By: Vicki Ellen Szabo
352 pages, 32 illus
Medieval people viewed whales in complex and contradictory ways, as marvelous, monstrous or mundane, heaven-sent or hell-bent. Whales are conspicuous in their absence from most historical and archaeological dialogues on the Middle Ages, despite the legal, literary and material evidence that shows they were sought out at sea and shore, scavenged when stinking to high heaven, fought over in legal and physical battles, and prized for meat, bone and fuel.
This book reexamines the historically overlooked spiritual, cultural, material and economic utility of whales in the medieval North Atlantic world, with particular focus on Norse sagas, laws and archaeological artifacts, which reveal that whales were described, used, and even hunted at levels unseen elsewhere in contemporary Europe.
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