The oldest mention of the Norse god Odin, found in the treasures of Denmark

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Scandinavian scientists said Wednesday they have identified the oldest known inscription referring to the Norse god Odin on part of a golden disc unearthed in western Denmark in 2020.

Lisbeth Ymer, a runologist at the National Museum in Copenhagen, said the inscription represents the first hard evidence that Odin was worshiped as early as the 5th century, or at least 150 years earlier than the previous oldest known reference – on a brooch , found in the southern part of the country. Germany and dated to the second half of the 6th century.

The disk, found in Denmark, was part of a hoard containing about a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold, including large saucer-sized medallions and Roman coins made as jewelry. It was found in the village of Vindeleu, central Jutland, and named the Vindeleu Treasure.

Experts believe the cache was buried 1,500 years ago, either to hide it from enemies or as a tribute to appease the gods. Gold bracteate, a kind of delicate decorative pendant inscribed: “He is a man of Odin”, probably referring to an unknown king or ruler.

“This is one of the most well-executed runic inscriptions I’ve ever seen,” Ymer said. Runes are symbols that early northern European tribes used for written communication.

Odin was one of the main gods of Norse mythology and was often associated with war as well as poetry.

More than 1,000 bracteates have been found in northern Europe, according to the National Museum in Copenhagen, where the finds are on display in 2020.

Christer Wasschus, an ancient language specialist, said that because runic inscriptions are rare, “every runic inscription is important to how we understand the past.”

“When an inscription of this length appears, it’s amazing in itself,” Wasschus said. “It gives us some pretty interesting information about religion in the past, which also tells us something about society in the past.”

During the Viking Age, believed to be from 793 to 1066, Norsemen known as Vikings carried out large-scale raiding, colonization, conquest and trade throughout Europe. They also reached North America.

The Norse worshiped many gods, and each had different characteristics, weaknesses, and attributes. Based on the sagas and some rune stones, it was found that the gods possessed many human traits and could behave like humans.

“Such mythology can lead us further and make us re-examine all the other 200 bracteate inscriptions that we know,” Imer said.

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