The ancient site, called Nanook, was first discovered in the 1960s by Dr. Moreau Maxwell of Michigan State University.
Dr. Maxwell identified it as a Dorset Paleo-Eskimo site although he noted anomalies in the architectural remains, and obtained a series of radiocarbon dates ranging from 754 BC to 1367 CE.
Among the artifacts recovered by the archaeologist in association with the unusual architectural remains was a small stone vessel.
Dr. Sutherland and her colleagues from the Geological Survey of Canada-Ottawa and Peter H. Thompson Geological Consulting Ltd have now discovered that the interior of the vessel contains fragments of bronze as well as small spherules of glass.
The object, according to the scientists, is a crucible for melting bronze, likely in order to cast it into small tools or ornaments. Indigenous peoples of northern North America did not practice high-temperature metalworking.
“The object is 48 mm tall and has a straight sloping base meeting the slightly convex lateral wall at an angle of approximately 140 degrees. The base of the complete object may have been keel-shaped,” Dr. Sutherland and her co-authors described the find in a paper published in the journal Geoarchaeology.
“The artifact appears to have been roughly circular in plan, with diameter expanding from >35 mm at the base to >48 mm at the rim. The base is 15 mm thick, with the walls tapering to a thickness of 6 mm at the rim.
The exterior is smoothly finished, but portions of the interior are scarred by scratching or scraping.”
“An irregular break cuts across roughly the center of the vessel, indicating that approximately half is missing.”
According to the team, small ceramic crucibles were employed in nonferrous metalworking throughout the Viking world.
“We are aware of only one stone crucible, which was recovered from a Viking Age context in Rogaland, Norway.”
“Small crucibles with a circular plan and either flat or conical bases have been recovered from Early Mediaeval sites in the British Isles including one stone specimen from Garranes in Ireland.”
“The presence of bronze traces in the crucible from Baffin Island is notable, as brass (copper-zinc alloy) is more characteristic of finds from Scandinavia.”
Dr. Sutherland said: “the crucible adds an intriguing new element to this emerging chapter in the early history of northern Canada.”
“It may be the earliest evidence of high-temperature nonferrous metalworking in North America to the north of what is now Mexico.”
How The Black Death (Sort Of) Killed A Viking Colony And Transformed Europe
Throughout much of the European Middle Ages, the Norse were compulsive travelers.
These groups of people (who we often call “Vikings”) traded, raided and pillaged throughout Europe, settled in Constantinople and fought with and against the Byzantines, encountered Arab traders from Baghdad in modern Russia, and even settled for a short time in North America several hundred years before Columbus.
Recently, new scholarly research has turned up an unexpected reason one of those colonies may have disappeared – a declining demand for walrus ivory.
Most likely, Vikings had begun settling in southern Greenland by the end of the 10th century. The settlements grew over time but never got too big – topping out at a population of around 6,000 people at the most.
The settlement was, however, large enough to merit its own bishop and one was duly established in 1126 CE. The settlements persisted into the 15th century but had disappeared by the late 16th.
Although not quite the same mystery as the lost colony of Roanoke, scholars have never been sure about why those Greenland settlements vanished.
A new scholarly paper, however, thinks it has the answer: walrus ivory. Specifically, the Greenland settlements built their economy around the trade in walrus tusks (ivory) and supplied maybe up to 80% of the ivory items for most of Europe between the 12th-15th centuries.
The trade made the colonies prosper through the 12th and 13th centuries as demand rose among the growing nobility throughout Europe for luxury items. Lavish combs, cases for mirrors, covers for books, etc. were used as status symbols and art objects in their own right.
But things changed rather dramatically during the 14th century. This was a century of calamities, beginning with repeated famines in the early part of the century and then culminating with the ongoing impact of the so-called Black Death beginning ca. 1347 CE.
By the end of the 14th century, up to 50 million people – 60% of Europe’s population – was dead. So, with these catastrophic population losses, demand began to dry up as well. The residents of these colonies on Greenland either slowly died off or simply left.
So, what does this all mean?
First, if the scholars are right about much of Europe’s ivory coming from walruses, we need to think differently about trade throughout the European Middle Ages.
