8 December 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Man-made Viking-era cave discovered in Iceland Bigger, Older Than Previously Thought

Archaeologists from the Archaeological Institute of Iceland have uncovered an extensive system of interconnected structures that are not only much larger than initially thought but also much older, during excavations in Viking-era man-made caves near Oddi in South Iceland.

Archaeologists believe that the man-made caves were excavated in the middle of the tenth century. Man-made caves at Oddi were first discovered back in 2018.

The most recent research project revealed a much larger cave that is connected to the broader cave system.

Archaeologist Kristborg Þórsdóttir, who led the research said “The size of these structures is just so vast, there hasn’t been a study of such large structures, and definitely not from this time period in Iceland.” 

Oddi was once one of Iceland’s most important cultural and political seats and home to a powerful clan known as the Oddverjar. Saemundur the Learned (AD 1056-1133), who penned the early chronicles of the Norwegian Kings, was one of the most prominent clan members. He studied in France and wrote one of the earliest histories of the Norwegian kings, although that manuscript was lost.

Kristborg Þórsdottir. The excavation site seen from above
Kristborg Þórsdottir. The excavation site is seen from above

The settlement developed into a major center for culture and learning, with Iceland’s patron saint, Þorlákur Þórhallsson, receiving his education at Oddi from the age of nine (AD 1142-1147).

Archaeologists’ race against time

Kristborg and the team’s biggest problem has been securing the cave and making sure it doesn’t collapse on the people working inside. The texture of the rock is prone to crumble and the cave is deep, which can lead to dangerous outcomes.

Time is of the essence for the team, who feel any delay would result in the loss of precious artifacts and data. The caves are not only at a significant depth, which is dangerous for the archaeologists involved in digging them out, but also built into sandstone. It’s thought that the caves were not used for very long because they are so prone to disintegration.

Photo: Archaeological Institute of Iceland

There’s a lengthy and complicated history waiting to be unearthed

Researchers result, so far, a historic church, farm, and vicarage have been unearthed. In fact, when Christianity came to Iceland around 1000 AD, Oddi was one of the first places to build a church.

Archaeologists believe that the new cave may be a nautahellir, a medieval stall used for cattle and horses. Such caves are mentioned in Bishop Þorlákur’s “Legends of Saints” from AD 1210-1250, where he describes how a nautahellir collapsed with 12 bulls still inside, with only one of the animals being rescued from the rubble

“Although it’s older than that, it’s likely that [the cave] was used for livestock,” explained Kristborg. “Whether it was for that specific bull, we don’t know. But the history of its use obviously goes back further than we’ve managed to trace yet.”

However, there is still a lot we don’t know about this man-made cave. It was likely used for something else before becoming a livestock pen.

According to Kristborg, the caverns at Oddi have a complicated and intriguing tale to tell, but the magnitude of the present research requires her and her colleagues to keep their focus focused. “These are massive buildings and an enormous cave system that we’re only now beginning to comprehend.” […] To get to the bottom of this and track the history of these caves’ use in detail, we’d need to do a much, much larger research with a much larger staff.”

Cover Photo: Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir

Banner
Related Post

1,800-year-old Roman remains discovered in valley of eastern Turkey

21 February 2022

21 February 2022

Roman remains dating back 1800 years have been found in a valley in eastern Turkey. Among the Roman ruins found...

The 3,200-year-old perfume of Tapputi, the first female chemist in history, came to life again

24 July 2022

24 July 2022

One of the scent formulas written in Akkadian on clay tablets by Tapputi, known as the world’s first female perfumer...

Ancient cooking vessel found in northern Minnesota dates back more than 1,600 years

28 February 2022

28 February 2022

Dating of Ceramic sherds found in 2003 at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota revealed the vessel...

Part of lost star catalog of Hipparchus found hidden in Medieval parchment

22 October 2022

22 October 2022

Hipparchus’ fabled star catalog, which had been thought to be lost, was discovered concealed in a medieval parchment that had...

Sicily: Archaeologists make striking discovery in Segesta

8 June 2021

8 June 2021

Archaeological excavations in the Segesta Archaeological Park, investigating a “monumental edifice” near the portico at the end of the old...

In Poland’s “Death Valley,” new evidence of Nazi atrocities

18 August 2021

18 August 2021

In October 1939, between 30,000 and 35,000 Polish intellectuals, Polish civilians, Jews and Czechs, and German prisoners from psychiatric institutions...

8,000-year-old Musical Instrument found in northwest Turkey

4 July 2021

4 July 2021

Archaeologists in northwestern Turkey’s Bilecik on Tuesday discovered a musical instrument that dates back to an estimated 8,000 years. During...

New evidence for the use of lions during executions in Roman Britain

9 August 2021

9 August 2021

Archaeologists have discovered an elaborate key as proof that wild animals were employed as execution vehicles in public arena events...

The 3200-year-old Mycenaean figure that brought Ephesus together with the Hittite civilization: Found in the excavations of Ayasuluk Tepe

11 June 2022

11 June 2022

A 3,200-year-old Mycenaean figurine that could change the perspective on the history of civilization in Western Anatolia during the Bronze...

Receding waters in Lake Van reveal rock-cut Urartian port

22 September 2022

22 September 2022

Located in the eastern province of Van in Turkey, the falling water level of Lake Van, with the decrease in...

Stunning carved stone depicting a mystery naked horseman is discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda

30 June 2021

30 June 2021

Near Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, archaeologists discovered a carved sandstone slab portraying a naked horseman. During the annual excavations...

A new study attributes Japanese, Korean and Turkish languages all to a common ancestor in northeastern China

11 November 2021

11 November 2021

According to a new study, modern languages ranging from Japanese and Korean to Turkish and Mongolian may have had a...

The ‘boiler room’ of the bath in the Ancient City of Metropolis was unearthed

11 August 2022

11 August 2022

The vault section, called the ‘boiler room’, which provides a heat source, has been unearthed in the historical bath of...

In Moravia, archaeologists discover divine thrones, thousands of artifacts and a new settlement

13 August 2021

13 August 2021

During a four-year dig in the Moravian city (Czech Republic) of Perov, rare gems, mysterious burial places, and divine thrones...

The Earliest Evidence of a Domesticated Dog in the Arabian Peninsula

9 April 2021

9 April 2021

Dogs have been the best friend of humans since ancient times. Although it is not known exactly when dogs were...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *