The Vikings on History Channel

I totally love the show the Vikings on the History Channel. It really does show the general personality and culture of the Vikings, though in somewhat simplified form.

The one area though where they totally get things completely wrong and very completely so, is in the area of the way the Viking characters in the show dress. The clothing could not be further, in most cases, from Viking clothing styles. [Update: Here is a good accurate webpage on what they actually wore: http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/clothing.htm ]

Also, though I am no expert in Viking makeup use, I am fairly certain they have that aspect of things glaringly off.

[Update: I have read some evidence that eyeliner makeup may have been used by both genders in Viking culture. Accounts of this being seen is suggested by a travel log written by an Islamic merchant that traveled to a Viking trade city.]

Also though they have not yet touched upon the religious aspects of Viking culture to a great extent, I am getting the impression they may be off in that area too based on some videos I saw with scenes from future episodes.

What is really good though is that the show does show the general spirit of Viking culture very well and introduces the general public to many concepts that are part of Viking culture that most would not previously have known about, such as a greatly simplified generalized representation of Viking laws and social customs.

Also I love when they show Odin! Of course they only show him in one of his many aspects so far! From what I saw on their website, they simplified the spiritual aspects greatly, but that does make it more easy for the general public to understand, what is a very complex subject.

Overall the real Viking culture was very complex and complicated and they did have a very advanced set of social customs and traditions, a very complex society.  The show, the Vikings on the history channel simplifies this complicatedness so that it can make a good show that the general public can enjoy and learn some things from. The show helps to open up public discourse and encourage people to learn more about the Vikings. It’s entertainment value is very good as well. I am rather enjoying it and look greatly forward each week to the next episode. It likely would have limited the shows appeal to the general public if they had made it more accurate, but at least it does push the bar of knowledge that the general public has about the Vikings further.

Here is what someone said about the show, from the standpoint of an archaeologist. My own perspective on it is that of someone that follows a spiritual tradition based on that of the Vikings, but filtered into the needs of modern life. Thus I also draw in many ways inspiration for my cultural ideas from the Vikings as well, since religion and culture do relate to one another greatly.

I probably may have more to say about it as the show progresses. If you have not yet seen it I recommend it. You can view episodes at the History Channels page for the show.

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