Many medieval ivories were thought to have come from elephants, traveling into Europe via the Islamic world in North Africa or the Middle East.
What the recent article suggests, however, is that elephant ivory was a particularly rare and valuable commodity. Walrus tusks allowed the more middling nobility access to these luxury goods.
Second, the disappearance of the settlements might be further proof of just how transformative the Black Death really was for Europe.
In a book published after his death in 1991, Prof. David Herlihy suggested in broad outlines the tremendous long-term cultural and intellectual changes brought about by the Black Death. Much of his conclusions have been challenged in recent years but Herlihy’s genius was putting his finger on just how the massive scale of death changed the way people thought about themselves and their relationship to the world.
Established authorities were questioned since they had no good answers to ending the plague. Social class was upended as economic and cultural communities struggled to replenish their ranks. If the settlement in Greenland left the island uninhabited for a century or more, this would support Herlihy’s thesis about long-term change.
In other words, the findings of this research both challenges and confirms what medievalists have thought about their period for some time.
In other words, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the research being done on the Middle Ages is exciting precisely because it oftentimes both confirms how much we already know about the period, while paradoxically reminding us of how much about the past there still is to discover.
Billionaire-Owned Viking Cruises Involved In Collision, Leaving 7 Dead And 21 Missing
One of Viking’s river cruise ships was involved in a fatal collision on Wednesday night as it was traveling through Budapest on the Danube River, leaving at least seven dead.
The Viking Sigyn, a 95-room river cruise ship, collided with a smaller sightseeing boat, the Mermaid, as it was approaching the Margaret Bridge in the heart of Hungary’s capital
The Mermaid, which was carrying 33 South Korean passengers and two Hungarian personnel, capsized and sunk in about eight seconds, according to Hungarian authorities.
At least seven passengers on the Mermaid have been confirmed dead. Emergency crews were able to rescue another seven people from the water and another 21 remain missing.
A search party is continuing to scour the river for the missing passengers, according to authorities who spoke at a news conference on Thursday.
The efforts have been made more difficult by heavy rain, high water levels, and strong currents. The incident is also being investigated as a criminal matter, authorities said. The captain of the Viking Sigyn, a 64-year-old Ukrainian man identified just as Yuri C., was taken into custody.
A Viking spokesperson confirmed there were no injuries to Viking crew or guests and that the company will continue to “cooperate fully with the authorities” as they investigate.
An executive from South Korean tour agency Very Good Tour, Lee Sang-moo, reportedly said at a press conference in Seoul that the group aboard the Mermaid was nearing the end of a week-long European tour that had begun in Munich. Sang-moo said that the survivors include six women and one man between the ages of 31 and 66.
The collision follows at least two other incidents from Viking this year. In April, the Viking Idun river ship collided with an oil tanker off the coast of the Netherlands, causing five people to be injured.
In March, one of Viking’s ocean cruise ships experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway and evacuated 479 passengers by helicopter before it was able to travel to shore under its own power.
That episode prompted a lawsuit from a New Jersey couple, who claimed that Viking “negligently sailed through notoriously perilous waters into the path of a bomb cyclone,” despite severe weather warnings.
Viking Cruises was started in 1997 by Tor Hagen, a Norwegian-born, Harvard-educated former cruise line executive who launched the company with four Russian riverboats at the age of 54.
Hagen went on to make European river cruises a popular vacation option among older Americans. Today, Viking has a fleet of 78 river and ocean cruise ships and generates $1.6 billion in net revenue.
The company is worth $3.4 billion after the most recent private equity injection, and Hagen owns three-fourths of it.
Blood Eagle: The Viking Torture Method So Grisly Some Historians Don’t Believe It Actually Happened
The Vikings didn’t come into towns walking on moonbeams and rainbows. If their sagas are to be believed, the Vikings cruelly tortured their enemies in the name of their god Odin as they conquered territory. If the suggestion of a blood eagle was even uttered, one left town and never looked back. Viking sagas define blood eagle as one of the most painful and terrifying torture methods ever created. The story describes:
“Earl Einar went to Halfdan and carved blood-eagle on his back in this wise, that he thrust a sword into his trunk by the backbone and cut all the ribs away, from the backbone down to the loins, and drew the lungs out there….”
