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Le morse et le phoque dans les mers du Nord au Moyen Âge : chasse, exploitation, commerce. Une approche par les textes

Maxime DELLIAUX

fr Anthropozoologica 51 (2) - Pages 85-96

Published on 30 December 2016

The walrus and the seal in northern seas during the Middle Ages: hunting, exploitation, trade. A text approach

The sources we have tend to prove that, during the Middle Ages, men fear the sea and the creatures living in it. The walrus, subject of a terminological ambiguity, is no exception to the rule. However, both the walrus and the seal are hunted, for hunters have a more realistic view of these animals. Mainly based on Norse texts, and in particular on Icelandic sagas, this article intends to identify the main features of the hunting of these amphibian mammals in northern seas. While hunting is vital in some areas, it is subject to very restricting rules elsewhere, which can sometimes lead to conflicts. As a matter of fact, northern seas have seen trade become increasingly dynamic during the Middle Ages, in which the walrus and its precious ivory tusks have their place.

Keywords :

Walrus, seal, hunting techniques, trade, zooarchaeology, Icelandic sagas, Ohthere's account, Olaus Magnus

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