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The age of Vikings started earlier than assumed - Discovery of Salme Ship Burials, Estonia


Archaeologists in Estonia have done a sensational discovery: a mass grave comprising two Viking ship burials. The history about the Viking has to be rewritten. The Salme ships are two pre-Viking era clinker-built ships that were discovered in 2008 near Salme village in Saaremaa, Estonia. Both ships were used for ship burial around AD 750 and contained the remains of more than 40 warriors killed in battle, as well as numerous weapons and other artifacts.

The ships were discovered in 2008 during earth removal for infrastructure construction. An archaeological expedition has been working on site since 2008. It is possible that at least one more ship is yet to be discovered during future excavations. The ships were located near the ancient coastline, about 1.5 m above water level. The location is 230 m from modern coastline and 4 meters above modern water level.

Ships Both Salme ships are clinker-built. One of the ships is 11.5 m long and 2 m wide, the second one more than 17 m long and 3 m wide. Human remains Skeletal remains belonging to at least 42 individuals were discovered in the two ships. Most of them belonged to 30–40 years old males who had been killed in battle. The smaller ship contained the skeletal remains of 7 individuals. There were at least 36 individuals buried in four layers in the large ship. Read more about this discovery in Wikipedia.

The great discovery means that the Viking age started earlier and believed, and the history has to be rewritten.

Stein Morten Lund, 21th Januar 2014

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