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Island thieves bag Viking treasure

TT/Paul O'Mahony · 2 Nov 2009, 17:31

Published: 02 Nov 2009 17:31 GMT+01:00

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Two archaeologists employed by Gotland county were dismayed to discover the valuables had vanished when they arrived at a field in Alva in Gotland to follow up on a recent find.

"It's just as saddening every time it happens because it's our heritage that disappears," said Majvor Östergren at the Gotland County Administrative Board.

The methodical thieves dug some 250 holes in a bid to secure as much booty as possible. Östergren estimated that the impostors had made off with 500 silver pieces worth a combined total of 250,000 to 500,000 kronor ($35,000 to $70,000).

Following the raid, the field was placed under police surveillance, enabling archaeologists to continue their excavation work, news website helagotland.se reports.

At a press conference on Monday county officials displayed some of the objects overlooked by the thieves, including 100 silver coins, a gold bracteate and a silver crucifix.

Story continues below…

TT/Paul O'Mahony (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:04 November 2, 2009 by Nemesis
This is a national disgrace.

Whoever did this needs to be tracked down and the artifacts recovered.

If it turns out the people who did this are Swedish, they should have there citizenship removed and be banned from the country. The culprits at minimum need to serve jail terms and then be banned from Sweden permanently, although a ban from Europe would be more appropiate.

I did not realise that in Sweden archeological sites are unguarded. In most other European countries they are guarded 24/7 by security guards to protect the dig.

Whichever mentally deficient imbecile thought it was a good idea to leave an important archeological find unguarded, needs to be examined by a psychiatrist in a secure mental facility for the criminally insane and charged along wiht the people who performed the robbery.
20:37 November 2, 2009 by jag2009
Even if their nationality is swedish, the press will portray them as foreign.
20:50 November 2, 2009 by DavidtheNorseman
Does no one see the irony in the Viking hoard being plundered?
20:59 November 2, 2009 by code850
I'm amazed to realize that most of the coins lying in the sand are islamic coins. these are most frequently struck either in Baghdad, Damascus, Andalucia, Iran, or Egypt. This indicate that the Vikings used Islamic coins either for their endogenous economy or for trade with Islamic countries. It would be interesting as well to know whether they used them to trade within europe itself.
21:02 November 2, 2009 by PrinceKnight
Does anyone ever imagine, that some of the bank heists and booty loots are the work of [dare I say] perhaps Crown Priness Victoria and the rest of her siblings and "friends"? Not that anything would suggest this to be true, or that there would be facts to support this; yes, of course, the thought of it is quite absurd indeed! But, sometimes I have to wonder (just my nature, I guess), if there is not more than meets the eye to these odd occurences; do you also wonder the same?
21:04 November 2, 2009 by code850
I'm even more amazed to know that the archeological site has been plundered in Sweden. I could understand the economically devistated persons in Iraq who plundered their own historical heritage for their personal benefit. But here in Sweden? the gueys who did this must be crazy.
21:14 November 2, 2009 by the pigeon hunter
i find it really amusing how strongly some of you feel about this. really, it s a couple of silver coins, thousands of which have been found in the earth before and thousands more will be discovered in the future. i feel more strongly about rapists and pedophiles and the fact that nobody considers to take away their swedish citizenship.

to be honest, let the thieves have their coins, they will probably sell them off to some private collectors for good money. at least they havent raped a child or kidnapped someone instead.

there are worse things out there than stealing silver coins from the ground. really.
21:18 November 2, 2009 by PrinceKnight
And I know a pretty crazy girl who used to live on South Water Street in Byram, Connecticut, when she was a student at Yale! Still can't figure out, how she ever got into that school.

Oh, but back to the topic:

Yes, the criminals were obviously VERY CRAZY!
21:39 November 2, 2009 by code850
To PrinceKnight: what do you mean exactly with going back to to the topic? if you are expecting me to provide comments that lead to the identification of the plunderars, then YOU MUST BE CRAZY. There is nothing wrong with providing certain reflections on a specific topic. It may well be that you have a problem with the fact that the coins are islamic. I hope not.
22:28 November 2, 2009 by Nemesis
@ code850

Islamic coins are normal in Viking finds. They were after all primarily traders, not raiders as christians like to claim. That is what taders do. The percentage of raiding was very low, compared to other nations at the time.

