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Ancient Fish Bones Link Nordic Settlement To Cradle Of Civilization

First Posted: Feb 10, 2016 01:12 PM EST

The world's oldest fermented fish bones, discovered in southern Sweden, are shedding new light on Nordic history. Archaeologists found over 200,000 fermented fish bones in Sweden, which indicates that early Nordic settlers were complex than previously thought, according to study at Lund University. The researchers made the discovery while excavating a 9,200 year-old settlement that was once a lake in Blekinge, Sweden.

"Our findings of large-scale fish fermentation, a traditional way of preserving fish, indicate that not only was this area in Sweden settled at that time, it was also able to support a large community," Adam Boethius, coauthor of the study, said in a news release.

This new discovery indicates that Nordic settlers were actually more advanced 9,200 years ago than previously thought. The findings suggest that the Nordic people began settling much earlier, where they used the sea and lakes to gather and process fish.

Since the Nordic settlers did not have salt or ceramic containers, they acidified fish with the use of pine bark and seal fat, which was then wrapped in seal or wild boar skins and buried in muddy soil. Such fermentation required a cold climate.

"The discovery is quite unique as a find like this has never been made before. That is partly because fish bones are so fragile and disappear more easily than, for example, bones of land animals. In this case, the conditions were quite favorable, which helped preserve the remains," Boethius said.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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