If you’re a 13-year-old boy, what is more exiting: finding the treasures of a 10th century king whose name is now attached to a modern communications technology or finding Thor’s hammer? One lucky Danish teen and his amateur archeologist mentor recently found both … which one do you think they’re fighting over?
“That was the find of my life.”
Self-described weekend archeologist René Schön and his 13-year-old pupil Luca Malaschnitschenko told the German news agency DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) that they found what they first thought was a piece of foil while searching in January for more valuable metals on the island of Rügen off the Pomeranian coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea. A popular tourist destination, Rügen also attracts archeologists and treasure hunters because its history dates back to the Stone Age and has at various times been under the rule of the Slavs, the Danish, the Pomeranians, Sweden, France, the Nazis and the Soviet Union.
Fortunately, they realized the ‘foil’ was actually a piece of silver and kept their discovery quiet until they could return with a team of professional archeologists who helped them recover a large collection of artifacts from the tenth century, when Rügen was under the rule of Danish King Harald Gormsson, better known as “Bluetooth” – more on that name later. (Photos of the treasure hunt and the treasures here.)
“This is the largest single find of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of outstanding importance.”
According to excavation director Michael Schirren, Schön, Malaschnitschenko and his team found about 600 coins (dated from 714 to 983, near the end of Bluetooth’s reign) braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, rings and … a Thor’s hammer. Actually, it was an amulet representing the hammer forged for the Norse god by dwarves, but that’s enough to impress both a 13-year-old amateur archeologist and professional archaeologist Detlef Jantzen.
“We have here the rare case of a discovery that appears to corroborate historical sources.”
Not only that, but the treasures come from a king whose nickname is attached to an important modern technology. King Harald Gormsson most likely picked up the nickname because of a bad tooth that appeared dark blue or blue-black. That didn’t prevent him from ruling for nearly 30 years (958 to 986) and becoming famous in his time for bringing Christianity to Denmark and for being a master communicator who was able to unite large parts of what are Norway and Denmark. That little-known fact inspired Jim Kardach, an engineer at Intel who in 1997 was reading Frans G. Bengtsson’s historical novel The Long Ships about Vikings and King Harald, to name a new technology for connecting computers and smartphones wirelessly “Bluetooth.” If that wasn’t honor enough, the Bluetooth logo is a combination Harald Gormsson’s runic initials: H (ᚼ) and B (ᛒ).
If King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormsson were alive today, he’d probably be proud of his namesake … and wondering if getting dental work would nullify his licensing agreement.