Archaeologists surveying for a railway in Sweden have unearthed the largest monument ever found in that country, discovered at the Iron Age site of Gamla Uppsala or "Old Uppsala." Founded by the third century AD/CE at the latest, Gamla Uppsala became an important political, economic and religious center for ancient Swedes. The site contains royal tombs from the seventh century and was known in antiquity as the residence of "the Swedish kings of the legendary Yngling dynasty."
A Swedish newspaper describes the site:
Gamla Uppsala was neither a village nor city in ancient times, but a centralized location. It was connected to the estate farms where the highest in society lived. Archaeologists previously found traces of hundreds of buildings, including houses, farm buildings, tanks and so-called pit houses, which formed the basis of a well-developed social and commercial life. There are also the three major royal mounds from the decades around the year 600 AD, previously ascribed to the gods Odin, Thor and Frey but also claimed [for] the three Svea kings: Adil, Aun and Egil. Also nearby are burial grounds that are considered to have contained 200 to 300 graves and monuments....
The General Assembly
The Swedish general assembly or "Thing of All Swedes" also was located at Old Uppsala, from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages. The Thing or gathering was held in late February to early March, in conjunction with the great fair of Disting and a religious celebration styled "Dísablót," in honor of ancient Norse goddesses called dísir. The goddesses' celebrations were held also in autumn and at "Winter Nights," a three-day period marking the start of that season.
The building complex at Old Uppsala includes an unusual, mile-long row of 144 large, wooden columns that greeted visitors entering the village beginning in the 5th century AD/CE. This ancient path with enormous, perfectly-aligned columns possibly eight to 10 meters tall sits next to a modern highway. It may have been constructed by a local, wealthy chieftain of the ancient Svea tribe, according to archaeologist Robin Lucas of the Uppland Museum.
The edifice's function is not certain, as there are no written records from the era to provide insight. Pillared constructions in Denmark served as fences, whereas this Swedish colonnade resembles a long hallway, six meters wide. Lucas avers that the monument "appears to be a processional road leading to Old Uppsala, which was the seat of the early Swedish kings."
This pagan road's 144 massive pillars may reflect a sacred number, possibly representing 12 multiplied by itself. As we know, like the Greeks, Romans and others the Scandinavians revered a divine circle of 12 deities, apparently also exemplified at a site recently unearthed in Norway. This fact alone would suggest a religious function for the monument.
Moreover, 144 as a sacred number can be found in the Bible, at Revelation 7 and 12, in which the 144,000 chosen souls will enter heaven.
Since Gamla Uppsala was a major pre-Christian and pre-Viking pagan religious center, it is possible that this apparent processional hallway led to a temple or other religiously important building. The presence of the bones of horses, cows and pigs near or in the postholes for the massive columns suggests a religious sacrifice.
In this regard, the Swedish newspaper The Local states that "Gamla Uppsala is often linked to a golden pagan temple consecrated to the gods Odin, Thor and Frey, with worship involving animals and humans sacrificed to the gods."
This magnificent and historical site reflects Sweden's long occupation and highly developed culture, a legacy that should be acknowledged, cherished and preserved at all costs by the Swedes. Unfortunately, the new discovery is slated to be destroyed by the summer of 2014 to complete the new railway.