In Ireland the records clearly state that most monastories were actually attacked by other monastories and Irish kings. Vikings came third on the amount of attackers of monastories. They were not christian, so were blamed.

It is normal in Viking finds to find items that are from the people's around the entire artic circle, China, India, Africa, entire middle east, particularly from red sea, Constantinople, Caspian Sea region and Europe. A viking find without items from any of those areas would actually be rare. Anything that was traded on a major river port anywhere, quite often ended up in Viking hands.

The Vikings were traders, fishermen and farmers. They opened up new areas of trade everywhere they went. That stopped upon christianisation, which set them back in the areas of technology, innovation and entrepenourship.
22:37 November 2, 2009 by Greg in Canada

You're right on the money.

The Swedish vikings mostly went east and traded with Islamic states, which at that time were more advanced then European nations. The Danes and Norwegian vikings went to the west and did a lot more of the rape, pillage and plunder. They even made it as far to the west as present day Newfoundland where they found out that trying to slaughter native Indians wasn't such a smart idea.

It's a shame. i hope they catch these (Swedish) thiefs and give them a damn good public whipping.
22:55 November 2, 2009 by code850
What interests me is the historical dimension of this story, but not the criminal act reported by the local. So, Nemesis, thanks for your input. I knew that central Brittain used these coins around the 9th century. But, this is the first time that I hear about the vikings using islamic coins.

I thought it would have been unlikely that the vikings had contact with the middle east simply because of the large distance separating them. Since the vinkings possess middle east coins, it suggest that they were selling something to the middle east. But what? because at that time most of the products were made in the middle east and exported world wide. I'm speculating that the viking urned the money through the military by working as soldiers for some kingdoms in andalucian spain.
07:37 November 3, 2009 by Nemesis
@ code850

he vikings used rivers as highways, such as the vistula, dniester and vistula. The Volga and Don were like a super highway's back then.

Every river in Russia that leads far inland from the Baltic and every river that goes to the Caspian and Black Sea has Viking archeology. A lot of those rivers have sources that pass close to other rivers going in the other direction. Check the map and you will see for yourself. An example is they founded and built the city of Kiev. They also traded at the Aral and on the Euphrates river. They were seen as good traders in Bagdad.

The Vikings got around more than people realise.
12:13 November 3, 2009 by Streja
code850, go to Istanbul and check out the Viking runes carved into the balcony on the upper gallery of the Haga Sofia Church/Mosque...Halvdan was there...
12:47 November 3, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Streja and code850,

Streja has mentioned one of the best viking sites to see.

If ever going to visit the Haga Sofia Mosque, telephone ahead or email a month or so beforehand, so as to arrange a good time. If you arrange beforehand they will give you a better tour.

Bring a camera. You will love not only the viking grafiti, but the architecture and artwork.

They are really friendly and seem to be proud of there Viking grafiti in the Mosque. They love showing that Viking grafiti to everyone.

That Mosque is a good mosque, run by good people. They are proud of its heritage, Bzyantian, Turkish, Islamic, Christian and all other influences in the mosque.

It is worth a visit, if ever in Istanbul.
19:42 November 3, 2009 by code850
Visiting Istanbul is on my list for a long time. I wil certainly check the Sofia Mosque/museum if I'm there. I tried to verify if the vikings had ever reached Baghdad. I couldn't find any information on this.
19:48 November 3, 2009 by norling
I don't think they sold the Arabs dried fish and woolen sweaters, I'll bet they sold slaves that they grabbed on their way to the trading centers. The Scandinavian countries did not mint currency they did'nt even use them as currency but more as a bullion, clipping off peices to pay for what ever they wanted.
20:36 November 3, 2009 by Nemesis
@ code850,

They traded as far as the Oxus on the Aral Sea, the Euphates, Tigris, Kura, Araas, Volga, Don, Dniester, Vistula, Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Shannon, Loch Ness, Lough Neagh and countless other places.

