The new season of Vikings is upon us, and so I thought it fit to revisit my initial reaction to the show when it first aired, back in March of 2013: Musings on Vikings, the Show.
Then, I wondered what would’ve happened if the Vikings hadn’t created “permanent” settlements and eventually a far-flung maritime empire, and instead had just continued to troll the waters for unsuspecting and undefended villages. Of course, this strategy comes with an expiration date; eventually word will get out and people will build walls and defensive tactics will outrun offensive ones (e.g. let’s build our town a little inland from the river, so that we have time to raise the gates when Norse raiders come ashore, yeah?). The real question, though, becomes: will viking, as a verb (as it was always intended) come back into style when the oceans rise and population density reaches tipping points and mono-cropped, soil-stripped fields blow away in the dust?
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to read about—but finding almost nothing, hard-science-wise, on—Jared Diamond’s claim that the Greenland Norse, especially, could not and would not transition from an agrarian diet to one based on seafood (see, for example: “Why Did the Vikings Vanish?”). Which doesn’t make any sense, which is why it would be fascinating to read about. But the little I’ve read has pointed, of course, to evidence that the Norse did fish, quite extensively, and that they would basically eat anything as long as it kept their communities going. Their settlements collapsed for the same reason all settlements ultimately collapse: overshoot.