The Fascinating History Of The Drinking Horn, The Thirst-Quenching Vessel Of Viking Legend

When most people think of a drinking horn, they picture Vikings dressed in fur clothing and battle helmets guzzling mead after a day of raiding villages. While the Norsemen did use drinking horns, the history of the vessel is far more varied — and begins over 1,000 years prior to the Viking Age.

An ancient account from the Greek historian Xenophon of the Thracian leader Seuthes around the fourth century B.C.E. suggests that the horn was part and parcel of the Thracian way of life. The words Xenophon used to describe its use were “kata ton Thrakion nomon” or “after the Thracian fashion.”

Romans began using their own version of the drinking horn around the same time. Rather than the more primitive animal horns or the metal vessels adorned with the carved heads of animals that the Greeks preferred, the Romans made their version out of beautiful, decorative glass, according to The Vintage News.

Though it originated in antiquity, the drinking horn didn’t remain in the past. In the 19th and 20th centuries, lavish vessels made of ivory, gold, and porcelain emerged as decorative luxuries in Austria and Germany.

With such a diverse history, it’s clear that the Viking drinking horn is so much more than that. A storied item found in countless cultures throughout the centuries, the intoxicating vessel can still be seen today in museums and at dinner tables around the world.


PIC: All That’s Interesting, Strange Ago-, Alamy, Museum Replicas

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