The History Of Blood Eagle Executions
One of the earliest accounts of the use of the blood eagle is thought to have occurred in 867. It began a few years before, when Aella, king of Northumbria (present-day North Yorkshire, England), fell victim to a Viking attack. Aella killed the Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok by throwing him into a pit of live snakes.
In revenge, Lothbrok’s sons invaded England in 865. When the Danes captured York, and Lothbrok’s son who was also the most feared Viking of his day, Ivarr the Boneless, saw to it that Aella would be killed.
Of course, killing him wasn’t good enough. Ivarr’s father Ragnar had —allegedly — met a gruesome fate by a pit of snakes. Ivarr the Boneless wanted to make an example out of Aella and to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies.
Thus, he committed the damned king to the blood eagle.
How It Worked
Modern scholars debate how Vikings performed this ritual torture and in fact whether they even performed the gruesome method at all. The process of the blood eagle is indeed so cruel and grisly that it would be difficult to believe that it could actually be carried out. Regardless of whether it is merely a work of literary fiction, there is no denying the fact that the ritual was stomach-churning.
The victim’s hands and legs were tied to prevent escape or sudden movements. Then, the person seeking vengeance stabbed the victim by his tailbone and up towards the rib cage. Each rib was then meticulously separated from the backbone with an ax, which left the victim’s internal organs on full display.
The victim is said to have remained alive throughout the entire procedure. What’s worse, the Vikings would then literally rub salt into the gaping wound in the form of a saline stimulant.
As if this wasn’t enough, after having all of the person’s ribs cut away and spread out like giant fingers, the torturer then pulled out the lungs of the victim to make it appear as if the person had a pair of wings spread out on his back. Thus, the blood eagle was manifested in all its gory glory. The victim had become a slimy, bloody bird.
The Ritual Behind The Blood Eagle
King Aella was not the last royal to face the blood eagle. One scholar believes that at least four other notable figures in Northern European history suffered the same fate. King Edmund of England was also a victim of Ivarr the Boneless. Halfdan, son of King Haraldr of Norway, King Maelgualai of Munster and Archbishop Aelheah were all believed to victims of blood eagletorture because they were victims of the merciless and bloodlusty Ivarr the Boneless.
That means the torture method could have occurred in England, Ireland, and France. There were two main reasons Vikings used the blood eagle on their victims. First, they believed it was a sacrifice to Odin, father of the Norse pantheon of gods and the god of war.
Second, and more possibly, was that the blood eagle was done as a punishment to honorless individuals. According to the Orkneyinga saga of the Vikings, Halfdan was defeated in battle at the hands of Earl Einar who then tortured him with a blood eagle as he conquered Halfdan’s kingdom. Similarly, Aella was tortured in vengeance.
Indeed, even the stories of the blood eagle — true or not — would have emptied out any village just by word of mouth before the Vikings could even make ground there. At the very least, the rumors of such torture would have established the Vikings as a divinely fearsome lot — and not to be trifled with.
Ritual Or Rumor?
Victims of the practice died in the 800s and 900s, maybe into the 1000s. Written accounts, often embellished and told for entertainment during long winter nights up north, didn’t come about until the 1100s and 1200s. Writers of the Viking sagas heard stories and wrote them down. Perhaps they embellished the ferocity of Vikings to make them sound more heroic.
However, there may be merit to the blood eagle story. The poets who wrote them down were very specific in the method used. Surely, someone actually tried this torture method because of the gory details that someone described. One Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, relays the ritual as merely the means of carving an eagle into a victim’s back and other details were added later and, “combined in inventive sequences designed for maximum horror.” Either the blood eagle was an actual thing, or it was a propaganda tool. But either way, it was terrifying.
Other Viking Torture Methods
The Vikings employed other torture methods aside from the blood eagle. One was known as Hung meat, which was just as nasty as it sounds. Vikings pierced the heels of victims, threaded ropes through the holes, and then strung them upside-down. Not only was piercing the heels horrendously painful, but the blood ran down to their hearts.
