Viking-Era Discoveries & Theories

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#62
The Vikings farmed cats for their pelts! Slaughtering monks is one thing, but cats?!

Many animals shrink when they become domesticated—the average dog is about 25% smaller than its wild cousin the gray wolf, for example—but a curious thing appears to have happened to cats during the Viking era: They got bigger. More research is needed to confirm the new finding, but there’s a good chance it had to do with being better fed.

“Such a shift has never been documented elsewhere, as far as I know,” says archaeozoologist Wim Van Neer of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, who was not involved in the study.

When Julie Bitz-Thorsen was an undergraduate at the University of Copenhagen, her adviser, archaeozoologist Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen, gave her an unusual task: Sift through dozens of bags of material from archaeological sites all over Denmark, and carefully pick out all the cat bones. Gotfredsen wanted to find out how much Iron Age, Viking, and medieval cats differed from modern house cats.

All domesticated cats are descendants of the Near Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), a diminutive, tawny feline that still stalks Middle Eastern deserts. Although the oldest evidence of domesticated cats comes from a 7500-B.C.E. grave in Cyprus—early Egyptians likely did the slow, patient work of cultivating house cats’ lovable personalities. As early as 1700 B.C.E., cats started to sail across the Mediterranean, carried aboard ships as gifts and to eradicate pests.

By 200 C.E., the people of Iron Age Denmark were keeping cats. Among charred human bones in a cremation grave from that period, researchers discovered a cat ankle bone with a drill hole, suggesting it was worn as an amulet. The Vikings—who were farmers as well as seafaring marauders—apparently raised cats for their warm fur and to control pests. By 850–1050 C.E., cat pelts started to bring a high price in Denmark. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2018-12-12&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2544176
 

Skrymr

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#63
The Vikings farmed cats for their pelts! Slaughtering monks is one thing, but cats?!

Many animals shrink when they become domesticated—the average dog is about 25% smaller than its wild cousin the gray wolf, for example—but a curious thing appears to have happened to cats during the Viking era: They got bigger. More research is needed to confirm the new finding, but there’s a good chance it had to do with being better fed.

“Such a shift has never been documented elsewhere, as far as I know,” says archaeozoologist Wim Van Neer of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, who was not involved in the study.

When Julie Bitz-Thorsen was an undergraduate at the University of Copenhagen, her adviser, archaeozoologist Anne Birgitte Gotfredsen, gave her an unusual task: Sift through dozens of bags of material from archaeological sites all over Denmark, and carefully pick out all the cat bones. Gotfredsen wanted to find out how much Iron Age, Viking, and medieval cats differed from modern house cats.

All domesticated cats are descendants of the Near Eastern wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), a diminutive, tawny feline that still stalks Middle Eastern deserts. Although the oldest evidence of domesticated cats comes from a 7500-B.C.E. grave in Cyprus—early Egyptians likely did the slow, patient work of cultivating house cats’ lovable personalities. As early as 1700 B.C.E., cats started to sail across the Mediterranean, carried aboard ships as gifts and to eradicate pests.

By 200 C.E., the people of Iron Age Denmark were keeping cats. Among charred human bones in a cremation grave from that period, researchers discovered a cat ankle bone with a drill hole, suggesting it was worn as an amulet. The Vikings—who were farmers as well as seafaring marauders—apparently raised cats for their warm fur and to control pests. By 850–1050 C.E., cat pelts started to bring a high price in Denmark. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...ly_2018-12-12&et_rid=394299689&et_cid=2544176
Makes sense. Damn sight safer to get than other pelts and a lot more convenient even from the animals that can't kill you back when hunting them
 
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#67
How do you think they were defeated in the first place?

View attachment 13606
By a system of fortified towns or burghs, which forced the vikings, who generally relied upon force of numbers and loose melees, into more formal confrontations in which the chance of easy victories with few losses were quite low.
 
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#68
By a system of fortified towns or burghs, which forced the vikings, who generally relied upon force of numbers and loose melees, into more formal confrontations in which the chance of easy victories with few losses were quite low.
Nah.

Rocket propelled cats and Kamikaze attacks by cat lovers.
 

Mikefule

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#72
By a system of fortified towns or burghs, which forced the vikings, who generally relied upon force of numbers and loose melees, into more formal confrontations in which the chance of easy victories with few losses were quite low.
As with any culture, there was a wide range. Also, the viking era lasted around 300 years. At the beginning, they conducted raids: one or two ships with a band of adventurers who were looking for easy pickings. At their peak, the vikings invaded Britain and took over. The invading army was a well organised and sophisticated army capable of conducting a properly coordinated military campaign.

