Archaeology Magazine

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Viking Elites May Have Been Buried With Sacrificed Slaves

Friday, September 20, 2013

A5865OSLO, NORWAY—A new analysis of seven Viking-era skeletons by Elise Naumann of the University of Oslo suggests that elite individuals may have been buried with their sacrificed slaves. The skeletons, which were recovered by a farmer in the 1980s, came from three separate graves, and at least three of the bodies had been buried without their heads. The individuals who had been buried with their heads ate a diet rich in land-based proteins such as milk and beef. Those who had been decapitated, however, ate seafood-based diets, as did a dog who had been buried at the site. And DNA analysis indicates that the people who had been buried together were not closely related. “There were probably a very few people who were the most privileged, and many people who suffered,” Nafumann said.