Discussion in 'Earth Mysteries: Historical & Classical Cases' started by OneWingedBird, Feb 8, 2007.
One of the teachers at our university gave a lecture* a few weeks ago, and claims the Vikings were Scandinavian outlaws exiled from their lawful communities driven to the lawless edges of the lands, not mainstream citizens. They were criminals, and they were all men. He claims the reason they embarked in the first place was to plunder the women of the west and the looting and establishing of outposts was just a byproduct of that primary motivation. Unimaginable horror for those Angles and Saxons of the coasts once they learned what the boats meant. Awful bloody times.
*Also, I didn't know that the Normans were Viking-descended as well. Norman = North (Norse) Men. They really had it in for the Islanders.
I find this fascinating - the whole idea of Viking and Elizabethan crystal 'sun compasses'.
The scientific analysis of the Alderney ship crystal indicates beyond doubt that these optical compass were real, and not just fanciful ramblings on the part of contemporary scribes.
The use of these polished calcite gems to generate a navigable bright-spot reference relative to the sun's position, even with cloudy skies or starless dusk/dawn situations is simply stunning.
Am I somehow unusual in never having heard about this before? Is this a more commonly appreciated aspect of ancient seafaring than I realise? If so, I can't see how I was so unaware of it.
We have a physical navigation system, that may even have existed for thousands of years, providing an intriguing analogue resonance with the new-age/metaphysical perspective that crystals can be used for divination/determination and be relied upon as providing mystical...direction through life.
This is just marvellously interesting. Break it to me, forum: is this actually quite a widely-appeciated reality that somehow has missed me out, in the dissemination?
Or is this as much of a new shiny gem of knowledge for you, dear reader, as it is for me?
Yes, Vikings got a bad press.
The connections between technology, urban trading, and international economics which have come to define modern living are nothing new. Back in the first millennium AD, the Vikings were expert at exploring these very issues.
While the Vikings are gone their legacy is remembered, such as at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York. The Norsemen's military prowess and exploration are more often the focus of study, but of course the vikings were more than just bloodthirsty pirates: they were also settlers, landholders, farmers, politicians, and merchants.
Between the 8th and 11th century (the Viking Age), Europe saw significanttechnological advances, not all of them Scandinavian – the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians and Franks were equal players. To understand these changes, we have to see them in the context of increasing contact between Scandinavia, the British Isles, and continental Europe – in which the Vikings were key players. Technological innovations such as the potter's wheel and the vertical loom transformed not only the types of products being manufactured in Viking settlements, but also the scale on which they were produced. ...
Viking Age Started Earlier than Previously Thought, Archaeologists Say
Previously, the dawn of the Viking Age has been dated to a June 793 raid by Norwegian Vikings on Lindisfarne. But a new study, led by Dr Steve Ashby of the University of York, UK, shows that Vikings were traveling from Norway to the vital trading center in Ribe on Denmark’s west coast as early as 725.
“Long voyages were underway early in the 8th century AD, with the establishment of a marketplace in Ribe,” Dr Ashby said.
“What were to become history’s Viking expeditions can be directly linked to the development of Ribe as a town and commercial center.”
Dr Ashby and his colleagues from the University of Cape Town and Aarhus University studied bone/antler objects and fragments of manufacturing waste from the archaeological remains of Ribe’s old marketplace. A number of samples turned out to be reindeer antler, which is not local to Denmark, and was probably brought in from Norway.
“The antlers are proof that Vikings visited Ribe, the oldest town in Scandinavia, well before their infamous pillaging. Those trips gave the Vikings the seafaring skills that would be used some 70 years later to strike England.”
Deer antlers were central to one of the key industries of the Viking Age: the manufacture of hair combs.
Access to antler was fundamental to this specialist craft, and it may have been difficult for a professional combmaker to find sufficient quantities locally, so some form of organized supply network is likely. ...
The last Viking and his 'magical' sword?
July 14, 2015
University of Museum of Cultural History Oslo
Have you held the sword? Have you felt its weight? Have you felt how sharp and strong the blade is? A deadly weapon and symbol of power -- jewellery for a man, with 'magical properties'. The sword gave power to the warrior, but the warrior's strength could also be transferred to the sword. That is how they were bound together: man and weapon, warrior and sword.
Hiker stumbles upon ‘extraordinary’ 1,200-year-old Viking sword
After more than a millennium buried in the snow of Norway’s mountains, a surprisingly well-preserved sword sheds light on the Viking age
Wednesday 28 October 2015 18.40 GMT
Some time near AD750, someone left a Viking sword along a mountain plateau in southern Norway. On a late October day more than 1,250 years later, a hiker named Goran Olsen picked it up.
The Hordaland County council announced this week that the hiker had discovered the sword in surprisingly pristine condition among the rocks of an old road in Haukeli, as he stopped to rest along an old road through the region’s mountains and valleys.
