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A Viking Age Comb from Denmark

Last December 2017, archeologists found a comb and a piece of bone in the old marketplace of Ribe in Denmark. Both items date back to c. 800 CE to the time that Ribe was a busy medieval trading town. More importantly, they both have runic inscriptions. The letters on the bone are hard to decipher and may form a name. The comb shows the words ‘comb’ and ‘to comb’.

The runologist who inspected the comb confirms the runes are written in Younger Futhark. In the early Middle Ages, the Scandinavians used Furthark for as their runic alphabet. It comprised of 24 characters that slimmed down to a compact set of 16 characters by the eighth and ninth centuries.

This discovery might reveal an essential clue to understanding why Futhark changed at all. Scientists have long thought there might be a possible connection between the rise of urban areas and the change in the runic alphabet.

It is worth the wait to see what the scholarly debate brings forth. Until then, you can read the online news on this topic. Start with Videnskab, and then to Science Nordic and National Geographic. Here is a nice video from Science Nordic to watch:

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