SLAGEN, Norway (Reuters) - Archaeologists exhumed the body of a Viking queen on Monday, hoping to solve a riddle about whether a woman buried with her 1,200 years ago was a servant killed to be a companion into the afterlife.
"We will do DNA tests to try to find out. I don't know of any Viking skeletons that have been analyzed as we plan to do," Egil Mikkelsen, director of Oslo's Museum of Cultural History, told Reuters at the graveside.
A servant might have been the victim of a ritual killing, perhaps her throat slit to accompany her queen to an afterlife in Valhalla. In one Danish Viking grave, for instance, an old man lying by a younger man had been decapitated.
The archaeologists placed a Norwegian 20 crown coin -- dated 2007 and with a picture of the prow of the Oseberg ship on one side -- in the sarcophagus to show any future generations when the grave had been disturbed.
In Viking times meat was prized and poor people ate fish. Servants would have been eating fish. Elk was saved by those who could afford it.
This grave was from 834 and contained an aluminum coffin. Until I read this, I had never considered aluminum as being used until more recently in human history.
"The archaeologists placed a Norwegian 20 crown coin ... in the sarcophagus to show any future generations when the grave had been disturbed."