“It’s quite unusual to find remnants from the Viking age that are so well-preserved,” county conservator Per Morten Ekerhovd told CNN. “It might be used today if you sharpened the edge,” he added.
The 30-inch, wrought iron sword has been dated to about AD750, and although it has rusted during its millennia of rest in frost, snows and springs, Ekerhovd called it a “quite extraordinary” find.
“We are really happy that this person found the sword and gave it to us,” he said. “It will shed light on our early history. It’s a very [important] example of the Viking age.”
Wrought-iron arms and armor were expensive, and the sword’s owner was probably wealthier or more influential than the average Viking, Professor Alexandra Sanmark, a Viking expert at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland, said.
“Generally if you had a sword, that tends to be a very high-status item,” she said.
“The common idea about Vikings was that they wore big, metal helmets, but they probably wore leather helmets. The metal would’ve gone into making these fabulous weapons, which have more like steel, it’s really high quality.”
She added that only one Viking helmet of iron has so far been found.
Sanmark said that the Norwegian archaeologists’ initial theories rang true: the sword may have been part of a burial for someone of high status.
Haukeli’s mountains are buried in frost and snow for half the year, but artifacts have increasingly turned up along such paths in recent years. Wealthy individuals may have been buried with hundreds of objects, from their precious weapons to their riding gear and the horses themselves, Sanmark said.
Climate change has led to the discovery of more and more artifacts, as glaciers retreat and reveal more clues about the variety of Viking life and death. Vikings held a number of different funeral practices, she said, from the fiery bier cast off to the sea, well rehearsed in popular culture, to more generic cremations. Others were placed under barrow mounds – two women were buried with an entire Viking ship in Oseberg – while slaves were dumped in ditches.
I'm amazed it's as well preserved as that.
It must be a high-grade steel, perhaps with a bit of nickel in it (like meteoritic steel).
1,500-year-old Viking settlement discovered underneath Norwegian airport
The site discovered expands across an area roughly the size of 13 football pitches
A 1,500-year-old Viking settlement has been discovered underdeath an airport in Norway.
During expansion work on the Ørland Airport, archaeologists found a plot of ancient land that reportedly to expand across 91,000 square metres - just under the size of 13 football pitches.
Some of the artefacts pulled from the excavation site include jewellery, animal bones and a shard from a green glass goblet.
It is believed the area was inhabited by a fishing community, with a large proportion of the site acting as an Iron Age rubbish tip, known as a midden.
This is the first time materials of this age have been discovered in Norway, with many of the archaeologists believing the remains were in good condition due to the soil in the area having low-acidity.
Historians have long anticipated the area to be rich with ancient artefacts but have previously been unable to excavate it due to government restrictions on archaeological digs.
The law require archaeologists to wait for an opportunity to excavate an area to arise before commencing a dig, meaning the government’s plan to purchase 52 F-35 fighter jets and expand Ørland Airport came at exactly the right time.
“This as a very strategic place,” Ingrid Ystgaard, the dig’s project manager told Ars Technica.
“It was a sheltered area along the Norwegian coastal route from southern Norway to the northern coasts. And it was at the mouth of Trondheim Fjord, which was a vital link to Sweden and the inner regions of mid-Norway.
“Nothing like this has been examined anywhere in Norway before.
“Now our job is to find out what happened here, how people lived. We discover new things every day we are out in the field. It’s amazing.”
Skeleton found in well confirms Viking Saga
Archaeologists working in Trondheim in Norway are amazed by the discovery of a human skeleton in the bottom of an abandoned castle well. The skeleton provides evidence that confirms dramatic historical events mentioned in the Sagas.
The location and contents of the well are mentioned in Sverre’s Saga, a chronicle of one of the kings of Norway, and one of very few historical manuscripts describing events in the Norwegian Viking age and medieval period.
Scholars have questioned the chronicle’s trustworthiness as a historical document. But now, at least one part of the saga seems to hold truth – down to the tiniest detail.
"This is truly astonishing. As far as I know there is no known example of the discovery of an individual historically connected with an act of war as far back as the year 1197. And the fact that this actually corroborates an event described in Sverre’s saga is simply amazing," says lead archaeologist at the site, Anna Petersén.
In 1197 King Sverre Sigurdsson and his Birkebeiner-mercenaries were attacked and defeated in his castle stronghold, Sverresborg, by his rivals, the Baglers. According to the Saga, the Baglers burned down buildings and destroyed the castle’s fresh water supply by throwing one of King Sverre’s dead men into the well, and then filling it with stones.
Now, following a trial excavation in the well, archaeologists can confirm this dramatic story. Archaeologists managed to retrieve part of the skeleton they found in the well in 2014. A fragment of bone produced a radiocarbon date that confirmed that the individual lived and died at the end of the 12th century, the same time as the incident described in the Saga.
