While fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be familiar with Odin through the movies featuring Thor, historians have known him for a long time. Odin, part of Norse mythology, is referred to as the king of the gods, the ‘All-father’ of mortals & gods, and the god of death. While the previously oldest known artifact hinting at the Norse god was much younger, a recent excavation has unearthed a gold pendant in Denmark that shows the earliest known inscription mentioning Odin dating back to the fifth century AD.
Dug Up Gold
The pendant or bracteate was discovered as part of a gold hoard excavated in 2021 from Jutland, Denmark. Now referred to as the ‘Vindelev hoard,’ the trove had around 2.2 pounds or 1 kilogram of gold. It was then studied for more than a year by runologist Lisbeth Imer and linguist Krister Vasshus of the National Museum of Denmark, who also deciphered the inscriptions on the pendant. Made from thin, stamped gold, it shows ‘the first time in the history of the world that Odin’s name was mentioned,’ says Imer. She further elaborates that this ‘means that Norse mythology can now be dated all the way back to the early fifth century.’
According to their studies, the inscriptions on the pendant show the face of a Norse king at the center. She also reveals that the rune script inscriptions say, ‘He is Odin’s man’ along with ‘Jaga’ or ‘Jagaz,’ a name in the primitive Norse language. Imer reveals that she believes that the wording refers to the central motif depicting a man with a horse, portraying the local magnate or king, who presents himself as a descendant of the king of gods and the god of kings, Odin. The pendant has been found to be more worn than the rest of the trove showing the possibility that it could have been a holy inscription and was revered by people.