Norway reveals 'world's oldest' stone with runic inscriptions – USA TODAY

A rune stone discovered in Norway is being called the world’s oldest, bearing inscriptions which date back to the earliest known days of runic writing.
Sometime between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago, someone who spoke an early form of the ancient Nordic language stood near Tyrifjorden, west of Oslo, and carved runes into a flat, square block of reddish-brown sandstone, the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo said in a statement Tuesday
The nearly 12-by-12-inch stone is described by the museum as “the world’s oldest dated rune stone” and “one of the very earliest examples of words recorded in writing in Scandinavia.” It was discovered in the fall of 2021 during an excavation of a grave in a region known for several other monumental archaeological finds. 
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Runes were used in Scandinavia from around the beginning of Common Era and throughout the Viking Age until the 1400s. Through trading with the Romans, Scandinavians learned about the Roman alphabet, which led to the creation of the runic alphabet.
Of the several thousand stones with runic inscriptions found in Scandinavia, only about 30 rune stones have been found in Norway are believed to date back to the Roman Iron Age and the Migration Period, up until around 550 A.D. This stone, called the Svingerud stone, is the only stone discovered by archaeologists dating back to before 300 A.D.
The stone has several types of inscriptions and not all have linguistic meaning, Kristel Zilmer, a professor at University of Oslo, of which the museum is part, said in a statement. Eight runes on the front of the stone read “idiberug,” which could be the name of a woman, a man or a family.
“Some lines form a grid pattern and there are small zigzag figures and other interesting features,” Zilmer said. “It’s possible that someone has imitated, explored or played with the writing. Maybe someone was learning how to carve runes.”
There is still a lot of research to be done on the rock, which will provide more insight about the use of runes in the early Iron Age and the custom of making rune stones, Zilmer said. 
“Having such a runic find fall into our lap is a unique experience and the dream of all runologists. For me, this is a highlight, because it is a unique find that differs from other preserved rune stones,” Zilmer said.
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The rune stone will be exhibited for a month, starting on Jan. 21, at the Museum of Cultural History, which has Norway’s largest collection of historical artifacts, from the Stone Age to modern times.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team. 
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