Author Topic: Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire  (Read 650 times)

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Offline Jetavan

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Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire
« on: August 30, 2010, 09:05:02 PM »
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The Frisians, who lived on the west coast of what is now Denmark and on a number of islands in the North Sea, were fighting for supremacy in the region with three other peoples: the Danes, the Slavs and the Saxons (see graphic). "It was the Kosovo of the early middle ages," says Carnap-Bornheim. In the end, however, it was the Danes who emerged victorious. According to contemporary records, King Göttrik of Denmark ordered in 808 that the border of his empire with that of the Saxons be fortified.

But why make such an effort? To what end did the Vikings pile up millions of tons of rocks on their border? Comparative structures like border fortifications built by the Romans or the Great Wall of China were built to protect them from marauding hordes. But in the case of the Danevirke, the builders themselves were the ones known for their pillaging ways. In the 8th century, Denmark had neither cobblestone roads nor houses made of stone. The pagan king was guarded by fanatic warriors wearing animal costumes -- so-called "berserkers."

Only their long boats were state-of-the-art -- fast and light but easily navigable. They allowed the Danes to develop a formidable network of trading routes. They plied Russian rivers all the way to Byzantium and sailed the North Atlantic to far-away Iceland, Greenland and even the northern reaches of North America.
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But there was an Achilles heel in this far-flung trading empire, and that was at Hedeby. In order for goods from the east to be shipped to the west, they had to cross the narrow strip of land at the base of present-day Denmark. Traders would sail inland on the Schlei Inlet, but when they got to Hedeby, their wares were offloaded and carted overland to the Treene River, 18 kilometers away. Only there could the goods be reloaded onto boats and sailed into the North Sea.

For the duration of this short overland trek, the valuable goods -- including gold from Byzantium, bear pelts from Novgorod and even statues of Buddha from India -- were open to attack from the mainland. In order to protect this important trade artery, archeologists now believe, a bulwark of earth, stone and bricks was constructed. The Danevirke, in other words, was little more than a protective shield for commerce.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 09:08:05 PM by Jetavan »
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Offline serb1389

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Re: Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2010, 11:38:34 PM »
A quote from the first article, combined with a quote from Jetavan above = story of my life. 

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A Customs Station, an Inn and a Bordello
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"It was the Kosovo of the early middle ages,"

Offline kansas city

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Re: Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 01:38:44 AM »
this thread is all so veiled and intriguing!  it's making me nervous