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Note: Gunnar Heinsohn is a premier scholar who has striven for
chronology to overcome the influence of Biblical fundamentalism,
mainstream dogma, and Velikovsky's revisions by–in his own
words –letting the archaeological strata be his Occam's Razor.

Chronology Reconstruction Discussion Issues
Gunnar Heinsohn
University of Breman

How did so many 1st-3rd century Roman elements make it into the 8th-10th century Viking age?

Before and after the 1st millennium CE, Viking territory in Scandinavia develops in tandem with the rest of the world. Yet, within that millennium, Viking culture falls behind abysmally by some 700 years until it begins to catch up in the 8th c. CE.

At that point it is the famous Viking longship, with its oars and square sail, suitable for ocean voyage and river warfare alike, that made these Norsemen such a swift and effective power. Just as these daring seafarers shocked the rest of Europe in the 8th-10th c., they still surprise modern maritime historians today. Why did it take 700 years for these raiders of the 1st millennium CE to finally build ports and use sails? After all, the oared longboat with a square sail had been used in Europe since Greece’s Archaic Period in the 6th c. BCE. Therefore, the 1-700 CE period, during which Norsemen never mastered the art of sailing, is not only the most bewildering epoch of the histories of Denmark, Sweden and Norway but also of shipping in general:

"Despite the widespread use of sail in Gaul and Britain in Roman times [1st c.], there is little evidence that Scandinavians adopted this technology before the Viking Age [8th c.]. We find the earliest confirmation in the Baltic, where Gotlandic picture stones from the eighth century change from showing rowing vessels to showing ships with sails. From around AD 800 depictions of sailing ships appear on Viking coins, runic stones, graffiti, but the Oseberg ship from AD 820 is the oldest find of a sailing vessel in / Scandinavia. Some written evidence points to the continuous use of sail in the Southern North Sea and the Channel from Roman times on. That it seemingly was not adopted in Scandinavia is puzzling" (Bill 2012, 171/172).

In actual fact the Northerners’ enigmatic dislike of sailing is more than just puzzling. It appears to turn Julius Caesar (100 – 44 BCE) into a fantasist, or even a liar, because he, as early as the 1st c. BCE, gives a description of ships and sails of the Veneti – with brethren sail in the Baltic Sea bordering Southern Scandinavia – that fit Viking sailing ships of the 8th c. CE quite strikingly:

"The ships were built wholly of oak. […] The benches which were made of planks a foot in breadth, were fastened by iron spikes of the thickness of a man’s

Fig. 1. Late Bronze Age (up to 500 BCE) boat from Skane that appears to carry mast and sails.
Źródło/Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:J%C3%A4rrestadsristningen_1.jpg

thumb; […] for sails they used skins and thin dressed leather" (De Bello Gallico, III, 13).

Historically, Nordic people were famous for a large variety of sophisticated boat types long before the Romans approached their realm. Scandinavia’s countless rock carvings depicting ships, as well as the burial mounds known as "stone ships" show an obsession with shipping that is hardly known anywhere else in the pre-Christian period. The disappearance of these ocean-centered arts in the early 1st c. CE remains no less a mystery of European history than its sudden rebirth 700 years later. When Imperial Rome turned Europe into a culturally integrated sphere, Scandinavia apparently shut down – or was reduced to burials and small hamlets. Yet, up to the time of the Roman Republic, many items made of imported European bronze and gold are preserved.

Since there are Late Bronze age Scandinavian boats on rock carvings (up to 500 BCE) that may even show sails (Fig. 1) Caesar’s statement should not actually have come as a surprise. However, such interpretations are controversial because the carved square objects are not set close enough to the center of the ship’s hull and, therefore, may represent huts or tents. On the other hand, sails on late Bronze Age Greek ships of similar shape and size are confirmed beyond doubt (Fig. 2; Fig. 3).

Fig. 2. Late Bronze Age Greek Penteconter with square sail and ram hull (dated 6th c. BCE). The long (28-33 m) and sharp-keeled Greek ships (c. 4 m wide) were used for trade and warfare. They were rowed by up to fifty (pente) oarsmen, arranged in two rows of twenty-five on each side of the ship. A midship mast with sail could be employed under appropriate wind.
Źródło/Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liburnianship.jpg

In any case, Scandinavia’s dynamic shipping evolution from the Bronze Age to Late Latène was brutally interrupted during the 1st to the 8th c. CE

"The watercraft of Scandinavia took on some of the appearance of the future Viking ship, including high posts at each end crowned with spirals or animal heads. Some of these heads are certainly serpents or dragons, and dragons are depicted hovering over boats in Bronze Age art. The warriors manning these boats often wore the horned helmets that have come to symbolize the caricature Viking" 1500 years later (Hale 1996).

Yet, even if we assume that Caesar had concocted his report on Veneti sailing, why, then, would Strabo (63 BCE - 24 CE), a Greek, and the empire’s foremost geographer, confirm the existence of early Scandinavian sailors? Strabo knew them as the Cimbri that had attacked the Roman Republic in 113 BCE. They were still active in the time of Augustus (31 BCE – 14 CE). According to his Res gestae (ch. 26) the emperor’s

"fleet sailed from the mouth of the Rhine eastward as far as the lands of the Cimbri, to which, up to that time, no Roman had ever penetrated either by land or

Fig. 3. Reconstruction of a Greek Penteconter with square sail and ram – here for only 28
[instead of usually 50 (pente)] warriors. Length varied from 25 to 35 m [width ca. 4.5 m].
The type preceded Viking long boats by at least some 1500 years.
Źródło/Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustrerad_Verldshistoria_band_I_Ill_117.png

by sea, and the Cimbri and Charydes and Semnones and other peoples of the Germans of that same region through their envoys sought my friendship and that of the Roman people".

Strabo locates this Germanic tribe in the "Cimbric peninsula", identified with Danish Jutland:

"They still hold the country which they held in earlier times; and they sent as a present to Augustus the most sacred kettle in their country, with a plea for his friendship and for an amnesty of their earlier offences, and when their petition was granted they set sail for home" (Geography 7: 2,1; bold GH).

