal bleeding, or even permanent mental impairment.’

Three of the skulls, including two with stakes driven through them, showed evidence of sharp force trauma after death. The stakes were forced upwards through the foramen magnum, the large oval opening at the bottom of the skull and reached through the top of the head. They were likely used to mount the skulls before they were buried in the lake.

‘The fact that two crania were mounted suggests that they have been on display, in the lake or elsewhere,’ Dr. Kjellström said. Skulls whose jaws had been removed were chosen for the display.

‘Since we did not find any sharp trauma showing active attempts to separate the lower jaw from the skulls, this indicates that the individuals much likely were buried in another place before the depositions… One interpretation could be that this is an alternative funeral act.’

Experts uncovered 400 intact and fragmentary pieces of wooden stakes at the site, a number of which may have been used to mount objects that have since decayed.

A map of the Kanaljorden site. The black outline shows the excavated area.

As well as human remains, the Stone Age site was littered with butchered animal bones, including several severed jaws, and tools carved from antler horns. Researchers say further research is needed to understand why the ancient group buried their dead in such an unusual fashion.

Stone Age hunter-gatherers are not known to remove body parts as part of burials, with many gravesites showing evidence of a respect for bodily integrity after death.

Only until later in history did groups begin to display heads on stakes, such as European colonists mounting skulls of murdered indigenous peoples. The Stone Age burial was likely a group of key tribe members that were removed from where they were initially displayed and placed in the lake, researchers said.

‘The people who were deposited like this in the lake, they weren’t average people, but probably people who, after they died, had been selected to be included in this ritual because of who they were, because of things they experienced in life,’ Dr. Hallgren said.

Dr. Mark Golitko, an archaeologist at the University of Notre Dame, who was not involved in the study, told Live Science: ‘There’s clearly something ritual going on here. What all that means, I don’t think we’ll ever know.’

1,200-Year-Old Viking Runestone May Warn of Climate Change, Study Says

1,200-Year-Old Viking Runestone May Warn of Climate Change, Study Says

Most people in the modern world are very worried about climate change and the Vikings seem to also be very worried about climate change.

Scientists are now claiming that one of the most popular runestones, erected by Vikings, shows they feared a cataclysmic fall in the temperature and terrible winters. This probably influenced the development of their culture and myths such as Ragnarök.

When they made the discovery, researchers reinterpreted this Viking runestone, known as the Rök Stone. This is a stone that is covered in runes, which are the characters of the written language of the Viking world.

It was founded in the beginning of the 9th century in the south of Sweden near Vättern lake. The BBC reports that it “believes to be the world’s longest runic inscription, with more than 700 runes covering its five sides.”

It was long believed that the stone was erected by a person of some social standing to commemorate a dead son.  It also alluded to battles that took place in the past, and a reference to Theodoric, which may be a reference to the Ostrogothic king who built a powerful Germanic kingdom based in Italy.

He was one of the most powerful monarchs of his time and often simply known as Theodoric the Great. However, the meaning of the texts has remained mysterious, because the writing styles are unusual, and some important parts are missing.

Full shot of the Viking runestone (‘the Rök Stone’) that is now believed to show the Viking’s fears of climate change.

A multidisciplinary study involving three Swedish Universities believes that this Viking runestone also had another meaning. Researchers from disciplines such as philology, semiotics, and history, collaborated on the study, which revealed an important allusion in the writing. They have interpreted the runes as referring to a period of extreme winter and cool summers, which the Vikings feared greatly.

The researchers in a new study state that “the inscription deals with anxiety triggered by a son’s death and the fear of a new climate crisis,” reports Live Science.

They believe that the runes refer to the climate crisis of 536 AD. A series of volcanic eruptions in the sixth century in the southern hemisphere, caused the temperature to fall, leading to very cold winters

The cooling in the climate caused harvest failures and famine.  The 6th-century crisis, as it is known, led to the population of Scandinavia falling by 50%. This cataclysmic time was passed down in the folk memory of the Vikings and may have been expressed in myths, particularly in the tale of the Fimbulwinter. This was a three-year winter that would proceed Ragnarök, the end of the world.

A scene from the last phase of Ragnarök, after Surtr has engulfed the world with fire, ‘the end of the world’.

Researchers believe that the Vikings feared that there would be a repeat of the climate crisis, even centuries after it devastated Scandinavia.

They believe that the references to battles may be allusions to drastic changes in the climate, which occurred in the 6th century. The experts argue that the battles may illustrate “the conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death,” according to the BBC.

The Viking runestone does not only indicate an awareness of the impact of a past climate change but also a fear of a new one. Ominous events from the author of the runes are also recorded, which may have been seen as signs of an impending climate crisis. 

These included a solar eclipse and a cold summer that reduced crop yields. Bo Graslund, an archaeology professor at Upsala University, told Science Alert “even one of these events would have been enough to raise fears of another Fimbulwinter,” as in the myth of Ragnarök.

Uppsala University Publications, reports that the researchers interpret the runes as referring to “nine enigmatic questions. Five of the questions concern the sun, and four of them, it is argued, ask about issues related to the god Odin.”

The exact meaning of the questions is unknown, but they would seem to suggest anxiety about the sun and climatic cooling. They may indicate a concern that the sun may fail to warm the earth, as in the 6th-century climate crisis, leading to a long winter and the onset of Ragnarök.