The fatal walk was another gruesome testament to torture. A victim’s abdomen was sliced open and a bit of intestine was pulled out. Then the torturer held the victim’s intestines as the victim walked around a tree. Eventually, the entirety of the victim’s intestinal tract would wrap around the tree.
Whether it was a blood eagle, hung meat, or a fatal walk, the Vikings knew how to make examples out of their enemies.
If these torture methods are true, they harken back to a bloody time in humanity’s past. If they are false, then the Vikings knew how to spread fear into the hearts of others without really having to do much.
Was Fertility a Factor in the Demise of Neanderthals?
Neanderthals could have gone extinct due to a slight drop in their fertility rates, a new study finds.
The last of the Neanderthals, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, disappeared from Europe about 40,000 years ago. Previous research estimated that at its peak, the entire Neanderthal population in both Europe and Asia was quite small, totaling 70,000 at most.
Scientists have long debated whether the dispersal of modern humans across the globe helped kill off Neanderthals, either directly through conflict or indirectly through the spread of disease.
“The disappearance of the Neanderthal population is an exciting subject — imagine a human group that has lived for thousands of years and is very well-adapted to its environment, and then disappears,” study senior author Silvana Condemi, a paleoanthropologist at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, told Live Science.
“For a long time, it was thought that Homo sapiens had simply killed the Neanderthals. Today, thanks to the results of genetic analysis, we know that the encounters between Neanderthals and sapiens were not always so cruel, and that interbreeding took place — even today’s humans have genes of Neanderthal origin.”
Instead of investigating why the Neanderthals disappeared, “we looked for the ‘how’ of their demise,” Condemi said.
Specifically, the scientists generated computer models that explored how Neanderthal populations might decline and go extinct over time in response to a variety of factors, such as war, epidemics and reduced fertility or survival rates among men and women of varying ages.
“Very quickly, we found something unexpected — this disappearance, which occurred over a very long period, cannot be explained by a catastrophic event,” Condemi said.
Computer models that assumed modern humans killed off Neanderthals via war or epidemics found that these factors would have driven Neanderthals to extinction far more rapidly than the 4,000 to 10,000 years in the archaeological record during which modern humans and Neanderthals are known to have coexisted in Europe, the researchers said.
The scientists also found that neither an increase in juvenile or adult survival rates, nor a strong decrease in fertility rates, were likely causes for the long decline seen in Neanderthals.
Instead, they discovered that Neanderthal extinction was possible within 10,000 years with a 2.7% decrease in fertility rates of young Neanderthal women — first-time mothers less than 20 years old — and within 4,000 years with an 8% decrease in fertility rates in this same group.
“The disappearance of the Neanderthals was probably due to a slight decline in the fertility among the youngest women,” Condemi said. “This is a phenomenon that is limited in scope that, over time, had an impact.”
A variety of factors might have lowered these fertility rates. Condemi noted that pregnancies among young, first-time mothers “are on the average more risky than second or later pregnancies.
A minimum of calories is essential for the maintenance of pregnancy, and a reduction of food, and therefore of calories, is detrimental to pregnancy.”
Neanderthals disappeared during a time of climate change. Environmental fluctuations might have led to a slight decrease in food, and in turn “may explain a reduction in fertility,” Condemi said.
Condemi noted that prior work suggested that with modern humans “if the average number of births falls to a level of 1.3 among the women of the world, our species would disappear in 300 years. This is an unlikely model, but the results would be very rapid!”
Plans for a tennis court to be dug up to search for remains of Saxon King.
Saint Edmund is believed to have been killed by the Vikings in the 9th century after refusing to denounce his Christianity.
His remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds but were later lost during Henry VIII’s reign and the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey.
Now, Bury St Edmunds Believe it might have the remains of Saint Edmund, a Saxon monarch, buried under one of his tennis courts.
At the time of the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey, during Henry VIII’s reign, the remains were lost.
But historians believe the remains may well be below the tennis courts in Abbey Gardens, which sit on top of a former monks’ graveyard in the sedate East Anglian town.
Plans to move the courts are being considered so archaeologists may soon be allowed to look for King Edmund’s remains underneath.
