Archaeologists unearth Viking neighborhood in Istanbul

Archaeologists unearth Viking neighborhood in Istanbul

Archaeologists looking for traces of the Vikings in Istanbul have discovered a Viking neighborhood in the ancient city of Bathonea near Lake Küçükçekmece, officials told daily Milliyet.

“Vikings lived in Istanbul between the eighth and the 11th centuries in different periods. We have found their exact settlement area to be between the ninth and 11th centuries in the Bathonea excavations,” said Şengül Aydıngün, the head of the excavation team of 75 experts.

“We unearthed seven clues that indicated the Vikings once lived here,” added Blazei Stanislawski, a Polish Viking expert who joined the team after he first learned six years ago that that Vikings lived in Bathonea.

According to the experts, Vikings and their Russian branches, called Varangians, came to the region as mercenaries or merchants. As the rulers of Constantinople were afraid that Vikings could conquer the city, Vikings and Varangians were allowed to enter the city in the morning within small groups of a maximum of 35 people and leave the city before sunset.

Vikings and Varangians could only settle outside the city, so they chose to accommodate in Bathonea, an international port of the time, said the officials.

“It seems they formed a neighborhood here in Bathonea. Until now, we had no clue, now we have figured out some,” said Stanislawski.

“In old texts, the foreigners that could not enter the city were said to be living in an international port. It is Bathonea. We also know that Vikings, who were mercenaries for the Byzantium Emperor Micheal VII Doukas, lived in the region.”

The Polish Vikings expert also stressed that two items they have unearthed point to the presence of the Vikings.

“We found a cross made of ambergris, which was only found in northern Europe at that time, where Vikings firstly originated. And a necklace on which a snake is drawn. In Vikings myth, the snake is Jörmangandr, one of the symbols of Viking King Ragnar, Lodbrok.”

Vikings were the Norse people from southern Scandinavia, who from the late eighth to the late 11th centuries, raided and traded across wide areas of Europe.

This article was originally published in hurriyet daily news on Aug 24,2020.

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