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Viking treasure hoard yields astounding finds
China Daily ^ | 06/24/2002 | Agencies via Xinhua

Posted on 06/28/2002 5:47:42 PM PDT by vannrox

Viking treasure hoard yields astounding finds




06/24/2002


STOCKHOLM: Four years ago, a farmer digging in his fields in Sweden's Baltic island of Gotland came across a Viking coin.


He called a friend from the local museum, and together they soon uncovered another 150 Viking relics. But the crops growing in the fields hindered their work and they gave up.


The following summer, with crops that year infected by lice, they resumed their search - and on July 16, 1999, came across the biggest Viking-period treasure hoard so far discovered.


It had been lying there for about 1,100 years.


The Spillings hoard, described by archaeologists as a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, includes 14,295 silver coins, 486 silver armlets, and dozens of other artefacts, weighing a total of 85 kilograms.


"It was totally crazy," said Bjorn Engstrom, the farmer who owns the land. "I was there for five days when they dug up the treasure. I didn't leave the field," he told reporters.


"The first night we camped there in a tent so nobody could come and take it."


Engstrom, 42, whose family has owned the land since only 1966, was not able to keep any of the silver himself.


Dragons and the law


Buried treasure was believed to be guarded by dragons in the days of old, but nowadays Sweden's law on historical monuments sets strict penalties for anyone searching for treasure with metal detectors, or failing to report any buried gold, silver or copper to the police or local museums.


Anyone discovering and dutifully reporting treasure gets a reward in line with the value of the find. Engstrom is still waiting for his, as archaeologists have studied only a fraction of the Spillings hoard, named after his farm.


The complete hoard, including some bronze relics also discovered at the same site, will be on show in Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities until September 1 before returning to Gotland.


Archaeologists believe the treasure was buried in about AD 870.


The site appears to have been a farm even then, said Majvor Ostergren, project leader at the County Museum of Gotland.


"But this treasure is too big to be on a traditional farm," she told reporters. "People there must have been something special."


The site's proximity to one of Gotland's main natural harbours, may be one clue.


Traders and raiders


As well as their fearsome reputation for plunder, the Vikings were also great traders.


They penetrated to Constantinople, now Istanbul, but then the capital of the Byzantine empire and one of the world's richest cities, providing soldiers for the emperor and trading with the Greek merchants.


The extent of their trading links was revealed in 1954 on the little island of Helgo near Stockholm, where a sixth century Buddha from northern India was found in a Viking site.


Although Gotland had few resources of its own, its position in the middle of the Baltic between Sweden and Latvia made it an ideal base for trade. The Vikings could bring in furs and amber from Scandinavia and the Baltic coast, and ship them along rivers into Germany or down to Constantinople.


That explains why of the 1,400 coins from the hoard that have been examined so far, four are Nordic, one from Byzantium, 23 are Persian, and the rest are Islamic.


In the ninth century, the silver money of the Arabs was the most common coinage in Scandinavia. The first Swedish coins were not struck until about AD 995.


The earliest coin in the hoard dates from AD 539 and is Persian, before the Islamic conquest. The latest is from AD 870.


Coins of the khazars


One of the most important coins in the hoard, dating from AD 830 to 840, sheds light on a place far away: Its markings show its provenance is the kingdom of the Khazars, a realm in southern Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.


Its Arabic inscription reads ''Moses is the messenger of God" - apparently a Jewish variant on the Islamic credo "Mohammed is the messenger of God."


Only four other coins are known to have this inscription.


The Khazars were believed to have converted to Judaism - possibly the only nation to do so - after their ruler invited Christian, Islamic and Jewish theologians to demonstrate the merits of their different faiths to his court.


Although many written sources describe the Khazars as Jews, few objects have been found in excavations in Russia to confirm these reports. The Khazar coin is thus important evidence.


But for visitors to the exhibition who are neither numismatists nor historians, the most fascinating exhibits are the hundreds of silver armlets.


The armlets are linked in bunches, indicating that they were used as money with a set weight, rather than jewellery.


Agencies via Xinhua


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancientnavigation; archaeology; buddha; coin; dig; discovery; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; gold; helgo; history; india; khazars; romanempire; scandinavia; silver; spillingshoard; sweden; thevikings; treasure; viking; vikings
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I love this stuff.
1 posted on 06/28/2002 5:47:42 PM PDT by vannrox
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To: vannrox
If you ever find youself in York, England, check out the Jorvik Viking Centre.

They take you through the ruins of a settlement and then through a re-creation which includes the possible smells!

