Sunday, March 10, 2013

Valkyries and Other Viking Wizardry

The plague hit me 6 days ago, and I am just now becoming coherent. I had to ask someone at work twice what day it was. It's Sunday and I'm in time for another episode of Vikings. I had to unfollow their official twitter account because I think it's pretty obvious that they are stealing my tweets.

I mean, come on. I'm still bitter about this. Those stealing no-good Vikings. Doin' what they do best. The premiere of the Vikings show is somehow coinciding with Viking archaeological finds. Not just any finds, BIG ones. 

An archaeologist found a figure of a Valkyrie recently in Denmark. It is the only 3D Viking representation of a Valkyrie and is dated around 800 AD. What is a Valkyrie? Besides the title of another awful Tom Cruise movie, it is an ominous companion of the Viking god, Odin. They descend on battlefields to choose which warriors will die. 

Believed to be worn as a pendant, the figure is missing its lower legs and feet. It was found among other pieces of metal so it is believed that someone may have started to chop it up to be melted down.

In other Viking news, a crystal was found in a shipwreck that scientists now believe could be similar to the sunstone, a mythical navigational aid said to have been used by the Vikings. This could help explain how the Vikings were able to navigate across large tracts of sea before the invention of any compass. The crystal was found next to a pair of dividers, suggesting it was part of the navigational equipment.

The crystal is a form of calcite, known for its property of diffracting light into two separate rays. Scientists prove that by rotation it was possible to find the point where the two beams converge, indicating the direction of the sun. It can work on cloudy days and when the sun has set.

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