Odin is mentioned in the earliest recorded writing on a gold pendant that was discovered in Denmark in the fifth century A.D.
The oldest known depiction of the Norse deity Odin can be found on a gold pendant that was recently discovered in Denmark. A new Danish discovery of a gold necklace features the earliest known representation of the Norse god Odin.
The necklace, which is actually a bracteate and is made of thin, stamped gold, is thought by archaeologists to have been created in the fifth century A.D., making it 150 years older than the previous-oldest known relic referencing Norse mythology. Odin’s name was referenced for the first time ever in recorded history, according to Lisbeth Imer, a runologist and writing specialist at the National Museum of Denmark, who spoke with Live Science. As a result, the early fifth century can now be considered the beginning of Norse folklore. According to Lisbeth Imer, a runologist and writing expert at the National Museum of Denmark, who spoke with Live Science, Odin’s name was mentioned for the first time ever in the annals of history. Thus, the early fifth century is now regarded as the start of Norse mythology.
Odin’s man, according to the runic writing, which also contains the word “Jaga” or “Jagaz” in an early dialect of the Norse language. It is assumed that it refers to its proprietor, a chieftain or monarch of the Iron Age who might have claimed the deity as an ancestor. Imer speculated that the phrase may allude to the main theme, which shows a man riding a horse and representing the local magnate or monarch, who claims to be a descendant of Odin, the deity of kings and king of gods. “We have additional literary proof that the kings liked to portray themselves as demigods.”Imer hypothesized that the expression could be a reference to the primary motif, which features a man mounting a horse and standing in for the local magnate or monarch, who claims to be a direct descendant of Odin, the god of monarchs and king of gods. “We now have more written evidence that the kings liked to present themselves as demigods.” “Imer suggested that the expression could be a reference to the main theme, which features a man astride a horse and acting as a stand-in for the local magnate or ruler, who claims to be a direct son of Odin, the deity of kings and king of gods.Now that the monarchs preferred to portray themselves as demigods, we have more written proof of this.
The bracteate was a piece of a magnificent gold hoard discovered in Jutland, Denmark, in 2021. Imer and her coworker, linguist Krister Vasshus(opens in new tab), spent more than a year decoding the runic writing on the bracteate. The cache, which now goes by the name “Vindelev hoard” in honor of a neighboring village, held nearly 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of gold.
Odin was the “All-father” of both gods and humans in Norse mythology. He was also the ruler of the gods, the deity of death, knowledge, sorcery, and runes. Odin was one of the three major gods revered in the Norse faith, along with Thor and Frey, despite the Norse pantheon’s abundance of gods.
Odin is frequently depicted as having only one eye because, according to mythology, he amputated his other eye in order to acquire unmatched knowledge. He is also the Anglo-Saxon deity Woden’s Norse counterpart, although both Woden and Wotan appear to have had two eyes. Imer noted that the runic writing on the pendant appeared to be more worn than the rest of it, possibly because it was a sacred writing that had been handled to “gain power.”
She wrote in an email, “It was a period when religion was more integrated into everyday living. The responsibility for cultic actions and rituals to maintain a positive connection with the gods fell on the shoulders of society’s leaders. However, the words blend together without spaces, and the name “Odin” is written as “Wodnas” rather than its usual form, “Wodinas,” making it challenging to decipher the minuscule glyphs, according to Imer. This may be because the writing is in an early form of Norse called Proto-Norse.
Researchers believe that between the fourth and first centuries B.C., when North Germanic peoples moved into Denmark and other Scandinavian nations, the Norse developed. The seafarers among them gained notoriety as Viking invaders in Europe after the eighth century A.D. They briefly founded colonies in sections of Britain, France, Iceland, and Greenland. Some Vikings even traveled to what is now Canada’s Newfoundland and the Faroe Islands.
The Vindelev treasure, on the other hand, dates back to a “proto-Viking” period when the Norse were not yet recognized (or dreaded) as Vikings. More than 1,000 gold bracteates have been discovered in northern Europe, and more than 200 of them have inscriptions. The finding of the inscription has already impacted how other gold bracteates’ inscriptions are understood.
Imer explained that the writing on the Odin bracteate was actually transferred onto another bracteate from Vindelev with a slightly different motif. But because the copyist of the inscription misread the phrasing, he “just carved some haphazard strokes and lines” in many spots. According to him, the inscription on the Odin bracteate was actually copied onto a Vindelev bracteate with a marginally altered motif. The inscription’s copyist, however, “just carved some haphazard strokes and lines” in many places because he misunderstood the wording.
Although its inscription was never decoded, it appears that the replicated bracteate was engraved using the same die as another that was discovered in 1852 on the Danish island of Funen and donated to the National Museum. Imer said, “So, for 170 years, the National Museum has had an inscription with the name Odin on it, but we didn’t know until lately. It appears that the duplicated bracteate was engraved using the same die as another that was found in 1852 on the Danish island of Funen and given to the National Museum, even though its inscription was never deciphered. So, the National Museum has had an engraving with the name Odin on it for 170 years, but we weren’t aware of it until recently, Imer said.