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Dark Age Obscured (History)
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Mick Harper
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More Viking toshery here https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/viking-tar-0010962

What exactly inspired the 8th century Vikings of Scandinavia to sharpen their farming tools, to build ships and conquer Europe, has long been debated.

Ignoring the preposterous claim that the Vikings conquered Europe, this is code for ‘we haven’t got a clue but we’ll believe most things’. It used to be the climate turning negative so the surplus population had to go abroad, then it was the climate turning positive allowing the surplus population to go abroad. This is the latest

However, a new study all but closes the case book on this enduring mystery proving the industrial scale production of tar enabled the waterproofing of longships for long-distance raiding missions around Europe, across the Atlantic in North America and eastwards “Down the Russian rivers towards Islamic lands.”

Industrial scale? Two men and a bucket more like

Hennius reveals the tar pits “could produce 300 liters in one production cycle,” which would enable production of more than enough tar to waterproof a large fleet of ships

But what were these fearsome characters doing with their black stuff?

Vikings were ruthless seafaring traders and fierce warriors who launched seaborne attacks on Europe from Scandinavia. By the mid-11th century the Viking’s Nordic empire expanded across vast territories in Britain, Iceland, Greenland and America

Translation: over several centuries some Norwegians went one way, some Danes went another way and some Swedes went another way. Vast territories equates to a bit of England, Dublin, and some icy hellholes nobody else wanted.
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Boreades


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Boys From The Black Stuff?

Gissa longship, I can do anything.
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Mick Harper
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Make yourself useful and explore its history.
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Boreades


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Mick Harper wrote:
Make yourself useful and explore its history.


I assume you are too busy watching the sports channels again?

Anyway, we did explore this history, a while ago.

Ask most school kids these days what they know about the Crusades, and after straining a few neurons they might remember that wos wot Good King Richard wos doing while Robin Hood and Maid Marian and Company (with equality and diversity) wos sortin' out Bad Prince John and the Nasty Sheriff of Nottingham (white mysogynists)

How long was Good King Richard out the country busy with Crusades?
Dunno mate.

How many Crusades were there?
Dunno mate.

Where were they?
Err, they was in Jerusalem, an' places like that, innit?

Ok, what about the Baltic Crusades?
Yer wot?

Most adults don't have a clue either.

The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were religious wars undertaken by Catholic Christian military orders and kingdoms, primarily against the pagan Baltic, Finnic and West Slavic peoples around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, and to a lesser extent also against Orthodox Christian Slavs (East Slavs).


(1147–1410)

Which were more or less a carry-on of unfinished business from the Saxon Wars (Charlemagne c.770-804 and onwards, but your Dark Age mileage may vary)

Many historical documents suggest that their (Viking) invasion of other countries was retaliation in response to the encroachment upon tribal lands by Christian missionaries, and perhaps by the Saxon Wars prosecuted by Charlemagne and his kin to the south


A revisionist historian might well suggest that the Norse folk were forced to adopt a form of maritime guerilla warfare, with lightly armed but highly mobile forces, as their best form of defence (and counter-attack) against a bigger and better equipped but land-based army of invaders.

More?
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Mick Harper
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The word it referred to tar. Perhaps one for your wife who I understand does most of this kind of work on your boat and driveway. And has basic comprehension skills.
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Boreades


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Well, what did you think the tar was made for?

Or did they invent a tar-making "industry" and only then wonder"Gosh what can we use this new black stuff for?"

And then! Some bright Norse lad or lass said "If we made some ships, you could get rid of that black stuff.

And so the Norse shipbuilding industry was born.

Alternatively, one might presume you've never use chopped and use fresh pine wood for a fire, and seen how much oily sap it produces? This would hardly be knowledge that suddenly appeared in Viking times, as though they were the first Norse folk to light a fire with local wood.
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Mick Harper
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Good, good. Now for the hard yards. (Little Gothenburg joke there.)
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Boreades


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Was that a Gothenburg ship yards joke?

Götaverken was a shipbuilding company that was located on Hisingen, Gothenburg. During the 1930s it was the world's biggest shipyard by launched gross tonnes. It was founded in 1841, and went bankrupt in 1989.

The company was founded in 1841 by Scottish businessman Alexander Keiller under the name Keillers Werkstad i Göteborg, and was aimed at industrial production. After bankruptcy in 1867, the company was reorganised into Göteborgs Mekaniska Verkstads AB.


Alexander Keiller got himself into a bit of a jam.

Unlike his wee grand-nephew Alexander Keiller who got himself into the marmalade business and started a Megalithic Empire

http://www.avebury-web.co.uk/marmalade_man.html

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/features/the-alexander-keiller-museum-at-avebury-
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Mick Harper
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Warmer. Feed in tar and Vikings.
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Boreades


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Sorry, it's your turn. All this talk of jam and marmalade has reminded me it's preserves and pickling time here at Chateau Boreades. I may be in the cellar for some time.
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Mick Harper
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Yes, I assumed muggins would have to do it in the end. Not that Hatty likes being called that. Especially as it's one of her "nails weekends". Apparently you get ten for the price of eight as long as you don't mind a trainee.
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Hatty
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As with Dark Age archaeology, there's a dearth of industrial archaeology before records began in medieval times.

While there is archaeological and documentary evidence for sophisticated and large scale production of birch-bark tar in the medieval period, little is known of its preparation in prehistory. Methods involving heating the tar in pottery vessels have been tested, but evidence for the use of birch-bark tar pre-dates the introduction of pottery by several millennia, and experiments in tar preparation without pottery vessels have not been entirely successful

What containers other than earthenware can you put very hot substances into?

The assumption that charcoal burning is linked to tar production reminds me that dew ponds, thought to originally be prehistoric due to context e.g. on old droving routes and in Iron Age forts, were lined with various materials such as straw and wool and also charcoal which struck me as odd.

Researchers into prehistoric birch bark tar at UCL say it was used as a glue. Presumably the lack of examples of prehistoric boats waterproofed with birch-bark tar accounts for their silence on this subject. One (the oldest?) example of a tarred ship is a clinker, dated 'after AD 1445', found in 2002 in the River Usk at Newport

Though birch-bark tar has been used as a coating or sealant (Hayek et al. 1991; Urem-Kotsou et al. 2002), and was chewed in the Mesolithic (Aveling & Heron 1999), it was chiefly exploited for its adhesive properties

Off to the hairdresser. Nails will wait.
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Mick Harper
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This is interesting by omission. Archaeology can clearly identify tar, whether for boats or Stone-Age mastication and since tar (or variants) is so useful for so many things, its absence is surely significant. All kinds of unpleasant unguents, from urine to stewed alum, were used as a matter of routine so why not the black stuff? Civilisation, and much else, is supposed to have come out of the Middle East where entire religions were built on fired up oily deposits, so it's all immensely puzzling.
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