Vikings The North Atlantic saga

National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)

Book - 2000

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Subjects
Published
Washington, DC : Smithsonian Institution Press in association with the National Museum of Natural History c2000.
Language
English
Item Description
"An exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., April 29, 2000-September 5, 2000"--P.
Physical Description
432 p. : ill
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
1560989955
Corporate Author
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) (-)
Other Authors
William W. Fitzhugh, 1943- (-), Elisabeth I. Ward
Review by Booklist Reviews

The old Norse excite imaginations with imagery of horn-helmeted, bearded barbarians bent on rapine and plunder, but as archaeologists have excavated around that stereotype, a more comprehensive conception of old Norse people and culture has recently emerged. For summarizing that modern view, this volume is distinctly superior. In some 30 chapters, it accents the Vikings' expansion across the islands of the North Atlantic, from Britain to Newfoundland, and proffers ideas of what impelled the Viking voyages and colonizations. Clues have been disinterred from numerous archaeological sites, where everything from pins to entire Viking ships has been recovered. The written sources, such as runic inscriptions and the Vinland Sagas, from which the editors present passages, provide their hints, and the totality of those the expert chapter authors integrate into theories of, for example, what caused the demise around 1350 of the Greenlander colonies founded by Eric the Red. Well-organized, abundantly and handsomely illustrated, this is a marvelous resource. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

To mark the 1000-year anniversary of the first settlement of Viking explorers in North America on the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, the Smithsonian Institution has mounted a large exhibition now touring Canada and the United States. Companion to the exhibition, this large-size book is replete with high-quality color photographs, drawings, and maps of Viking sites and artifacts. While the book concentrates on the New World, there are also chapters on the Vikings in Iceland, Greenland, and France and along the coasts of Britain and the rivers of Russia. The contributors discuss the Viking saga from the perspectives of natural science, archaeology, history, oral tradition, and early writings. The Vikings are shown to have had more extensive contacts with Native Americans than previously believed, though they were never able to gain more than a temporary toehold in the New World. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

According to this excellent work, there's a lot more to the Vikings than the ill-informed contemporary imagination often allows. The book doesn't only correct misperceptions it uses the history of the Vikings as a framework for a range of events in world history. Edited by Fitzhugh, the director of the National Museum of Natural History's Arctic Studies Center, and Ward, a curatorial specialist in Viking Studies, this volume is a companion to the Smithsonian's spring exhibition (which will later travel to five other cities). Appearing exactly 1,000 years after the landing of Leif Eriksson in North America, the book first leads the reader through Scandinavian culture, art, religion and daily life and then to Viking expansion into Europe and the Mediterranean. The focus then shifts to the notorious North Atlantic raids that prefigured European expansion and settlement to come half a millennium later, to the effects of this settlement on the descendants of the raiders in Greenland and to the Viking legacy. In every instance, contributors impressively interpret a wealth of archeological and literary evidence in a lively and engaging manner; the analysis of the Vinland Sagas, the two surviving accounts of the settlements in North America, are particularly fine. Although the chapter on "The North Atlantic Environment" may tell more about lice than one wishes to know, it's a pleasure to read such lucid prose on topics that might otherwise seem arcane. Well designed, heavily illustrated and almost encyclopedic in scope and detail, this stimulating work gives the Vikings the place they seserve in the history of the world and will repay both extensive study and casual browsing. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Showcases the exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

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.