What Caused the Viking Age?

From the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Vikings invaded community after community across Europe and even parts of Asia and the western hemisphere. According to a new study published in the current issue of Antiquity, the reason behind all that travel is -a shortage of wives!
An intriguing archaeological clue is that much of the bounty plundered from Britain — particularly from monasteries — wound up later in the graves of Viking wives. The items included precious metals, fine cloth, jewelry and other handicrafts.

Barrett's analysis of Nordic historical records found that Scandinavian men often served as warriors, frequently forming "military brotherhoods," until they were able to marry and establish their own households, which were key to prestige and power.

The Vikings themselves may have caused the shortage, by practicing female infanticide. Link -via Metafilter

(image credit: henribergius)

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The theory that Vikings suffered from a shortage of women reminded me of a story I just read in the Boston Globe. It talks about how archeologists are currently finding evidence that vindicates Heinrich Schliemann. He thought that the modern-day hill of Hisarlik in Turkey was the ruins of the ancient city of Troy from Homer's Illiad. His theory was thought to have been discredited, but more recently cuneiform tables written in Hittite have been unearthed at the site. They date from a layer with evidence of pillaging and burning, and they mention invaders with names very close to Homer's Achaeans. On the fourth page of the article:


The journalist reports that probably Homer's Greeks came to Troy to steal women. Greek noblemen had large harems, which created a shortage of women ad left ordinary Greeks without wives, motivating them to raid other cities to rape and steal their women.
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