The vikings were not barbarians, savages, or wild eyed berserkers. They were just another nation of late iron age/early mediaeval people who used the weapons and tactics of the time. They had an elaborate mythology, made beautiful artefacts, and had runic writing. Viking elite warriors travelled the known world, served in the guard of the Holy Roman Emperor, and learned the latest military tactics and techniques. They traded extensively.

Much of what "everybody knows" about the vikings is based on outdated assumptions which have been reinforced by sensational films, literature and comics. The truth is more subtle.

An elite viking warrior would have a mail shirt which represented a huge investment of skilled man hours: thousands of links individually riveted, with a careful gradation of size according to the flexibility required in different parts. The so-called Dane axe (a modern term) was a very carefully crafted weapon. Modern specialist smiths have struggled to make accurate replicas. It does not make any sense for someone to be able to acquire and use such equipment if their knowledge of warfare is limited to "force of numbers and loose melees".

The armies of northern and western Europe in that period lacked the formal structure of the professional standing army of Rome (at its height) and the coordinated discipline of the Greek phalanx or the Roman legion, but they did not just charge bloodthirstily into battle and fight a random series of one on one duels as Hollywood would have us believe.
 
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#73
As with any culture, there was a wide range. Also, the viking era lasted around 300 years. At the beginning, they conducted raids: one or two ships with a band of adventurers who were looking for easy pickings. At their peak, the vikings invaded Britain and took over. The invading army was a well organised and sophisticated army capable of conducting a properly coordinated military campaign.

The vikings were not barbarians, savages, or wild eyed berserkers. They were just another nation of late iron age/early mediaeval people who used the weapons and tactics of the time. They had an elaborate mythology, made beautiful artefacts, and had runic writing. Viking elite warriors travelled the known world, served in the guard of the Holy Roman Emperor, and learned the latest military tactics and techniques. They traded extensively.

Much of what "everybody knows" about the vikings is based on outdated assumptions which have been reinforced by sensational films, literature and comics. The truth is more subtle.

An elite viking warrior would have a mail shirt which represented a huge investment of skilled man hours: thousands of links individually riveted, with a careful gradation of size according to the flexibility required in different parts. The so-called Dane axe (a modern term) was a very carefully crafted weapon. Modern specialist smiths have struggled to make accurate replicas. It does not make any sense for someone to be able to acquire and use such equipment if their knowledge of warfare is limited to "force of numbers and loose melees".

The armies of northern and western Europe in that period lacked the formal structure of the professional standing army of Rome (at its height) and the coordinated discipline of the Greek phalanx or the Roman legion, but they did not just charge bloodthirstily into battle and fight a random series of one on one duels as Hollywood would have us believe.
I'm sure you're right, but I was kinda joking with @ramonmercado because of the cat and rocket thing... :cool2:
 

Naughty_Felid

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#74
As with any culture, there was a wide range. Also, the viking era lasted around 300 years. At the beginning, they conducted raids: one or two ships with a band of adventurers who were looking for easy pickings. At their peak, the vikings invaded Britain and took over. The invading army was a well organised and sophisticated army capable of conducting a properly coordinated military campaign.

The vikings were not barbarians, savages, or wild eyed berserkers. They were just another nation of late iron age/early mediaeval people who used the weapons and tactics of the time. They had an elaborate mythology, made beautiful artefacts, and had runic writing. Viking elite warriors travelled the known world, served in the guard of the Holy Roman Emperor, and learned the latest military tactics and techniques. They traded extensively.

Much of what "everybody knows" about the vikings is based on outdated assumptions which have been reinforced by sensational films, literature and comics. The truth is more subtle.

An elite viking warrior would have a mail shirt which represented a huge investment of skilled man hours: thousands of links individually riveted, with a careful gradation of size according to the flexibility required in different parts. The so-called Dane axe (a modern term) was a very carefully crafted weapon. Modern specialist smiths have struggled to make accurate replicas. It does not make any sense for someone to be able to acquire and use such equipment if their knowledge of warfare is limited to "force of numbers and loose melees".

