Three Viking Boat Burials Discovered in Three Days in Iceland


Three Viking boats embedded in the shores of an Icelandic fjord have been discovered in three days, Iceland Magazine reports. The artifacts, which include a vessel that once belonged to an affluent chief, join the small number of boat burials that have been recorded in the Nordic country.

Archaeologists came upon the first boat last week on the shore of the Dysnes peninsula bordering the Eyjafjörður fjord in northern Iceland. It contains the bones of a person and the teeth of a dog that was buried with him, both believed to date back to the 9th or 10th century. A sword found among the remains indicates the grave belonged to someone of Viking nobility.

The next day, the researchers discovered another boat burial, and it was in even better condition than the first. The day after that, they found two graves and some wooden nails that are likely from yet another boat. The finds are all thought to be about 1000 years old.

Boat funerals, in which the deceased were loaded into ships with their possessions before being launched out to sea, have become synonymous with Viking culture. But the ritual wasn’t as common as pop culture makes it seem today: Only 10 or so boat burials have ever been discovered in Iceland. And when they have been found, they’ve rarely been clustered together like this most recent trio of finds.

The finds are under threat—not from grave robbers but from the tide of the nearby fjord. Half of the first vessel and its contents have already been swept into the sea over the past millennium, and the the other two ships have sustained damage from erosion. Archaeologists plan to continue excavating the boats in the weeks ahead.

[h/t Iceland Magazine]

Mastodon Bones Have Been Discovered by Sewer Workers in Indiana

Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Thomas Quine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When something unexpected happens during a sewer system project, the news is not usually pleasant. But when workers installing pipes in Seymour, Indiana stopped due to an unforeseen occurrence, it was because they had inadvertently dug up a few pieces of history: mastodon bones.

According to the Louisville Courier Journal, workers fiddling with pipes running through a vacant, privately owned farm in Jackson County happened across the animal bones during their excavation of the property. The fossils—part of a jaw, a partial tusk, two leg bones, a vertebrae, a joint, some teeth, and a partial skull—were verified as belonging to a mastodon by Ron Richards, the senior research curator of paleobiology for the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. The mastodon, which resembled a wooly mammoth and thrived during the Ice Age, probably stood over 9 feet tall and weighed more than 12,000 pounds.

The owners of the farm, the Nehrt and Schepman families, plan to donate the bones to the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis if the museum committee decides to accept them. Previously, mastodon bones were found in Jackson County in 1928 and 1949. The remains of “Fred the Mastodon” were discovered near Fort Wayne in 1998.

[h/t Louisville Courier Journal]

Middle School Student Discovers Megalodon Tooth Fossil on Spring Break Kostich Kostich

A few million years ago, the megalodon was the most formidable shark in the sea, with jaws spanning up to 11 feet wide and a stronger bite than a T. Rex. Today the only things left of the supersized sharks are fossils, and a middle school student recently discovered one on a trip to the beach, WECT reports.

Avery Fauth was spending spring break with her family at North Topsail Beach in North Carolina when she noticed something buried in the sand. She dug it up and uncovered a shark tooth the length of her palm. She immediately knew she had found something special, and screamed to get her family's attention.

Her father recognized the megalodon tooth: He had been searching for one for 25 years and had even taught his three daughters to scour the sand for shark teeth whenever they went to the beach. Avery and her sisters found a few more shark teeth that day from great whites, but her megalodon fossil was by far the most impressive treasure from the outing.

Megalodons dominated seas for 20 million years before suddenly dying out 3 million years ago. They grew between 43 and 82 feet long and had teeth that were up to 7.5 inches long—over twice the size of a great white's teeth. They're thought to be the largest sharks that ever lived.

Megalodon teeth have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica, but they're still a rare find. Avery Fauth plans to keep her fossil in a special box at home.

[h/t WECT]