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A Message From the Past

WRITTEN IN STONE The runes on this stone are among the oldest examples of this kind of writing ever found. JAVAD PARSA—NTB SCANPIX/AP

On January 17, archaeologists in Norway said they had found the world’s oldest rune stone. The flat rock is etched with runes. These are letters from an ancient Scandinavian language. They could have been carved 2,000 years ago.

“This may be one of the first attempts to use runes in Norway and Scandinavia on stone,” Kristel Zilmer says. She’s a professor at the University of Oslo, in Norway.

The stone has several kinds of markings on it. Not all of them make sense. Some of the letters spell Idiberug, which could be the name of a person or a family.

Zilmer calls the discovery “the most sensational thing that I, as an academic, have had.” The rune stone will be on exhibit for a month at the Museum of Cultural History, in Oslo.