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The Viking Weapon Ahead of Its Time

The Ulfberht swords are a group of medieval swords found in Europe, dated to the 9th to 11th centuries, with blades inlaid with the inscription +VLFBERHT+ (and variants). That word is a Frankish personal name that became the basis of a trademark of sorts, used by multiple bladesmiths for several centuries. About 100 to 170 Ulfberht swords are known.

Modern warfare is heavily reliant on technology. When one side boasts an effective weapon with incredible technological capabilities, it invariably wins.

Hand-to-hand combat is largely obsolete, a relic of warfare now only made prominent in the muddy and blood-soaked spectacles of cinema and television.

Having something that could elevate your army or your warrior above the melee was understandably desirable, whether that was relying on a general’s strategic insight or the destruction of a new siege weapon.

One weapon that would improve the fortunes of the wielder was the Ulfberht sword.

The Ulfberht swords

The Ulfberht swords

Source: Ohio Viking Festival via Facebook.

It cannot be said that the Ulfberht weapons revolutionized swordplay, as they were scarcely available and it took centuries before any comparable swords were produced. However, they certainly made an impact between the 9th and 11th centuries, with around 170 of these swords known to historians.

The Vikings that wielded the Ulfberht swords held a substantial advantage over their foes. Ulfberht swords were better in every department than the most common swords. Giving the user more guile and power, the brand was also notable for being shatter-resistant in a time when most swords rarely lasted.

The brand is exactly the right word for the Ulfberht sword; the weapons bore the name Ulfberht on the blade, with that name becoming synonymous with quality of a near-mythical level.

This prestige ensured that the Ulfberht swords were the preserve of Viking noblemen blessed with vast wealth. As with modern brands, imitations of Ulfberhts were made that were indistinguishable from the real swords.

Unfortunately, the consequences of buying a fake sword may have been found out in a more uncomfortable fashion than when discovering a piece of designer clothing is counterfeit.

Vikings became feared across Europe for their strength as warriors, with the power of the Ulfberht swords a contributing factor.

In particular, Vikings were renowned for their aptitude as an invading force, deploying ‘shock-and-awe’ tactics that denied domestic forces the chance to assemble and prepare. Europe’s armies responded by improving their organization, thereby ending the reign of dominance for the Vikings.

Having considerable standing armies negates much of the power of a weapon like the Ulfberht sword. A deadly sword is no good if there are enemies swarming on all sides.

Swords were also expensive to produce, with the Ulfberht sword particularly so. It is impressive that the Vikings managed to acquire as many as they did, with the technology needed for mass production not readily available until the Industrial Revolution.

The Ulfberht swords

Source: Ley Lines, Vortex, Magnetic Current: Lost Civilizations and Forgotten History via Facebook.

This is the mystery of the Ulfberht sword: how did 9th-century Vikings devise and produce a sword that was significantly better than the competition?

The answer may lie in collaborations with Middle Eastern blacksmiths who created the legendary Damascus Steel, with trade routes allowing Frankish smiths to acquire the purest metals possible. 

Modern blacksmith Richard Furrer attempted to forge a sword with the quality of an Ulfberht sword, declaring it the most complex smithing task possible despite having modern methods at his disposal.

Those making Ulfberht swords in medieval times would have appeared capable of performing magical feats. There probably wasn’t actual magic at work but there were certainly mysterious occurrences in a few talented blacksmiths’ workshops.


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Archaeologists find traces of the mysterious civilization prior to Pharaonic Egypt

Recently, archaeologists have excavated six burials from civilization prior to Pharaonic Egypt. The discoveries made have allowed us to better understand the enigmatic Neolithic culture of the people who lived in the Nile plain before the ancient Egyptians and who laid the foundations for their civilization.

civilization prior to Pharaonic Egypt

An expedition has been studying burial sites of the Final Neolithic (4,600-4,000 BC) along the ancient shores of an extinct seasonal lake near a place called Gebel Ramlah, providing new data to solve how and who these settlers were.

The dynastic period of Egypt begins around 3100 BC Before that, between 9300 and 4000 BC, the Nile plain was inhabited by Neolithic peoples. These villages have not been well studied, at least in relation to their successors, mainly because archeological sites are often poorly accessible. The remains of their settlements are located mainly under the old Nile flood plain or in peripheral deserts.

Members of the Combined Prehistoric Expedition, with permission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt (SCA), have been studying the Neolithic sites of the western desert of Egypt. Although not lush, the Neolithic was wetter than today, which allowed the former shepherds to populate what is now the middle of nowhere.

During the last part of the Neolithic period, the ancient settlers began to bury the dead in cemeteries and the skeletons provide critical information about their lifestyle.

civilization prior to Pharaonic Egypt
objects found in caves
Objects found in graves.

Between 2001 and 2003, the members of the expedition excavated three cemeteries of this era with 68 skeletons. The tombs were full of objects with ornamental ceramics, sea shells, stone jewelry, and ostrich eggshell. They also discovered ornamental jewelry and stone weapons for men.

These people were tall, enjoyed a long life and showed low rates of infant mortality. The men measured about 170 cm, while the women, about 160 cm. The majority of men and women lived for more than 40 years, some up to 50 years, an advanced age for those days.

Social stratification

More recent expeditions, which took place between 2009 and 2016, found two cemeteries very different from the rest. They analyzed another 130 skeletons discovering that they were accompanied by few artifacts and that they suffered from increased infant mortality, as well as a shorter life and stature.

