Oseberg exhumation: A success!

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The arguably greatest Viking ship burial ever, the Oseberg find from 1904, is yet again in the news here in Norway.

In 1948, the remains of the two women originally buried in 834 CE were put to rest again in an aluminium coffin within a stone sarcophagus.
Some bones were kept for research purposes, but since extraction of DNA from bone is a chancy procedure, researchers have wanted to exhume the remains once again.

Not the least because there were grave doubts as to whether the 1948 re-burial would have preserved the material.

Those doubts were strengthened considerably when it was found that water and dirt had seeped into the sarcophagus, but on opening the coffin, the remains were still intact and dry.

However, researchers say that only within a few years from now, that would not have been the case..

The oldest woman, about 70 years of age at her death, is commonly regarded to have been Queen Asa, the grandmother of Harald Hairfair, who united Norway at the end of the 9th century.

From the material that were kept from 1948, some very interesting discoveries have already been made:

1. Strontium analysis of a tooth revealed that the old woman had her upbringing and life in the Kristiansand area in Southern Norway, in full conformity with saga description of Asa's life (Oseberg lies in Vestfold, quite a bit north of the region of her upbringing)

2. Even more interesting was some slender DNA evidence that her ancestors most likely came from the region around the Black Sea, which is in agreement with the previously thought mythical pre-history of the Norwegian old royal line, the Ynglings.

Most likely, with more matter now to work on, researchers can make further interesting discoveries about the two women buried, and the times in which they lived.


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