Thursday, 14 September 2017
Breaking News: A Viking Sword Found at High Altitude
Canadian soldier, 24, makes history as she becomes the first woman to command the troops guarding the Queen at Buckingham Palace
- Canadian Captain Megan Couto, 24, has been given the prestigious role of Captain of the Queen’s Guard
- She is one of a number of Canadian troops invited to serve as the Queen’s Guard until July 3
- Today she marched her troops from Wellington Barracks to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard
- All Canadian military roles are open to women but restrictions in Britain means no woman has held been Captain of the Queen’s Guard
Here is a fascinating edition of the Podcast Radio Lab about the magic of forests and the extraordinary secret life of trees: From Tree to Shining Tree A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and…
Vestiges of the Vikings: Magic Buried in a Viking Woman’s Grave
Murky, elusive and undefined, the religion of the pre-Christian Vikings has long been subject to debate. Contemporary texts of their spiritual worship do not survive, and the later records that do survive stem from Christian authors. Thus they are tainted with a Christian worldview and anti-pagan opinions. The magic of the Vikings, however, is somewhat a secondary field of interest. Though intricately linked with the pagan beliefs of the Norse, it is in many ways more undefined due to the ritual sacrifice of magical items.
In 1894, a curved metal rod was discovered in a 9 th-10th century female grave in Romsdal, Norway. Scholars have debated its intention for years, shuffling between theories that it was a “fishing hook or a spit for roasting meat”, before realizing in 2013 that it was likely a form of a magic wand. The bend toward the top of the wand was seemingly made just before the wand was laid to rest with the woman, as if to stem its magical properties. This particular wand fits the traditional mold of a seiðr wand based on previous discoveries dating from the 9 th and 10 th centuries. It is long (at 90cm), made of iron (consistent with the materials circulating of the Norse Iron Age) with “knobs attached to them” for the benefit of the wielder.
The Viking metal rod that is believed to have been a magic wand. Credit: Trustees of the British Museum
It is important to note that it was very common in Viking funerary traditions for weapons or items to be ceremoniously broken or bent before burial. Though the exact reasons for these actions are uncertain, it is believed by scholars such as Thomas DuBois and Neil Price that such alterations were part of the funeral itself. The weapons of a warrior, for instance, or the wand of a witch, in this case, were forcibly made impotent or non-functional just as the warrior could no longer fight, and the witch could no longer perform magic.
When University of Cincinnati researchers uncovered the tomb of a Bronze Age warrior—left untouched for more than 3,500 years and packed with a spectacular array of precious jewelry, weapons and riches—the discovery was hailed by experts as “the find of a lifetime.”
Now, only a year after archaeologists completed the excavation, new understandings of the artifacts—particularly the discovery of four golden rings—and the insights they provide to the origins of Greek civilization may prove to be the team’s next big discovery.
Shari Stocker, a senior research associate in UC’s Department of Classics, and Jack Davis, the university’s Carl W. Blegen chair in Greek archaeology, will reveal the UC-based team’s findings from the so-called “Griffin Warrior” grave Thursday, Oct. 6, at The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece.
The husband-and-wife team’s highly anticipated lecture is generating worldwide attention, including a feature in the New York Times.
The ‘find of a lifetime’
Stocker and Davis, along with other UC staff specialists and students, stumbled upon the remarkably undisturbed and intact tomb last May while excavating near the city of Pylos, an ancient city on the southwest coast of Greece.
Inside they discovered the well-preserved remains of what is believed to have been a powerful Mycenaean warrior or priest in his early- to mid-30s who was buried around 1500 B.C. near the archeological excavation of the Palace of Nestor.
Immortalized in Homer’s “Odyssey,” the large administrative center was destroyed by fire sometime around 1180 B.C., but remains the best-preserved Bronze Age palace on the Greek mainland. UC archaeologist Carl Blegen first discovered the Mycenaean ruins in 1939, where he unearthed a number of clay tablets written in Linear B script, the earliest known written form of Greek.
The warrior’s tomb, hailed by the Greek Culture Ministry as the “most important to have been discovered [in continental Greece] in 65 years,” revealed more than 2,000 objects arrayed on and around the body, including four solid gold rings, silver cups, precious stone beads, fine-toothed ivory combs and an intricately built sword, among other weapons.