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Sweden from Ice Age to IT Age

Some 100,000 years ago Sweden was covered in ice. Eventually, the ice receded and the first immigrants started arriving, but it was only much later that the Vikings helped put Sweden on the map. And then, in just the last 100 years, Sweden has transformed from a poor nation of farmers to an innovative high-tech nation. Travel through the history of Sweden in the timeline below.

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History inspires today’s game developers. Here, Viking-like warriors in the computer game Scrolls, developed by Swedish Mojang.

Photo: Mojang

From stone weapons to runic script

Welcome to the Ice Age. The year is 110,000 B.C. and Sweden is covered in ice. At the beginning of the Stone Age (12,000–1700 B.C.), the ice has receded enough to let the first immigrants arrive and settle in Sweden. Dressed in animal skin, they use their stone weapons to hunt, reindeer being their main prey.

The Bronze Age (1700–500 B.C.) starts out with a climate that is actually warmer than today. Those who can afford it start to use better tools and weapons made of bronze, an obvious improvement to their lives.

The Iron Age (500 B.C.–1050 A.D.) brings our first written language, the runic script, an adaptation of Greek and Roman letters. It is discovered that iron makes for both better and cheaper tools and weapons than bronze.

Be a free man, become a Viking!

Enter the Vikings. The period between 700 and 1050 A.D. is marked by their expeditions and raids around Europe, especially eastwards. Trouble around the Mediterranean has brought more trade to the north and Swedes start to make use of their shipbuilding skills.

The fact that Vikings are free men as opposed to those who stay to farm the land and the slaves, probably makes it easy to recruit people to the ‘expeditions’ that are sometimes peaceful trade journeys, sometimes brutal raids where robbery is the only currency.

Some highlights from the thousand years that follow, until today, are illustrated in the timeline below.

Last updated: 31 March 2014

Emma Randecker