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by Prof. Vladimir KULAKOV, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), RAS Institute of Archeology The end of the 1 st millennium of the Christian era was a real "time of troubles" in the history of Europe. Under the heavy hand of the King of the Franks-Charlemagne (Charles the Great) - the traditional tribal structure in different parts of Europe was falling into pieces. It seemed that it would not take long for the continent as a whole to be swallowed up by the Empire. But the triumphant march of the royal armies and Christian missionaries run into a tide of other fortune-hunters-the Scandinavian sea warriors-Vikings. Escorting merchant caravans, they made accessible for Scandinavian traders even the markets of Byzantine and Central Asia. Nor did they pass unnoticed the Amber Coast of the Baltic - now the territory of the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation. Pages. 94 Craftsmen settlements and trade routes of the Vikings epoch. At the start of the 8th century there appeared the trade-and-handicrafts center of Truso (translated from the Prussian-a swamp, a shallow bay) located in the Vistula delta near Elblong. This "prototown" was populated by Prussians, Slavs and Scandinavian-Gotlanders. It was a crossing point of international trade routes which carried goods from the steppe zone of Eastern Europe and Byzantine from the south along the Vistula and then further on across the sea to Scandinavia. The merchants came in contact with local craftsmen who processed traditional Prussian raws like amber and bones. Burial grounds near Truso were known to archeologists since the late 19th century and excavations made it possible to "reconstruct" the appearance of the residents of different social status who lived in the lower reaches of the Vistula at the dawn of the Vikings era. Local males, for example, stringently observed the Prussian traditions and as a rule found their wives on the Gotland Island. These were blond beauties who remained loyal to their traditions anywhere they w ... Read more

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