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Vikings and America
     

Vikings and America

by Erik Wahlgren
 

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Did Vinland, that mysterious "land of grapevines" that the Viking Leif Erikssondiscovered and christened almost a thousand years ago, ever exist? Do the clues in the sagas of a North American location point to a specific place on a modern map? How much more of the New World may these pre-Columbian adventurers have explored? Drawing upon the clues found in ancient

Overview

Did Vinland, that mysterious "land of grapevines" that the Viking Leif Erikssondiscovered and christened almost a thousand years ago, ever exist? Do the clues in the sagas of a North American location point to a specific place on a modern map? How much more of the New World may these pre-Columbian adventurers have explored? Drawing upon the clues found in ancient manuscripts and a deep knowledge of the historical and archaeological evidence, Wahlgren addresses these questions in a marvelously readable account. Excavations at L'Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland show that the Vikings did indeed reach the North American continent around A.D.1000, presumably from their base in Southern Greenland. Other supposed Viking discoveries such as the Kensington Stone are dismissed as frauds, but legitimate finds from Arctic Canada to New England suggest Viking exploration far to the north and the south. Eventually, a worsening climate and attacks by native peoples ended the first European presence in the New World.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
That the Vikings beat Columbus to the North American continent is well known, of course, but beyond the barest facts, much of the pre-Columbian era remains maddeningly indistinct. Was Leif Eriksson's mysterious "land of grapevines" located somewhere along the Newfoundland coast, or was it perhaps some site in Greenland? Did it actually exist, or was it just one of the medieval Icelandic sagas? What is to be made of the many tantalizing artifacts that keep turning up in the northern regions, and how can the genuine be distinguished from the numerous fakes? Erik Wahlgren, a professor emeritus of Scandinavian languages, loves the role of anthropologist. In this book, he performs an elegant bit of historical detective work while trying to find some of these answers. To his credit, he is less interested in nailing down the exact location of specific settlements than he is in bringing the long-gone Danish seafarers and farmers back to life. Perhaps the best part of this book is his study of Viking village sites in Greenland and at L'Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland. Wahlgren has the gift of turning bare stone foundations and scraps of physical evidence into the living history of genuine people. Few of them were bloody sea raiders in fierce longboats. Most were hardy clans who scratched out a living in strange and marginally habitable lands, buried their children, and fought off Inuit raiders and savage weather. The Vikings and America is part of the publisher's Ancient Peoples and Places series, which includes 13 other titles. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1986, Norton/Thames & Hudson, 192p, illus, maps, notes,bibliog, index, 24cm, 85-51467, $18.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Patricia A. Moore; Academic Resource Ctr., Emmanuel College, Boston, MA (retired), November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500281994
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
04/28/2000
Series:
Ancient Peoples and Places Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.29(w) x 9.51(h) x 0.66(d)

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