Maritime Skills and Astronomic Knowledge in the Viking Age Baltic Sea
Pomorske spretnosti in zvezdoslovno védenje v vikinškem času na Baltiku

George Indruszewski, Jon Godal



The issue of orientation at sea is discussed in relationship to archaeological, historical, linguistic information and new data obtained from experimental archaeology. The Viking Age sailors, regardless of their ethnic affiliation prowled the Baltic Sea with their ships, orienting themselves after celestial bodies such as the sun and the North Star. The vocabulary of most Slavic languages contains terms referring to time count and spatial orientation points in relationship to the position of the sun. The archaeological evidence, most specifically the discovery of an 11th century incised wooden disc, seems to reinforce the impression that astronomic orientation was used during and after the Viking Age Baltic Sea in the creation of mental, cognitive maps that served to orient sailors in a largely illiterate society.

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