Vikings are often portrayed as bloodthirsty raiders, but they were more than that: they were also seafaring explorers and traders with their own cultural traditions.
Viking trade routes extended from Northern Europe all the way down to the city of Constantinople, where they traded slaves and amber for silk and spices. They also brought furs and walrus tusks (ivory) from Greenland to the towns of Europe.
In fact, archeologists have found numerous Arab coins in Viking graves scattered around Europe, which shows the extent of the Vikings’ trade network.
When Vikings weren’t trading, they were telling stories called sagas around the fire. A saga is a long story about the life of a great hero.
Along with their sagas, the Vikings also had their own mythology. The English words for the days Tuesday to Friday come from Norse* mythology. Thursday for example means Thor’s Day. Thor was the Norse god of thunder.
500 years before Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean, Viking explorers had already reached the eastern coast of North America. The most famous of these Viking explorers are Erik the Red and his son Leif Erikson*.
Erik the Red’s story began when he was banished from Iceland for killing his neighbor. He was told to leave Iceland for 3 years. Erik had heard of a mysterious land discovered by another Viking named Gunnbjorn when his ship was blown off course in a storm.
In 982, Erik found the mysterious island and called it Greenland. After three years, he went back to Iceland and convinced other people to follow him to Greenland where they started two colonies. In these colonies, the Vikings built farms and even hunted up around the Arctic Circle. These colonies lasted for around 500 years.
Using Greenland as a base, Erik the Red’s son, Leif Erikson explored even farther to a land he called Vinland, which was on the coast of Canada.
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You’ll need all this information to work on the jamboard.
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