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Paired Passages—Viking Longboats
At the end of the eighth century, theScandinavians known as the Vikings took to theseas, traveling to areas including Iceland, Greenland,England, Ireland, France, and Russia, and even reach-05ing the shores of America some 500 years beforeColumbus. The Vikings' innovations in shipbuildingwere central to constructing their empire. They reliedon the superior ships conjured in the minds of mastershipwrights for travel and exploration. Using vessels10such as the longboat, these fascinating seafarersopened up new connections. The great longboat itselfattests to their outstanding maritime skills.Before archaeologists discovered ships buried inthe muck of Danish fjords, Viking travel was a mys-15tery, but ship reconstruction has provided someanswers. Their ships were designed and built withuncommon ingenuity to serve the Vikings' purpos-es. The secret of the signature Viking ship is foundin its unique construction. The invention of the20longboat meant Vikings could travel vast distancesover treacherous open water. In contrast to modernsailboats, the longboat was riveted together withenough spacing so that the boat was flexible.It could bend as it rode over waves instead of taking25the full impact of a swell. Incredibly, simple toolssuch as axes, hammers, and scrapers were all thatcarpenters used to frame a ship.Additionally, the sleek longboat was an exceed-ingly streamlined vessel. One kind of longboat30could ride high by skimming the waves to swiftlytransport a crew of about 30. This fast ship had adraft of as little as 20 inches, allowing navigation inextremely shallow water.While its shallow draft and ease of construction35made the Viking longboat a superior seafaring vessel,the seamanship of the Norsemen was the most deci-sive factor in the success of their boats. For example,Vikings navigated by looking at the sky througha crystal, which was known as a sunstone. The40composition of the crystal was recently identified asa transparent calcite common in Iceland.The Vikings' outstanding talents in ship con-struction, coupled with their superlative skills asnavigators, greatly impacted Scandinavia. In turn,45through their explorations, the Vikings influencedthe rest of the world.
The Gokstad ship was excavated in 1880 anddates to around AD 890; discovery of this Vikingship revealed innovations in construction. Aptly50named "longboats," such ships were long andnarrow and could travel on the open sea as well asalong rivers. The Gokstad ship is considered thebest preserved of the Viking longboats. It revealsthe technical achievements of the Vikings because55the shape was different from the norm.The Gokstad ship owes nothing to earlier boatdesigns, including those of the Egyptians andRomans. The longboat was developed specificallyfor Arctic waters. Its shallow draft, plus its ability to60change direction quickly, was a tremendous asset tothe Vikings. The Gokstad ship is 78 feet long withtwo high, pointed ends. Constructed out of sturdyoak, it features a low freeboard1 and is thereforefast, the kind of ship used to carry Vikings on raids65across the North Sea.The ship has been restored to reveal the Gok-stad's original shape. With holes for 16 oarsalong each side of the ship, the crew would havenumbered about 34, counting 32 oarsmen plus a70steerman and lookout. Oars were typically 17 to19 feet long, constructed of pine with a narrowblade that made each oar both efficient and light-weight. In addition, the Gokstad features a mastnear the center that carried a large rectangular sail.75The Gokstad is different from earlier boatdesigns in its planking, or framing out, as well; itscarvel planking made the ship watertight. Carvelplanking involves attaching wooden planks to aframe and having the planks butt up edge to edge,80providing support from the frame and forming asmooth surface.Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings werenot just warriors; they were also coastal farmers,fishers, hunters, and craftsmen. Their lands were85harsh, however, and increases in their populationforced some men to search for other opportunities.Vikings, therefore, turned to trade and sea raiding.Their swift sailing ships, already perfect for coastalfishing, enabled Vikings to attack ports and towns,90making these seamen effective as both raiders andtraders.Truly, the Gokstad ship is representative of agreat leap in seafaring, for this finest expression oftechnical achievement could serve many purposes.95In 1982, its swiftness and seaworthiness was provenwhen a copy, the Hjemkomst, journeyed from theUnited States to Norway.
1freeboard: the distance between the level of the water and the upper edge of the side of a boat
1. The central idea of Passage 1 is that Vikings
2. The introductory paragraph of Passage 1 most strongly suggests that which of the following is true?
3. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
4. The author of Passage 2 most likely chose to write about the Gokstad ship because it
5. Passage 2 strongly suggests that the Vikings
6. Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
7. As used in line 29 of Passage 1, "streamlined" most nearly means
8. As used in line 93 of Passage 2, "expression" most nearly means
9. In lines 92-94 of Passage 2 ("Truly, the Gokstad … many purposes"), the author uses the phrase "a great leap" to emphasize
10. Which generalization about the Vikings is supported by both passages?
11. Which inference from the two passages is supported by the information in the timeline on page 100?
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