Due to the prompt-less nature of our third blog, I thought I’d try to find something a little racier than the standard fair of archeological discoveries. Well not to disappoint, I found articles surrounding a mass grave of young Viking men in Dorset, England.
During routine construction work, a pit of over 50 skeletons of young Viking men was uncovered. The pit was clearly a mass burial but the jury is still out on what put those bodies in the ground. One theory is of a nasty illness wiping out the hardened warriors. Another is of an angry mob tearing apart a group of captured Viking warriors. Another theory is that of an offering of the human sacrifice kind. However, Dr. Britt Baillie believes they were unfortunate participants of the St. Brice Day Massacre. Apparently on November 13th, 1002, King Aethelred the Unready had had enough with all the Danish men. Following a Viking raid the king, being the reasonable sort, ordered all Danish men in England to be executed.
Despite the horrific demise of these 1000 year old men, I digress. The interesting bit is the fashion statement of these late marauders. Apparently filing groves into the front of your teeth was all the rage back then. These men had parallel horizontal groves carved into their incisors. These findings further support the worldwide craze Vikings had for sawing crap into their teeth (so metal). A Viking cemetery in Gotland produced a hoard of Viking skulls with this strange marking. Some teeth had complex intersecting lines in them instead of the standard parallel. Researchers, such as Caroline Arcini, believe the grooves would be filled with different colored charcoals – because if you’re going to file holes into your teeth, you just got to pack it full of dirt.
The Dorset skulls are the first evidence of this strange practice seen outside of Sweden. Further evidence found in Denmark seems to show that this practice was fairly common. At the time the article was written, Arcini was waiting on strontium samples to determine the background of our Viking fashionistas. In the meantime, Arcini wrote a children’s book on the subject – don’t ask me why.
In terms of this class, I find this article very relevant. If there is such a thing as “cultural heritage”, it most certainly manifests as strange practices like this. From now on, I’ll picture Vikings with a crazy charcoal-filled filled smile, because they weren’t intimidating enough already.
Link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2011/jul/11/tooth-filing-craze-vikings