It would have been regarded as a sensation if the Cimbri had been known as sailing ignoramuses and, therefore, were forced to row all the way back north to Denmark. Strabo would not have deprived his readers of such an entertaining detail.

The mystery does not end with the question of rowing or sailing. By whatever means the Cimbri managed to get back to Scandinavia, they would not find a single port, not to mention a breakwater, to help them make it safely to shore. Neither would they find a town with houses to rest in, whereas in the Roman Empire – already in the 1st c CE – cities were counted by the thousands:

"The earliest Viking Age (ca 700 CE) is the period when urbanism first gained a footholt in the Scandinavian lands. At this time urban communities had for several centuries been abundant further south and west in the Roman Empire" (Skre 2012, p. 83).

For the first 700 years of the 1st millennium CE, Scandinavian sailors could only reach land by wading through treacherous surf or beaching their boats. Yet,

Fig. 4. Roman silverware from the time of contact of the Cimbri with Augustus
(early 1st c. CE) from a tomb in Hoby (Denmark).
Źródło/Source: http://samlinger.natmus.dk/DO/asset/617

there are already splendid pieces of Roman art – too precious to fall into the water – found in Denmark from the time of the Cimbri that prove Scandinavia had contacts with the south during the 1st c. CE. What is surprising, though, is the absence of appropriate dwellings. The precious Roman items were discovered in graves. (Fig. 4).

If Denmark had no towns in the 1st c. CE, one cannot understand what the sailors of the fleet of Augustus who visited the Cimbri had actually seen. How would they have landed without ports to dock their ships? More intriguing, what did the Romans do to hide their square sails from curious onlookers? Though there are no answers yet to such basic questions, finds from burials

"all over Southern Scandinavia, of especially fibulas, indicate that a small ‘Empire’ was present here in the first and second century, with a ‘Himlingoje Dynasty’ as rulers. This ‘Dynasty’ not only traded with Rome, but appearantly also lived a very ‘Roman’ style of life. If there were such an ‘Empire’, it is obvious that the Romans could benefit from this, and seek alliances with this regime" (Ravenna 2006).

A                                                                                         B

C                                                                                          D
Fig.. 5. Square sail images on Roman coins (1st BCE-2nd c. CE) that, after a hiatus
of some 700 years, also appear on Viking coins. Drawing A. Szwemiński.

A - Pompeius Coin (1st c. BCE)
B - Hadrian coin (2nd c. CE)
C-D - Viking coins with square sail boat from 9th/10th c.

It remains an enigma why such an open and extensive exchange between Roman sailors and Scandinavian rowers would not have included the transfer of the square-sail-concept. Moreover, an indigenous Danish "Empire" without houses, temples, dams and roads is very difficult to visualize because archaeologists never found such structures in the 1stcentury period. Yet, when in the 8th c. the Scandinavians, now called Vikings, build sailing ships, breakwaters, ports, and towns they basically employ 700-year-old technologies. A bizarre situation, indeed! How could the Scandinavian and Baltic peoples of Antiquity (1st -3rd c.) and Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.) fail to adopt such basic improvements when there were countless experts from all over Europe

Fig. 6. Roman millefiori beads (1st-3rd c.) – A
Glass Beads, Truso/Poland - B
Źródła/Sources: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roman_millifiori.jpg
Muzeum Archeologiczno-Historyczne w Elblągu/Museum of Archaeology and History in Elbląg. Fot./Photo L. Okoński.

who could teach them? Even low-value Roman coins had spread throughout their territories, confirming intensive economic activity. A total of 7,756 Roman denarii have been found in Sweden alone (mostly from 50-200 CE), which indicates numerous Scandanavian contacts with the Roman world and its shipping evolution.

When, at the latest, must Nordic mariners have seen Roman longships with square sails? One may argue that Norsemen had not yet come into contact with such ships before the Romans had replaced their Hellenistic, Egyptian, and Phoenician rivals as masters of the sea. The Romans had copied the ships of the defeated and, soon, were able to employ them in their conquest of northwestern Europe, whose rivers, such as the Rhine, became prime routes of Roman naval traffic. Under Julius Caeasar’s (100-44 BCE) naval operations against the British Isles, the North Sea to the west of Scandinavia became a Roman battleground. Thus, by at least circa 1 CE, Scandinavians must have seen ships with square sails. The Norsemen had no qualms about using Roman coins and silverware from the very same 1st c. period that, strangely, left no houses or ports but which did leave burials containing occasionally splendid Roman imports. And yet for century after century – or so everybody believes today – they stubbornly refused to assimilate them until the dawn of the Early Middle Ages.

Ships with square sails are even portrayed on Roman coins, from which the receivers of these monetary items could have learnt about Roman progress in seafaring. And 700 years later, the Vikings did not consider a coin too unworthy an item to carry an image of their own sailing expertise (Fig. 5) .

Yet, how could the Vikings, after 700 CE, become the world‘s uncontested masters of the sea when – following the lethal and irreversible fall of Roman civilization – there was nobody left to teach them? How could people of Wulfstan’s times suddenly read classical Latin and write it with the typical Roman iron stylus on wax tablets?

How could they create precious items known from Antiquity and Late Antiquity, which they imitated perfectly, right down to the chemical fingerprints of Roman glass tesserae and sophisticated millefiori beads of the 1st c.(Fig. 6) . How could this have been done when they did not even have archaeological strata for the 1stto 7th c. beneath their habitats from which they could dig up and copy the material culture of Rome?

