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Viking’s Most Powerful City Unearthed in Northern Germany

Archaeologists working in northern Germany may have found one of the most important cities in Viking history—Sliasthorp, where once sat the first Scandanavian kings.

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The excavation of Sliasthorp. Photo: University of Aarhus

According to Niels Ebdrup reporting at ScienceNordic, archaeologists working in northern Germany may have found one of the most important cities in Viking history—Sliasthorp, where once sat the first Scandanavian kings.

“istorians have doubted whether Sliasthorp even existed. This doubt is now starting to falter, as archaeologists from Aarhus University are making one amazing discovery after the other in the German soil.

Referencing the Royal Frankish Annals, an early history of Denmark, Ebdrup says,

The aggressive Viking king Godfred, the text says, decided to turn the town into a military power centre near the border of the early Danish kingdom. At the start of the 9th century he arrived with his army to what was then a small settlement and turned it into a key strategic military location.

The finding changes the way that archaeologists view Viking society, supporting the idea of stark class division. Ebdrup says,

“Sliasthorp, which was the size of 14 football pitches, was much smaller than the nearby Hedeby, which spread over 50 football pitches.

In the Viking Age, people spread out,” says Dobat. “Craftsmen, the marketplace and all the other dirty things were in one city. The elite – religious leaders and the military – had however withdrawn to another town. So the regional elite did not live in Hedeby. It was located some five kilometres away.

“Our studies have given us a completely new view on the anatomy of the very earliest cities. It differs greatly from what we see in the Middle Ages and today.”

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

Raiders or Traders?

The Vikings: A Memorable Visit to America

 

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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