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Viking Age World, people and events during the Viking Age (793-1066).

Archaeologists: Viking Age Older Than What Believed (Salme Ship Burials)

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Old Sunday, August 21st, 2016   #1
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Archaeologists: Viking Age Older Than What Believed (Salme Ship Burials)

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According to what we know from history, Vikings appeared in about the 7th century AD.

A written Church chronicle of that era referred to the fierce Scandinavian warriors. Vikings expanded across Europe, Asia and the Americas and they were known as an unstoppable force. Until now it was believed that they emerged suddenly and expanded rapidly and aggressively without any trace of how this happened.

There were a few theories mentioning that it happened because of climate change and overpopulation, but nothing has been proven.

However, due to a recent discovery on a Baltic island our understanding about Vikings and their expansion may change. Two ships with slain warriors were discovered on the Saaremaa Island – 7 men on the smaller ship and 33 on the larger one together with their weapons and animals. Archaeologists believe that those men died about a century before the Viking Age is officially known to have begun, at about 700 AD, an era that wasn’t previously known for long voyages. Those two boats show the technological advancement of the Baltic civilizations.

It was in 2008 in the island town of Salme when the first small boat was found with the remains of human bones and a set of strange objects. Further investigation showed that it was a war boat of the 6th century AD. A few years later the second boat with 33 dead warriors covered with their shields were found. This boat that was capable of travelling in the open sea. Based on the analysis of the artefacts and the remains that were found, the dead warriors were Scandinavian. It looks that they were burial boats that took place after a battle in a rush.

The importance of this discovery lies in the fact that it may provide answers about the sudden expansion of the Vikings, showing that it wasn’t so sudden as it was believed but it was a gradual process that took place during a few centuries that led to the advancement of their technology and skills that at some point made it possible to expand and use advanced ships for their expansion.

(Ancient Origins)
http://whiteresister.com/index.php/1...-what-believed
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Old Monday, April 17th, 2017   #2
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More information on the burials:

The Salme I Ship Burial: An Osteological View of a Unique Burial in Northern Europe

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In autumn 2008 human and animal bones came to light during cabling work in the village of Salme, on Saaremaa Island, Estonia. Some days later a contour of an ancient ship was discovered.
The ancient ship, as well as the human and animal bones inside it, date to the second half of the 7th century or the beginning of 8th century, AD.
Osteological analyses concentrated on specific qualities of this burial which are unknown in ship burials from the Baltic Sea and in the broader context of northern Europe.
The skeletons of seven men, and bones of several domestic animals and hawks were found in the remains of the ship. The exceptional features of the Salme I ship burial are the absence of the bones of dogs and horses, which are very common in Scandinavian ship burials, and the particularly large number of men buried in one ship.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF PRE-VIKING AGE BURIAL BOAT IN SALME VILLAGE AT SAAREMAA (2010)

RESEARCH RESULTS OF THE SALME SHIP BURIALS IN 2011–2012
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Old Monday, April 17th, 2017   #3
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When you get down to the nitty and gritty of it, people in Scandinavia have been traveling in boats and attacking and plundering other tribes at least since the beginning of the first millennium. If going by the definition of a 'Viking' as someone who took part in such conduct, one should maybe consider this the start of the 'Viking Age'.

In my opinion, though, a 'Viking' is simply a Norseman, from the time of Norse culture and language, starting in the 8th century, as it evolved from Proto-Nordic language in the Vendel Age. In the 11th century, with the implementation of Christian culture and the divergence of Norse into separate languages, the Viking Age passes over into Nordic Medieval Age. Easy peasy.
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Old Tuesday, April 18th, 2017   #4
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That's correct, the title of the original post might be a bit misleading.
But these "Ages" are always sort of arbitrary anyway and there's almost never a point where one can say "this is it, one age ends and the other begins."

What makes the actual "Viking Age" special in regards to the raids, is largely a matter of scale.
Although, that also might only be an impression because we have literary sources about that, contrary to the Vendel Age or even earlier.
Actually though, already in the surroundings of the Hjortspring boat from 350 BCE so many weapons(about 170 spears, 50 shields and 11 swords) were found, that we can safely assume a fleet of ships, not just one.

