NORWAY One of the three principal nations of scandinavia, Norway occupies the western side of the Scandinavian peninsula in northwestern Europe. People have made this land their home since the last great ice age ended more than 13,000 years ago. Norway features many archaeological sites to provide evidence of the worship of the Norse gods. Bronze Age rock carvings near Kalnes, Norway, show men in boats and sun images. At least three burial ships from the viking age about a.d. 800-1000 have been uncovered near Oslo. The Oseberg ship, considered the oldest Viking ship yet found, was built between 850 and 900. It was buried for about 1,000 years and discovered by archaeolo-gists in the early 1900s. The boat itself was elabo-rately carved. It contained small wagons for carrying gods, an ornately decorated sleigh or sled, and a narrow tapestry portraying scenes from mythology. An elaborate bucket onboard contained apples, a symbol of fertility. Many of these artifacts are on display in museums in Oslo. Churches in Hallingdal and Hegge, meanwhile, contain evidence of the gods, including carvings that experts believe are representations of odin.Some of Norway's contributions to norse history and literature are actually preserved in the manuscripts from iceland. The sagas, lays, and poems found in Iceland tell of Norway's kings and warrior heroes. Few manuscripts of the Norse age have actually been found in Norway itself.Ships were important to the ancient Norse people, not only as a means of transportation, but also as a symbol of the voyage from life to death. Shown here is the Oseberg ship, the oldest known Viking ship to survive to the present day. ©University Museum of Cultural Heritage—University of Oslo, Norway photographer unknown
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