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Excavations Reveal info about Viking Life

Excavations of a Viking ship found in Norway is revealing some surprising details about who once lived there.

UPDATE! In 2018, a ground-penetrating radar scan that was conducted in Jellestad, Norway uncovered not only Viking burial mounds and five longhouses, but also a buried ship. Intrigued, in 2019, archaeologists excavated the site, which is located near the famous “Jell Mound” (named after Viking king Jell), and uncovered the ship’s intact keel that dates to 603-724 AD.

Historians believe that the 65-foot-long ship, which lies only 20 inches beneath the surface of a field, was used as the resting place of a royal personage, who was buried around 800 AD on top of an already existing cemetery.

"…the inclusion of a ship burial in what was probably an already existing—and long-lived—mound cemetery was an effort to associate oneself with an already existing power structure,” explains Lars Gustavsen of the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU).

Unfortunately, the archaeologists discovered that a drainage ditch that had been cut into the field 70 years ago had kept the soil around the ship so damp that the most of the ship's wood has since decomposed. The only part still left intact is the keel, and its wood was infected with a fungus that is swiftly eating away at it.

Formal excavations of the ship that began in June 2020 have revealed that the Viking ship burial was just one of many structures once built on the site, including a feast hall, farmhouse, temple, and 13 other burial mounds. Researchers now believe that the site once served as a place for gathering, feasting, and governing, in addition to being a burial ground for high status and royal individuals.


Check out a video of the site and the radar mapping process.


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