At Illerup Adal on the East Jutish coast, the remains of at least 200 and up to a 1.000 men, probably Norwegians, have been found. Although none were found, they, obviously, had to arrive via a fleet.

From a somewhat later date ca. 200 AD, we have almost 800(!) spear and lance heads, 340 knives from the same bog.
Only a few decades later, again 200 spear and lance heads, together with 150 swords and almost 400 shields.

At Vimose on the island of Funen(so, ships likewise are necessary as explanation), we have masses of weapon also, from 3 to 4 deposits at different dates:

Quote:
  • Vimose 1; around 70 AD - 150 AD (B2); no swords.
  • Vimose 2; around 150 AD (C1a)
  • Vimose 3; around 230 AD (C1b); large number of objects
  • Vimose 4 etc.; some from C2 (late 3rd century) up to migration period (5th century). Late Roman empire swords.
We have "only" 85 swords - but 135 chapes and about 300 sword belts. One wonders. Did some cunning old Danes hold back the really precious stuff and just pitched in empty sheaths?
Than we have 800 lance and 3190 spear points. And shield buckles, spurs, combs, and so on.
Same with the Nydam ships, the next actual ship find after Hjortspring, built around 310 AD, we have again hundreds of Weapons.

And so on, there are many more bog finds, with weapons of the same period often being of a somewhat “standardised” pattern even. So they clearly already had armies rivalling the size of later Viking armies and an accompanying sophisticated degree of organisation and logistics, which might have actually been higher, than in the early centuries of the Viking Age.

The difference to the Viking Age seems largely to lie in the fact, that the raids were still mostly restricted to Scandinavia and generally the Baltics, as in Salme.
Possibly quite simply for a lack of mast and sail, of which no traces have been found even as late as the Nydam finds. The first of these might have been found on the Kvalsund ship, but it's apparently not entirely clear.
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Old Tuesday, April 18th, 2017   #5
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Some of this time line can be explained in iron and steel making technologies of the time. Swords take more and better iron/steel to produce than spears there is actually a large amount of waste in making swords ( grinding and shaping ). Sword blade shapes changed very little from the late Roman era to almost the end of the "Viking" age. The style just moved North. Given the quality of the blades I am of the firm opinion that most "Viking" sword blades were not actually made in Norse lands, though they may have been hilted there. I think they were actually made in what is now the Ruhr area of Germany. That is a long story how I come to those ideas, and perhaps better for a thread of it's own one day.

To explain the empty sheathes, you just have to look at the sagas as often a sword or knife is referred to as an "ancient heirloom" meaning it was either passed down or robbed from graves of ancestors for their value. The empty scabbards may have been placed for symbolism of a sword.
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Last edited by Juthunge : Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 at 12:50 AM. Reason: Please, for the sake of visibility, don't quote preceding posts in full, especially if they're very long.
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Old Wednesday, April 19th, 2017   #6
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Originally Posted by SpearBrave View Post
I think they were actually made in what is now the Ruhr area of Germany. That is a long story how I come to those ideas, and perhaps better for a thread of it's own one day.
I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion or anything.
It’s long established, that most higher quality Viking swords, especially those with the Ulfberht and Ingelrii “brand” inscriptions, are almost certainly from the Frankish Empire, probably from the Rhinelands and perhaps even from Solingen.

The latter being later famous for its swords, it still is actually, but it might be somewhat anachronistic. But the Siegerland is close and the iron ore there has been exploited almost continuously since pre-Germanic times till now and wood was abundantly available, so it likely happened roughly around that area.

In any case, the Franks tried to establish restrictions on weapons trade with foreigners, often specifically addressing weapons trade to Vikings. So, apparently, this was a real problem.

I still think, however, that Norsemen were perfectly capable making of medium grade and occasionally very good swords because the local made ones from the early Migration Period already weren’t exactly horrible either.