The armies of northern and western Europe in that period lacked the formal structure of the professional standing army of Rome (at its height) and the coordinated discipline of the Greek phalanx or the Roman legion, but they did not just charge bloodthirstily into battle and fight a random series of one on one duels as Hollywood would have us believe.

You're sort of contradicting yourself. On one hand you are saying the vikings weren't a rabble and rightly so as with most northen and western fighting forces they had a good understanding of logistics, terrain, etc Vercingetorix for example grasped these concepts amazingly. Then you say they lacked the dicipline of the Greeks or Roman formations. From their success rate i reckon the Vikings were very diciplined.

Ii could be argued that heavy infantry units used in the phalanx and Roman legions had become obsolete anyhow by the time the vikings started raiding. Mobility was the way forward until castles, missile technology, artillary and centralized authority really took off. I think the vikings did use swift guerrilla tactics and i think everyone knew their job in a hit and run mission. Go in cause chaos, remove the loot and get out again. They almost certainly would have had a high level of professionalism as after all they got the best mercenary gig going at the time.

I liken them to special forces or professional bank robbers in their early days. As a fighting force they are just different from Rome - not lesser.

EDIT: I get annoyed that people take the view that other fighting forces were inferior to Rome or the Romans just fought stupid barbarians. Its not the case.
 
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Mikefule

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#75
You're sort of contradicting yourself. On one hand you are saying the vikings weren't a rabble and rightly so as with most northen and western fighting forces they had a good understanding of logistics, terrain, etc Vercingetorix for example grasped these concepts amazingly. Then you say they lacked the dicipline of the Greeks or Roman formations. From their success rate i reckon the Vikings were very diciplined.

Ii could be argued that heavy infantry units used in the phalanx and Roman legions had become obsolete anyhow by the time the vikings started raiding. Mobility was the way forward until castles, missile technology, artillary and centralized authority really took off. I think the vikings did use swift guerrilla and i think everyone knew their job in a hit and run mission. Go in cause chaos, remove the loot and get out again. They almost certainly would have had a high level of professionalism as after all they got the best mercenary gig going at the time.

I liken them to special forces or professional bank robbers in their early days. As a fighting force they are just different from Rome - not lesser.

EDIT: I get annoyed that people take the view that other fighting forces were inferior to Rome or the Romans just fought stupid barbarians. Its not the case.
I don't think I contradicted myself. Perhaps if I had written a longer and more detailed post it would have been clearer. There is always a balance to be struck in a forum.

the Romans had a paid standing army with a formal command structure. Soldiers were trained to march in formation and change formation on command. The Greeks used phalanxes which required the individuals to march at exact intervals in serried ranks and to raise and lower long spears exactly in time, on command. In both cases, the commander of the army was able to move individual units about on the battlefield by issuing specific orders which were transmitted through a formal chain of command. In the Roman army, breaches of discipline were dealt with harshly, up to and including decimation of a unit. (Note however that the era of the Greek phalanx and the era of the Roman legion each covered a long period, and, as with the Vikings, it was not exactly the same all the way through.)

Vikings (and other northern/western European warriors of the migration era and early mediaeval period) were not part of a paid and structured standing army. Each man owed personal loyalty to his leader, who in turn owed personal loyalty to his leader. At any time, the leader of a unit might decide that he was not prepared to act "as instructed". Leaders of equal status might disagree. Personal pride and status were important for the leaders, and if there was conflict or disagreement, an army could fragment or melt away during a campaign in a way that was not possible with a paid standing army.

Within individual "units" the warriors were brave and skilled fighters, and used to fighting together as a unit following practised tactics. I was not suggesting that they were barbarians charging forwards in a wild Hollywood style, shouting"Freedom!" and hacking randomly at their opponents.

If you look back at what I wrote, I said, <<The invading [Viking] army was a well organised and sophisticated army capable of conducting a properly coordinated military campaign.>> but nevertheless, I also said, <<The armies of northern and western Europe in that period lacked the formal structure of the professional standing army of Rome (at its height) and the coordinated discipline of the Greek phalanx or the Roman legion...>> but I did not say that they were, in your words, <<inferior to Rome>> or <<stupid barbarians>>.
 

Naughty_Felid

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#76
The Helvetti used the phalanx according to Caeser. Also the Galatians used the phalanx as well. Livy and Polybius talk of Celtic tribes fighting in formation. Hannibal put Gauls in the centre of his formation at Cannae suggesting he must have trusted them to act professionally and with discipline.

