Scientists found remains of temples, banquet halls and burial mounds around a Viking ship buried in Gjellestad, southern Norway. The new study was published in the journal Antiquity on Nov.
The ship was discovered
in 2018 thanks to a ground-penetrating radar survey. The Vikings buried it between the late 8th and early 10th centuries. Subsequent sweeps and excavations revealed more clues about Gjellestad and the lives of its ancient inhabitants.
Ground-penetrating radar helped scientists find 13 burial mounds, including ship graves, some up to 30 meters wide. Near the ship's grave, there are two large circular mounds and 7 smaller mounds skull ornament concentrated in the north. The team also discovered traces of four rectangular structures in the west, the longest one being 38 m. Small structures can be houses and temples. Meanwhile, the largest structure, similar in structure and size to a banquet hall, was unearthed in other Viking settlements.
The ship grave at Gjellestad
has many unusual features. Viking 12-meter-long ship burials are common, but 20-meter-long vessels like this one are rare. Only a few such graves have been found in Norway, according to Lars Gustavsen, lead author of the study and an archaeologist at the Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage (NIKU).
Scientists do not know exactly why the Vikings buried the ship. "This is a community associated with the sea and sea voyages, so in this case, the ship could be a means of transporting the dead from the real world to the afterlife. Or it could simply be used to express gratitude. rich, proving that the deceased belonged to a certain social and political class," Gustavsen said.
After discovering the ship in 2018
the team of experts excavated part of it and quickly realized the day of the dead wet environment alternating with droughts left it severely rotten and infected with fungus. This summer, scientists conducted a full excavation of the ship to recover and preserve what they could.
In October, they suddenly found some animal bones. The animal bones are relatively large, so the team believes they belong to a bull or horse that was sacrificed according to the burial ritual. The top bones are badly decomposed, but the bottom is still pretty good. This suggests that it is possible that objects deeper in the grave are better preserved. Excavation is still ongoing and is expected to be completed in December.