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ARCHAEOLOGY

1,000-year-old ship found underneath ground on Norwegian island

A ship likely to have built by the Vikings has been found by Norwegian researchers using georadar.

1,000-year-old ship found underneath ground on Norwegian island
Edøy Old Church. Photo: Photo: kjelljoran/Creative Commons

The vessel, which could also date from the pre-Viking era, was discovered in the western Møre and Romsdal county, NRK reports.

Climate minister Ola Elvestuen told the broadcaster that the discovery was of “both national and international significance”.

Archaeologists from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) uncovered traces of the ship on the island of Edøy.

A high-resolution georadar “detected traces of a ship burial and a settlement that probably dates to the Merovingian or Viking Period at Edøy,” NIKU writes on its website.

Edøy is located on the shipping lane to Trondheim, close to where early king Harald Fairhair is said to have fought two sea battles, winning royal power in Norway in the late 800s.

“This is incredibly exciting. And again, it’s the technology that helps us find yet another ship. As the technology is making leaps forward, we are learning more and more about our past,” Knut Paasche, head of the Department of Digital Archaeology at NIKU and an expert on Viking ships, said via the institute’s website.

“It is too early to say something certain about the date of the ship, but we know that it is more than 1,000 years old,” Paasche told NRK.

Tove-Lise Torve, head of the Møre and Romsdal county administration, expressed her excitement about the discovery, which she did not happen by “chance”.

“This is not a chance discovery, but a result of systematic work,” Torve said via press release, in reference to a county-funded research and development project.

“Edøy is one of the key sites along the coastal pilgrimage trail, and we have planned to establish a regional coastal pilgrimage centre here for our county and (neighbouring county) Trøndelag. This discovery tells us that we have chosen the right place,” she added.

The remains of the ship are located just below the topsoil in an area where there was previously a burial mound, the institute writes on its website.

“The length of the keel indicates that the ship may have been a total of 16-17 meters long,” Paasche said.

In addition to the ship, the archaeologists also noted traces of settlements in the data, but are so-far yet to date these.

The georadar surveys at Edøy were conducted as a collaboration between Møre and Romsdal County, the local municipality Smøla, and NIKU.

READ ALSO: Norwegian Game of Thrones actor to make 'True Viking' reality show

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HISTORY

‘Lost’ manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

A book by one of France's most celebrated and controversial literary figures arrives in bookstores this week, 78 years after the manuscript disappeared

'Lost' manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

It is a rare thing when the story of a book’s publication is even more mysterious than the plot of the novel itself.

But that might be said of Guerre (War) by one of France’s most celebrated and controversial literary figures, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, which arrives in bookstores on Thursday, some 78 years after its manuscript disappeared.

Celine’s reputation has somehow survived the fact that he was one of France’s most eager collaborators with the Nazis.

Already a superstar thanks to his debut novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), Celine became one of the most ardent anti-Semitic propagandists even before France’s occupation.

In June 1944, with the Allies advancing on Paris, the writer abandoned a pile of his manuscripts in his Montmartre apartment.

Celine feared rough treatment from authorities in liberated France, having spent the war carousing with the Gestapo, and giving up Jews and foreigners to the Nazi regime and publishing racist pamphlets about Jewish world conspiracies.

For decades, no one knew what happened to his papers, and he accused resistance fighters of burning them. But at some point in the 2000s, they ended up with retired journalist Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, who passed them – completely out of the blue – to Celine’s heirs last summer.

‘A miracle’
Despite the author’s history, reviews of the 150-page novel, published by Gallimard, have been unanimous in their praise.

“The end of a mystery, the discovery of a great text,” writes Le Point; a “miracle,” says Le Monde; “breathtaking,” gushes Journal du Dimanche.

Gallimard has yet to say whether the novel will be translated.

Like much of Celine’s work, Guerre is deeply autobiographical, recounting his experiences during World War I.

It opens with 20-year-old Brigadier Ferdinand finding himself miraculously alive after waking up on a Belgian battlefield, follows his treatment and hasty departure for England – all based on Celine’s real experiences.

His time across the Channel is the subject of another newly discovered novel, Londres (London), to be published this autumn.

If French reviewers seem reluctant to focus on Celine’s rampant World War II anti-Semitism, it is partly because his early writings (Guerre is thought to date from 1934) show little sign of it.

Journey to the End of the Night was a hit among progressives for its anti-war message, as well as a raw, slang-filled style that stuck two fingers up at bourgeois sensibilities.

Celine’s attitude to the Jews only revealed itself in 1937 with the publication of a pamphlet, Trifles for a Massacre, which set him on a new path of racial hatred and conspiracy-mongering.

He never back-tracked. After the war, he launched a campaign of Holocaust-denial and sought to muddy the waters around his own war-time exploits – allowing him to worm his way back into France without repercussions.

‘Divine surprise’
Many in the French literary scene seem keen to separate early and late Celine.

“These manuscripts come at the right time – they are a divine surprise – for Celine to become a writer again: the one who matters, from 1932 to 1936,” literary historian Philippe Roussin told AFP.

Other critics say the early Celine was just hiding his true feelings.

They highlight a quote that may explain the gap between his progressive novels and reactionary feelings: “Knowing what the reader wants, following fashions like a shopgirl, is the job of any writer who is very financially constrained,” Celine wrote to a friend.

Despite his descent into Nazism, he was one of the great chroniclers of the trauma of World War I and the malaise of the inter-war years.

An exhibition about the discovery of the manuscripts opens on Thursday at the Gallimard Gallery and includes the original, hand-written sheets of Guerre.

They end with a line that is typical of Celine: “I caught the war in my head. It is locked in my head.”

In the final years before his death in 1961, Celine endlessly bemoaned the loss of his manuscripts.

The exhibition has a quote from him on the wall: “They burned them, almost three manuscripts, the pest-purging vigilantes!”

This was one occasion – not the only one – where he was proved wrong.

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