We simply don't know enough about these tribes training as very little is recorded and most of it written by the Romans who put their own obvious spin of it.

There is a myth that the Roman's legions came off a conveyor belt in terms of uniform professionalism and discipline and this is simply not true as evidenced by their defeats. The leadership of the Roman armies also varied considerably.

Yes the were the greatest fighting force of it's age but is was beaten as it wasn't able to adept to the changing warfare of the migratory tribes. Atilla's hit and run shows a huge level of sophistication and he was contemptuous of the Romans he faced. These tribes beat the Romans who had greater resources, a centralized government and a professional army with decades of training and tradition. .

Maintaining the Roman legions helped bankrupt the empire anyway.
 

Mikefule

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#77
The Helvetti used the phalanx according to Caeser. Also the Galatians used the phalanx as well. Livy and Polybius talk of Celtic tribes fighting in formation. Hannibal put Gauls in the centre of his formation at Cannae suggesting he must have trusted them to act professionally and with discipline.

We simply don't know enough about these tribes training as very little is recorded and most of it written by the Romans who put their own obvious spin of it.

There is a myth that the Roman's legions came off a conveyor belt in terms of uniform professionalism and discipline and this is simply not true as evidenced by their defeats. The leadership of the Roman armies also varied considerably.

Yes the were the greatest fighting force of it's age but is was beaten as it wasn't able to adept to the changing warfare of the migratory tribes. Atilla's hit and run shows a huge level of sophistication and he was contemptuous of the Romans he faced. These tribes beat the Romans who had greater resources, a centralized government and a professional army with decades of training and tradition. .

Maintaining the Roman legions helped bankrupt the empire anyway.
I suspect a Roman writing for the benefit of other Romans would use the familiar term "phalanx" (or an equivalent) to describe any block of spearmen. In the same way, Romans tried to describe the "barbarian" gods in Romano-Greek terms. "Their name for Jupiter is..."

Agreed that the Roman legion, designed and trained to fight in set piece battles (like the Greek phalanx) was vulnerable when it moved from the dry and often bare terrain of the Mediterranean area into the forests, marshes and mountains of the north. Warfare is a constant eveolution of measures and countermeasures. The disciplined coordinated unit can defeat the less disciplined unit, but can in turn be beaten by someone who refuses to meet it on its own terms. You can only play chess against someone else who is also playing chess.
 

AlchoPwn

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#78
In the same way, Romans tried to describe the "barbarian" gods in Romano-Greek terms. "Their name for Jupiter is..."
There is a nice word for that practice: Syncretism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncretism

Agreed that the Roman legion, designed and trained to fight in set piece battles (like the Greek phalanx) was vulnerable when it moved from the dry and often bare terrain of the Mediterranean area into the forests, marshes and mountains of the north. Warfare is a constant evolution of measures and countermeasures. The disciplined coordinated unit can defeat the less disciplined unit, but can in turn be beaten by someone who refuses to meet it on its own terms. You can only play chess against someone else who is also playing chess.
I bumped into a good but obscure example of exactly what you are talking about.
The Lusitanian war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusitanian_War

There are many more obvious examples as well.
 

EnolaGaia

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#79
In 2017 genomic analysis demonstrated a high status 'warrior' burial contained a woman rather than a man.
Viking 'Warrior' Presumed to Be a Man Is Actually a Woman

A high-status Viking warrior who was thought to be a man turns out to be a woman, a new DNA analysis finds.

The remains of the warrior were buried with an array of warlike accessories, including arrows, swords and warhorses.

The findings raise questions about the role of women in Viking society, which has historically been thought of as a testosterone-fueled, patriarchal culture, the researchers say. [In Photos: Viking Voyage Discovered]

"The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies," the researchers wrote in their paper, published online Sept. 8 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. ...
FULL STORY:
https://www.livescience.com/60418-viking-warrior-was-a-woman.html

CITED PUBLICATION:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ajpa.23308
 

EnolaGaia

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#80
In the time since the 2017 claim (that the 'warrior' burial was that of a woman) there have been several challenges to that conclusion.

Subsequent research and analysis have supported the claim, and critics' questions have been addressed ...
Yes, That Viking Warrior Buried with Weapons Really Was a Woman

The ancient warrior was given a prestigious Viking burial, complete with deadly Viking weapons, a bag of gaming pieces (possibly to represent military command) and two horses, one bridled for riding. This mighty warrior — long thought to be be a man — made headlines in 2017 when researchers in Sweden announced that the individual was, in fact, a woman.

