Vikings were not the first global voyagers. Bronze age Norwegians likely sailed the seas 2,000 years before

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The Danish Hjortspring boat, almost 2,500 years old, was excavated in 1921 from a wetland and is very similar to vessels depicted in petroglyphs.

[A]rchaeologists who study Norway during the Bronze Age have discovered a great deal of new information.

People who lived in Norway 3000 years ago were far less primitive than many have imagined. They were not hunters who still lived a Stone Age kind of life.

The ships built by Norwegians, Swedes and Danes during the Bronze Age may have had a crew of over 50 men. People from Scandinavia went to England in ships like these. They probably made their way down the great rivers in Europe.

They may have used the ships to travel to Finnmark in northern Norway.

And perhaps to Italy in the south.

As many as 90 per cent of all Bronze Age petroglyphs (rock carvings) in Norway feature ships, both large and small. They have now begun to attract the attention of archaeologists.

“The world was globalized for the first time during the Bronze Age,” says [researcher] Kristian Kristiansen… “The people who lived in Scandinavia about three thousand years ago were clearly part of the globalization movement of the time,” he says.

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Archaeologist Lene Melheim at the University of Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History is a key figure in Norway’s Bronze Age research community.

“I think it’s likely that more than 3,000 years ago, Norwegians travelled by ship all the way to the Mediterranean,” Melheim says to sciencenorway.no.

“Some of my colleagues would disagree with me on this. But I think it’s very likely. We know that Norwegians had goods from southern Europe, and that they were probably strong seafarers. That means it is as likely that they travelled the world, as if middlemen came to Norway with all of these foreign goods.”

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