Unique boat graves discovered Sweden

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Two burial ships have been discovered in Uppsala, in what archaeologists have called a “sensational” find.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Osteologist Carolin Arcini examines the skeleton of a man from intact boat grave
[Credit: Arkeologerna Statens Historiska Museer]



The two graves were found by the vicarage in Gamla Uppsala during an excavation last autumn, and archaeologists investigated the find in June this year. In Sweden, only around ten burial ship sites of this kind have been found previously.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Early medieval boat grave at Gamla Uppsala vicarage [Credit: Arkeologerna Statens 
Historiska Museer]

“This is a unique excavation, the last burial ship was examined 50 years ago,” said Anton Seiler, an archaeologist who works with Sweden’s historical museums.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Archaeologists excavate boat grave site [Credit: Arkeologerna Statens
Historiska Museer]



Burial ships were full-sized boats in which people of high social standing were sometimes buried, often along with gifts and other objects.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Ornate comb and shield boss [Credit: Arkeologerna Statens
Historiska Museer]

One of the two newly discovered graves was intact, with remains of a man, a horse and a dog. Archaeologists also found items including a sword, spear, shield, and an ornate comb.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Osteologist Ola Magnell uncover the skeletons of a horse and a dog
[Credit: Arkeologerna Statens Historiska Museer]



This kind of grave typically dates back to the Vendel Period (around 550-800 AD) or the Viking Age (800-1050 AD), when it was more common to cremate the dead.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
The horse skeleton found in one of the graves [Credit: Arkeologerna Statens
Historiska Museer]

“It is a small group of people who were buried in this way. You can suspect that they were distinguished people in the society of the time since burial ships in general are very rare,” said Anton Seiler.

Unique boat graves discovered Sweden
Archaeobotanist Jens Heimdahl examines a sample taken from the grave
[Credit: Arkeologerna Statens Historiska Museer]

Parts of the find will go on display at Gamla Uppsala Museum and Stockholm’s Swedish History Museum.

Source: The Local [July 05, 2019]

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