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A Cow Bone with Runic Inscription

This is a remarkable news story about a cow bone from South Moravia, Czech Republic. This rib dates to the turn of the seventh century and shows the last seven runes of the Elder Futhark alphabet. The shapes are uneven. Were they carved by someone with little experience, a student perhaps?

They found the bone at Břeclav-Lány, a site considered Slavic for the longest time. The earliest Slav language appears in medieval records from the ninth century and Prague type pottery remains lay close to the cow bone.

Yet the bone, with its South-Germanic rune style, is oddly a Germanic object outside the Germanic and inside the Slav (historical) context. Can it tell us something about the contact and exchanges between the tribes in Central Europe during the Migration period? Or how the transition occurred? Perhaps it was not as abruptly or even long-winded as we think. But it remains a mystery for now, even if this is a first glimpse into that world.

Read the original, Open Access article: Jiří Macháček, Robert Nedoma, Petr Dresler, et al., ‘Runes from Lány (Czech Republic) – The oldest inscription among Slavs. A new standard for multidisciplinary analysis of runic bones.’ Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 127.105333 (2021).

Featured Image: Elder Futhark runes from Břeclav-Lány, Czech Republic (Elsevier / Ludmila Kaňáková-Hladíková and Jindřich Štelcl / CC-BY).

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