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Scientists are to map the Vikings’ plant-based diet

Real Norwegian VikingReal Norwegian Viking.

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Scientists in Oslo will survey plant use in the Nordic region from the Viking Age to the present.

Popular representations give the impression that meat was the very basis of the Vikings’ diet. Much indicates that plant-based diets were as important as meat and fish, says project manager and botanist Anneleen Kool at the Natural History Museum in Oslo to Forskning.no.

We know little about when the different plants came to the Nordic countries, what they were used for and how they were used, she adds.

The botanist hopes that the research project that will last until 2021 can answer some unsolved puzzles, both when it comes to plants and food.

Caraway was grown all over the country and was a major export item from Norway during the Viking era. Why then have we not made any finds of caraway seeds from the Viking Age? It’s one of the puzzles we’re working on.

Another riddle is the words beer, flax and onion which are the three most used words in rune inscriptions over the years. Often it says only “flax and onion”, sometimes only “beer” and sometimes all three. Scientists want to find out why it is written.

The research project is organised by the Natural History Museum in collaboration with the Cultural History Museum. NOK 8.5 million has been allocated in SAMKUL funds, which is the Research Council’s program for research on the cultural preconditions of social development.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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