The Northerners look like the world’s most improbable simpletons during the 1st to the 7th c., whereas after the 8th c. they impress the world as its most impossible geniuses. They teach themselves how to produce Roman locks and keys. They recreate a long-extinct chemistry of glass, only to use this formidable skill for mere imitations of earlier stuff. The same appears to be true for the Vikings’ Arab trading partners of the Early Abbasid domain (8th-10th c.). The Arabs, too, are seen as living in a cultural backwater because – for the first seven centuries of the 1st millennium – they are not able to mint coins, write properly, develop urbanism or adopt monotheism (Heinsohn 2013). Yet, the Abbasids, too, learn to revive 700-year-old Roman glass chemistry when there is no one left to guide them towards such sophisticated crafts. And yet, not a single person of erudition from the 9th c. – neither Viking nor Arab – is on record for being mankind’s first scholar to have analyzed 700-year-old materials down to their smallest elements. On the contrary, once these masters had completed their enormous achievement of retrieving dateless production processes, they fell back on boringly

 A                                                                    B
Fig. 7. Roman millefiori glass bowl (1st c. CE) – A
Abbasid millefiori glass bowl 8th/9th c. CE - B
Źródła/Sources: http://www.thorvaldsensmuseum.dk/en/collections/work/H2901

repetitive copies of outdated Roman shapes and patterns (Fig. 7; Fig. 8). However, the Arabs, too, had no 1st-7th c. strata beneath their Early Medieval sites from which they could have dug up Roman specimens to copy and perfect:

"Some of the finest examples of ancient Roman glass are represented in cameo glass, a style of glassware that saw only two brief periods of popularity. The majority of vessels and fragments have been dated to the Augustan and Julio-Claudian periods, from 27 B.C. to 68 A.D., when the Romans made a variety of vessels, large wall plaques, and small jewelry items in cameo glass. While there was a brief revival in the fourth century A.D., examples from the later Roman period are extremely rare. In the West, cameo glass was not produced again until the eighteenth century, inspired by the discovery of ancient masterpieces such as the Portland Vase, but in the East, Islamic cameo glass vessels were produced in the ninth and tenth centuries" (Trentinella 2003).

This notorious lack of originality is exhibited by the Vikings and their Arab contemporaries not only in their arts and crafts but also in the construction of their freight vessels, which are hardly distinguishable from 700-year-earlier Roman models (Fig. 9).

Fig. 8. Late 1st c. CE Roman glass vase from Cologne (Harden 1988, p. 191) – A;

Fragment of 9th c. Abbasid glass plate: "A ninth-10th-century is certainly possible. […] Similar motifs […] are found on a Roman relief-cut vessel from Cologne" (Whitehouse 2010, 269) – B

Though it is true that the warships of Early Medieval Vikings are clinker and rivet built, whereas Greeks and Romans of Antiquity preferred mortise and tenon planking, (Fig. 10) the Scandinavians use exactly the same technique attributed by Caesar to the Baltic Veneti of the 1st c. BCE. Liburnias used since the 1st c. CE in the Roman fleets for sea or river warfare, pre-empted all the attributes of Viking war ships by some 700 years. Their marines with round shields, as well as the boat’s split stern and oarholes, convey the apperance of Vikings in Roman uniform. (Fig. 11)

If it comes to their animal style décor and and other patterns the Vikings, again, do just as the Romans did 700 years before them:

"Viking ornament was chiefly rooted in a continuous tradition common to much of north-western Europe which emerged in the fourth century AD. From that period until the end of the Viking Age and beyond Scandinavian artists were obsessed by a convoluted animal ornament which had its roots in Roman art" (Wilson 2012, p. 323).

In the field of décor, there are complaints about the same inexplicable 700-year standstill from Viking period

Fig. 9. Reconstruction of Roman cargo ship from Londinium/England with square sail (2nd c. CE) – A.
Reconstruction of Viking cargo ship with square sail – so-called Knarr (9th/10th c. CE) (Haithabu 3 wreck; O. Uldum) - B
Źródła/Souces: P. Marsden; Ships of the Port of London: First to eleventh centuries AD - (A);
O. C. Pedersen 2009, p. 238, fig. 3 - (B).

Celtic Ireland to Arab Syria. There, too, one repeats – of course with some local seasoning – in the 9th c. what elsewhere has been already common in the 2nd century (fig. 12; fig. 13).

"Depicting vine tendrils, Corinthian acanthus scrolls, gemmed vases and even fantastic Pompeian-like Roman palaces ensured the survival of such [700 year older] motifs in Islam’s nascent art" (Michaud et al. 1996, pp. 255 f.).

We have not fully exploited the Viking paradoxes yet. Let us take a look at prominent cities like London or Winchester, (Fig. 14) the capital of Alfred the Great (871-899). Supposedly these two cities were heavily attacked by Vikings in the 9th c., and yet they have no urban strata for that very period.

The Anglo-Saxon Alfred is of special interest because he sent Wulfstan to visit Truso in Weonod terrritory, and Alfred’s coins are found in many a Viking settlement. He confirms that Early Medieval Slavs ("Weonud") still carry names similar to those used in Antiquity (Venedi [Pliny the Elder]) and Late Antiquity

Fig. 10. Mortise and tenon planking was used by Greek shipbuilders at least since the 4th c. BCE. It was continued by the Romans, and provides a smooth and stable surface - A
Clinker/strapstake hull building with rivets in the Viking style – B
Źródła/Sources: Eric Gaba - Own work Based upon a drawing Reference: Jean Taillardat, La Trière athénienne et la guerre sur mer aux Ve et IVe siècles, 1968, [in:] Jean-Pierre Vernant, Problèmes de la guerre en Grèce ancienne, Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, coll. Points, 1999

(Venethi [Jordanes]). Yet, if we look for buildings at Alfred’s capital, Winchester (Venta Belgarum), we will fail to find it. Above the building strata of the 1st-3rd c. Roman period one immediately finds 11th/12th c. churches. There are no strata with living quarters anywhere between the 3rd and the 11th c. to accommodate the king’s 9th c. palace and entourage. Yet, there is a 2nd/3rd c. Roman period palace in Winchester for which no one claims ownership. Moreover, Alfred – with his coin portraits – puzzles historians. He wears a Roman diadem as well as a Roman chlamys – very much like Charlemagne and other Fankish rulers. Students are taught that Saxons liked to brag on the cheap by putting on Roman attire. Yet, there is one palace in Winchester that fits such a manly décor well. It belongs to the Roman period ending in the 3rd c. CE. A sufficiently Roman appearance would be required of anyone claiming ownership of the building. That’s where Alfred’s diadem and chlamys would fit perfectly. Anyway, Winchester’s only palace available for Alfred is located in Winchester’s Roman strata. What is now ridiculed