They treated the Black Sea and Caspian in the same manner as they treated the Baltic. Dublin, Novogrod and Kiev were founded by them.

They did get as far as Bagdad on some occassions. Apparently they went via the Aras, to Zap and then Tigris.

They traded on the entire mediterranean.

I have been talking to some archeologists a lot for reference material about the Vikings recently and it has been an eyeopener.

I hope you enjoy the Sofia Mosque. When there, check out the Istanbul markets, they are incredible.
03:10 November 4, 2009 by Crazyhair
What's the difference if local thieves take it, or the thieves from the government, Universities and Collages take it!

I'd rather see the people take it!
07:27 November 4, 2009 by Nemesis
I would rather see it in a museum for all to see, after appropiate archeological study.
13:15 November 4, 2009 by PrinceKnight
Oh, yes, of course, the vikings were God's gift to mankind; so advanced in their sciences and ways, and so skilled at distorting facts and so unskilled at keep records of their exact travel destinations. Was it Newfoundland or was it Finland, where they traveled to: the world may never know?! Indeed, if it had not been for that pesky Christianity, the Scandinavians of today would have been 1000 times more advanced in the sciences, because of their Viking predecesors!

(These lies and others can found daily in fine publications throughout the world-wide-web.)
18:56 November 4, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Princeknight,

Just because you are a religeous fundementalist, does not give you the right to attack facts.

The Vikings went to Greenland, Newfoudland, Morrocco, Mediteraen, Black Sea, Caspian, Aral, Volga, etc.

They founded cities like Novgorod, Dublin and Kiev.

Those are all facts. They are not lies. Your King James bible is in fact myths written by a few guys hanging out together in a desert, strangely with no women around.

Christianity destroyed the Viking world.

Please, take your ludditism elsewhere.
20:25 November 4, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Indeed the Vikings did reach Newfoundland. The ruins of their thousand year settlement is to be found at present day L'ans aux Meadows . Of course these Vikings originated in Norway, not Sweden. It's believed the Vikings stayed in Newfoundland for about eight years or so before leaving. It was a harsh climate and their weapons were not technically much superior to those of the native Beothuk Indians who they probably had conflicts with as well as traded with. As far as i know, the Newfoundland ruins are the only legitimate ones to be found in North America. Had their weapons been superior, North America would have likely became a Scandinavian colony. rather than English or French.

I'm not so sure about the comment that Christianity "destroyed the Viking world". It was more of a case that they chose to embrace the religion rather than actually having it forced on them.
20:35 November 4, 2009 by karex

Good show!

Aside from trading goods, the Vikings also sold their services: They were the elite guard of the Holy Roman Emperor in Constantinople. They would be called to fight off pirates in the Mediterranean which frequently raided the Chirstian mercantile ships. The main reason was simple: their superp seamanship and sea battle tactics!
20:45 November 4, 2009 by estrangero
Really? Read about Charlemagne and the Saxons. The usual way the "heathens" were loved into adopting the religion of peace and love. It was repeated until xtians became civilized and stopped converting the others with fire and steel. Still the xtians are trying to convert foreigners like in India and Japan. Not only but any country where the people choose the ways of the ancestors. It is still insulting to people to try to change them. IMHO
21:29 November 4, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Greg in Canada

The Viking kings converted and then the Vatican forced conversion onto there subjects at the point of a sword, with the assistance of the monachy and upper class's. A lot preferred to die than convert and were killed. That happened in Germany, Denmark, Poland, Czech, Estonia, Norway and Sweden.

The reasons for leaving Newfoundland are not clear. All people know is that once conversion got underway, the Viking people's suddenly, went home from a lot of overseas lands. That has never been adequately explained.

@ Karex,

Yup, they were perfect for dealing with the pirates from Sicily, Ibizea, Tunisia and Morroco. The Muslim captains had great respect for them, due to their seamanship, battle tactics and skills.

