Eighth century pagan temple to Old Norse gods unearthed in Norway

Rare structures and artifacts of the Viking religion practiced centuries prior to Christianity's introduction have been uncovered by archaeologists in Norway, including a "god house."

Photo courtesy of the University Museum of Bergen
  • A 1,200-year-old temple to the Old Norse gods including Thor and Odin has been unearthed in Norway by a team of archaeologists.
  • It was likely used for worship and sacrifices to gods during the midsummer and midwinter solstices, and other fertility festivals.
  • Icelanders are officially practicing the Old Norse pagan religions again; the first temple to the Norse gods in 1000 years is currently being constructed in the City of Reykjavík.
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Moral failings of leaders collapsed even the best societies, study finds

Researchers found a common element in the destruction of even the most powerful empires.

Credit: Thomas Cole. 1836.
  • Researchers found a commonality between the collapse of ancient empires.
  • Even the best-run nations fell apart because of leaders who undermined social contracts.
  • The scientists found that societies that had good governments broke up even worse than those with dictators.
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Researchers discover intact brain cells of man killed by Mt Vesuvius eruption

The young man died nearly 2,000 years ago in the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii.

Credit: PLOS ONE
  • A team of researchers in Italy discovered the intact brain cells of a young man who died in the Mount Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79.
  • The brain's cell structure was visible to researchers (who used an electron microscope) in a glassy, black material found inside the man's skull.
  • The material was likely the victim's brain preserved through the process of vitrification in which the intense heat followed by rapid cooling turned the organ to glass.
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Did our early ancestors boil their food in hot springs?

Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Some of the oldest remains of early human ancestors have been unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, a rift valley setting in northern Tanzania where anthropologists have discovered fossils of hominids that existed 1.8 million years ago.
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'Viking' was likely a job title among diverse people, says DNA study

"The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was," said project leader Professor Eske Willerslev.

Västergötlands Museum
  • A team of international researchers spent years analyzing the DNA of 442 people, most of whom lived during the Viking age.
  • It's the largest DNA analysis of Viking remains to date.
  • The results show that Vikings were more genetically diverse than previously thought.
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