In an appalling display of obviousness, medieval archaeologists are spreading the not-so-shocking truth that not every single Viking was a bloodthirsty warrior. In fact, some Vikings actually farmed, stayed close to home and never once killed a single innocent villager. That they feel this bold revelation needs to be made indicates researchers must hold the intelligence of the average person in very low esteem.
Certainly the stereotypical Viking is an antisocial pillaging marauder, but most people are able to comprehend the difference between a stereotype and a real person. Yet the research does have a few redeeming qualities. It helps us better appreciate the present-day football Vikings by letting the public realize the role of the warrior Vikings in the Middle Ages was similar to the role of the football Vikings in our society.
The football Vikings are in some ways very similar to the stereotypical Vikings. Members of both groups were bigger and stronger than the average human. Both groups made a living by defeating stampeding hordes of men. Both wore uniforms, and both made a great deal more money (or booty) than the average worker.
The differences mostly lie in the historical context. While in 750 A.D. the average worker was a farmer, in 1999 the average worker drives to an office and plays with a computer. In 750 A.D. the average worker might not have had enough to eat; in 1999 the average worker is slightly overweight. In general, though, we can thank the researchers for proving just how appropriate the name of our football team really is.
The researchers might also someday be thanked for setting straight one of our most prevalent myths. Researchers have never been able to find any archaeological evidence Vikings had horns on their helmets. Apparently, historians had confused the Teutonic peoples with the Scandinavian Vikings, thereby creating a particularly long-lasting tradition. This of course, does not make many football Vikings supporters very happy. Bob Hagan, spokesman for the Minnesota Vikings, simply denies the research: “We believe that the Vikings did wear horned helmets.” The horns will remain on the Vikings’ helmets despite any historical inaccuracy.
While perhaps someday, somewhere, the public will thank these researchers for setting the story straight, right now they will only receive sarcasm-laced appreciation for stating the obvious and riding on the coattails of the Minnesota Vikings for free publicity.
People already realize not every single Viking plundered for a living. However, not many ethnic groups controlled most of Europe for 250 years. Sure, there were peaceable Vikings, but there were also powerful, war-mongering Vikings who regularly crushed their opposition. All cultures have groups who do the more mundane work and groups who have the exciting jobs. Today we are not so different from the medieval Scandinavians.