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The World of the Vikings The Viking age has long been associated with unbridled piracy when freebooters swarmed out of the northlands in their longships to burn and pillage their way across civilized Europe Modern scholarship provides evidence this is a gross simplification and that during this period much progress was achieved in terms of Scandinavian art and craftsmanship marine technology exploration and the development of commerce It seems the Vikings did as much trading as they did raiding The title Viking encompasses a wide designation of Nordic people Danes Swedes and Norwegians who lived during a period of brisk Scandinavian expansion in the middle ages from approximately 800 to 1100 AD This name may be derived from the old Norse vikbay or creek These people came from what is now Denmark Sweden and Norway and had a self-sustaining agricultural society where farming and cattle breeding were supplemented by hunting fishing the extraction of iron and the quarrying of rock to make whetstones and cooking utensils some goods however had to be traded salt for instance which is a necessity for man and cattle alike is an everyday item and thus would not have been imported from a greater distance than necessary while luxury items could be brought in from farther south in Europe Their chief export products were iron whetstones and soapstone cooking pots these were an essential contribution to a trade growth in the Viking age The contemporary references we have about the Vikings stem mainly from sources in western Europe who had bitter experiences with the invaders so were most likely presented with the worst side of the Vikings Archaeological excavations have shown evidence of homesteads farms and marketplaces where discarded or
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