West News Wire: The oldest known runestone was discovered by archaeologists in Norway on Tuesday. According to the researchers, the writings on the runestone are up to 2,000 years old and trace back to the mysterious beginnings of runic writing.

According to the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo, the flat, square block of brownish sandstone features carved scribbles that may be the first example of words written in writing in Scandinavia. It claimed to be “the oldest datable runestone in the world” and “among the earliest runic inscriptions ever uncovered.”

“This discovery will teach us a lot about rune usage in the early Iron Age. This may be one of the first attempts to use runes in Norway and Scandinavia on stone,” Kristel Zilmer, a professor at University of Oslo, of which the museum is part, told The Associated Press.

Older runes have been found on other items, but not on stone. The earliest runic find is on a bone comb found in Denmark. Zilmer said that maybe the tip of knife or a needle was used to carve the runes.

The runestone was discovered in the fall of 2021 during an excavation of a grave near Tyrifjord, west of Oslo, in a region known for several monumental archaeological finds. Items in the cremation pit burnt bones and charcoal indicate that the runes likely were inscribed between A.D. 1 and 250.

“We needed time to analyze and date the runestone,” she said to explain why the finding was first announced on Tuesday.

Measuring 31 centimeters by 32 centimeters (12.2 inches by 12.6 inches), the stone has several types of inscriptions and not all make linguistic sense. Eight runes on the front of the stone read “idiberug” which could be the name of a woman, a man or a family.

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Zilmer called the discovery “the most sensational thing that I, as an academic, have had.”

There is still a lot of research to be done on the rock, dubbed the Svingerud stone after the site where it was found.

“Without doubt, we will obtain valuable knowledge about the early history of runic writing,” Zilmer said.

The runestone will be exhibited for a month, starting on Jan. 21, at the Museum of Cultural History, which has Norway’s largest collection of historical artifacts, from the Stone Age to modern times.


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