Fig. 11. 2nd c. Roman Liburnia for sea and river warfare with square sail and ram.
Mosaic "Ulysses seduced by the sirens" in Bardo Museum, Tunisia - A;
9th c. Viking ship of Gokstad with square sail and clinkered hull (23.33 m x 5.25 m). Such ships – without the rams of Scandinavia’s pre-Christian era but with their extremely stable clinker hulls – might well have been able to match 1st-3rd c. Liburnians. - B

as Alfred’s fashion obsession may just turn out be the right thing for a Roman foederatus who does not like to be ranked below other Roman foederati (in more detail Heinsohn 2014, passim).

Thus, where Viking sites lack building strata for some 700 years from the 1st to the 7th c. Anglo-Saxon cities lack living quarters for 700 years, too, albeit between the 3rd and the 10th century:

"Parts [of Londinium] / were already covered by a horizon of dark silts (often described as `dark earth’) / Land was converted to arable and pastoral use or abandoned entirely. The dark earth may have started forming in the 3rd century" (Schofield 1999; bold GH).

There is not even any sign of English agriculture

Fig. 12. Celtic Triskele patterns on chain mail - 1st c. BCE (Late Latène) – A
Celtic Triskele patterns in Book of Kells, section of folio 34 (8th/9th c.) - B
Źródła/Sources: Sándor Berecki; Two Latène Bronze Discs from Târgu Mureş, Transylwania (A)
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kellsuselang=pl#/media/File:KellsFol034rChiRhoMonogram.jpg  (B).

whose harvests the Vikings could have fed from in the 8th or 9th century:

"Whatever the discussion about the plough in Roman Britain, at least it is a discussion based on surviving models and parts of ploughs, whereas virtually no such evidence exists for the Period A.D. 500-900 in England. […] In contrast to the field system of the 500 years or so on either side of the beginning of our era, little evidence has survived in the ground for the next half millennium" (Fowler 2002, p. 28).

Thus, we do not know what the Vikings might have come to the British Isles for in the 9th century. Looting expeditions in the 1st/2nd c., however, would have provided rich booty, including the sophisticated 1st/2nd c. Roman glass specimens found in 8th/9th c. Viking sites. It would also work the other way round. If we were to date 2nd c. London or Winchester to the 9th c., the Viking pillaging raids could keep their conventional 9th c. date. Yet, the Roman Empire would have to move forward by some 700 years. Doesn’t that sound utterly bizarre? It does, but it would fit the stratigraphy that shows in countless sites High Medieval strata (10th/11th c.) right on top of 230s-strata of Antiquity

Fig. 13. 1st c. BCE fresco from Villa Arianna in Boscoreale
Źródło/Source: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/247017

with utterly destroyed Roman urban structures covered by debris, dark earth, dried mud, sand, peat or other materials.

Aachen, Europe’s most prominent city of the Viking period, was plundered by Norsemen in the 9th c. Aachen exhibits primitive 10th c. huts of the High Middle Ages sunk into dark mud ("Moder") covering 3rd c. ruins and has nothing to show for the 3rd to the 10th century. Where one stratigraphically expects the living quarters of Carolingian Aachen (8th-10th c.) one finds Roman Aachen of the 2nd/3rd century. Complaints abound about „the complete absence of early medieval finds, especially the lack of Carolingian building activities" (Sage 1982, p. 88). With the exception of the palatial complex – in the unexpected shape „of palaces of Antiquity" (Sage 1973, p. 2) – there „are no Early Medieval houses" in Aachen (Müller et al. 2013, p. 42). Perplexed scholars, therefore, cannot help but qualify Charlemagne’s palatial complex to be the offspring of a time-machine: "It looks rather like an accidental rebirth of Rome" (Henning 2008, p. 52). The Carolingians of the Viking Period either used 700-year-old Roman living quarters or had no roads, residential areas, plazas, barracks, stables, workshops, monasteries, churches, aqueducts and even latrines or sewers anywhere.

Fig. 14. 2nd c. mosaic from Winchester (Venta Belgarum) of Alfred the Great
Źródło/Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roman_Mosaic_-_Winchester_Museum.jpg 

For Viking-period cities under Carolingian rule like Spoleto (Italy), Trier (Germany) or Zurich (Switzerland) it is explicitly claimed that from the 700s to the 930s people still lived in dwellings from the 1-230 period:

"The archaeological findings exclude a destruction of the settlement structures of Zurich. The Roman settlement underwent hardly any change up to the Early Middle Ages. Roman streets, houses, and infrastructure were continually used" (Kaiser 1995, p. 152) seven centuries on.

Transposed into the 2nd millennium, one would have to imagine Europeans from 1700-1930 living in unaltered houses from 1000-1230. Back in the 1st millennium, such durability – after the West Roman Empire had been felled in the 3rd c. with the East Roman following suit in the 6th c. – would be no less than a miracle. How, then, could the buildings of the 1-230s period still have been in perfect shape in the 700-930 period? That would be possible only if 1-230s and 700-930s are simply different chronological labels for the same archaeological period of some 230 years that immediately precedes the High Middle Ages starting after the 930s.

