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Synopsis

Exploring the relationship between animals and humans in Scandinavia from the Roman Iron Age to the Viking Period, this book interprets Old Norse mythology-in which imaginary creatures with strong characters were invented-and examines the importance of animals in the human world. According to Old Norse perceptions, real and fantasy animals in Midgard became mouthpieces for human characteristics and reflections of people’s social position. With the aid of animals, humans could also show who they really were as well as control higher powers. Combining results from archaeology and Old Norse texts, this account discusses the functional, symbolic, and cognitive meanings of animals and the implications of animal rights.

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