@ estrangero,

The drop in population in Sweden as it became christian should tell anyone what conversion means.

In Croatia in World War 2 we got a hint of what would return if they got there way again, with the Utasche / Domincan order 'convert or die policy', in which they killed Serbs, orthodox christians, Gypsies and Jews. It is still in them.

Over the last 2000 years they have done a lot of damage to our societies. Now in Europe we appear to be moving away form that at all long last. Women are moving towards equality and children are starting to get rights again. The disabled have rights again which they had in Celtic times.

A bit of trivia:

I noticed the last day that the modern European Union European transport network in Western Europe is now very similar in routes to what the old pre-roman celtic road and trade network was.

Legally in human rights terms we have only just moved past the pre-roman Brethan laws that the celts had. It just took 2000 years to do so.

Interesting coincidence's:)
04:08 November 5, 2009 by Mike - US
"The People of the North" established trade with the middle east around 2000 B.C..

If those are middle eastern coins from the "Viking Era" they may have been payment for slaves.

Slave (Slavic people) trading was very popular during the relatively short period when Swedes "went Viking."

Baghdad was the ultimate slave retail outlet.
08:36 November 5, 2009 by karex
Coins and artefacts from far away lands are rather a common find in Viking hoardes, even pre-viking I believe. They did travel around a lot abroad.

Those of you living in the Stockholm region might want to check out a dig in Västerhaninge. They discovered what is believed to be Sweden's first pre-Christian temple, or crematorium believed to date back to the early iron age. The interesting thing is the shape and style of the structure: it's a pentagon and resembles Greek and Roman classical temple structures.
12:29 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Karex,

Yes, that is correct.

It is common to find coins from Persia, Dacia and Gaul from pre-roman times, as well as later roman coins.

I have seen coins in Swedish museums from almost everywhere in Europe, North Africa and Middle East.

You might like to check out what was wiped out in Dacia by the romans. That process was continued by the Catholic Church in all lands it converted. Most likely the same occurred in Scandinavia.

There is a book that although it takes a few liberties, is factually correct, you might like.

Terry Jones' Barbarians (Paperback)

by Terry Jones (Author), Alan Ereira (Author)

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: BBC Books (7 Jun 2007)

Language English

ISBN-10: 056353916X

ISBN-13: 978-0563539162

Also check out http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/


16:28 November 5, 2009 by DAVID T
finders keepers
17:10 November 5, 2009 by karex

I haven't read the book, but I have watched the series on TV. It's pretty interesting, and I like Terry's style.


"finders keepers"

Not in Sweden, unless you "find" using the same technique as the gang referred to in the article above... But perhaps that's what you meant?
17:12 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ David T,

Since you hate Sweden and its heritage so much.

Flights from Sweden are available from flysas.com and you can sell your belongings before you leave on blocket.se and tradera.se

17:26 November 5, 2009 by Authentica
Totally agree with The Pigeon Hunter. Nemesis, get a life.
17:44 November 5, 2009 by Nemesis
@ karex,

I have purcahsed the series from Amazon and have the book. The book is really funny to read in parts.

Terry Jones really knows how to make a subject funny, entertaining and worth finding out more about.
23:04 November 5, 2009 by catharyank
I have read with great interest your comments from over here in the "great satan".

The Vikings indeed trades slaves, but these were "perishable" and required maintenance during the voyage. It might have taken a while but they came up (unfinished) trade goods that Islam wanted: furs and Baltic amber. In fact their "settlement" of the land of the Rus was partially in pursuit of these furs.

BTW I work for an order of very christian missionaries, and they still believe it is their duty (unto god) to take people's original religion away from them. Although to them it is some sort of improvement over their previous religion. Obviously I am not convinced.

And so it goes.

Best wishes!
02:24 November 6, 2009 by Mike - US
Greetings from the Great Satan!

After I posted about the slaves I remembered the amber and fur trade.

I also remembered that those who went viking plundered others who engaged in the craft so just to be on the safe side let's agree the Swedes stole the loot from the Danes.
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