People: 9 Crazy Discoveries About Ancient Vikings

People: 9 Crazy Discoveries About Ancient Vikings

Awesome People: 9 Crazy Discoveries About Ancient Vikings

From unbelievable fire technology and medicine to viking kings, here are 9 facts about the norse sea fairing Vikings.

9. Horned Helmets
Walk into any frat party near Halloween and you can expect to see at least one “Viking costume” constructed of fur lined armor and a double horned helmet. Though a traditional costume, it is likely entirely historically inaccurate on many levels. Most noticeably: Vikings did not wear horned helmets. All helmets found from the time period they existed in are entirely horn free; instead, this odd belief actually probably came from depictions of Northern Europeans that existed far before the Vikings told by the ancient Greeks and Romans. These earlier groups wore horned helmets for ceremonial and religious reasons; the Greeks and Romans likely just lumped them together with the Vikings and combined their stories over time.

8. Nordic Fire Starter
To survive the harsh Scandanavian winters, Vikings had to be able to build fires quickly and efficiently. Failing to spark flames meant no way to cook food or stay warm through the night; fire was quite literally a means of life or death in many instances. To help ensure their chances at success, the Vikings created a rather unique product to act as a fire starter. First, they would collect a fungus from tree bark called Touchwood. The bark was boiled for several days in urine then dry it and pound it into a felt like substance. This kindling would smolder and burn slowly, allowing them to quickly leave an area without snuffing their fire completely and acted as an accelerant due to its sodium nitrate levels. This simple -and gross- process simplified how Vikings set up camp and allowed them to move much more quickly, claiming lands at a faster rate than ever before.

7. Viking Funerals
Viking men lived almost their entire lives at sea. It comes as no surprise that they would bury their loved ones in boats. A superstitious group, Vikings held it to be a great honor to be mummified, dressed in finery, and placed upon a ship at sea upon death; it is said that some ships would even be lit on fire to signify the passing of the deceased. This sort of burial was reserved only for distinguished warriors and noble women and would often also include sending valuable goods and sacrificed slaves with the ship to help guide the honoree into the afterlife.

6. Good Hygiene
When you imagine a Viking, you like expect him to be rather gubby and perhaps smell pretty rank. Contrary to popular belief, Vikings actually had excellent hygiene practices for their time! Archaeologists have found razors, combs, tweezers, and ear cleaning devices during excavations. Vikings also bathed more frequently than other groups of the time. A stranger quirk, Vikings loved blonde hair and would occasionally wash their hair and beards with a strong soap made of lye to lighten it. The lye soap also did a health service in keeping lice and other issues at bay. When compared to other civilizations, the Vikings were both cleaner and much more well groomed than almost everyone else.

5. Religion
Vikings worshipped many different gods and goddesses as part of the Pagan religion. The Vikings believed their gods to live in Asgard, a land of comfort that connected to Earth by a rainbow bridge. The gods and goddesses of Viking lore were turbulent beings and were commonly fighting, marrying, having children, committing adultery, and otherwise living very much like humans on Earth. The chief god, Odin, had two sons, Thor and Loki. Thor was the god of Thunder and carried a powerful hammer into battle; Loki, on the other hand, was a trickster and would cause chaos with the humans frequently. A sibling rivalry existed between the two and battles were common. The other gods also partook in competitions, always trying to prove their powers and abilities.

4. Viking Recipes
Surprisingly, Vikings were well ahead of their time when it comes to culinary prowess. As seafaring people, Vikings often ate fish as a source of protein. They also grew vegetables such as peas, beans, and cabbage and grains like barley, rye, and oats. Cattle, pigs, goats, and fowl were often kept for their meat and hides. On top of their own form of domestic sustenance, the Vikings were amazing hunters and foragers, taking down such animals as bear, boar, and deer and bringing home wild nuts, fruits, and mushrooms to add to dishes. The Nordic Vikings picked up recipes from around the world and developed many flavorful dishes. They would use spices and salt to enhance flavors and berries to create sauces for meats. Fermented cabbage became a staple side dish or condiment and bread was often baked with honey and nuts as meal accents. The Vikings are often portrayed as savages but in reality, they were quite talented chefs and took care of themselves well.

3. Medicinal Attempts

2. A Viking King of England

1. Some Viking Still Exist Today

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