World’s oldest runestone may contain the earliest example of writing in Scandinavia; Science discovery

World’s oldest runestone may contain the earliest example of writing in Scandinavia;


World’s oldest runestone may contain the earliest example of writing in Scandinavia;

With inscriptions dating to 2,000 years ago, a runestone discovered in Norway could be the world’s oldest. (Image credit: Alexis Pantos/KHM, UiO)

Archaeologists have unearthed the “world’s oldest runestone,” a squat block of sandstone with etchings scribbled across its flat surface.

The ancient stone, which archaeologists unearthed in Norway, could contain the earliest example of “words recorded in writing in Scandinavia.” They made the find in late 2021 while excavating a gravesite in Tyrifjorden, a town west of Oslo. Radiocarbon dating of items collected at the site, including charred bones and charcoal, determined that the runestone was likely carved sometime between A.D. 1 and 250, according to a statement(opens in new tab). 

Measuring 12.2 by 12.6 inches (31 by 32 centimeters), the runestone has multiple inscriptions containing runes, letters related to the Germanic alphabet. Eight runes on the front of the stone read “idiberug,” which researchers think could refer to a specific person or family. However, experts are still deciphering many of the etchings, since some don’t appear to “make linguistic sense,” according to The Associated Press.

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