I had some interest in "America’s Lost Vikings" but my dad watched the first episode and when I asked him about it, his assessment was much like Dean’s.

I think "How the Universe Works" is the show that suffers least from the sensationalism that networks think they need to keep our interest. In "Mysteries of the Abandoned" and "What on Earth" the experts (some who have a job description as ‘explorer’ (these people I do not trust)) make sensational and ridiculous hypotheses just before commercial breaks. It’s obviously a ploy to keep us on the edge of our seats, but I think it unlikely that they actually believe some of what they’re saying. Then after ten minutes of fluff we get the real explanation which is well researched and contains interesting historical details.

On Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 11:22 AM Tomek Jankowski <tomek.e.jankowski> wrote:

This depiction by Mel Brooks was funny, but of course we know that in truth those "horns" on their helmets were really antennae for communications with the mother ship, parked out of sight on the dark side of the moon. 😉 (And yes, I know they didn’t really wear horned helmets.)


John is right — stick with PBS and great programs like Secrets of the Dead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9kMXhqTlLg). I use Science Daily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/) to keep up on the latest archaeological finds. There are some scattered good programs on the Science Channel, TLC and others but reliable stuff is hard to come by. There seem to be a huge proliferation of programs of people who claim to solve major historical mysteries — they do little if any real research, just show up at some designated place, poke around and do a few things, dig a couple holes, find a beer can, then conclude that their hypothesis is plausible, role credits.

I suppose it’s always been like this, the need to be vigilant with what information one trusts. I remember watching "documentaries" as a kid on one of the big 3 major TV networks about bigfoot. So the onus remains with us — we need to develop the filters and the criteria for them to ensure we’re engaging with credible information sources.

On Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 8:55 AM John Lindberg <jlindberg1> wrote:

Stick with PBS…

There are more books on the Viking age than you can pile in a knarr – I found this read a few years back at the Hampstead Library, new arrival shelf. It was unusual in also covering the exploration and colonization of the river network in eastern europe all the way to the Black Sea. The author has a later date bounding the period where he describes the last recorded holdout for the lifestyle of farming and raiding in one man who lived on one of the small islands somewhere adrift off western Scotland if I recall.

Northmen: The Viking Saga, AD 793-1241 by John Haywood

On Mar 18, 2019 7:40 AM, Dean Quarrell <deanq> wrote:

Mention Vikings and archaeology in the same breath and I’m paying attention. Point to a TV show with archaeology about Vikings and I’ll most likely check it out So I’m a little late, so what, but “America’s Lost Vikings” on the (hah!) Science Channel (don’t get me started) for a couple of episodes has not distinguished itself from much of the dreck that passes for “serious” TV on its home channel or The History Channel (another “hah!” and another “don’t get me started,”)

So these guys who mostly resemble the sidekick character on Home Improvement figure “Vinland” means “Wine Land” so they go to a winery in Maine and sip some local wine. Then they figure Vikings must have needed wood so they go to some forestry operation and the guy there points them to a tamarack tree, which they cut down with little iron axes like the V’s must have had. Whew, that was hard. And they gawk at The Maine Penny, and were headed to Noman’s Island off the Cape when I gave up and went to bed.

To be fair, I guess the show’s a cut above Ancient Aliens and some of the “Secrets of …” shows around, but really, it ain’t archeology. And it’s only tangentially about “Vikings” since the Norse folk who settled in North America weren’t raiding they were looking for places to settle and farm. “Viking” is, most properly, a verb for raiding and adventuring, which only applies when the applicable Norse folk were actually, well, raiding and adventuring. “Viking,” is not an ethnicity, it’s an occupation. And a part-time occupation at that, mostly.

I had hopes when the “Discovery Channel” morphed into the “Science Channel,” and I do enjoy shows like “How the Universe Works” (nevermind the pretentiousness of the title), and “Mysteries of the Abandoned” and “What on Earth,” but after a while the same dozen or so talking head “experts” making “WTF???” comments (which are pretty much interchangeable from topic to topic) gets tiresome and one begins to yearn for Danny Bonaduce on “World’s Dumbest Criminals.” At least he knew he was at the bottom of the barrel, and could sort of wink through it.