The intense scrutiny that followed caught the researchers by surprise.

The barrage of questions from the public and other scientists was unrelenting: Were the researchers sure they had analyzed the right bones? Was there more than one body in the burial, of which one was surely a man? And if the warrior's sex was indeed female, is it possible they were a transgender man? ...

Now, in a new study published online yesterday (Feb. 19) in the journal Antiquity, the researchers of the original study have reaffirmed their conclusion that this mighty individual was a woman. The new study addresses all the questions people raised, and more. ...
FULL STORY:
https://www.livescience.com/64816-woman-viking-warrior-burial.html

CITED PUBLICATION:
https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...-grave-bj581/7CC691F69FAE51DDE905D27E049FADCD
 
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#81
In the time since the 2017 claim (that the 'warrior' burial was that of a woman) there have been several challenges to that conclusion.

Subsequent research and analysis have supported the claim, and critics' questions have been addressed ...


FULL STORY:
https://www.livescience.com/64816-woman-viking-warrior-burial.html

CITED PUBLICATION:
https://www.cambridge.org/core/jour...-grave-bj581/7CC691F69FAE51DDE905D27E049FADCD
How dare they presume to identify zir gender!
 
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#82
A new and interesting theory.

The Viking invasion of Ireland was made far easier as the country’s population had dwindled so much they were able to offer little resistance when the men in longboats started raiding these shores.

It could have been war, plague or famine which reduced the Irish population, or a combination of these. That’s according to new research carried out by academics who said Ireland’s population was in decline almost 200 years before the Norseman first built permanent settlements in Ireland.

The research from Queen’s University Belfast’s School of Natural and Built Environment is the first of its kind and has been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. At first, the Vikings looted monasteries along the coast and later raided inland, before eventually settling and founding most of our major cities today.

It has previously been thought that Ireland’s population was gradually increasing over the years. However, using rigorous archaeological data science algorithms, the experts have released an estimate of past population numbers.

https://www.irishexaminer.com/break...nce-to-viking-invasion-of-ireland-945414.html
 

EnolaGaia

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#83
In 2017 genomic analysis demonstrated a high status 'warrior' burial contained a woman rather than a man. ...
In the time since the 2017 claim (that the 'warrior' burial was that of a woman) there have been several challenges to that conclusion.
Subsequent research and analysis have supported the claim, and critics' questions have been addressed ...
Now we have the first facial reconstruction of a different Viking woman than the one mentioned above.

This one was buried with weapons and in a manner that strongly suggests she was an active woman warrior (e.g., the "shield maidens" of legend). Her body even exhibited evidence of battle wounds.

ShieldMaiden-Solør.jpg
Battle-Scarred Viking Shield-Maiden Gets Facial Reconstruction for First Time

When the sword came down upon her head, the blade cut her to the bone. Scientists studying the Viking woman's fractured skull 1,000 years later still aren't sure whether the blow actually killed her — however, the trove of weapons buried with her make it clear that she died a warrior nonetheless.

That Viking, who lived and died around the year 900, was first excavated from a farm in Solør, Norway, in 1900. Her head rested on a shield, a bridled horse skeleton lay curled at her feet, and her body was boxed in by a sword, spear, battle-ax and arrows. When a quick analysis revealed the skeleton to be female, it was immediately interpreted as the first physical example of a shield-maiden — a mythical female warrior only referenced in medieval texts before then.

Now, for the first time, researchers at the University of Dundee in Scotland have used facial reconstruction technology to re-create that maiden's appearance — including the wound that may have ended her career. ...

The results, which you can see above and in the new National Geographic documentary "Viking Warrior Women," show a woman of about 18 or 19 years old with a strong jaw, swollen eye and a forehead that's seen better days. According to the team's analysis of the warrior's skull, the maiden suffered a serious head injury consistent with a sword strike — however, the wound showed signs of healing and may not have been her ultimate cause of death. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/Viking-shield-maiden-facial-reconstruction.html

See Also:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...econstruction-national-geographic-documentary
 

AlchoPwn

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#85
Wow, stabbed in the brain. Nice looking head wound. Tough looking woman too. I have seen a woman who looked just like her in a bar in Minnesota (well, except for the head wound).
 
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