The popular image of the viking is that of a horde of hairy, reeking thugs tearing their way through the civilized countries of Europe. There's some truth there -- the Norsemen were tough reivers, no doubt -- but they were also built and used technologically sophisticated objects. The viking longship was the muscle car of its day. These craft were exceptionally fast, and their shallow draft allowed them to sail in waters barely a yard deep, which meant they could cruise up rivers and streams to raid further inland. These magnificent, double-prowed ships allowed the vikings to traverse the world from Byzantium to America, and to build a trading empire that included all points in between. Dr. John Roberts Hale from the University of Louisville discusses the vikings' exploratory nature in a lecture titled Dragons of the North: The World of Viking Longships at 7:30 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Wed., Sept. 11, 2013