The plans have the backing of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who own the Abbey Gardens, near St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Robert Everitt, the local councillor in charge of the project said: “It would be an incredibly important historical discovery if he was found under there.
“It is something the borough want to do and the cathedral are in agreement as well, but we need to ensure we replace the courts.
“We are looking at St James Middle School courts, which are not being used [as the school is closed]. They would be ideal and would ensure people can play tennis right next to Abbey Gardens.”
Academic researcher and historian Francis Young, who was born in Bury, said: “The commissioners who dissolved the Abbey on November 4, 1539, mentioned nothing about the body, and given St Edmund’s royal status it is likely they would have quietly allowed the monks to remove the body from the shrine and relocate it.
“According to a third-hand account from 1697, St Edmund was placed in an iron chest by a few monks but sadly the account does not give the location within the Abbey precincts where he was buried. On balance, however, the monks’ cemetery is the most likely location.”
If the monks did use an iron chest it would help archaeologists distinguish the monks’ graves from that of the king. A heritage partnership is tasked with preserving and promoting the Abbey ruins, with the removal of the courts aimed at improving the experience for visitors.
Edmund was the King of the East Angles in the 9th Century. It is widely accepted that Edmund was killed by Vikings. It is thought his place of death was somewhere in Suffolk or Norfolk.
His myth tells of brave King Edmund refusing to denounce his Christianity and being killed by several arrows. The Vikings then removed his head so Edmund could not be buried whole. However, loyal followers were able to find his head after a wolf called to them, shouting “here, here, here”.
Shortly after his death, a shrine containing his remains was built in the Abbey in a town called Bedericesworth.
This town later became Bury St Edmunds and the most popular and famous pilgrimage in England, visited by many kings. Saint Edmund later became the Patron Saint of England.
The Abbey was desecrated in the 16th Century when his remains are believed to have been removed from the shrine.
The Ribchester Helmet – An Ancient Roman artifact discovered by a 13-year-old boy while playing behind the house
Archeologists have uncovered some extraordinary artifacts over the past centuries that give us a glimpse of human history and help us to understand the many secrets of the ancient world.
Over the years there have been numerous archeological expeditions, some of which have resulted in historically significant discoveries.
Yet some of the most exciting finds have been made by non-professionals who stumbled upon them purely by accident. Such is the case with the famous Ribchester Helmet, discovered by chance in 1796.
We are all aware that England is rich with archaeological sites, historical monuments, and important artifacts, especially from the Roman era. Ribchester in the county of Lancashire is a lesser-known site of a Roman fort and settlement. The most famous among the many artifacts discovered in the area is the Ribchester Helmet.
What is today considered one of the most famous helmets from Ancient Rome was discovered by accident in 1796 by a 13-year-old clog maker’s son, who found it while playing behind his house. The helmet was part of a small hoard of metal items, most probably belonging to a Roman soldier from about 120 AD.
This two-piece ceremonial helmet, worn by Roman cavalrymen during military exercises and during parades and other ceremonies, weighs nearly three pounds and was most likely of little or no practical use on the battlefield.
However, the Romans, who are known for engaging in a variety of sporting competitions, also used this type of helmet during the cavalry sports events known by the name of “hippika gymnasia,” where these helmets were used to mark ranks and excellence in horsemanship.
Although Julius Caesar first paid a visit to Britain in 55 BC, it actually took almost 100 years before Romans landed on the beaches in Kent to conquer Britain in 43 AD.
The Roman occupation influenced almost every sphere of life in Britain, including culture, language, geography, and architecture. They built many new roads, numerous settlements, and countless forts, including the one at Ribchester.
What we know today about this type of Roman helmet is mostly thanks to the accounts left by Arrian of Nicomedia, who was a provincial governor and a close friend of Emperor Hadrian. As written in his Techne Taktike, which focuses on the “hippika gymnasia,” the best soldiers wore these helmets in cavalry tournaments.
Called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, the Roman settlement and fort in Ribchester was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the early 70s AD.
Apart from the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Roman bathhouse that can be seen today, there is also a Roman Museum where visitors can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet.