Fig. 15. 2nd c. CE Ulpia Serdica (Sofia; walls 10-12 m, gates 13-15 m high) - A
9th c. Pliska/Bulgaria in 2nd c. castrum layout with gates and pointed towers similar to Ulpia Serdica (walls 10 m, gates 14-15 m high) - B
Źródła/Sources: Ulpia Serdica Graph of Serdica by Prof. Plamen Valchev, which came on the philatelic mark in honor of the 1700 anniversary of the Edict of Serdica in April 2011. http://en.sofiamuseum.bg/ulpia-serdica/
Ilu 18b1 ilu 18b2 Pliska - 100 years of archaeological excavations. Rasho Rashev, Yanko Dimitrov (Shumen, „Svetlana", 1999) http://www.kroraina.com/pliska/t/index.html

Regarding 1-230s and 700-930s as different aspects of the same period can also explain Viking period sites of the 9th c. whose architecture cannot be distinguished from Roman sites of the 2nd c., though both types of sites are found in the same country. A famous example, of course, is provided by Bulgaria. 1st -3rd c. Roman Sofia (Ulpia Serdica) looks like 8th-10th c. Early Medieval Pliska (Fig. 15). Yet Sofia has no 8-10th c. Early Medieval strata, whereas Pliska has no urban strata for Antiquity but builds in its Early Medieval 8th-10th c. as if it were 1st -3rd century:

"The thesis about the antique [1st-3rd c. CE; GH] origin of the monumental buildings in Pliska is not based on the antique materials found there alone. Its most impressive monuments are ’antique’ in appearance. / It seems more natural to assume that they belong to an earlier epoch. But the archaeological evidence does not allow this and it is exactly what makes Pliska a real puzzle" (Rashev & Dimitrov 1999, ch. IV).

Hungary shows the same stratigraphical pattern as Bulgaria. Viking-Carolingian Period Mosaburg is built in the Roman fashion of Budapest (Aquincum) of the 2nd c. for which, however, the Carolingian site has no underlying strata to copy from. (Fig. 16)

Where Scandinavia is puzzled by its 700-year delay in assimilating Roman square sails, Viking- period

Fig. 16. 2nd c. governor palace in Budapest (Aquincum) – A
9th c. Basilica of Zalavár-Récéskút (limestone and marble) at Viking period Mosaburg – B
[Model in National Museum; Budapest; fotos G. Heinsohn].
Źródła/Sources: Fot./Photo: G. Heinsohn

Pliska is puzzled by its repetition of Roman roof tiles and piping after a 700 year hiatus. Within Germany a comparable similarity over 700 years is attested for the 8th/9th c. Carolingian palace at Ingelheim – visited by Haithabu’s 9th c. Viking King, Harald Klak – that recreates a 2nd c. palace from the forum of Roman Cologne.

Again, there are no 1st -3rd c. building strata beneath Ingelheim from which Carolingian architects and chemists could have obtained information about Roman building techniques or the composition of Roman paints. And yet, in every aspect – including the shape of the city gates and the waterproof cement in the channels (Fig. 17) – they master 700 year old trade secrets:

"The semicircular building clearly shows the significance of antique models, the only one of its kind in medieval architecture". / Ingelheim’s throne hall "is in the tradition of the antique and late antique palatial aula". / Ingelheim’s water tunnel with "hydraulic mortar (Opus signinum)" repeats "the traditional engineering feats from the days of ancient Romans". // The aula’s roof

Fig. 17. Viking period city gate of 9th c. Carolingian Ingelheim in 2nd c. Roman style and ique - A
Ingelheims brick-lined channel of the 9th c.: "For a long time this was regarded as Roman. The canal is lined with quarry stones and hydraulic mortar (Opus signinum)" - B
Źródła/Sources: Grewe 2014, s. 347; Kaiserpalz 2015.

"tiles are formed in the ancient Roman way". /// The Heidesheimer Gate "shows obvious similarities with city gates of Antiquity" (Kaiserpfalz 2015 // Geißler 2014 /// Grewe 2014, p. 47).

In Poland, the stratigraphic situation resembles Ingelheim’s because sites with Early Medieval 8th/9th strata of Hill Forts or Viking settlements contain 1st/2nd c. Roman artifacts or coins (fig. 18).

They are regarded as heirlooms although no on-site 1st/2nd c. Roman or later strata are found through which such artefacts could have been bequeathed over 700 years from parents to children. (Tab. 1)

Moreover, Polish Przeworsk-Wielbark sites of Antiquity (1st-3rd c.) are nowhere super-imposed by building strata of Slavic tribal centres or Viking sites of the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th c.). It is not understood why the exquisite locations and soils of Wielbark sites are not used by Early Medieval Slavs. Why such a waste of prime space? On the other hand, Wielbark sites and Early Medieval Slavic sites have many material

Fig. 18. 9th c. Truso with 2nd c. Roman coins of Faustina (+140) and Antoninus Pius (138-161) – A [Bogucki 2012, p. 41].
8th/9th c. Haithabu with Roman tegula. The earliest of Haithabu’s Roman coins is from 79 CE (Titus) - B [Schietzel 2013, p. 550].

items in common, e.g. Imperial Roman coins, glass beakers, locks and keys. If it weren’t for the 700 years placed between the two cultures by mainstream chronology, one might conclude that they are contemporary. Early Medieval Slavs simply could not have continued building upon Wielbark foundations because the two cultures existed side by side at the same time in the 8th-10th c. period.

Again, such an assumption appears to touch on the absurd. Yet it would solve Poland’s greatest historical enigma, which concerns the country’s oldest city, Kalisz. It is first mentioned, as Calisia, by Claudius Ptolemy (90-168 CE). Yet, there are no building strata in Kalisz from the 1st to the 7th c. CE. 700 years after Ptolemy, however, Kalisz is indeed one of the most impressive sites in all of Poland. Still, there must have been something going on at Kalisz already in the time of Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) when he described the sailing boats of the Venedi-Slavs of Antiquity. And, indeed, Late Latène coins of the 1st c. BCE - possibly some of their molds, too - have recently been discovered around Kalisz (Rudnicki et al 2009).

Stratigraphically, thus, Kalisz appears to tell us that Ptolemy did not write about Calisia in the 2nd but in the 9th c. CE. Archaeologically, that would be the appropriate conclusion to draw. Chronologically, however, it would be absolute anathema. From an archaeological point of view, Poland’s proud Kalisz traditionalists

Table 1 Poland’s stratigraphic situation for Early Medieval Slavic Tribal Centers or Viking towns

8th c. ff.

