Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga

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Replete with color photographs, drawings, and maps of Viking sites, artifacts, and landscapes, this book celebrates and explores the Viking saga from the combined perspectives of history, archaeology, oral tradition, literature, and natural science. The book's contributors chart the spread of marauders and traders in Europe as well as the expansion of farmers and explorers throughout the North Atlantic and into the New World. They show that Norse contacts with Native American groups were more extensive than has previously been believed, but that the outnumbered Europeans never established more than temporary settlements in North America.

In the early Middle Ages, driven by famine at home and the promise of wealth to be had in other lands, the Viking people exploded out of Scandinavia and set about conquering parts of England, Ireland, France, Russia, and even Turkey. Emboldened by their successes, the Vikings pushed ever farther outward, eventually crossing the North Atlantic and founding settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and eastern Canada.

In The Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, some three dozen scholars examine the growing archaeological evidence of the Viking presence in the New World--including such items as a Norse coin excavated in Maine, runic stones from the Canadian Arctic, and farming implements found in Newfoundland. The contributors consider the sometimes friendly, sometimes warlike history of Viking interactions with the native peoples of northeastern North America (whom the Norse called skraelings, or "screamers"); compare the archaeological record with contemporary sagas and other records of exploration; and argue for the need to better document the Viking contribution to New World history.

"As an historical and cultural achievement," write the editors, "the Viking Age and its North American medieval extension stand out as one of the most remarkable periods in human history." This oversized, heavily illustrated volume celebrates that little-understood time. --Gregory McNamee

Bibliography

Fitzhugh, William W. and Elizabeth Ward (ed.).  Vikings : The North Atlantic Saga.  Washington DC;  Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.    ISBN 1560989955

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