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    Baltic Pagans Imported Scandinavian Horses for Sacrificial Rites, Archaeologists Reveal

    New international research has uncovered that pagan tribes in the Baltic region purchased horses from Christianized Scandinavians for use in sacrificial rituals. This significant discovery, with contributions from Polish scientists, offers fresh insights into the religious practices of Europe’s last pagans during the early Middle Ages.

    The study, a joint effort by researchers from the University of Białystok (UB) in Poland and Cardiff University (UC) in Wales, UK, has been published in the esteemed journal “Science Advances.”

    Dr. hab. Maciej Karczewski, an archaeologist from the University of Białystok and co-author of the study, highlighted these findings in a recent university press release.

    The team analyzed the remains of 74 horses found in burial sites across the Masuria region, the Sambian Peninsula (Kaliningrad Oblast), and parts of Lithuania. Their research reveals that in the late Viking Age, horses were transported by sea from regions now known as Sweden or Finland to the southeastern Baltic coast, travelling distances up to 1500 kilometres. These horses were then sacrificed in funeral rituals by the pagan tribes.

    “Through the analysis of strontium isotopes in tooth enamel, we can pinpoint where a person or animal spent their early years. The strontium isotope composition varies across different regions of Europe and the world, necessitating the creation of a comparative scale for accurate results. This was particularly essential for northeastern Poland in our study,”

    explained Professor Karczewski, as cited in the press release.

    This research illuminates the interconnectedness of medieval European societies and the extent to which Baltic pagans went to uphold their ritualistic traditions. The long-distance transport of horses emphasizes the crucial role these animals played in their religious and cultural ceremonies.

    The research findings were published in the journal “Science Advances.”

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