Early Medieval Slavic Tribal Centers or Viking towns (like Truso) with Weonod-Slavs that contain 1st/2nd c. Roman coins.

1st-7th c. CE

Hiatus of 700 years immediately beneath the strata of Early Medieval Viking towns or Tribal Centers although remains for Venedi-Slavs (Antiquity) as well as Venethi-Slavs (Late Antiquity) had been expected.

would be right that their city already existed in Antiquity. Yet, they would have to be content with an Antiquity that is 700 years younger than they would like it to be. Today, they are frequently ridiculed because the identity of Calisia (source of 2nd c.) and Kalisz (fortress of 9th c.) is frequently denied for chronological reasons although the identification was considered credible because the latitude of Kalisz (51°45’27") is quite close to Ptolemy’s latitude for Calisia (52°50’). The deniers favour either the Czech city of Olomouc (Latin Iuliomontium with a Roman camp) or the Slovakian city of Trenčín (Latin Laugaricio with a Roman inscription of 179 CE) as the namegiver for Ptolemy’s Kalisz. Poland’s archaeologists, to go along, would not have to change much in terms of chronology. Yet, they would have to swallow that Kalisz’s Early Medieval period is Calisia’s Antiquity. The resistance against moving Antiquity 700 years closer to us would make such an acknowledgement extremely demanding.

Once Early Medieval Kalisz is accepted as part of Antiquity, whose age must be shortened by some 700 years, Early Medieval Vikings have to undergo the same reassignment to Antiquity, without however, having to change their 8th-10th c. chronology. As Kalisz would shed its mysterious hiatus and directly connect with the 700 older Late Latène coins found in its realm, so would the Vikings turn into immediate successors of Julius Caesar’s Late Latène Norsemen with clinkered and riveted sailing ships whose ports had been visited by a fleet of Emperor Augustus.

Observers of Scandinavia’s archaeological situation might object to any analogy with Early Medieval Polish sites. It is true, they might concede, that places like Kalisz or Truso suffer an inexplicable hiatus from the 1st  to the 7th c., but Sweden’s Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.) does not only have burials but settlements, too. It is a period dominated by farmhouse hamlets and their emergency hillforts. They contain catalogue-dated Roman coins and even a Roman board game with pawns of ivory found in the Western Mound of Gamla ["Old"] Uppsala in the heart of the Vendel-Culture. The Vendel-Period for a long time was seen as an extension of Late Antiquity into the time-span of 550-790. Yet such dating was rather born out of the desire to show something for huge but empty stretches of time than by the requirements of stratigraphy. The Mounds of Gamla Uppsala have recently been dated to 475-550, i.e. they belong to Late Antiquity.

Though the continuity of close contacts with Roman culture is well attested for the Scandinavians of Late Antiquity, they still are incapable of building urban structures, ports and breakwaters or employing square sails although they are in use all over their known world. Eventually, at least, there are boats, like the famous Nydam specimen (fig. 19) in the clinker and rivet technique described by Julius Caesar more than 300 years earlier.

To complicate matters, however, such Late Antique Scandinavian dwellings are nowhere found on top of 1st-3rd c. dwellings. Neither are they super-imposed by Early Medieval dwellings of the Vikings (8th-10th c.). There are Viking burials at Gamla Uppsala. Yet, their dates reach 1050 CE. It is not clear, therefore, if they are Early Medieval (before 930s) or High Medieval. Yet, there are no remains of 700-930 Viking dwellings or any other urban structure in this core district of Sweden. Thus, each individual site can fill a maximum of some 230 years with archeological substance (burials or hamlets or towns) for the entire time-span from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages (1-930s CE). Thus, strata-wise these sites are not richer than Truso or Kalisz of the 8th c. onwards. All "three" Scandinavian periods have Roman artifacts as well as 1st-3rd coins. Their division into three consecutive portions allows the filling up the 1-930-period whose length everybody takes for granted.

How is the "filling" done? The 1st-3rd c. period is preferentially filled with relics from burials as well as

Fig. 19. Reconstruction of the clinker hull Nydam Boat (dated 320 CE). Length: c.22.84 m. Maximal width: 3.26 m. Crew: Up to 45 men including 30 oarsmen.
Źródła/Sources: A – fot./Photo Erik Christensen https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nydamboat.2.jpg
B – P. Smolarek 1963, tabl. II.

with catalogue dated Roman coins. Questions for urban structures, farmhouses, hillforts (in use around the Mediterranean at that period), sailing ships, and ports can be answered with potential future digs that may eventually deliver the goods.

The 4th-6th c. period is preferentially furnished with farmhouse hamlets and their emergency hillforts as well as Roman coins catalogue-dated to that period. Again, questions for urban structures, sailing ships, and ports can be answered with future excavations that may still reveal such items.

The 8th-10th c. period receives the most immovable and manipulation-resistant items, like urban structures, ports, pier, breakwaters, sailing ships but also the non-Roman coins. Of course, there are Roman coins, millefiori beads, locks, glass beakers, fibulae etc. in the 8th/9th c. strata, too. Yet, the situation remains defendable. If one finds a funeral urn with a 2nd c. Roman coin in a 9th c. stratum, and, in the same 9th c. stratum, one also finds a hoard with a 5th c. Roman coin, one may claim that nearly all of the 1st millennium periods are represented in the site. Yet, one can never say that, in a 9th c. stratum with port and town, one has found a funeral urn containing a 2nd c. pier, and a larger tomb containing a 5th c. breakwater, and, then, claim that there have been ports all through the 1st millennium. If it comes to towns and ports, one has to respect the stratigraphical position. If the stratum is contingent, elsewhere or on site, with 10th/11th c. material it must be dated to the 8th-10th c. CE. Yet, that is the maximum of logic that will be accepted by the archaeologists. Claims that 1st c. Roman glass and coins in 8th c. strata makes that period parallel with the 8th c., too, are rejected by resorting to theories of scrap metal and heirlooms. Small finds that chronologically come too early are "mixed into lower levels later." If they come too late they are "inherited", belong to "ancient museums" or to a private collection of antiques. All these ways and manners lead to the following schematic view of Scandinavia’s history in the 1st millennium. (Tab. 2)

