Monthly Archives: October 2017

Vikings: The Good, Bad, and Dirty

The Vikings were extraordinary ship builders. Before 800 AD, they invented ships which could sail up rivers and travel across the Atlantic Ocean. Since their boats were designed to flex with the movement of waves, a massive new era of trade with far-flung people developed.

They were the first Europeans to reach North America. In 1,000 AD Leif Ericsson, also known as Lucky Leif, began a settlement in Newfoundland.

They were also superior at mass producing tools, clothes, and equipment. They communicated in runes and carved messages in stones and wood. They began the very first parliament in Pingvellir, Iceland.

BUT, they were also vicious warriors. They used surprise attacks in Russia, France, Turkey, the British Isles, Greenland, and Iceland to conquer new territory. They used swords, axes, spears, and bows to kill and capture their enemies. They took slaves and were particularly cruel to women. They stole everything of value.

Historically, bathing was a problem in cold places or while traveling long distances. Instead, a group of Viking men might share one bowl of water, rinsing their faces, necks, and beards, clearing their nasal passages and spitting, then passing the bowl to the next warrior.

The photos are from the earliest town in Sweden, which is now a World Heritage Site. During the summer months, you can take a guided tour of Birka, climb their ancient fields, visit a museum of archeological treasures, and wander through a reconstructed village. The island of Birka is located on Lake Malaren.

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