Lectures & Literary past

River Kings: A New History of the Vikings Virtual Book Talk With Dr. Cat Jarman

Cat Jarman; River Kings Book Jacket Courtesy Pegasus Books

FRI—February 4—6 PM ET, free

Join us for a virtual literary talk with bioarchaeologist Dr. Cat Jarman to celebrate the release of her new book River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads out on February 1, 2022 from Pegasus Books! In tonight’s discussion, learn about an epic story from the Viking Age that traces the historical path of an ancient piece of jewelry—found in a Viking grave in England—to its likely origin thousands of miles east in India. *Due to a change of schedule, this event will now be taking place virtually at 6 PM on Friday, February 4.*

Acclaimed bioarchaeologist Dr. Jarman uses cutting-edge forensic techniques to investigate the history of the Vikings who landed on British soil over 1,000 years ago. By examining ancient Viking teeth and bones with radiocarbon dating, she can ascertain childhood diet as well as birthdate and death date, down to a range of a few years. In 2017, a particular carnelian bead came into her possession. River Kings follows Dr. Jarman as she traces the path of this ancient piece of jewelry back to eighth-century India. Along the way, she discovers that the Viking route to England was far more varied than we previously thought; with them came people from the Middle East, not just from Scandinavia. The reason for this unexpected interaction between the East and West may well have been a slave trade running through the Silk Road, all the way to Britain.

A riveting history of the Vikings and the modern methods we use to understand them, River Kings is a major reassessment of the fierce, often-mythologized voyagers of the North—and of the global medieval world as we know it.

This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to  info@amscan.org. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on our Virtual Programming page and on our YouTube channel.

“A masterly history . . . I was held captive. River Kings is like a classical symphony, perfectly composed and exquisitely performed. Tiny trills of detail give way to pounding drums of drama.” —The Times (London)

“Will cast a spell on any reader who enjoys their history well-written and clearly argued. Replete with witches, human sacrifice, Greek fire and funeral orgies. One of the most thrilling works ofarchaeological detective work I have ever read.” — William Dalrymple, The Financial Times


Cat Jarman, PhD, is a bioarchaeologist and field archaeologist specializing in the Viking Age and Viking women. She uses forensic techniques like isotope analysis, carbon dating, and DNA analysis on human remains to untangle the experiences of past people from broader historical narratives.

Dr. Jarman has contributed to numerous television documentaries as both an on-screen expert and historical consultant, including programs for the BBC, History Channel, and Discovery, among others. She lives in Britain.

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