Why were there so many differences between the two burials? They could have been separated populations, but it is unlikely based on general physical similarities. Therefore, they might differ by status, with one cemetery for the elite and one for the workers. This is the first proof of such a phenomenon in Egypt.

civilization prior to Pharaonic Egypt
Comparison between the remains in the cemetery of the supposed elite (left) and those found in a more recent excavation.
Comparison between the remains in the cemetery of the supposed elite (left) and those found in a more recent excavation.

The sites also shed light on the family structures of the time. The total proportion of genders in all cemeteries is three women for each man, which may point to polygamy. The children were buried in adult cemeteries from three years old. There is also clear evidence of respect for the dead.

These behavioral indicators, together with the technological and ceremonial architecture, such as calendar circles and sanctuaries, imply a level of sophistication that goes well beyond that shown by the groups of pastors.

Source: The Conversation

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Archaeologists Discover Traces of a Mysterious Society Behind Rise of Ancient Egypt

Very little is known about Neolithic Egypt, the precursor to the subsequent civilisation of Pyramids and Pharaohs we all know today. The often-inaccessible sites conceal their mysteries, lying beneath the Nile’s former flood plain or in outlying deserts.

An international group of scientists has reported the discovery of burial sites that date back to an ancient culture that existed in the Libyan desert and enabled the rise of ancient Egypt, publishing some of their findings in the African Archaeological Review.

While many of us tend to associate pre-Hellenic Egypt exclusively with the pharaohs and pyramids of the Dynastic period, there was a Neolithic civilisation that predated it.

Members of the Combined Prehistoric Expedition, with permission from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), studied burial sites focusing on the Final Neolithic (4,600-4,000 BC), which was built on the success of the Late Neolithic (5,500-4,650 BC) and lying along the former shores of an extinct seasonal lake near a place called Gebel Ramlah.

In “Gebel Ramlah—a Unique Newborns’ Cemetery of the Neolithic Sahara”, the researchers offer important insights into the mysterious ways of life of the ancient peoples.

At that time, the climate in the desert was more humid than today, which allowed ancient farmers to populate the area. This culture was characterised by the cultivation of livestock and the creation of megalithic structures, shrines and even calendar circles resembling Stonehenge.

During the final part of the Neolithic period, people started burying their dead in formal cemeteries. The skeletons provide telltale information about their health, relationships, diet and even psychological experiences.

In 2001-2003 the archaeologists excavated three cemeteries from this era, uncovering and studying 68 skeletons and the artefacts left in the graves: elaborate cosmetic tools for women, stone weapons for men, as well as ornamental pottery, sea shells, stone and ostrich eggshell jewellery.

Researchers found that these people had a low level infant mortality, high growth, and a relatively long life expectancy (40-50 years).

In 2009-2016, two more cemeteries were discovered with 130 skeletons and a small number of artifacts. According to the results of the analysis, these people were short, there was a high degree of infant mortality and they had a short life expectancy.

Pondering the reasons for the tremendous differences in the burial sites, researchers came up with a number of theories. It’s possible that some sites were intended for people of high social status, while others were for the working class. This could be the earliest evidence of class stratification in Egypt, claim the experts.

These indicators, taken together with the innovative technological and ceremonial architecture, such as the calendar circles and shrines, imply that these people showed a level of sophistication beyond that of common cattle and sheep/goat herders.
The fascinating finds can be viewed as a precursor of things to come in Ancient Egypt.


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Prehistoric aliens in Malta? Elongated skulls found in an underground temple will be analyzed

Mysterious elongated skulls found in Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the only known prehistoric underground temple, will be studied by an interdisciplinary team from Malta and Australia.

aliens in Malta

Dolichocephalic skulls were discovered in 1926 by the Maltese archaeologist Themistocles Zammit and have long been the subject of various conspiracy theories. Among them, which are the remains of alien beings who visited Malta in the past. Others, more conservative, estimate that, as with other cultures of the remote past, the inhabitants of the area were able to practice cranial deformation.

Now, a team composed of scientists from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Malta and Macquarie University of Sydney (Australia), plans to end the enigma by doing a thorough study of the bones.

The project has received a € 6,000 grant from the Union Académique Internationale , as part of the centenary celebration of this institution.

Some of the skulls with anomalies found in the prehistoric Hypogean temple of Hal Saflieni, Malta. aliens in Malta
Some of the skulls with anomalies found in the prehistoric Hypogean temple of Hal Saflieni, Malta.

Called “The Sentinels of Hal Saflieni, Malta: Scientific Facts versus Science Fiction”, the project will finally give the deserved academic attention to the elongated skulls found in the underground temple, determining their characteristics and true origin thanks to modern technology.

The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum was excavated around 2500 BC It is considered that its first function was that of the sanctuary and that subsequently, but even in prehistoric times, it became a necropolis. It is located at the end of the municipality of Paola, in the southeast of the island of Malta. It was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1980.

Old note on the mystery of elongated skulls in Malta. aliens in Malta
Old note on the mystery of elongated skulls in Malta.

“Unquestionably, it is a place of global importance that helps to understand the evolution of the intellect, creativity, technology, and culture of the human groups that settled in the region,” he concludes in a statement issued on the date by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Malta.

Source: Malta Today

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