Slavic warrior in the Viking grave?

Ax of Slavic origin in a thousand-year-old female grave gives R tsel

This ax comes from a Viking grave on Langeland where a woman was buried - was she a Slav warrior? © Mira Fricke
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Did she come from Poland? On the Danish island of Langeland, archaeologists have discovered the grave of a Viking woman who was buried with a war ax. This suggests that she was either a warrior or that she used this ax in a ritual context. Interesting too: Because this ax is Slavic style, this warrior could also come from the Slavic area.

About a thousand years ago, the Vikings dominated large parts of northern Europe and even sailed to Greenland and North America. They maintained an extensive trade network, but were especially feared as warriors and predatory conquerors. The popular belief was that warfare was a man's business, while the women cared for the farm and children.

Were there "Nordic Amazons"?

But a few years ago archaeologists in Scandinavia discovered some graves in which Viking women had been buried in the full state of war. One of these warriors, buried in Birka, Sweden, must have even been a sort of leader or officer after her grave goods. Are the legends of the "Nordic Amazons" fighting alongside the men?

One of the researchers working to get to the bottom of this question is Leszek Gardela from the University of Bonn. In the context of his study he searched specifically for other graves of possible Viking warriors - with success. In addition to the already known 20 graves with armed Viking women, he came across ten other tombs with weapons as burial objects, in which most likely female bodies were buried.

Slavic ax in the Viking grave

One of these graves has now proved to be particularly revealing. A thousand years ago a woman was buried in a Viking cemetery on the Danish island of Langeland. The unusual, however: beside the dead lay an Arabian coin and a war ax. She is the only dead woman in the entire cemetery who was buried with a weapon, Gardela reports. display

Reconstruction of the Viking woman grave on Langeland. Miroslav Kuzma

But who was this woman? Further examinations revealed that the ax was not a domestic make, but in its design rather resembled the damalsxten then common in the Baltic States. "So far, nobody noticed that the ax in this grave came from the southern Baltic, probably from what is now Poland, " says Gardela.

A warrior from the southern Baltic?

The researcher concludes that the dead, too, may have been of Slavic descent. "During the Middle Ages, this island was a true melting pot of Slavic and Scandinavian elements, " explains Gardela. "The presence of Slavic warriors was probably greater in Denmark than it was thought to be, " new studies suggest. "

However, whether the dead from Langeland was a Slavic warrior, can not say clearly so far, as Gardela emphasizes. Her bones show no signs of injury, so it's unclear what this woman died about a thousand years ago. The dead woman could have used her weapon during her lifetime as a weapon in combat. There will be contemporary accounts about female warriors and the other growers of armed Viking women.

Weapon or ritual object?

It is also conceivable that the ax was used for ritual purposes or self-defense. That, however, was not a very common phenomenon at the time, "says the archaeologist. In his opinion, the roving dead from Langeland might well have been a Viking warrior of Slavic origin. "There were many female warriors back then - they participated in wars and even led entire armies into battle, " said Gardela.

Source: Science in Poland

- Nadja Podbregar