Ancient History Of The Viking

History of the ancient Vikings.

The common perception of the Vikings is that of uncivilized, cruel raiders: innately violent and with no head for diplomacy. This public misconception, created in a great part by the European Christian historians of the time, is being disproved by modern archaeology.

Archaeological findings give evidence of a highly organized network of trade and commerce, centered on the bustling ports of medieval Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Firstly, the delusion of surprise raids from unknown men of the North is a historical fallacy. The existence of the Norse people was very well known to Europeans, though Scandinavia was of little importance to the Christian heart of Europe. This deception was largely construed by Christian historians, who were, at that time, mostly men of the Church.

Vikings were not only raiders and plunderers. While a strong farming economy supported them at home, they also excelled in trade and settlement of the lands they explored. In fact, Kiev and Dublin both began as Viking colonies!

Most surprisingly, the Vikings were invited to settle France by the French themselves. The French King invited a Danish chieftain to settle in Normandy! So much for the Vikings being unwanted.

Archaeological evidence shows Viking settlements in Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland and even North America. L'Anse aux Meadows on Newfoundland is the first sign of European settlements in the New World, dating from the 11th century CE.

But the bulk of the evidence supporting the extent of the Viking network of seafare is found in Scandinavia itself. The archaeological findings prove the existence of large, busy ports, attracting merchants from all corners of Europe, deep into Russia and the Middle East.

The riches of trade, comprised of treasures from around the world, were stored in mysterious underground hoards, only to be discovered after 10 centuries of resting in the ground.

While these stashes of silver, coins, and jewelry are found frequently at the port-cities themselves, many of them are discovered throughout the Norse farmlands. The profits from trade are distributed all across Scandinavia, without any hint of an aristocratic elite specializing in trade.

The mysterious hoards found in the bustling ports and in the back yards of the isolated farm houses alike, include treasures originating from Persia, Arabia, Russia, Spain, Germany, Italy and practically every place known to Europe at the time!

The hoards were buried over a period of 200 years, ending around 1150 CE.

They include an abundance of coins, the origins of which are obvious and help to trace the exact web of the network developed by the Vikings. Arabic coins abound in the older hoards, proving a network of trade running down the rivers of Russia to the Middle East. An increasing focus on Western Europe seems to be the reason for the replacement of Arabic with German coins in the later period.

Written evidence of runic texts tells us that the Norse farmers were also avid traders. They shared the year between working on their land and traveling for trade. This could be the explanation for the distribution of wealth among these seemingly primitive and simple farming communities. It doesn't explain, however, what the purpose of this hoarding of wealth was intended for.

The hoarder treasures of the Vikings, including monetary and artistic evidence of trade with diverse and distant cultures and their successful settlements throughout Europe and the Atlantic (as well as their less successful settlements in North America!) are evidence of a civilization much more complex than the culture of plunderers described by history.

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