Roots of the Vikings
First, why do we care about the Vikings?
By the 13th century the Norman descendents of the Vikings in Europe had
literally gone from being an annoyance to the most powerful force in
Christendom. William the Conqueror, a direct descendent of Rollo
had conquered England. Southern Italy, Sicily and the Holy Land
were all under Norman control, and the Templar Knights had built a
commercial empire the likes of which no one had ever seen, visible in
the hundreds of castles and churches they erected across
Few really appreciate the Vikings and their influence -
the English words for four of the days of the week are in fact
named for Viking gods or royal figures. Wednesday is named for
Woden, the first great god-king of
the Norse in Scandinavia. Thursday is named for his son, Thor,
and Friday after his wife and Queen, Frigg or Freyja. Tuesday,
which I left for last, is named for the Viking god of war and
or Tiw, Tuesday being
literally "Tiw's day".
Reading 'Tyr', as the god's name is usually
spelled, sent up a red flag in my head when I had become interested in
the possible northern Levant (modern Lebanon and Syria) roots of the
one of the great coastal cities of Canaan (which the Greeks called
Phoenicia) was Tyre.
Is it a coincidence? Are there any other clues that Phoenicia
lied in the Vikings' past?
Both are known as having been expert ship builders. Now, I can't
really say for sure how many Viking or Phoenician ships actually
sported red and white striped sails, or if any of them really did, but
both are nearly always represented that way, and the
construction of the ships of the two peoples was strikingly similar.
Coat of Arms
There is a clue which suggests that red and white stripes may well
have been employed by the Phoenicians, for the same theme is preserved
on the flag of Lebanon as well as the coat of arms of
a city founded by the Phoenicians (as Berytus).
There are numerous similarities between the pagan beliefs of the Norse
of Scandinavia, what we know of them at least, and the Ba'al
worshipping sects of ancient Phoenicia (and other parts of
Mesopotamia), including the practice of animal or human
sacrifice. More conspicuous is the Norse legend of Yggdrasil the
tree'. This myth has its mirror in the 'tree of life' found in
the mythologies of Sumer and Assyria (which also found its way into
Egypt, India and even China). A serpent is often associated with
the tree, in one of
the earliest Sumerian myths Lilitu (the model for Lilith) in the form
of a serpent is coiled around the trunk of Innana's tree of life.
In the Norse version, the dragon Níðhöggr gnaws at the
roots of the world tree, or as described in the
Grímnismál (of the Poetic Edda) more serpents "than any
fool can imagine" lie beneath it.
It would be a mistake however to think of the pagans who populated the
northern Levant and northwestern Mesopotamia in biblical times as
"proto-Vikings", for this was a rich cultural fount to which many
cultures can potentially trace their roots to some extent. Cases
can be made
that the Huns, the Franks, even the Etruscans of central
share in this
heritage. The Phoenicians had trading hubs in Carthage and as far
west as Spain, and there is good evidence that this advanced sea-faring
forays as far as the British Isles.
It might be easier to work backwards from Scandinavia to see how the
roots of the
Vikings might extend back to the Levant and Mesopotamia.
The Vikings weren't the
Vikings when they arrived in Scandinavia from Central Asia, they were
the Aesir and
companion tribes the
Vanir and the Erul. Viking was an Old Norse word meaning
sea-expedition, and a
vikingr was someone who partook in these expeditions. The
word became affixed to the Norse invaders, probably by the Franks, and
Before migrating north to Scandinavia the Aesir had lived for countless
centuries on and around the shores of the Sea of Azov on the north side
Sea. Central Asian origins of the Vikings of Scandinavia are
confirmed by a
mountain of evidence. Many archeological finds in Scandinavia belie
Scythian/Central Asian influences, and these begin to appear fairly
abruptly in the archeological record around the 5th century
AD. Bracelets, bronze plaques, highly decorated armor and
horse trappings, all consistent with Scythian influence date from this
period, as does evidence of the introduction of horses in
Scandinavia. Some graves have in fact been found in which horses
have been buried along with their owners, notably in Bornholm,
Sweden. This was a tradition
practiced by Central Asian nomadic tribes like the Huns.
Also, genetic research has uncovered DNA (Y-chromosome) markers
which show up in both Scandinavian and Central Asian populations.
Prior to their time in Central Asia the Aesir were Trojans. They
had arrived on the northeast shores of the Black Sea as refugees of
war after the fall of Troy to the Greeks. These were a people
highly skilled in weapon making and (allegedly) for that reason were
called the "Aes",
literally "iron people", by the local Scythians (Aesir being the
plural). By the same logic the Sea of Azov around which the Aesir
literally "sea of iron", as explained by Tim Osterholm below.