Btw, have a look at the page I already linked in the preceding post:
Iron, Steel and Swords

Especially:

Analyzing the Forging of a "Viking" Sword

11. Making Swords

11.4 The Transition to All-Steel Swords
11.4.1 Viking Swords

11.4.2 Blades of Viking Era Swords

11.4.3 Ulfberht Swords

The Frankish Empire And Its Swords

Large Pictures Chapter 11.4

You will love it, it goes deep into the metallurgical/technical aspects of Germanic, and other, swords. Don’t always take his word on history though because the author seems to be first and foremost an engineer/professor of material science.

Perhaps you should really make a thread about it, I’d be certainly interested.
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Old Wednesday, April 19th, 2017   #7
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Originally Posted by Juthunge View Post
I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion or anything.
It’s long established, that most higher quality Viking swords, especially those with the Ulfberht and Ingelrii “brand” inscriptions, are almost certainly from the Frankish Empire, probably from the Rhinelands and perhaps even from Solingen.
Actually there much debate on that very subject in blade making circles. I personally don't think the Ulfberht or Ingelrii were the best, I think their popularity comes with having a name on them. They may very well have been a lower grade thus allowing them to survive. Keep in mind both names were counterfeited back in their time to the point no one knows which is real or fake for sure. There is a lot of hype with them, often I seen blades with no markings that seemed of better quality and actually welding the letters in the blades like that could cause a weakness in a crucial part of the blade.

Since for the most part technology moved Northward the Rhinelands were most likely decades ahead of Norse technology at the time. Also there was a sword fragment found in England that had a five inner bar construction while the most blades where three bar. Having five bars meant that you needed greater skill and steel to perform the welds. I can go on about this, but again it would take a small book of a thread. I lost a small library on this subject due to an accident at my old house.

Yes, Solingen would be such a place, but the blades themselves could be much older and re-hilted even from Roman times. All in all I think we were much more advanced than most archaeologists would think when it came to metal working skills. Most of them never made a pattern welded sword and would not know what basic tools were needed besides a hammer and Amboss. Often England is over looked as an area of production as well as France.

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Perhaps you should really make a thread about it, I’d be certainly interested.
I think there may already be one, it is the very subject that brought me here years ago. If not I may make one when I have a 5 to 6 time span of doing nothing.

Do I get a Horned Helm if I make a new thread? I always wanted on of those things.
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Old Wednesday, April 19th, 2017   #8
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Since for the most part technology moved Northward the Rhinelands were most likely decades ahead of Norse technology at the time.
In the early Viking Age, I would agree that makes sense. But in the later phases, when Norsemen started to travel into the Eastern Mediterranean, and coming into contact with cultures producing Damascus steel, it's not unthinkable that they picked up some of the local techniques of blacksmithing and brought it back home with them. I am not very educated on the subject of sword making, but I've talked to some Norwegian traditional blacksmiths who claim this is the case, and that Norse blacksmiths were among the best in their trade for this reason. I wouldn't exclude the possibility for some degree of National pride producing an unfounded bias on their part, though.
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Old Wednesday, April 19th, 2017   #9
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Originally Posted by Žoreišar View Post
In the early Viking Age, I would agree that makes sense. But in the later phases, when Norsemen started to travel into the Eastern Mediterranean, and coming into contact with cultures producing Damascus steel, it's not unthinkable that they picked up some of the local techniques of blacksmithing and brought it back home with them. I am not very educated on the subject of sword making, but I've talked to some Norwegian traditional blacksmiths who claim this is the case, and that Norse blacksmiths were among the best in their trade for this reason. I wouldn't exclude the possibility for some degree of National pride producing an unfounded bias on their part, though.
True Damascus steel from the Middle East or India is not the same thing as the pattern welded steel that was used in Europe the from migration era to the late Viking age. Pattern welded steel developed in Europe and is even older than the Japanese welded blades. My guess they used pattern welding because they could not produce high carbon steel in big enough pieces to make a mono steel blade. The result was/is a blade that has a hardened cutting edge with a soft core giving the blade flexibility and that would be less likely to brake. In many ways the pattern welded blade was superior to the true damas blades which is actually cast and ground to shape and can be very brittle.

Pattern welding disappeared from Europe as iron and steel making technologies improved as then things such as swords could be produced much quicker and cheaper from mono steels.
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