Exclusive preview: Brian Wood's Sword Daughter

The Forty Swords arrive at night and, under the cover of darkness, murder an entire village. Only two people survive the slaughter: the infant Elsbeth and her grief-stricken father, Dag​, who slips into a ten year coma. He awakens to find that not only has his daughter grown up alone, she's thrived​ despite him. Read the rest

The 'mystery' of who built the earthen mounds in the Midwest was nothing but white dude propaganda

I've lived my whole life as a pale, red headed fella. So, I say this, with authority: white people are dicks.

According to Smithsonian.com, white pioneers and archeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries pumped out a bullshit story about Cahokia, once the largest Native American city north of Mexico, as having been built by the Welsh, Vikings, Hindus – anyone but the indigenous population:

The city of Cahokia is one of many large earthen mound complexes that dot the landscapes of the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and across the Southeast. Despite the preponderance of archaeological evidence that these mound complexes were the work of sophisticated Native American civilizations, this rich history was obscured by the Myth of the Mound Builders, a narrative that arose ostensibly to explain the existence of the mounds. Examining both the history of Cahokia and the historic myths that were created to explain it reveals the troubling role that early archaeologists played in diminishing, or even eradicating, the achievements of pre-Columbian civilizations on the North American continent, just as the U.S. government was expanding westward by taking control of Native American lands.

So yeah: it's hard to claim that you're displacing or irradiating a gaggle of savages when they prove themselves to be part of a society with a culture and history that's just as complex as your own.

Cahokia's collection of earthen mound structures aren't the only ones said to have been created by a mysterious group of builders. Similar sites can be found all over Ohio, the Mississippi Valley and well into the Southeast. Read the rest

DNA evidence proves "male" Viking warrior actually a woman

The skeleton of a Viking originally believed to be a man is now being classified as high-ranking female warrior after examining DNA samples taken from her arm and teeth.

Researchers believed the skeleton had been male since it was discovered in Sweden during the 1880s -- mostly based on assumptions, The Independent reports.

Since she was buried with arrows, a sword, two horses and other materials designating the skeleton as a “professional warrior,” researchers never considered they were stumbling upon the first female warrior of its kind.

Image: YouTube/History Read the rest

Second North American Viking site suspected

L'Anse Aux Meadows was the first, and until now the only site widely accepted as evidence of Viking settlement in the Americas. But then there were two—maybe.

A team of archeologists has found what may be the remains of a previously unknown Viking settlement on a south west shore of the Island of Newfoundland. If the remains can be confirmed, the site would make it just the second ever discovered that has given proof of Vikings inhabiting parts of North America. The team has been videotaping their work and a documentary of their efforts will be presented this month on PBS. Leading the research is archeologist and National Geographic fellow, Sarah Parcak, who has been described as a "space archaeologist" because of her groundbreaking use of satellite technology to uncover Egyptian ruins. In this latest effort, she and her team have altered their methods to uncover what appears to be evidence of Viking iron smelting.

They've found an iron hearth, full of old slag, surrounded by turf walls, and dated it to the Viking age. Further excavations are planned, and the researchers hope to reveal more evidence of a complete settlement. Read the rest

Why I love Vikings

I'm totally going to own that the homoerotic undercurrent of the History Channel series Vikings is one of its biggest draws. But the series is more than just Viking beefcake. It's informed by what modern archeology and anthropology tell us about Viking culture. The details in everything from clothing and hairstyles, to weapons and ship-building, to deities and gender roles--while not perfectly historically accurate--are just awesome.

It also does a great job at presenting the alienness of now-extinct warrior culture, both to the Christian Europeans they encountered, as well as to the modern American viewer. Mostly, though, the series has complex characters and a strong storyline. And thankfully, there are no horned helmets.

Season three of the series is coming in 2015. Read the rest

The art of Grant Gould

Grant Gould is probably most well known for his Star Wars trading card art and illustrating two Star Wars books, Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Draw Star Wars: Rebels. He's also the creator of the original comic series Wolves of Odin and has done awesome art from just about every fantasy and scifi series out there (and even some pop culture characters too). Read the rest

Half the remains of slain Vikings in England are female

In Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 AD, published in 2011 in Early Medieval Europe 19/3, Medievalists from the University of Western Australia survey the remains of fallen Vikings found in eastern England that had been assumed to be male, partly because some were buried with sword and shield. Read the rest