Scandinavian scientists said on Wednesday they have identified the oldest known inscription mentioning the Norse god Odin on a fragment of a gold disc discovered in western Denmark in 2020. Researchers hailed the discovery of the 1,600-year-old treasure as an “absolutely amazing discovery.”
Lisbeth Immer, a runologist at the National Museum in Copenhagen, said the inscription provides the first solid evidence of worship of Odin in the early 5th century – at least 150 years earlier than the previous earliest known reference, which was found on a brooch. Southern Germany and dates to the second half of the 6th century.
National Museum of Denmark via Arnold Mikkelsen, AP
The disc discovered in Denmark was part of a trove containing about 2.2 pounds of gold, including large saucer-shaped medallions and jeweled Roman coins. It was discovered in the village of Vindelev in central Jutland and is called the Vindelev hoard.
Experts believe the cache was buried 1,500 years ago, either to hide from enemies or as a tribute to appease the gods. A gold bractet—a type of thin, ornamental pendant—bears an inscription that reads, “He is Odin’s man,” possibly referring to an unknown king or lord.
“This is one of the best executed runic inscriptions I’ve ever seen,” Immer said. Runes are symbols that early tribes of northern Europe used to communicate in writing.
Odin was one of the main gods of Norse mythology and was often associated with war as well as poetry.
More than 1,000 bracteates have been found in northern Europe, according to the National Museum in Copenhagen, which displayed the trove discovered in 2020.
Christer Vasus, an expert on ancient languages, says that because runic inscriptions are rare, “every runic inscription () is important to how we understand the past.”
“When an inscription of this length appears, it is surprising in itself,” Vasus said. “It gives us some very interesting information about religion in the past, which tells us something about past societies.”
Researchers say it took a long time to decipher the inscription because it is so old and worn. The text is written in a language more than 1,500 years old and with no gaps between words, which has evolved significantly, they said.
“Not only has language structure evolved tremendously since the 400s, but many words have also fallen out of use,” Vasus said. “Usually we find short and very similar rune inscriptions, but this time the text is longer and contains almost exclusively new words.”
Breaking! New knowledge about Odin wrote world history!
Breaking! New knowledge about Odin wrote world history! Now hold on, folks. Our researchers have just made a great discovery. They found Odin’s name on a 1,600-year-old gold bractet from Vindelev in Jutland, and this means that we have evidence of Norse mythology 150 years earlier than before – already at the beginning of the 4th century. This is the world’s oldest example of Odin’s name – Ever. The runes are one of the most spectacular things since the golden horns, and they may become the key to understanding other prehistoric runic inscriptions that no one has been able to read until now. It is our very own runologist and script researcher Lisbeth Immer who together with linguist Christer Vasus made an incredible discovery. But this is not the end! The bracteate also bears the portrait of an unknown king or great man, who may have the (dak) name “Jaga” or “Jagaj”. And this is where Odin’s name comes in. Next to him is written that he is “Man of Odin”. “The runic inscription was the most difficult to interpret in my 20 years as a runologist at the National Museum, but the discovery is also absolutely fantastic,” said Lisbeth Immer. Christer Vassus, an expert on the history of the ancient languages of Scandinavia, is also excited: “We found evidence in black and white, and it’s a huge discovery. I can’t lower my arms in pure joy. Such inscriptions are extremely rare, we find one every 50 years, and this time it’s The world has become history.” To date, the oldest inscription with the name Odin has been found on a belt from the latter half of the 6th century from southern Germany. And precisely the record-breaking age of the bracteate is one of the reasons why researchers took so long. To decipher the runes. First, the bractate is worn and the runes are almost gone in important places. Second, the text is written without spaces between words and is written in a language over 1,500 years old that has evolved significantly since then. “Not only has language structure evolved greatly since the fourth century, but many words have also fallen out of use,” says Christer Vasus. “Usually we find short and very similar-sounding runic inscriptions, but this time the text is long and consists of almost entirely new words.” Over 1,000 bracteates have been found throughout northern Europe and over 200 with inscriptions. However, most runic inscriptions on bracteates do not carry linguistic meaning. Runes are usually 2-3mm high and there isn’t much space. For writing The inscriptions mostly consist of short, sacred words, otherwise they are garbled or garbled copies of an inscription that once made sense but has been lost. But now let’s get back to the real hero – namely, “Husband of Odin” Apart from the runic inscription, we have no written sources from Denmark in the 4th century, so we don’t know much about who he is. But everything points to him being incredibly important in his time. The amount of gold found in Vindeleev. itself is massive, and the golden bracts are both much larger and thicker than similar bracts. Gold was imported from the south, and the bracts were also made on the Roman model, suggesting a strong network through Europe. But before we search further into that unknown giant, we must celebrate the fantastic discovery. If you follow along on this page, we’ll be sharing more stories about Bractate and Vindelevskatten in the coming days. ⭐ On Tuesday 14 March, you can hear Lisbeth and Christer tell you about the spectacular find inside the museum – or via live streaming on Congerness Gelling. See more and reserve a place here: https://natmus.dk/aktivitet/mysteriet-om-odin/ ⭐ In the DR2 documentary series “The Riddle of Odin” you can see the moment when researchers find the inscription with Odin. You can find it on DRTV starting today. ⭐ You can see the bractet with the world’s oldest Odin inscription in our new exhibition “The Hunt for Danish History”. See more here: https://natmus.dk/museer-og-slotte/nationalmuseet/udstilinger/jagten-paa-danmarkhistorien/ ⭐ If you want to be notified when something new happens at the museum, sign up for our newsletter here: https: //bit.ly/3OpH6Pu
Posted by Nationalmuseet on Tuesday, March 7, 2023
During the Viking Age, believed to be from 793 to 1066, Norsemen known as Vikings conducted large-scale raiding, colonization, conquest, and trade across Europe. They also reached North America.
The Norsemen worshiped many gods and each of them had different characteristics, weaknesses and qualities. Based on the sagas and some rune stones, details have emerged that the gods have many human characteristics and can behave like humans.
“This type of myth can lead us further and re-examine the remaining 200 bracteate inscriptions we know,” Emer said.
The news of the inscription comes five years after a Medieval treasure That of the legendary King Harald Bluetooth – the Danish ruler who inspired the name of Bluetooth technology – was discovered on a German island by a 13-year-old and an amateur archaeologist. Artifacts from the Viking king included necklaces, pearls, a Thor’s hammer, rings and 600 chipped coins, including more than 100 from the Bluetooth era.