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Sweden’s Ancient Burial Ships

Gotland is a Swedish island brimming with ancient structures, from Visby’s medieval city wall to a roughly 5,000-year-old megalithic tomb. Some of the most fascinating sights are the stone burial “ships,” or skeppssättningar, found throughout the island. These ancient gravesites date from the late Bronze Age, between 1100 and 400 BC. 

The boat-shaped stone monuments were generally used as burial spots for an important member of this coastal community. The person would be cremated and their bones beaten to dust. These remains would then be collected in a stone urn and buried inside the ship. It is believed that this was done to equip the dead with everything they had in life and to facilitate the journey to the afterlife.

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