During the Iron-Age, ‘competitive feasting’ (essentially throwing the biggest, best, and most exciting party) was a key element in developing political and social connections. Archaeologists working Germany for the past ten years have uncovered key feasting elements in graves dating to 2,600 BP (Before Present). The contents of the grave emphasize not only ‘feasting’ but drinking – large cauldrons used to hold alcoholic beverages.
To the upper-class, the quantity of alcohol consumed was as important as the quality. Arnold excavated at least one fully intact cauldron used for serving alcoholic beverages in one of the graves at Heuneburg. But it’s hard to top the recovery of nine drinking horns — including one that held 10 pints — at a single chieftain’s grave in nearby Hochdorf in the 1970s.
The burial pits excavated contain objects belonging to men, women, and even children. To learn more about the excavations and these finds, feet the article in Science Daily.
A mass grave of at least 35 males (aged 16-25) was uncovered in Oxford in 2008 and is believed to be connected to the St. Brice’s Day massacre ordered by King Ethelred. The bodies were buried unceremoniously and all of the skeletons display the signs of brutal, execution style deaths.
In 1002 CE, Ethelred, after uncovering an assassination plot against him, ordered the death of all Danes living in the region. The Danes fled to a local church hoping to find refuge, but were instead murdered by the local townspeople.
The remains found in the mass grave are consistent with the time period and methods of execution described in the massacre. To learn more about the recent analysis of these finds, see this article in the BBC.
Recent analysis of Viking excavations has brought to light the role of women in what has been historical viewed a male focused culture. The image of the stay-at-home Viking wife and mother has been struck down by recent analysis of Viking archaeological sites across Europe.
”An increase in the number of finds of Norse-style jewellery in the last two decades has led some scholars to suggest a larger number of female settlers. Indeed, it has been noted that there are more Norse female dress items than those worn by men,” says the study.
It is an interesting change-up of demographic concepts. It appears that Viking women accompanied their men-folk (at the least in post-conquest moves) to new regions, building homes, and furthering the Viking way of life.
My friend and former colleague from California State University Long Beach, Douglas Forasté sent me this article today and my fascination with body modification was stirred. Recent excavations of a Viking Burial in Dorset England have revealed that at least one occupant of the mass grave had filed teeth.
The burial pit in Dorset, dates to around the first millennium AD, contains 51 skulls and 54 human bodies. It appears to be a site of mass burial after a formal execution.
Tooth filing is a common form of body modification in which the teeth can be filed down (often in to points) or other wise carved with symbols and designs. The practice is not only painful, but can be dangerous as a poorly skilled ‘filer’ can easily expose a root and thus kill the tooth (potentially leading to infection and even death).
Oxford Archaeology project manager David Score said: “It’s difficult to say how painful the process of filing teeth may have been, but it wouldn’t have been a pleasant experience.