For more than a thousand years the ships of death moldered unseen on the shore of the Baltic Sea, sheltering the bones of dozens of Viking-era young men and a trove of rich possessions.
Now, after analyzing the ships and skeletons, researchers have a chilling new idea to explain how so many men died at the peak of their strength: they were diplomats from central Sweden, killed while on a mission to talk rather than fight.
The proposal, outlined in a study in the current issue of Antiquity, runs counter to previous interpretations that the men were raiders or warriors. Whoever they were, their bones give researchers a priceless window into life at the dawn of the Viking era.
The “graves gives us a rare – if not unique – glimpse of a Viking Age drama,” Ole Thirup Kastholm, a curator at Denmark’s Roskilde Museum who was not involved in the new study, says via email. “It (poses) the most intriguing mystery with plenty of questions to investigate: Who are the dead men? What was the purpose of their journey? … And perhaps the most interesting questions: Who did it?” READ FULL STORY AT SOURCE