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Viking voyages began earlier than thought

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Viking voyages began earlier than thought
A half-size replica of Norway's fames Gokstad viking ship sails into the sunset. Photo: JMV/Flickr
14:07 CEST+02:00
Forget about the Viking Age beginning with the brutal sacking of Lindisfarne Priory in 793. According to new research, Norwegian Vikings began long sea voyages at least 70 years earlier, but they came looking for trade not plunder.
Archeologists digging beneath the old marketplace of Ribe, have stumbled upon the remains of reindeer antlers from Norway, which they believe prove trade links with Vikings far to the north. 
 
"This is the first time we have proof that seafaring culture, which was the basis for the Viking era, has a history in Ribe. It's fascinating," Søren Sindbæk, a professor at the University of Aarhus and one of the others of a new study, told ScienceNordic. 
 
Sindbæk believes early trading trips between Norway and Denmark gave the Vikings the seafaring skills that would be used some 70 years later to strike England.
 
"The Viking Age becomes a phenomenon in Western Europe because the Vikings learned to use maritime mobility to their advantage. They learn to master sailing to such an extent that they get to the coast of England where the locals don’t expect anything. They come quickly, plunder the unprepared victims, and leave again -- a sort of hit and run," Sindbæk told Science Nordic
 
According to Sindbæk, the new-found proof of the commercial journeys to Ribe changes the popular narrative of Vikings as violent aggressors.
 
"The peaceful exchanges -- trading -- will take up more of the story, and the military voyages, which are also important, must now share the space," he said.
 
"Now we can prove that shipping between Norway and the market town of Ribe was established prior to the Viking era, and trade networks helped to create the incentives and the knowledge of the sea, which made the Viking raids possible. It is the first time that we can clearly link two very important phenomena, the lock and key if you like, of the Viking Age," Sindbæk added.
 
The new findings have been published in the European Journal of Archaeology. 
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