Recent iPlayer, reassessing the Vikings' role in history:
On June 8th 793 Europe changed, forever. The famous monastery at Lindisfarne on the Northumbrian coast was suddenly attacked and looted by seafaring Scandinavians. The Viking Age had begun.
Professor Alice Roberts examines how dramatically the story of the Vikings has changed on TV since the 1960s. She investigates how our focus has shifted from viewing them as brutal, pagan barbarians to pioneering traders, able to integrate into multiple cultures. We also discover that without their naval technology we would never have heard of the Vikings, how their huge trading empire spread, and their surprising legacy in the modern world.
First shown: 9pm 18 Jul 2017
Norwegians find well-preserved Viking-era sword
A coat of Hammerite and it'll be good as new.
Fish, Farm, or Fight
A new study is examining how Vikings adapted to climate change.
by Zach Zorich
In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, archaeologists unearthed one of the largest Viking buildings ever found. The massive 83-meter longhouse, discovered in what is now the town of Borg, was an ostentatious display by powerful chieftains who ruled what at first glance seems to be a marginal area—a cluster of islands just shy of the Arctic Circle. For more than 2,500 years, the people of the Lofotens grew barley and wheat and pulled cod from the frigid North Atlantic. The Lofotens were at the center of Viking politics, yet at the very edge of where the brisk northern climate made farming possible. This makes the Lofotens an ideal place to explore how climate change affected Viking life.
Each year, the landowners in the Lofotens would make critical decisions: which crops to plant, how much livestock to raise, how much cod to fish, whether to send ships to raid the wealthy European villages to the south. In weighing all of these options, minor shifts in climate could be a major factor, says William D’Andrea, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. Over the next three years, D’Andrea and Nicholas Balascio, a paleoclimatologist at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, will be working to reconstruct the effects of short-term climate variability on the islands.
The study is just getting underway, but D’Andrea and Balascio think that by examining everything from plant pollen to animal waste, as recorded in lakebed sediments, they can gain an understanding of how the islands’ people and their activities might have changed to adapt to the changing climate. The researchers will be looking for biomarkers—molecules unique to specific animals or plants—to see how much and what types of livestock and crops were being raised from year to year.
“These marginal communities can be very sensitive to these natural environmental changes,” Balascio says. For instance, the changing climate may have caused the Vikings to move their farms to new locations to take advantage of the best conditions for their fields.
Falling sea levels provided another challenge for the Lofoten Vikings. The Lofoten Islands, like much of Scandinavia, are to this day rebounding from the loss of the massive ice sheets that covered the land during the last ice age. This phenomenon, called isostatic rebound, is causing the islands to rise, effectively making the sea level fall. This means that boathouses built at the water’s edge could be stranded inland a few decades later. ...
Some updating to consolidate sunstone references into this thread dedicated to the subject ...
In a 2014 post to the Viking-Era Discoveries & Theories thread:
... Ermintruder raised the subject of sunstones (without getting any responses ... ), citing the following article discussing 'optical compasses' in light of Viking claims and a similar crystal retrieved from an Elizabethan shipwreck.
In a 2013 post to The Vikings TV Series thread:
... rynner2 cited the following Wired item on sunstones and navigation:
FULL STORY: https://www.wired.com/2011/11/viking-polarized-navigation/
This 2011 New Scientist article:
... explains that the notion of Vikings navigating via polarized light traces back to the Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou circa 1967. It also notes that no one seems to have seriously researched the possibilities until after 2000.
This 2011 article seems to have been pivotal in drawing researchers' interest to the subject of sunstones ...
FULL ARTICLE: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1565/772
PDF DOWNLOAD: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royptb/366/1565/772.full.pdf
More recently, the Hungarian researchers who'd written the 2011 article have conducted field tests and developed a procedural model for how sunstones could have been used to navigate on the open sea with an estimated course deviation error of no more than circa 4%.
The gory details can be found in (e.g.):
This walrus tusk trinket may shed light on the early days of Viking trading
By Frankie Schembri Aug. 7, 2018 , 7:01 PM
Ivory was a hot commodity in Medieval Europe, where the elite had a taste for intricately carved trinkets. A new study reveals where this ivory came from, providing clues to why Vikings colonized Greenland—and why they may have eventually abandoned it.
To conduct the work, researchers ground up 23 artifacts dating from 600 to 1100 years ago. The scientists could not use such a destructive technique on carved ivory objects made from walrus tusks, which rose to fashion during a period of elephant tusk scarcity. Instead, they were able to use rostrums (pictured above), parts of the walruses’ skulls to which the tusks were often left attached during transport. The scientists then sequenced the DNA they recovered and compared it to the DNA of modern walruses as well as to 14 specimens of known origin: Four from Greenland dated to between 900 and 1400 C.E. and 10 from the Svalbard archipelago in Norway dated to the 18th and 19th centuries C.E.
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