If one tries to understand the aggressively defended convictions of delays for 700 years and repetitions over 700 years with a standstill of evolution, one must recognize that Scandinavia’s archaeologists and the Viking specialists everywhere desparately try to obey a 1st millennium chronology whose construction they neither understand nor challenge. Who does? The 1,000 years are always there, bigger than life, the most powerful and most sacred tool for giving order to history and for giving scientific dating its general direction. Yet, most of the time these excavators are honest scholars and meticulous researchers. The author feels great respect for

Table 2 Filling Scandinavia’s 1-930s period by distributing material remains for some 230 years over Antiquity, Late Antiquity/Vendel and the Early Middle Ages. The three periods are nowhere found super-imposed in a triple-layer stratigraphic cake because they are all in the same plane.

1st -3rd c. CE 4th-6th/7th c. CE 7th/8th-10th c. CE
Burials with Roman coins and crafts. Hamlets and hilllforts are used for Late Antiquity- Towns, ports, breakwaters and sailing ships are left for the Early Middle Ages. Hamlets and hilllforts with Roman coins and artifacts. Towns, ports, breakwaters and sailing ships are left for the Early Middle Ages. Roman coins and artifacts. Eventually towns, ports, breakwaters and sailing ships arrive.

them. They want hard evidence for the millennium no less than anyone else. To bring it about they decide to distribute the available artifacts over the entire period.

Because of the archaeological parallelity of the "three" supposedly sequential periods, the Scandinavian approach to a level of civilization that supposedly was implemented elsewhere at least 700 years earlier, no longer looks so so "retarded". If the periods are kept in a sequence, it appears as if the Norsemen did not dare to engineer anything relevant before the 8th c. CE. When they finally caught up in shipping technology, their only important innovation appears to have been a mental rather than a hardware one. Scandinavians, now called Vikings, eventually – it is believed – felt psychologically ready to adopt the square sail, and to take the even more audacious decision to no longer transport their belongings through treacherous surf. In their ports, of course, there were no innovations either. Yet, their determination after 700 years of bickering at least touched onlookers because of its aura of radicalism. And, hardly expected anymore, after the Vikings had brought themselves to erect towns, ports with landing piers and breakwaters (fig. 20) a sigh of relieve was vented in the rest of Europe, although there were no concepts in these small cities, either. Simply taking the step towards urbanism could already be regarded as a major achievement.

That’s the impression shared to this very day. Once, however, one recognizes that the "three" periods of Antiquity, Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages belong – contingent with the immediately following High Middle Ages – to the same archaeological plane one can say farewell to that deeply entrenched view of backwardness. Scandinavians, as well as the Early Medieval inhabitants of Poland, developed more or less in tandem with the rest of the Europeans. They were not smarter but just wrongly dated some 700 years too early.

To test the formula Antiquity=Late Antiquity=Early Middle Ages, one would have to present sites that match our textbook chronology for the 1st millennium, that schematically looks as follows. (Tab. 3)

This author, for half a decade, has asked experts to show him not a thousand nor a few hundred sites nor five or ten but just a single site anywhere that exhibits a full 1st millennium stratigraphy. The result has been negative. Nowhere exists a site with distinct building strata of Antiquity (1st-3rd c.) that – after the 50-year-crisis of the Barracks Emperors – are super-imposed by new and architecturally different bulding strata for Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.) that in turn – after the crisis of Justinian’s comet cum plague in the 6th c. – are covered by new building strata in the fashion of the Early Medieval period (8th-10th c.). The most that can be found is a set of strata matching some 300 years out of the 1000 years attributed to the 1st millennium.

The 700-year lacunae may be found between the end of Latène (ca. year 1 CE) and the beginning of the Early Middle Ages (ca. year 700 CE). Poland’s Truso and Bulgaria’s Pliska belong to that group, as do Ukhaidir in Iraq and Anjar in Lebanon. In other sites, the 700-year lacuna is placed between the end of Antiquity (3rd c.) and the beginning of the High Middle Ages (10th c.). In yet other first millennium sites, the 700-year lacuna is divided into two parts: (1) 300 years of missing building strata for Antiquity (1st-3rd. c.) plus (2) 400 years of missing building strata for the Early Middle Ages (7th- 10th c.), whilst the 4th-6th c. of Late Antiquity is present. The most famous example, of course, is provided by Byzantium/Constantinople. It was described by Cassius Dio (163-229 CE), at the end of the 2nd c. CE, as the Empire’s 2nd city but has no houses or even potsherds for the 1st -3rd c. period because all imperial material

Fig. 20. Reconstructions of Viking towns with breakwaters of the 8th-10th c. CE that supposedly had not been needed from 1-700 CE.
Haithabu/Germany (Schietzel 2014, p. 94) - A
Truso/Poland (Jagodziński 2017) - B

remains have been labeled Late Antiquity. In Rome, on the other hand, all churches labeled Late Antique (4th- 6th c.) or Early Medieval (8th-10th c.) are built in the technologies, styles and materials of Antiquity (1st-3rd c.).

Moreover, the material culture - including immovables like architecture, water systems, ports etc. - is more or less the same in Antiquity, Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. There is, bewilderingly, no evolution between the three periods, although within each period there is evolution, crisis, and new beginning. It is as if

Table 3 Poland’s stratigraphic situation for Early Medieval Slavic Tribal Centers or Viking towns

Po 930 r. Nowa architektura i sztuka środkowego średniowiecza
X w. upadek Destrukcja, wyludnienie, ciemna lub szara ziemia, itd.
VIII-X w. Nowa architektura i sztuka wczesnego średniowiecza [Wikingowie]
VI w. kryzys Destrukcja, wyludnienie, ciemna lub szara ziemia, itd.
IV-VI w. n.e. Nowa architektura i sztuka późnej starożytności
III w. kryzys Destrukcja, wyludnienie, ciemna lub szara ziemia, itd.
I-III w. n.e. Architektura i sztuka starożytna
I w. p.n.e. Późny okres lateński/ późny hellenizm/ Republika Rzymska

you have a sequence like Renaissance-Baroque-Roccoco not just once but three times in sequence.

