Archeologists have discovered an unusual food storage in South Sweden. The fish remains that were found inside suggested that the first Viking “settlers” lived in North Europe 10 000 years ago. The new research appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
“This discovery points to a different timeline in the development of mankind, which ran alongside the development of farming in Levant and the Near East. Northern Europe’s population also switched to life in permanent villages at that time. They used resources from the sea and lakes so they can create a stable living situation”, explains Adam Boethius from the University of Lund in Sweden.
Boethius and his team were conducting excavations on the coast of Lake Vesan in Southwest Sweden, where a long time ago there were several settlements of ancient civilizations which were the first inhabitants who ended up in Scandinavia after the retreat of all the ice. Now, Swedish authorities are building a road through the area and archaeologists started excavation works.
This place often visited by the first Scandinavians, since it was located not far from three different food sources – deciduous forests rich in nuts, the lake itself where fish was plenty, and the waters of the Baltic sea, located only 2 km from lake Vesan.
Here, scientists discovered an incredibly unusual artifact – a giant hole filled with the remains of hundreds of thousands fish skeletons. The whole catch weighed around 60 tons, which should have been enough to feed an entire medium sized tribe for at least a season.
According to Boethius, recovering all the remains took 16 archaeologists five months of non-stop work. Analysis of the remains showed that the strange hole is actually an ancient fridge. It was used for storing the so-called sour fish – its sour solvent protecting it from bacteria. A similar fish, called Surströmming, is one of Sweden’s national products today.
The discovery of such a “fridge” was a big surprise for archaeologists because it proved that ancient Scandinavians did not migrate from to place to place, as was thought before, but were permanently settled down.