history, vikings and warriors

Archaeologists discover remains of a Viking neighbourhood in Istanbul

Vikings settled on Constantinople, Istanbul, between 8th and 11th centuries. Remains discovered include a symbol of king Ragnar Lodbrok.

A group of archaeologists looking for remains of the presence of Vikings in Istanbul have discovered an entire neighbourhood inhabited by ancient Norman warriors in the remains of the ancient city of Bathonea, located on the outskirts of Istanbul -the ancient Constantinople– in the vicinity of the Küçükçekmece Lake.

Vikings lived in Istanbul between the 8th and 11th centuries in different periods. We have found what was their exact settlement area between the 9th and 11th centuries in the excavations in Bathonea,” team leader of 75 experts who carry out the excavations in the area, Şengül Aydıngün, told Turkish press. Bathonea was an ancient Greco-Roman city located about 20 km west of Istanbul, part of which is believed to be submerged in the lake.

“We have unearthed seven clues that the Vikings once lived here,” added Blazei Stanislawski, a Polish expert on Viking civilisation who decided to join the team of archaeologists after discovering 6 years ago that Vikings inhabited ancient Bathonea centuries ago.

Historians believe that the Vikings and their Russian offshoot, the Varangians, came to the shores of the Sea of ​​Marmara centuries ago as merchants or mercenaries. As the Byzantine emperors of Constantinople feared that they would pose a threat to the city, Vikings and Varangians were allowed to enter the city just in the morning in groups of no more than 35 people, who had to leave Constantinople before sunset.

Byzantines prohibited Vikings from living in Constantinople

This fear of the Byzantines was due to the ferocity of these warriors, who between the late 8th and 11th centuries attacked and conquered numerous areas of Europe. For this reason, the Vikings and Varangians were only allowed to settle outside the walls of Constantinople, so they chose to do so in Bathonea, which at that time was a port city where ships arrived from many countries.

“It appears that they formed a neighbourhood here in Bathonea. Until now we had no clues, but now we have discovered some. In ancient texts, it is said that foreigners who could not enter the city lived in an international port. It is Bathonea. We also know that the Vikings, who were mercenaries for the Byzantine Emperor Michael VII Doukas, lived in the region,” Stanislawski explained.

This Polish expert affirms that two of the objects unearthed by archaeologists in this ancient Viking quarter of Istanbul confirm their presence. “We have found a cross made of ambergris, which at that time was only found in northern Europe, where the Vikings originated; and a necklace with a snake drawn: in Viking mythology, the snake is Jörmangandr, one of the symbols of the Viking king Ragnar Lodbrok,” he said.