Category Archives: DENMARK

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

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.

Radar Reveals an Ancient Artifacts & Treasure in Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Radar Reveals an Ancient Artifacts & Treasure in Scandinavia’s First Viking City

Archaeologist have been busy excavating beneath the streets of Ribe, the first Viking city ever established in Scandinavia, and have found a treasure trove of ancient artifacts.

Ribe, which can be discovered in west Denmark, is the subject of important new research that is known as the Northern Emporium Project, which is currently being conducted by archaeologistfrom Aarhus University and the Southwest Jutland Museum.

After digging just 10 feet beneath this ancient Viking city, archaeologists found thousands of artifacts such as coins, amulets, beads, bones and even combs. Lyres (ancient string instruments) have also been discovered, with some still having their tuning pegs attached to them, Science Nordic reports.

However, besides the numerous artifacts that have been excavated, archaeologist were also keen to learn more about how the city of Ribe would have originally been created.

After all, none of the people who originally inhabited this site had ever lived in a city before, and the population would have consisted of lyrists, craftsmen, seafarers, innkeepers, and tradesmen.

While archaeologists have known about Ribe for quite some time, excavating this site’s was another matter entirely. Due to high costs and the amount of time required, up until recently, only small sections of this city were investigated.

However, now that the Carlsberg Foundation has joined in, the funding for the project has been taken care of, and archaeologist are using 3D laser surveying techniques in combination with the study of soil chemistry and DNA analysis to learn much more about the first Viking’s city in Scandinavia.

The bead-makers of 8th century Ribe used pieces of glass gathered from old Roman mosaics as their raw material. They didn’t have access to newly manufactured glass. This is one of the many details that tells us about the city’s network. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )
The bead-makers of 8th century Ribe used pieces of glass gathered from old Roman mosaics as their raw material. They didn’t have access to newly manufactured glass. This is one of the many details that tells us about the city’s network. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )

Archaeologists found that not long after the creation of Ribe, houses had been built on the site which shows that this city quickly developed its residents, and would have been a largely urban community.

When it comes to ancient cities that existed in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, cities were packed tightly together, yet here in Ribe, the closest city would have easily been 100’s of miles away.

However, archaeologist believe that despite such great distances, the earliest settlers of this Viking city would still have traversed great distances in order to network with others.

It was also determined that as 800 AD is when the Viking era is asserted to have truly started, Ribe would have been part of what is known as the sailing revolutions.

With this new era, archaeologist noted many changes in the artifacts that were found. For instance, craftsmen who made beads originally had quite small workshops that may have only been used for a matter of weeks.

During the height of the Viking’s age, the production of these beads appears to have slowed down immensely, and archaeologist spotted evidence of other imported Middle Eastern beads that would have taken their place.

It was also found that gemstones weren’t that important to residents of Ribe. Gold, on the other hand, certainly was, and it is believed that much of the gold in use during the early days of this city would have been stolen from Roman graves.

With around 330 feet of the 1st Viking city excavated, archaeologists are progressing steadily with their study of Ribe and will continue to publicize their finds in the upcoming years.

Wood and other organic materials are preserved in deep underneath the Danish city of Ribe. For example, this piece of lyre with six tuning pegs, was found in a layer from the first half of the 8th century AD. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )
Wood and other organic materials are preserved in deep underneath the Danish city of Ribe. For example, this piece of lyre with six tuning pegs, was found in a layer from the first half of the 8th century AD. ( Museum of Southwest Jutland )

Medieval Village Unearthed in Denmark

Lost medieval village discovered in Denmark

 Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.
Excavation of an extremely well-preserved cellar, which may have functioned as a place to store the town’s taxes.

Traces of three courtyards surrounded by a ditch marks out an area, which archaeologists have interpreted as the center of a village dating back to the Middle Ages in Tollerup, East Denmark.

Historical sources suggest that the farms belonged to the village rulers. A cellar in the largest farm was probably used to store tax revenues in the form of objects collected from the villagers.

“The interesting thing about this find is that we have some very old written sources that [give us] an entirely new understanding from what we can interpret from the excavation alone,” says Gunvor Christiansen, an archaeologist at Roskilde Museum, Denmark.

The excavated farmhouses date back to the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance (around 1400 to 1600 CE), and it is rare to find such well-preserved remains from this period, outside the large market towns in Denmark, says Christiansen.

A vanished village

Archaeologists do not know why the village was abandoned but they knew it existed as it is mentioned in a number of written sources.

A letter from King Canute IV first records the gifting of a village at this location to a bishop in 1085. The excavated houses were built later. A number of tax rolls from Tollerup also refer to six farms and a manor on the site, which was possibly used to store the collected taxes.

A gravel pit alongside the three farms could explain why they did not find the remains of the other three farms, says Christiansen.“Compared with other farms of the same period, we can see that one of the farms must have been the manor house, referred to in the written sources. It’s a qualified guess because the farm is so large,” she says.

The three farms are approximately five meters wide and 15 to 20 meters long, but the manor has a cellar area of 50 square meters. The foundations of the outer wall of the manor suggest that it was a two-story building.

Exceptionally well preserved

The archaeologists were pleased to see that the cellar remains were buried so deep. This would have protected them from a disturbance at the surface, for example by farming equipment turning the land over the years.

It’s rare to find houses from the Middle Ages in Denmark, says archaeologist Nils Engberg, curator at the National Museum of Denmark.

