History Stories

Bluetooth technology is named after a Viking leader thought to be linked to the find.

Give a kid a metal detector and there’s no telling what he’ll find—or what unlikely connections he may uncover. The AFPreports that a 13-year-old boy in Germany has discovered a thousand-year-old hoard of coins and jewelry. And it turns out the very old stash is linked to a very modern form of technology: Bluetooth.

Luca Malaschnitschenko was using a metal detector in a field on Rügen, a German island in the Baltic Sea, when he found a piece of what seemed to be trash. It was actually treasure—a silver coin.

The find was just the tip of the treasure iceberg. Malaschnitschenko and the amateur archaeologist he’d been scouring the island with alerted Germany’s state archaeological office, who planned a dig. In mid-April of 2018, the dig went forward with the 13-year-old’s assistance, and it was worth the experts’ months of careful planning. Archaeologists uncovered around 600 coins at the site along with a Thor’s hammer and some jewelry, including brooches, pearls, and necklaces.

Parts of the silver treasures found in northern Germany which may have belonged to the legendary Danish king Harald Bluetooth who brought Christianity to Denmark. (Credit: Stefan Sauer/AFP/Getty Images)

Parts of the silver treasures found in northern Germany which may have belonged to the legendary Danish king Harald Bluetooth who brought Christianity to Denmark. (Credit: Stefan Sauer/AFP/Getty Images)

Using the dates on the coins, experts uncovered what they think could be a link to Harald Blåtand Gormsson, a Viking who reigned over Denmark in the 10th century. Harald is credited with uniting Denmark and converting the Danes to Christianity, or at least promoting the religion throughout the region.

Harald was driven out of Denmark near the end of his life, and fled south to Pomerania, which included the island of Rügen where the silver treasure was found. Archaeologists tell the AFP that the find appears to corroborate historical sources that describe Harald’s escape.

King Harald Bluetooth. (Credit: BirgerNiss/Getty Images)

King Harald Bluetooth. (Credit: BirgerNiss/Getty Images)

Finding a thousand-year-old hoard when you’re just 13 seems improbable. But its connection with a very modern technology may be even more so. It’s true, though: Blåtand, or “Bluetooth,” was Harald’s nickname, derived from a dead tooth that had a bluish tint.

In 1996, mobile engineer Jim Kardach was working with Intel and a consortium of other tech companies on creating a way to replace the cables that connect phones, computers and other devices. He was also reading a book about Vikings. As Kardach contemplated an illustration of a rune about “Bluetooth,” he thought about how the king had united the Danes.

That ability to bring people together reminded him of the technology he was working to develop. “It occurred to me that this would make a good codename for the program,” he laterwrote.

Kardach mocked up a PowerPoint that featured Harald Blåtand Gormsson holding a cell phone on a runic stone. Decades later, the codename inspired by a Viking is synonymous with the technology itself—and will likely bring even more attention to the 13-year-old’s incredible find.

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