It's fabulous.
2 posted on 06/28/2002 6:15:41 PM PDT by lizma
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To: Cinnamon Girl
Some interesting history here in this article.
3 posted on 06/28/2002 6:34:18 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: vannrox; blam
Great post. An amazing array of places for those coins to come from. I especially like the part about the Khazars. (Are these the people form whom Khazakstan is named?)
4 posted on 06/28/2002 6:38:52 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: vannrox
The site's proximity to one of Gotland's main natural harbours, may be one clue.

Wi not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer?

See the loveli lakes ...

5 posted on 06/28/2002 6:43:03 PM PDT by strela
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To: vannrox
In the ninth century, the silver money of the Arabs was the most common coinage in Scandinavia

Factoid alert:
Islamic coin, eh?

6 posted on 06/28/2002 6:46:56 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: vannrox
Good post....thanks.
7 posted on 06/28/2002 6:57:36 PM PDT by Icthus
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To: vannrox
Given the Swedish government's tax rates, the farmer should take a hint from his Viking ancestors and also bury his money.
8 posted on 06/28/2002 7:22:09 PM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: The Great RJ
Given the Swedish government's tax rates, the farmer should take a hint from his Viking ancestors and also bury his money.

the Swedish government has already confiscated the treasure that was found on the farmer's property! To my way of thinking the government STOLE the treasure from its rightful owner. Damn socialists.

9 posted on 06/28/2002 7:45:27 PM PDT by Swordmaker
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To: vannrox
"with crops that year infected by lice,"

Lice? First time I ever heard of crops getting lice.

Very cool find indeed. We seem to be getting a lot of very cool finds lately.

a.cricket

10 posted on 06/28/2002 7:49:19 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: Swordmaker
the Swedish government has already confiscated the treasure that was found on the farmer's property! To my way of thinking the government STOLE the treasure from its rightful owner. Damn socialists.

This policy of confiscation may hurt historical research. If I could keep everything found on my property I would have no problem loaning it to museums or historians. If I were in this farmer's place with those laws, I would have hid it and slowly auctioned it off on ebay.

11 posted on 06/28/2002 8:05:51 PM PDT by rmmcdaniell
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To: vannrox
Sweden's law on historical monuments sets strict penalties for anyone searching for treasure with metal detectors,

Why make it illegal to search with metal detectors? Sounds like a stupid socialist regulation to stiffle individual initiative.

12 posted on 06/28/2002 8:05:54 PM PDT by Hugin
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To: vannrox
Photographs and more info here.
13 posted on 06/28/2002 8:24:10 PM PDT by AZLiberty
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To: AZLiberty
That's a neat site. I especially liked this picture.
14 posted on 06/28/2002 9:18:18 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: another cricket
Mr. Cricket, the Lord tells us in the last days knowledge will grow in leaps and bounds. That includes our history. Just MHO.
15 posted on 06/28/2002 9:21:21 PM PDT by seeker41
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To: seeker41
They are saying "Jews", I am thinking Israel instead. Perhaps tribe of Dan? Along with the underwater archealogy which is revealing bountiful chunks of truth and putting the lie to a lot of the "heretofore" theories, God seems intent on revelation.
16 posted on 06/28/2002 9:35:45 PM PDT by Spirited
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To: LostTribe
Look over here.
17 posted on 06/28/2002 11:36:54 PM PDT by blam
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To: AZLiberty
Great pictures, thanks for the link.
18 posted on 06/28/2002 11:37:31 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam; Spirited
>...dating from AD 830 to 840 ... provenance is the kingdom of the Khazars, a realm in southern Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.

>They are saying "Jews", I am thinking Israel instead. Perhaps tribe of Dan?

Good Morning Blam.

Anything "in southern Russia between the Black and Caspian seas" is fodder for discussion about The Lost Tribes of Israel.  They were certainly there by the Millions after they escaped the Assyrian Captivity ~600 BC.

However there's not a lot of evidence to suggest they stayed around to see how it was all going to play out.  These 6+ MILLION people, now known as The CELTS, moved out quickly in waves to the West and Northwest, to become the Europeans and Americans of today.

This Viking article talks about 830 AD, so I think any members or relatives of the original Tribe of Dan (or any other tribe) were long gone, long before.  But since the Vikings (especially Swedish Vikings) are known to have come to this region during their explorations and trading with the Mediterranean area,  it is quite possible some of the Lost Tribe Israelites (not Jewish) returned. 

Some people believe all Scandinavians came from the Tribe of Dan (as in Danmark and many other good examples based on Dan). But there are also other good theories as to which of the Tribes spawned which Europeans.

19 posted on 06/29/2002 7:32:09 AM PDT by LostTribe
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To: vannrox
"The earliest coin in the hoard dates from AD 539 and is Persian, before the Islamic conquest."

I guess it WAS before the "Islamic conquest", since 539 AD is over a hundred years before Islam....

Otherewise, great article. I LOVE these archeological treasure finds.

20 posted on 06/29/2002 7:37:58 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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