Monday, June 17, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Monday, June 17, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Danish archaeologists discover 2000-year-old runic knife

Published 28 January 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The runic inscription on the blade is 'Hirila', possibly meaning 'little sword'.

Archaeologists in Denmark have found a 2000 year old knife with runic inscriptions. The rare find is described as one of the oldest finds of runic inscriptions in the country.

It was archaeologist Jakob Bonde who unearthed the eight centimeter long iron knife at an excavation site near Odense.

After removing the dirt and rust, five runes were engraved on the blade. The runes are interpreted as the word hirila, which in Old Norse could mean ‘small sword’. The text is written in the oldest known runic alphabet and is estimated to be 800 years older than the runes on the Jelling Stones.

Archaeologists are unsure whether hirila is the name of the knife or the person who owned it, but given the burial site, it was important to those who buried it.

– It is a unique experience to stand with such an ancient and complete written language. It is one of the most amazing things you can experience as an archaeologist because it is an incredibly rare find. Holding such a find in your hands makes you feel like you are face to face with the past, Bonde said in a press release.

So far, only one object with runes from the same period as the knife has been found, a comb in Vimosen, west of Odense. It read harja, which is thought to be the name of the person who owned the comb.

Literate people – an intellectual elite

Runologist Lisbeth Imer from the Danish National Museum also confirms that the find is very unusual and provides an important insight into the “everyday life of our ancestors”.

– It is incredibly rare to find runes as old as those on this knife, and it is a unique opportunity to learn more about Denmark’s earliest written language, and thus the language that was actually spoken during the Iron Age, she says and continues:

– At the beginning of the history of runes, the literate formed a small intellectual elite, and the first traces of these people in Denmark are found on Fyn.

The knife will be on display at Odense Museum from Friday, February 2.

Egeskov castle on Fyn, Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.

Facts: Fyn

Fyn, Denmark's third-largest island, lies between Jylland and Sjælland. Known for its lush landscapes, Fyn is known as "Denmark's Garden". The island is steeped in history with its castles, manor houses, and museums, making it a key site for archaeological discoveries. Its largest city, Odense, is the birthplace of famous author Hans Christian Andersen, adding to its rich cultural tapestry.

Well-connected to Danish main islands Jylland and Sjælland by major bridges, Fyn plays a vital role in Denmark's transportation and cultural heritage, attracting both history enthusiasts and tourists alike.

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