Birka Animal Bones

The recent analysis of over 6000 kilograms (13,228 pounds) of animal bones from specific features at Birka provide insights into Viking diet. Data published by Ambrosiani (2013) was used to create these pie charts.


Sheep grazing on the town site of Birka.



B0 shore 8th century dating. Amber beads, amber waste, wasp beads, gold soiled and silver foiled beads. 1 Textile tool and 22 metal casting molds fragments.



B114 shoreline wooden buildings, dendo-date ca. AD 800. 3.6 kg. of burnt clay, glass beads, pottery, casting debris, flint, and hazelnut shells. 31 Textile tools (hot spot) and 135 metal casting molds fragments.



B121/6 worked bone and antler, burnt clay, casting slag, iron punch, wasp beads, amber, flint, hazelnut shells, bone needle, lead weight, wasp beads, white bead with red octagonal pattern. 1 textile tool and 27 metal casting mold fragments.



B124 2 large deep pot-holes and waste with segmented beads (gold/silver and blue/yellow) and pieces of molds. 0 textile tools and 10 metal casting mold fragments.



B232 casting debris including potsherds, a double molds for Valkyrie pendants, molds for oval brooches, and equal-armed brooches. 15 textile tools and 267 metal casting mold fragments.



B252 scrap metal from bronze casting. 1 textile tool, 312 metal casting mold fragments, 497 grams of slag (highest).



B262 bronze casting debris and silver Abbasid coin (AD 778/9), amber beads, glass beads, pottery, hazelnut shells. 3 textile tools, 514 metal casting mold fragments and 339 grams of slag.



B279 lots of limestone and bones of fur bearing animals. 0 textile tools and 13 metal casting mold fragments.



B326 fire and demolition layer including a whalebone smoothing board. 0 textile tools and 90 pieces of metal casting mold fragments.



B421 Smelting hearth, charcoal and casting box of pure lake sand. 7 textile tools, 153 metal casting mold fragments, and 86 grams of slag.



B426 Many crucible fragments. 6 textile tools, 1892 metal casting mold fragments and 1393 grams of slag.



B444 House, lots of charcoal, 170 casting fragments for padlocks. Abbasid coin from late 8th/early 9th c. West Slavic clay pottery vessel of Feldberg Type. 0 textile tools and 225 metal casting mold fragments.



B534 burnt clay, lots of casting slag, bone skate. 0 textile tools, 104 metal casting mold fragments and 1004 grams of slag.



B543a house gable and remains of a forge. 8 textile tools, 139 metal casting mold fragments, and 330 grams of slag.



B544a courtyard. 3 textile tools and 191 metal casting mold fragments.



B554 anvil with part of elk-antler shovel. 2 textile tools and 58 metal casting mold fragments.


Ambrosiani, jorn
2013 Excavations in the Black Earth: Stratigraphy.  Birka Studies, Stockholm.


Webpage constructed 28 December 2013