“We have lots of excavations from earlier periods. For example from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But unfortunately not from the Middle Ages because the houses were built in a different way,” he says.

The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment. (Photo: Kirsi Pedersen)
The large cellar was 50 square metres in size. Part of it was probably used to store the collected taxes while the other side was used to store farming equipment.

It was at this time that people began to construct houses with stone foundations after a law was passed to prevent felling of trees. Previously, all houses were timber constructions which led to a timber shortage throughout the country.

But the remains of stone houses could be easily looted and the materials used elsewhere in subsequent buildings, meaning that few were preserved to this day.

Christianity had a foothold in the community

When in use, the cellars would have been full. Archaeologists found evidence of two grinding stones from a mill, plough equipment, and many more everyday objects.

Moreover, they found traces of clay flooring, an oven, and pieces of tile with religious motifs, including a priest.“Religious motifs were very typical of the 1500s,” says Christiansen. Engberg agrees.

This was when Christianity gained momentum, he says.“In this period we had a permanent royal power and a centralized administration.

The country was split into dioceses such as Roskilde and Lolland Falster diocese. Soon, a government formed and we begin to slowly see a societal structure similar to that of today,” he says.

Roskilde’s bishop had connections to Tollerup

Archaeologists suspect that the village fell under the Diocese of Roskilde.“The Bishop of Roskilde received the taxes during this period and he may well have rented the manor for a vassal to administer it.

In the end, all taxes from Tollerup went to the bishop up until the Reformation after which the king took control,” says Christensen.

It is not yet absolutely certain that the town is the disappeared village recorded in the old tax rolls and the king’s letters. Archaeologists and historians will continue to study the site to find out for sure.

Source: archaeology.org

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

Denmark barbarian battle: Archaeologists Just Discovered the Mangled Remains

One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.
One of the nearly 400 slaughtered barbarians thought to be buried at Alken Enge in Denmark.

A ragtag troop of about 400 Germanic tribesmen marched into battle in Denmark about 2,000 years ago against a mysterious adversary and were slaughtered to the last man. Or at least that’s the story their bones tell.

Exhumed from Alken Enge — a peat bog in Denmark’s Illerup River Valley — between 2009 and 2014, nearly 2,100 bones belonging to the dead fighters have given archaeologists a rare window into the post-battle rituals of Europe’s so-called “barbarian” tribes during the height of the Roman Empire.

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark dug into the bloody details.

“The ferocity of the Germanic tribes and peoples and their extremely violent and ritualized behavior in the aftermath of warfare became a trope in the Roman accounts of their barbaric northern neighbors,” the authors wrote in the new study. 

Despite these historical accounts, little evidence of these practices has ever been discovered in archaeological finds — until now.

“Comprehensive slaughter”

In the Alken Enge find, archaeologists unearthed 2,095 human bones and fragments from the peat and lake sediment across 185 acres of wetlands in East Jutland.

These bones belonged to 82 distinct people — seemingly all men, most of them 20 to 40 years old — but likely account for just a fraction of the bones initially deposited in the area, the researchers wrote.

After analyzing the geographic distribution of the bones, the team estimated a minimum of 380 skeletons were originally interred in the water.

This population “significantly exceeds the scale of any known Iron Age village community,” the researchers wrote, suggesting the men were recruited from a large area to participate in a common battle.

Using radiocarbon analysis, the team dated the bones to between 2 B.C. and A.D. 54 — sometime between the reigns of the Roman emperors Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14) and Claudius (A.D. 41 to 54).

During this time, Rome expanded its empire north into Europe but met fierce resistance from the scattered tribes who lived in modern-day Germany and Denmark.

Some tribes allied with the Empire, and infighting between tribes was common.

The bones of the men at Alken Enge are thought to be the casualties of one such tribal battle.

Ancient weapons like axes, clubs, and swords were found scattered about the site, and it was clear to the researchers that many of the skeletons had sustained critical battle wounds before dying.

“The relative absence of healed sharp force trauma suggests that the deposited population did not have considerable previous battle experience,” the researchers wrote. Indeed, the scrappy group of soldiers met “comprehensive slaughter.

“Ritual burial or hasty cleanup?

Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region's peat bogs.
Nearly 2,100 bones were found in East Jutland, Denmark. Numerous other finds have been discovered preserved in the region’s peat bogs.

Finding boneyards of dead soldiers is no rarity in archaeology; what truly excited the researchers about Alken Enge was the seemingly ritualistic way in which the skeletons were buried.

For starters, it appears that the skeletons were deposited in the lake after they had decomposed in the wild for anywhere between six months and a year.

Nearly 400 of the bones were hatched with gnawing tooth marks probably left by scavenging animals such as foxes, wolves or dogs.

Moreover, the absence of bacterial decay on the bones suggests that the men’s inner organs were removed, decomposed or eaten by scavengers before their ultimate burial, the researchers wrote.

Whether it was a friend or foe who did the burying is still unclear. The man’s arm and leg bones were severed from their torsos.

Few intact skulls were present, but many cranial fragments appeared to have been smashed with a club or other bludgeoning tool, the researchers said.

Four pelvic bones hung around a single tree branch with deliberate intent.”Alken Enge provides unequivocal evidence that the people in Northern Germania had systematic and deliberate ways of clearing battlefields,” the researchers concluded.

The find certainly “points to a new form of postbattle activities” in Germanic tribes at the dawn of the current era — but what it all means is still a mystery.

Source: inticweb