Apr
25
2008

Vikings acquitted: No signs of murder at burial site

Death boat, but not murder boat: New medical testing done on remains from two women's bodies found in this Viking burial boat -- the Oseberg ship -- show no signs of foul play or murder. The ship is now on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.
Death boat, but not murder boat: New medical testing done on remains from two women's bodies found in this Viking burial boat -- the Oseberg ship -- show no signs of foul play or murder. The ship is now on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway.Courtesy flappingwings
It took more than 100 years of research, but modern technology has been used to determine that injuries found on a woman in a Viking burial were not the result of murder.

The young woman is one of two people buried in the Oseberg ship, an ornamental craft measuring 72-feet long that was found in 1904 buried under a huge mound in Norway.

It’s believed that the ship was the burial chamber for a Viking queen, the other body found in the excavation. The younger woman had evidence of fractures on her collarbone, initially leading researchers to think she was the queen’s attendant who was also killed at the time of the queen’s death to serve her in the afterlife. The burial boat also contained a slain dog, other animals and a collection of household goods and furniture that were thought to be needed for the queen to continue her regal life in the afterworld.

Through closer inspection of the women’s bones, a little bit clearer picture is starting to emerge about their story. The younger woman, who was around age 50, indeed had a broken collarbone at the time of the burial, but it also showed several weeks worth of healing. So the impact that caused the collar to crack didn’t likely occur at the time of the older woman’s death. Also, the older woman, about age 80, was suffering from a form of cancer based on evidence collected from her bones. The women died in the year 834.

Researchers also think that they both might have achieved high status in Viking culture. While that was known for the queen based on her elaborate burial, new data collected from the younger woman show that she had a diet rich in meat (lower class Vikings ate mainly fish) and that she used a metal toothpick to clean her teeth, something that was only available to upper-class Vikings.

Still, a lot more questions than answers remain about the situation, researchers add.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow! Way to go modern technology. Now a high status lady isn't getting put down as a murdered slave!

posted on Thu, 03/11/2010 - 5:59pm

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