But what about dendro-chronology? It may become a powerful dating tool. So far, there never was a true blind test to research whether Antiquity, Late Antiquity, and the Early Middle Ages really existed in a chronological sequence. In such a test only one person would know what tree-slices distributed to, let us say, half a dozen laboratories come from a beam taken from a building labeled Antique or from a building labeled Late Antique or from a building labeled Early Medieval. The scientists would receive no hint whatsoever what period is "expected" for the wooden specimen that arrived at their institute. The author seriously hopes that such a test of the validity of dendro-chronology will not be postponed forever.

The most unexpected result of all of the parallels between 1-230, 290-520 and 700-930 is that only the supposedly "retarded" groups (8th-10th Scandinavians, Slavs, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Arabs etc.) get it more or less right when it comes to stratigraphy-based dates for their habitats. By simply fitting their chronology to the dates of the 10th/11th c. culture materially following their own, they cannot help but end up in the 8th-10th c. period.

Their end is no less dramatic than the crises of the 3rd and the 6th century:

"There is another type of discontinuity in the late Viking Age: the old rural places of power, commonly called central places, all met their end. In some cases, most pronounced in Lejre-Roskilde and Uppakra-Lund, a town with central royal and ecclesiastical functions was established in the vicinity around the time when the central place was abandoned. It is the new and strong connection between king and Church which might hold a key to understanding the discontinuity both in towns and in central places around the turn of the millennium. A general conversion to Christianity took place at this time" (Skre 2012, p. 86).

The earlier conflagrations are not represented by super-imposed destruction layers in Scandinavia or in the Slavic realm because there was just one global devastation. It ended a civilization with a cultural imprint that was no less Roman in the 10th c. than it has been in the 6th or 3rd century because it wiped out the same habitats between Norway and Mesopotamia.

The ubiquitous surprise about the absence of written sources referring to the 10th Century Collapse is due to their being "consumed" for the 3rd or 6th century. Yet, the archaeological traces for the annihilations are no less impressive. Slovakia suffered major "destructions" at the "beginning of the 10th century " (Chorvatova 2012, p. 249). None of the available sources names human enemies or other causes that may have inflicted that disaster.

At the same time, in the Czech Republic, "castles of regional chieftains were destroyed. / That phenomenon is not at all mentioned in the written sources" (Sommer 2012, pp. 266 /273). Poland, too, was hit in the early 10th century:

"There was a rapid, sometimes catastrophic, collapse of many of the pre-existing tribal centers. These events were accompanied by the permanent or temporary depopulation of former areas of settlement. Within a short time new centers representative of the Piast state arose on new sites, thus beginning [in 966] the thousand-year history of the Polish nation and state" (Buko 2011, p. 464)."

The Southern Baltic ports mysteriously "undergo discontinuity" (Kleingärtner 2014, p. 249) in the 10th c. CE. The indigenous names for some of the deserted ports are not known to this very day. In Hungary, the Viking period town Mosaburg with its strikingly Roman style stone Basilica of Zalavár-Récéskút (9th/10th c.) "had become ruinous by the Arpadian Age. / Dateable finds from the multilayer cemetery could all be dated to the years from the second third or middle of the 9th century to the early 10th century, namely to its first few decades" (Szöke 2014; pp. 70 /122). Bulgaria’s Viking period Pliska with its full blown Roman architecture, too, comes to a terrible end: "A dark grey (most probably erosion) layer"(Henning 2007, p. 219 had strangled that urban jewel for good. "Between the 11th and 15th c. CE, the Pliska basin was turned into a desert landscape" (Kirilov 2006, p. 134).

The written sources referring to the conflagrations with 3rd and 6th century labels will come to life by matching them with these 10th c. chasms who in turn may find a better comprehension by turning to those texts.


The author tries to show that 1st-3rd as well as 4th- 6th c. Scandinavians were the same people we see today as Vikings of the 8th-10th c. CE. The material evidence that stratigraphically all belongs to their Early Medieval period has been spread over the entire time span of 1-930s CE, whose construction is neither understood nor challenged. Burials and catalogue-dated Roman coins are the preferred way of filling the 1st-3rd. c. period. Farm hamlets with their emergency hillforts, and more catalogue-dated Roman coins give the main weight to the 4th-6th c. period, whereas towns, ports, sail-fitted long boats, breakwaters, and non-Roman coins provide the most important furnishing for the 8th-10th c. CE.

Viking 9th c. longboats with square sails are in actual fact found at the same stratigraphic depth as Roman longboats with square sails. The latter are wrongly dated 700 years too early to the 2nd c. CE. Therefore, the Scandinavians’ supposed 700-year delay in all major fields of develoment, such as towns, ports, breakwaters, kingship, coinage, monotheism, and sailing ships, is dervied from chronological ideas that make the Roman period some 700 years older than stratigraphy allows. Stratigraphically, Antiquity, Late Antiquity, and the Early Middle Ages occupy the same archaeological plane. The three catastrophes hitting Rome in the Third Century Crisis, Byzantium in the 6th c. plague cum comet, and the Early Middle Ages as the 10th Century Collapse are just different facets of the 10th c. cataclysm.

(Tab. 4) Contemporaneity of 1st millennium periods that stratigraphically are contingent with 10th/11th c. material culture, and, therefore all belong to the 8th-10th period. They enter the High Meddle Ages simultaneously.


Antiquity (1-230s CE) Late Antiquity (290-520s CE) Early Middle Ages (700-930s CE)
Venedi-Slavs Venethi-Slavs Veonod-Slavs
Quadi and Iazyges-Xiongnu Goths and Huns-Xiongnu Varingian/Vikings and Chunni-Vars-Hungarians


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