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There is, however, increasing evidence of late that points to a new understanding of the Vikings as tradesmen, travelers, craftsmen and democrats, and more importantly,…
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Running head: APA TYPING TEMPLATE Typing Template for APA Papers A. Sample Grand Canyon The Vikings are important historical figures known for their raids and plunders into various European cities. There is, however, increasing evidence of late that points to a new understanding of the Vikings as tradesmen, travelers, craftsmen and democrats, and more importantly, as the earliest discoverers of North America. This paper endeavors to throw light on some on these discoveries.
The Vikings
Mostly known for their pillaging and ravaging, marauding and seizing, the Vikings hold a notable if notorious position in history. These were Scandinavian warriors who were markedly present in various parts of Europe including present day Britain, Scotland, Denmark and France. The Vikings were essentially pagan, illiterate and virulent. However, there is much work today that revisits common perception and stereotype of the Vikings as mere barbarians to a more complex race that had more to offer as traders and explorers with sharp business acumen and propensity to travel faraway lands to further their trade links and craft. Much of the Vikings’ history was written by monks and natives who were the victims of the attacks by the Vikings. There is speculation that their accounts might be overly dramatic and extraneous.
The Vikings were superior craftsmen, most commonly associated with lightweight, well-built ships that took them from Greenland to North America. Archaeological explorations reveal that these ships were meant for long distance, solid travel rather than battle. The Vikings have also been found masterful at crafting swords, artifacts, paintings and clothing. The Vikings voyaged to the land of America which they called Vinland the Good, as early as 1000 A.D., which is almost 500 years before any written record of Columbus. Vikings are known to be explorers, thus it is not incorrect to surmise that they explored the land, seeking fodder, habitable area and semblances of culture. They also traded and worked with the local people of this land, by them called the ‘skaelings’; they also took residence with them by building houses, which is another indication that they did not intend barbarism and pillaging but cohabitation in peace and harmony and general prosperity of society.
These conclusions are drawn by the translation of the Icelandic sagas of the Vikings into more common European languages, around two hundred years ago (National Museum of Natural History). There is general consensus among people that the land called Vinland is situated south of two other lands in North American explored by the Vikings, Helluland (Baffin Island) and Markland (Labrador) (mnh.si.edu); this summation has been compounded by the archaeological discovery of a Viking settlement on the northern tip of Newfoundland Island in 1960. Research on these discoveries has led to the belief that Vinland the Good is in the general direction of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Just like the Mongols in the East in around the 11th century, the Vikings were predominantly present in faraway areas through travel and invasion.
The Vikings did not, contrary to popular belief, lust after violence and brutality; instead they were extremely protectionist of their own within the Viking clans, for which they had to rely on goods and bounty secured rightfully through trade, or forcefully though raiding (mnh). The Vikings happened to be one of the most prolific and shrewd traders in history, with their “economic network stretched from todays Iraq all the way to the Canadian Arctic” (Lemonick, 2000) which spans half the planet. They were a violent gang but they believed in and practiced the concept of democracy; apart from being great ship makers, they were expert with metal, creating unique silver, bronze and gold jewelry pieces. They also colonized Iceland and Greenland. There is evidence of their language influence on current English (Bator, 2007). Viking deities of Odin, Thor and Freya can be referenced for the English weekdays of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Lemonick, 2000), being named after them. The Vikings were also the first users of tooth fillings in Europe (New Scientist), which shows their progressive, adaptive side.
My overall understanding of the Vikings has much improved and broadened after reading varied material on them. There is no point in denying the brutality and plundering associated with them but these traits were quite ubiquitous in the civilization at that time including among the Christian practitioners. What is important about the Vikings is that they were traders and businessmen, good craftsmen, travelers and explorers who took culture, language, craft, trade goods and democracy from one place to another, not always with terrible, invading intentions.
References
Bator, Magdalena. (2007). The Scandinavian element beyond the Danelaw. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: International Review of English Studies, 167(14). Retrieved from InfoTrac Database.
Lemonick, Michael (2000). Amazing Vikings: they earned their brutal reputation - but the Norse were also craftsmen, explorers and believers in democracy. Time Canada, 38-41. Retrieved from InfoTrac Database.
What a vikings smile revealed. (2006). New Scientist, 14(1). Retrieved from InfoTrac Database.
Vikings: the North Atlantic Saga. National Museum of Natural History, Arctic Studies Center. Retrieved 3 October, 2009 from http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/start.html Read More
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