Vikings are invading Times Square. Actually, if we’re being historically accurate, they would’ve been much more likely to come to 42nd Street to catch a show and maybe check out the street meat situation.
“When you imagine a Viking, you often think of a specific stereotype: male, strong, beard, helmet, sword, conquering the world with a brutal mindset,” says Sophie Nyman, director of exhibitions at the Swedish History Museum, which is bringing over 500 artifacts to Discovery Times Square for its newest exhibition, Vikings, opening Feb. 5.
But that idea is a fairly modern invention. During the actual heyday of the Vikings, from 750 to about 1100 A.D., they explored, traded, settled and yes, raided, as far south as the Middle East. But over 90 percent of Vikings lived on their farms in small villages, and when they did sail out it was largely for exploration and trade.
It was after an attempted invasion by Germany in 1864 that Denmark drew on the legacy of its Viking ancestors to boost its national and global prestige, beefing it up by emphasizing the conquering and their formidable longboats.
Here are a few other things you probably didn’t know about Vikings from the exhibit: