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Lecture: Violent Vikings had an artistic side, too

November 8, 2013

While the Vikings may have gone down in history as bloodthirsty pirates bent on plundering and destruction, one Loyola University New Orleans professor seeks to uncover the Vikings’ more artistic side. Loyola English professor John Sebastian, Ph.D., will give a free lecture on the topic Thursday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Whitney Bank Presentation Room located in Thomas Hall on the university’s main campus. Free parking is also available in Loyola’s West Road Garage, accessible from St. Charles Avenue.

“When we speak of Viking art, we are really talking primarily about strikingly intricate and often beautiful patterns of ornamentation adorning objects that today we would definitely not think of as art, objects like combs and ships and axe heads,” Sebastian said.

Among the art pieces remaining from Viking Age Scandinavia are the four ornate animal head carvings buried with a ship in Oseberg, Norway. “In Viking Age Scandinavia these were all functional tools, but they were also the canvasses on which many incomparable and now anonymous craftsmen (and perhaps craftswomen) left behind an extraordinary program of design that is most immediately characterized by the appearance of stylized animals,” Sebastian said.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Classical Studies Program and the New Orleans Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

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