(Iron people) were Trojan refugees can be
confirmed from local and later Roman historical sources, including the
fact that the inner part of the Black Sea was renamed from the Mare
Maeotis to the "Iron Sea" or "Sea of Aesov", in the local tongue.
Also from Osterholm:
Asa, Asas, Asen, Aesar, Aesir, Aesire, Æsir or Asir) soon
built their famous fortified city Aesgard or Asgard, described as "Troy
in the north." Various other sources collaborate this, stating
the Trojans landed on the eastern shores with their superior weaponry,
and claimed land. The area became known as Asaland (Land of the
Aesir) or Asaheim (Home of the Aesir).
...Tradition knows these Aesir warriors as ancient
migrants from Troy, formidable fighters who inspired norse mythology
and as the ancestors of the Vikings. They were feared for their
warships, as well as their ferocity in battle, and thus quickly
dominated the northern trades using the Don river as their main route
to the north.
that Odin, who was a very popular Thracian ruler, led a migration ...
with thousands of followers from the Black Sea region to
Scandinavia. It is also told that another Thracian tribe came
along with them, a people called the Vanir (also Vaner or Vans) ...
These tribes first settled in
present-day Denmark, and then created a power-center in what is now
southern Sweden. About 800 years later during the Viking era,
Odin, the Aesir and Vanir had become gods...
A second theory of the origin of the term 'Aesir' should be
noted. Walter Baucum (and there are others I assume) has asserted
that Aesir derives from Asher, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. I
find that almost plausible actually, for Asher tribal territory was in
the far north of Israel on the coast, just below Phoenicia and beside
the lands inhabited by Naphtali and Dan, two other tribes which figure
this whole narrative. (I could actually buy that both theories
could be to different extents accurate - but don't think too hard about
it, it's not so important and either hypothesis fits easily into the
overall big picture I hope to convey.)
A few words on who these 'Trojans' were.
Alternately they were
Trajans, Thracians, or Dacians. (The Greeks had an expression,
"drunk as a Thracian", alluding to their wild and belligerent
nature.) Homer called them the Dardanoi,
some referred to them
as Phrygians or Anatolians. Clearly, the Trojan
confederation was huge and was made up of a multitude of tribes, and
while a Thracian was a Trojan, a Trojan was not necessarily a
Thracian. Which among the many Trojan tribes became the
Aesir is anyone's guess.
Before moving on, let me point out that various genealogy charts (whose
validity are only as good as the research behind them by the way and
should be taken with a grain of salt) list close ancestors of Woden as
being Trojans. On the right is a portion of an entry at a
genealogy site I like and
refer to often, 'Jamie Allen's Family
& Ancient Genealogical Allegations'. (Finn and Frithuwulf
the Trojans would not have lived in Anatolia or Thrace during the
Trojan era of course, but in Scythia or Scandinavia ... Troy fell more
millenium before they would have lived.)
The last step backward from the Trojans of Thrace
and western Anatolia to the pagan Ba'al worshippers of the northern
Levant is more difficult to confirm.
Geographically the land of the Trojans was not far from
Phoenicia ... you just walk up the Levant coast to Anatolia
and take a left. Furthermore, the Phoenicians sailed all over the
area, including into the Black Sea through the Bosphorus Straights (George Rawlinson; History of Phoenicia,
Chapt. 3). (Note; A connection between The Trojans and the
"Sea Peoples", pirates
harassed cultural centers of the
Mediterranean as far as Egypt and of whom little is known has been
alleged. Unfortunately this is of little help, for these Sea
have never been convincingly identified.)
However, if you dive into mythology and various speculative genealogy
trees, the founders of Troy came from Egypt via Greece, linking up
before that to the family of Abraham. The genealogy surmised at
the JDA website I mentioned above goes something like this ...