The researchers’ new interpretation also found similarities between the texts and “early Scandinavian poetry, especially in the Eddic poem Vafþrúðnismál,” according to Uppsala University Publications.

This new interpretation of the Viking runestone is providing new insights. It demonstrates that the fear of climate change greatly influenced the Viking’s worldview and culture. Additionally, the runestone shows them to be deeply conscious of the fragility of their society and world.

Archaeologists uncover part of the 16th-century ship in central Stockholm

Archaeologists uncover part of the 16th-century ship in central Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, can be popular for a lot, but it was an unexpected event to discover a 500-year-old shipwreck in the center of the city.

The most likely shipwreck is from the Swedish cargo ship Samson, built-in 1598 at Enånger in Hälsingland by AndersPedersson.

Relics of the ship were accidentally found in the middle of Stockholm under a Kungsträdgården (Swedish for “King’s Garden”) courtyard.

The courtyard had to be lowered while conducting renovation work to strengthen the foundation of a property

In these projects archeologists usually participate, in case anything of historical value will be found, were amazed when they noticed wooden parts of this old ship.

The study of wreckage was carried out by the maritime archeologists of the Norwegian Maritime Museum of Transport History and it has been determined it’s part of the Samson ship that was over 30 meters long.

In an interview with TT archaeologist Philip Tonemar who has commissioned the survey on behalf of the county administrative board, explained it’s a very rare archaeological discovery.

Archaeologists examine the shipwreck discovered in the middle of the city of Stockholm.

Tonemar said the dating of the timber, the shipbuilding technology as well as the size perfectly matches Samson.

“A finding from this transition period between the older and newer shipbuilding of the era is very unusual. There are really no other direct examples, and that it is completely built with pine and its special design details also makes it unique,” Tonemar said.

Little is known about Samson’s fate and there are only brief historical notes about the ship’s history. For some unknown reason, after 1607 Samson vanished from historical records.

Tonemar thinks the ship was most likely abandoned.

“When the ship was abandoned in the early 1600s, it was probably stripped of material, chopped up and left on the shore.

Discovering parts of the Samson cargo ship thrilled archaeologists.

We found garbage from residents in the area that were thrown directly over the ship,” Tonemar said.

In addition to the shipwreck, archaeologists also discovered coins, pipes, ceramics, glass and a small ball of clay in mud that perhaps a child had lost.

Today, only a part of the bottom of one hull remains from Samson. It’s a historical ship and the latest remains will be covered with a ground cloth,  protective material, and preserved for future generations.

Archaeologists expected a routine dig in Sweden, but they uncovered two rare Viking burial boats

Viking Grave Discovery In Sweden Leaves Archaeologists Stunned

Archaeologists expected a routine dig in Sweden, but they uncovered two rare Viking burial boats
A member of the Arckeologerna team at the gravesite in Sweden.

In more than 50 years, the Swedish authorities have announced the country’s first Viking ship grave findings.

In a routine dig in Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) By Archaeologists team, 46 miles (74km) north of Stockholm, were shocked as they unearthed the Viking boat graves that included human remains.

There are only a few known burial sites of this kind in the country. While rare in Sweden, the discovery of Viking burial sites has become more frequent elsewhere in Scandinavia.

Last year, Norwegian archaeologists found remains of longhouses and at least one ship lying just below the topsoil near Halden in the south-east of Norway.

Just months later, another ship discovery was made on the shores of the Oslofjord at the Midgard Viking Center in Horten.

Significant remains

One of the two boats found in the grave is intact and holds the remains of a man, horse, and dog. Personal items including a sword, spear, shield, and an ornate comb were also in the grave.

The people discovered in the grave were likely of high social standing, as it is believed such boat burials were reserved for a privileged few.

 A spokesperson from consultant archaeologists Arkeologerna called the find “sensational.”

A comb and shield were among the items found at the Viking grave in Sweden.

“This is a unique excavation. The last excavation of this grave type in Old Uppsala was almost 50 years ago,” said archaeologist Anton Seiler. The fact the grave contents are so well-preserved and undisturbed is especially exciting for the team.

That’s because it will be the first opportunity archaeologists have to study Viking burial traditions with modern scientific analysis methods in Sweden.

“We can now use modern science and methods that will generate new results, Theory, and answers.

We will also put the boat burials in relation to the very special area that is Old Uppsala and the excavations done here before,” said Seiler.

A routine excavation

Such a find was not at all what archaeologists were expecting at the beginning of the project. 

Old Uppsala was an important religious, economic and political settlement as far back as the 3rd century, and is an area rich in historic remains. 

The routine dig began in the grounds of the vicarage last fall. The work involved excavating a cellar and well that was known to date from the Middle Ages.

Osteologist Ola Magnell and archaeologist Anton Seiler excavating the boat grave

But as the work progressed, one of the boats was gradually revealed beneath the structures. The scope of the project quickly changed, and archaeologists have spent the last month excavating the two burial boats.

It’s thought the damage caused to the second boat was done when the cellar was built sometime around the 16th century.

Once archaeologists have finished their analysis, parts of the discovery will be put on display at Old Uppsala Museum and the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.