Boat-Shaped Viking Structure Found in Icelandic Cave

Iceland Surtshellir CavePROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND—Live Science reports that a team of researchers led by Kevin Smith of Brown University has investigated a stone structure in Surtshellir Cave, which is located near a volcano in Iceland. The volcano is known to have erupted about 1,100 years ago, shortly after the island was colonized by Vikings. Smith said that after the lava from the eruption cooled, the Vikings built the boat-shaped structure with rocks. Within the boat’s outline, the researchers unearthed the bones of sheep, goat, cattle, horses, and pigs that had been burned at high temperatures. They also found orpiment, a mineral from eastern Turkey, and 63 beads, three of which came from Iraq. The researchers suggest that the boat was constructed as a response to the eruption, which the Vikings may have associated with Ragnarok and the fiery end of the world as described in Norse mythology. The items placed in the boat may have been intended to appease the giant Surtr, who would trigger Ragnarok, or strengthen the fertility god Freyr, who fought him. In the Ragnarok series of events, however, Freyr and the last of the gods lose the battle. The last objects, including a scale weight in the shape of a cross, were placed in the boat structure about 1,000 years ago, around the time the people of Iceland converted to Christianity, Smith said. For more, go to “The Blackener’s Cave.”


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