The famous artifact is one of only three of its kind ever found in Britain, but it is considered to be the highest quality example. The second was found around 1905 and is now housed at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.
The third, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was found in a field in 2010 by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous. It was sold at auction for $3.6 million.
The Ribchester Helmet was clearly the most significant, but not the only artifact discovered back in 1796. The same hoard included many military and religious items, plates, pieces of a vase, and other items. It is believed that the finds that were placed there for over 16 centuries were in such good condition because they were covered in sand.
As mentioned above, you can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet in the Roman Museum in Ribchester, and for those of you who want to see the original, you need to visit the British Museum in London, where the helmet has been on exhibition since 1814.
Did you ever wonder where the Vikings went for Toilet? Or perhaps you didn’t really think about it. We don’t always think about how it used to be with the world’s luxury today, especially a thousand years ago.
A 1000-year-old toilet dating back to the Viking age was found in Denmark in Stevns Municipality, in the town of Strøby on the farm called Toftegård.
This toilet seems to have been in a small house or maybe an outhouse. By using the carbon 14 method on the feces, it shows that it dates back to the Viking age, and therefore there is a big probability that this is the oldest toilet discovered in Denmark.
According to the Ph.D. student Anna S. Beck from the museum in southeast Denmark, this was a random discovery. She says, quote: We were looking for small houses called grubehuse, which are small workshop cabins, on the surface, it looked like them, but we soon figured out that it was something else.
We know of outhouses from the late Viking age and from the early middle ages, but not from villages or farms. People just thought that they used their feces as manure in the fields or just used the stable where they had their animals. The logic behind this is, that people in the cities just wanted to get rid of it, but in the country, it was a resource to grow their crops. So I got very surprised when the results from the samples came back.
There could be more of these discoveries to be uncovered in Denmark, but it could also be one of a kind discovery. According to Anna, the people in this community might have been inspired by the people in the Mediterranean, after an expedition, and built a version of it when they returned home.
According to Anna S. Beck, Archaeologist could have overlooked finds like these in the past, because they didn’t think toilets existed outside the cities. In the results from analyzing the feces, they found traces of honey, which is something animals rarely eat, especially in the same spot for years. If the Vikings ate bread with honey or drank mead is unclear, but there was definitely pollen from honey in the soil.
The Vikings were not the only ones who loved honey, even the Danes today are still in love with their sweet honey, and lucky for the Danes they live in the country with the worlds best honey, at least according to a big beekeeping conference in Istanbul in Turkey last year.
Personally, I always buy the Danish brand, not just because of its quality, but also because it is important to support your local farms, but I don’t brew mead nor do I put it on a piece of bread, I like it in my tea, taste much better than sugar.
Anyway back to the subject, it seems that this farm was not just an ordinary farm, but a big farm with a wealthy community and a community with a high status.
Their living quarters were a big hall 10 x 40 meters, and it seems that they have been living there for generations, because there were 4 other great halls close by, which dates further back. While this seems to have a community of high status, it was not on the level as Gammel Lejre.
As Anna says the Vikings did not pick their house from a catalog, which of course makes sense, and I would love to see what kind of gifts our soil has in store for us in the future. Just like there are variations in how the Vikings practiced their faith and which Gods and Goddesses were important to them, there also has to be some differences in their architecture.
Not all the Archaeologist agree with Anna S. Beck, and she has generally met resistance to the idea. Some Archaeologist thinks that the excrements could have been put in the hole by other means, and not necessarily have been a Viking toilet.
According to Anna the thought that excrements were used in the fields requires, that the people had a modern and rational ratio to their life.
We know that In other cultures all over the world, the treatment of excrements has been complicated cultural, as well as social, rules and taboos. By looking at the toilet culture we can learn a lot from their standards and rules within their society.
We know that people and animals lived together under the same roof for more than 1000 years in Scandinavia. But in the late Viking age, the people and the animals started to distance themselves from each other. The people might have changed their habits and not just walked into the stable and sit among the animals.
Since the excavation started in 1995, and only a third of the area 47.000 m2 of more than 160.000 m2 has been investigated, there might be more treasures from the past, laying in the soil ready to be discovered.