back to article Vikings' bleeding-edge tech came from Afghanistan

Boffins at the UK's famous National Physical Laboratory (NPL) - birthplace of the Dambusters' bouncing bomb and perhaps the internet - say they have used an electron microscope to analyse Viking swords. In a surprise twist, it turns out that the old-time Scandinavian pests, many of whom moved to England to become our ancestors, …


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  1. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Savage uncombed horny northern bastards

    Savage? No way - just as savage as everyone else - only better at it.

    Uncombed? No way - see the pictures made at the time - elaborate hairdos for both men and women.

    Horny? No way, as far as helmets were concerned. As for other parts... well, let's say they mixed the pot nicely.

    Northern? Not many. Danes not much further north than Britain, if at all. Norwegian Vikings not much further north than Britain. Swedes? Ditto for t he most part, but they went off to the east, founded Russia, navigated the Volga to Constantinople en route to central Asia. Were the favourite bodyguards of both Roman and Byzantine Emperors. Were quick to adopt what they saw as advances in politics, culture and religion.Quickly took to Christianity, unlike the Swedes back home. Ditto Greek and Latin. Had no problems using Roman Law - except where it conflicted with their superior Germanic traditions of solidarity. They intermarried and were soon hardly distinguishable from the locals. Occupied Rome several times. Only occupants to ever show mercy to the Romans and preserve their monuments. Provided quite a few Roman Emperors.

    The innovations they took to included things like the Herbat swords.

    Bastards? Only through intermarriage - like the rest of Europe at the time - Britons, Romans (a real mixture themselves), Anglo-Saxons (three big groups and lots of small ones), Danes and Norsemen and Irish. And that was before the Franco (a mixture of German Franks and native Gauls and Romans)-Nordic Normans poked their oar in - so to say.

    So much for racial bloody purity, and the myths of the losers.

    As for date, around 1000, that more or less marked the end of the Viking Age. The Dane Canute the Great was king of all England. Half a century later the ex-Viking Normans conquered England. And Christianity finally came to Sweden (all credit to them for holding out so long!)

    (Paris cos she would make a great Viking - unless she was traded as a slave, or sacrificed, or turned herself into a rich Roman aristocrat (Viking women inherited wealth on the same terms as men).

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Everyone knows Al Gore invented the interenet

    using Ted Steven's tubes

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technology? Pah!

    So they've used some clever technology to work out something that many historians could have told you years ago. Very clever. I do hope my taxes aren't paying for this.

  4. Mark Broadhurst

    Finally proof

    Afghanistan has always had weapons of mass distraction.

  5. Chris Hedley Silver badge

    Damascus steel?

    Isn't this just the same old Damascus Steel that swordmakers have been rather fond of since time immemorial, or am I missing something?

  6. David Evans

    Old (very , very old) news

    Putting aside the rather dubious history lesson, Isn't this just the famous Wootz steel that the Indians have been making for millennia? Its not really surprising that the Norse used it; pretty much everyone who could get their hands on it coveted the stuff; the British did a lot of research into it when they took over India because they still didn't have anything as good by the eighteenth century.

  7. Seán


    Damascus is about 2000 miles away from Afghanistan so no, no it isn't.

  8. Brian
    IT Angle

    @Damascus Steel

    Nope - the source for 'Damascus' steel was actually in southern India, from where it was exported to the Middle East.

    The steel, also known as wootz, predates the Vikings by a few hundred years and is chemically quite different to the Afghan steel.

  9. John Ferris
    IT Angle

    Re: Old News

    This story was reported in part in the Guardian in the last week of last year. Nice to see Lewis is keeping up to speed.

    The thrust of the Guardian story was that the Vikings suffered from fake designer swords, which looked like the proper Afgan deal, with the right designer label of the swordsmith, and a really good edge. The problem was, when the punter used it in battle, they shattered easily. It's hard to contact Viking Trading Standards if you have been hacked to death.

    They also included the idea that most of the good swords found were in river beds, which they postulated may have been lost when Erik the Viking was returning from the local ale house worse for wear on viking real ale.

    Dunno what the IT angle is. But I guess IT bods love beer.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Quite literally bleeding edge


    Well, not _quite_ literally, surely... the edge itself wasn't bleeding, was it?


  11. Anonymous Coward


    Shouldn't that be w00tz! Or have I spent too long gaming with 'Meericuns.

  12. M Neligan


    Some would say that Romulus Augustus was the last Roman Emperor (deposed 476) in the West: isn't that a bit early for Vikings (or at least the sort of Norse who didn't do that well at Clontarf)?

  13. Dalen

    So, when will the US invade Finland / Norway / Denmark / etc.?

    For trading with future terrorists?

    Mine's the one with a matching horned helmet.

  14. Erik Olafsen

    @ Dalen

    That would be Norway. The other two don't have any oil.

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