Vikings Buried Headless Slaves With Owners
Archeologists piece together clues from ancient burial site
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2013 6:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – Sleuthing archeologists think they've figured out a grisly characteristic of the Vikings: They buried slaves with their owners—after chopping off the servants' heads. As USA Today explains, the theory comes from a gravesite dating back about 1,200 years on an island off the Norwegian Sea. Some of the bodies still had their skulls, and tests of their remains show that these people ate diets rich in beef and milk. Other bodies were headless, and those folks apparently ate what they could scavenge from the sea.

"It must've been a rough society," says the University of Oslo scientist who led the study. "I often think I'm grateful that I didn't live in that time myself."

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Sep 20, 2013 2:39 PM CDT
Dudes, lay off my ancestors. They did what everyone else was doing at the time. The horns on the helmets are derogatory and racist.
Sep 20, 2013 1:56 PM CDT
The USA today article does not say anything about "ate what they scavenge". It also has a lot of perhapses. "The analysis can't pinpoint the foods eaten by the dead, but the data did show that the people buried with their heads had eaten lots of land-based protein, such as milk or beef. The decapitated people, however, had diets rich in seafood, as did a dog buried at the site." "*Perhaps* those who dined on meat or dairy products were rich or powerful; *perhaps* they were a religious elite. A DNA analysis showed that most of those buried in graves together *probably* weren't close kin, at least through their mothers, the researchers say. The mistreatment of the bodies, the DNA results and the dietary differences *led the scientists to think* that the headless bodies are most likely slaves who met premature ends to be interred with their masters." It is also worth noting too that archaeologists aren't true scientists but rather are a type of "social scientist". Like the rest of modern humanity, they use science on the job, but archaeologists do not follow the experimental method of true science, creating a hypotheses and conducting experiments to validate or invalidate it. (Mathematics being an exception, being the one non-experimental science.) Instead archaeologists do what people did 500 years ago: Look at evidence and make an educated guess.
Sep 20, 2013 1:37 PM CDT
It is worth mentioning, since most Americans will make the wrong assumption, that these slaves will have been Caucasians. Slaves are taken where you can get them and in Europe most slaves were other Europeans.