Dardanus (king of Acadia)
Erichthonius (king of Acadia)
Tros of Acadia
Ilus, founder of Troy
Laomedan (king of Troy)
Tithonius of Troy
Thor, king of Thrace
Bedwig of Sceaf
Beaw (king in Denmark)
Flocwald of Asgard
Finn the Trojan
Frithuwulf the Trojan
Some of the above may or may not be mythological figures, I offer it
simply to note
the likelihood that the leaders of the proto-Vikings didn't migrate
straight from Mesopotamia to Thrace/Anatolia, but took a side-route
through Egypt. This is assuming that Dardanus was a son (or a
descendant) of Zerah son of Judah. There is independant
confirmation of this notion though, in the bible - where one of the
sons of Zerah is in fact Darda. Then you have Danaus and Cadmus
emmigrating to Greece from Egypt in myth and in the chronicles of
Heroditus, and we can be pretty certain that a Dardanus really did
found Dardania in western Anatolia on Mt. Ida, for the nearby Turkish
Strait is known as the Dardanelles to this day. I should
point out that if this genealogy of the Trojan and Viking kings is at
all accurate, it would make them of the same stock as the Davidic
priest-kings of Israel (and the Cimmerian-Salian Frank kings as well,
as we shall see.)
Into where in this scenario, you might wonder,
does Phoenicia fit?
There's some evidence that the
birthplace of the biblical Abraham, normally accepted as having been Ur
near Sumer, was in fact Ugarit, an ancient city which lied on the coast
of modern Syria just north of what was then Phoenicia.
Abraham and the
Kingdom of Ugarit
|The Location of Ur
All manner of theories have been developed about the location of Ur of
the Chaldees, the city where Abraham was born. With the discovery of
inscribed "references to Sumerian Ur" and especially with excavations
there by C. Leonard Woolley, as Cyrus H. Gordon points out in his
Before the Bible, it became fashionable to identify Abraham's
birthplace with the city where,
Royal Tombs yielded such splendid finds that the success of the
expedition gave the illusion of finality to a specious identification.
Older books―including many a forgotten tome of the nineteenth
century―correctly locate Ur of the Chaldees in the general Haran
area.... All of the connections of the Patriarchal Narrative are
northern, with no trace of direct contact with Sumer and Akkad.
This "Ur" has never been located convincingly...
The most obvious candidate for the northern Ur is Ugarit, as we shall
see shortly, the location of a line of kings with major parallels to
the ancestral line of Abraham.
there is some circumstantial evidence linking the Trojans of Thrace and
Anatolia to Mesopotamia via religion, namely a connection
between the cults of Cybele (Kybele) and Sabazios practiced
by the Trojans and Kaballah, the origins of which lie in Chaldea near
Sumer. While Kaballah is not generally associated with the
Phoenicians, two centers of Kaballah learning were Alexandria and
Carthage, both major trading hubs of the Phoenicians, and the "Great
Mother" was a predominant theme all over the area during biblical
times, Phoenicia being no exception where she took on the mantle of
Of course no one can be sure how the 'Tree
of Life', Great Mother worship and dragon imagery passed
from the ancient Sumerians to the proto-Aesir of the Trojan kingdom,
but given the conspicuous
similarity in the construction of Phoenician and Viking ships, the
fact that both the future Vikings and the pagans who inhabited the
coast of the northern Levant were marked for their seafaring expertise
and other clues,
I'd be very surprised if the
ancestral roots of the Vikings didn't pass through that area.
It's not so important though exactly how
dragon-culture slithered it's way from Sumer to western Anatolia and
can be pretty certain that it did. I am intriqued by how
these words effortlessly morph into one another -
That, to me, is incredible. It's like you could just write
'Dragon' in place of 'Thrace' on every map of the ancient Mediterranean
There's actually a bit more to this story, which has to do with three
mountains (Mt. Hermon in Phoenicia, Mt. Hazzi/Zephon (currently Mt.
Aqraa) farther up the coast at
the northern edge of modern Syria near Ugarit, and Mt. Ida at the
western end of
Anatolia near Troy). Other clues indicate that Canaanites transplanted to Egypt or settled on the Island of Crete migrated to Greece and Anatolia. Pagan religion, complete with
child or animal sacrifice ritual and Great Mother worship which had flourished
in Canaan now reached its pinacle in the popularity of
the (closely related) cults of Kybele
and Sabazios in Anatolia and Thrace, spreading eventually from there to
other parts of Greece (and later Rome).
the fall of Troy the once great Trojan kingdom appears to have broken
up, many of its more
setting out to find fortune elsewhere, the proto-Vikings among them.
After all this Troy business I can't help but conclude by pointing out
that the leader of the Templar Knights Hughes de Payen (literally Hugh
"the pagan") and possibly a couple of other founding Templars hailed
from the Champagne region of France where their mentor Bernard of
Clairveaux built his monestary. The capital of Champagne was and
still is ... Troyes.
Sources and further reading:
Central Asian roots of the Vikings
Magic and Paganism in Prehistoric Scandinavia
History of the Swedes