During my recent trip to Oslo with my husband, I learned much about Nordic countries–Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, particularly the Vikings (or the Norsemen) who explored Europe through the seas and rivers between late 8th century to mid 11th century. They were similar to the Mongolians who swept through Asia, eastern Europe, Russia under Ginghis Khan’s command in 13th century.
Although the Vikings were pirate or raiders who used killing-weapons, none of them were professional soldiers. In fact, they were originally farmers who saw that raiding and stealing were necessary to control others as well as to gain wealth so that they could build sturdy ships and travel to trade their merchandises (slaves, honey, tin, wheat, wool, iron, fur, leather) with what other nations had–beads, silks, fruits, spices, wines, gems, silver, jewelry, brocade and more.
The Viking Museum in Oslo is a gem. And the Vikings artworks are breathtaking. How could rough men like pirates and raiders create such beautiful pieces of art? Like ancient Asians and Egyptians, life-after-death was a big deal to them. They placed a remain of an important Viking in an old sunken ship, that had been pulled ashore, with the treasures of his time in it and buried the ship in a peaceful spot as a symbolic gesture to wish him a happy sea voyage to the next world.