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The World of the Vikings

Uploaded by shellym19 on Dec 11, 2000

The Viking age has long been associated with unbridled piracy, when freebooters swarmed out of the northlands in their longships to burn and pillage their way across civilized Europe. Modern scholarship provides evidence this is a gross simplification, and that during this period much progress was achieved in terms of Scandinavian art and craftsmanship, marine technology, exploration, and the development of commerce. It seems the Vikings did as much trading as they did raiding.

The title "Viking" encompasses a wide designation of Nordic people; Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians, who lived during a period of brisk Scandinavian expansion in the middle ages, from approximately 800 to 1100 AD. This name may be derived from the old Norse vik(bay or creek). These people came from what is now Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and had a self-sustaining, agricultural society, where farming and cattle breeding were supplemented by hunting, fishing, the extraction of iron and the quarrying of rock to make whetstones and cooking utensils; some goods, however, had to be traded; salt, for instance, which is a necessity for man and cattle alike, is an everyday item and thus would not have been imported from a greater distance than necessary, while luxury items could be brought in from farther south in Europe. Their chief export products were, iron, whetstones, and soapstone cooking pots, these were an essential contribution to a trade growth in the Viking age.

The contemporary references we have about the Vikings stem mainly from sources in western Europe who had bitter experiences with the invaders, so we're most likely presented with the worst side of the Vikings. Archaeological excavations have shown evidence of homesteads, farms, and marketplaces, where discarded or lost articles tell of a common everyday life. As the Viking period progressed, society changed; leading Chieftain families accumulated sufficient land and power to form the basis for kingdoms, and the first towns were founded.

These market places and towns were based on craftsmanship and trade. Even though the town dwelling Vikings kept cattle, farmed, and fished to meet their household needs, the towns probably depended on agricultural supplies from outlying areas. They also unfortunately did not pay as much attention to renovation and waste disposal as they did to town planning, as evidenced by the thick layers of waste around settlements. In contemporary times the stench must have been nauseating.

Trade, however, was still plentiful, even in periods when Viking raids abounded, trade...

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Uploaded by:   shellym19

Date:   12/11/2000

Category:   History

Length:   7 pages (1,644 words)

Views:   1277

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