Table of contents:
- 1. Sagas about the Vikings
- 2. L'Ans-o-Meadows
- 3. Patterned teeth
- 4. Sun stone
- 5. Viking burials
- 6. Dublin
- 7. Slaves of the Vikings
- 8. Strange planning of Viking cities
- 9. Vikings appeared earlier than it is generally believed
- 10. Connection with the Indians of North America
Uncivilized, dirty and bloodthirsty crowds of barbarians who destroyed and plundered everything that could be tucked under the arm - that is how many imagined the Vikings. However, after a series of archaeological finds, the prevailing stereotype was completely destroyed. In our review of 10 facts about the Vikings.
1. Sagas about the Vikings
Today there are two main sources of information about Viking travel to the New World: The Greenlandic Saga and The Eric Red Saga. Although in fact these sagas were recorded several hundred years after the travels themselves, so you should not take them as the ultimate truth. Despite the fact that a fairly detailed description was given of what happened to the Vikings along the way and what happened when they got to their destination, the sagas do not say a word why the Vikings left the New World and where they headed next. Also in the two sagas, the fate of Torfinn Karlsefni after his departure from the New World is described differently.
The Saga of the Greenlanders claimed that Thorfinn returned to Glaumbar, Iceland, and The Saga of Eric the Red says that Thorfinn returned to his original ancestral domain (this was considered more plausible). But the latest archaeological find has cast doubt on this fact. In 2001-2002, researchers discovered a huge long house underground at Glumbar. The dimensions (30x8 meters) of the house, which was found in a layer of rock dating from around 1104 AD, suggest that it belonged to someone quite influential. Also, the construction of the long house clearly indicates that it was built by the Vikings.
There has long been a debate as to who the first people to cross the Atlantic were. An ancient settlement in Newfoundland is now considered the most likely candidate for the first evidence of a European presence in North America. It is an 11th century Viking settlement. The place is very well preserved and everything suggests that people lived in it at least until 1500.
The houses and workshops in this settlement are built in the style of modern buildings in Iceland and Greenland. And excavations have shown that people have lived in L'Ans aux Meadows not only since the arrival of the Vikings, but about 5000 years ago. During the Viking Age, four buildings were added to the settlement, which are believed to have been used as workshops and forges, as well as eight houses.
3. Patterned teeth
The idea of body modification is far from new, but recent finds have shown that the Vikings have taken it to a whole new level. In 2009, a mass grave of Viking warriors was discovered in Dorset (England). Archaeologists at Oxford University, who studied the remains, found something incredibly strange - patterns were skillfully carved on the enamel of the Viking teeth. The patterns were so intricate and so elaborate that the work would have required a master of his work. Not only would it simply be impossible to do something like this to oneself, the process itself would be incredibly painful.
According to the Swedish National Heritage Council, there are a huge number of teeth with similar marks found in the Viking cemetery in Copparsvik, Gotland. Some of the teeth had only one or two marks, while others had up to four marks carved.It is not clear whether this was done for intimidation, as a status symbol, or simply to show how worthy a fighter the person was.
4. Sun stone
According to the stories, the Vikings were such amazing sailors that they could find the sun even on cloudy days to navigate by it. As scientists believe, crystals of Icelandic spar or "sun stone" were used for this. When light passes through this crystal, it reacts differently depending on where the light is positioned.
By carefully observing how the crystal reacts to the Sun on sunny days, Viking navigators began to do the same on cloudy days. Icelandic spar essentially depolarizes light. At the same time, the Haidinger phenomenon is observed - the light in the crystal momentarily turns into a yellow line if the crystal is directed towards the Sun.
5. Viking burials
It is believed that the Vikings sent their warriors on their last journey on set fire to ships, which were used as a kind of funeral pyres. But this was not always the case. On a remote peninsula in Scotland, a Viking chieftain's burial has been discovered dating from around the 10th century. A weapon, a pin from Ireland, a drinking horn and a whetstone from Norway were found in the grave. The weapon was mainly identified by its iron parts, as the wooden handles had long since rotted away.
The ancient history of Dublin's founding dates back to the days when the Vikings settled in what appeared to be a virtual paradise on Earth. The Vikings explored vast territories in Europe and North America, but they settled in the area that eventually became Dublin. At that time, the relatively mild climate, abundant forests and the river made this territory an ideal place for wintering, repairing ships and creating an extensive trade network.
The number of Viking relics found in Dublin is staggering. Temple Lane was founded by Viking settlers. Viking swords have been repeatedly found in the Christchurch area, and many buildings have been found south of the Liffey River that were used for metalworking and the production of other goods such as leather goods, textiles and jewelry.
7. Slaves of the Vikings
It is easy to imagine the Vikings as an equal society in which sailors, raiders and marauders had families waiting for them at home (and sometimes the Vikings took their women with them on raids). But during the excavation of the Viking graves, it was discovered that the Vikings' homes were farmers. They worked the land, and they did not do it alone, but brought home from the raids of slaves with them.
When a Viking died, the slaves belonging to him were sent to the next world along with the owner. After examining graves in Norway dating from 400-1050 years, scientists found that the slaves ate only fish, in contrast to the Viking hosts, who preferred meat and vegetables.
8. Strange planning of Viking cities
When people usually imagine ancient and medieval cities, they usually think that they were built up chaotically and only the nobility lived in a separate quarter. The recent discovery of the ancient Viking city has shown that these ferocious sailors acted differently. Sleiastorp in northern Germany was the stronghold of some ancient Viking and Danish kings, starting with King Godfred.
Archaeologists have discovered that the city dates back to around 700 AD and was inhabited until around 1000 AD. About 200 houses were excavated, in which warriors and elite lived, as well as rich and powerful people. There were no merchants, artisans and traders in the city - they lived in Hedeby, about 4 kilometers from Sliastorp. This presupposes a very clear division between the Viking classes and careful planning of the cities.
9. Vikings appeared earlier than it is generally believed
The beginning of the Viking Age is usually dated June 8, 793. This is the date of the first known Viking raid - the siege of a monastery off the coast of England.But excavations on the island of Saaremaa in Estonia suggest that this culture arose much earlier than everyone thinks. In the group grave, two boats and the remains of 33 men (all of Scandinavian origin) were found with signs of violent death. The grave dates back to 700 - 750 years, which is 120 years earlier than the famous Viking raid on England.
10. Connection with the Indians of North America
In addition to the founding of a settlement by the Vikings on the territory of modern Canada, the researchers also confirmed that there were rather close relationships between the Vikings and the local Indians. In the ancient settlement of L'Ans aux Meadows and on the island of Newfoundland, many artifacts of jasper were found, which they could only exchange from the Indians. Also, interestingly, the result of DNA analysis of a group of families living in Iceland showed that a number of Scandinavians have a genetic marker that indicates that they had an Indian ancestor somewhere in the past.
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