Art: The Small Change of Archaeology

In New York, a much heralded show of Viking artifacts

A "ruthless, wrathful, foreign, purely pagan people": so one medieval Irish text described the Vikings. "They are the dirtiest of God's creatures," sniffed Arab Historian Ibn Fadlan, who had seen and smelled a Viking encampment on the banks of the Volga in the 10th century, "and they do not wash themselves after sex." Thus, as Hilaire Belloc sardonically put it in our own century:

Behold, my child, the Nordic Man And be as like him as you can. His legs are long; his mind is slow; His hair is lank and...

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