For years, anthropologists have proposed that the Viking explorers of the 1300's left the confines of their Norwegian villages to sail the high seas in search of treasure, new lands, and new races of people to conquer.
They were wrong.
Dr. Frank Bifflehoffer, noted Archaeologist from the University of Minnesota, has uncovered what experts have determined to be the key to all Viking society, the solution to the riddle that finally answers the question: "What exactly were the Vikings making those funny looking boats for?"
While on site in Minneapolis, Minnesota in March of 2005, Dr. Bifflehoffer was plodding along in his quest to determine the contents of foodstuff debris in buried Viking camps he discovered ten years ago in the Lake Nokomis lowlands. Due to an uncharacteristically early spring thaw he was able to delve deeper into the permafrost than any prior year. As Dr. Bifflehoffer was excavating in the the loosened Nokomis turf his trusty pick-axe Bertha met the earth and rang back with the sound of discovery.
Dr. Bifflehoffer excitedly gathered his entire excavation team, whereupon they exhumed an artifact that has reversed years of anthropological study and changed the course of modern civilization.
As they cleared the dirt, amidst other Viking hockey relics, Dr. Bifflehoffer's team uncovered a pristinely preserved Golden Shovel. It was clear that it carried some significance as it was found buried with the bones of four Viking warriors, their skeleton hands still clinging to the shaft. Dr. Bifflehoffer has surmised in his recently published position paper that the Golden Shovel is in fact a symbolic Viking tool, carried on their journeys as both talisman and utility.
He proposes the Vikings were a people unconcerned with the desires common to exploring conquerers--the pillage, plunder and loot lifestyle held no merit in their eyes. Instead, theirs was a journey rooted in the ideals of passion, sport, and tradition. Dr. Bifflehoffer claims The Golden Shovel reveals the truth once and for all: the Vikings had left their home shores in search of the wider horizons of their fabled game--Pond Hockey.
It was this journey that brought them to Lake Nokomis, home to clear sunlit rinks and the new competition they had set out in search of. In keeping with pond hockey traditions, they would clear the rink of snow with the Golden Shovel and then offer it as the ultimate prize for all challengers. It is well known in pond hockey lore that he who possesses the shovel possesses ultimate power over the game--without it the game is lost underneath layers of snow.
According to markings found on parchment journals, the Vikings' winning streak carried them into the jaws of the perilous winter storm of 1331, a tragic blizzard the likes of which they had never seen before. The Viking pond warriors tried in vain to clear the rinks of the heavy blizzard snow, shoveling as fast as the Golden Shovel could fly across the ice only to be buried deeper and deeper under Winter's harsh hand.
Those Pond-searching Vikings died that day trying to play the game they loved.
However, they left behind a legacy, and thanks to Dr. Bifflehoffer, we are able to honor them today by rekindling the legend of traditions set down so many centuries ago.
The Golden Shovel has risen again and the spirit of the pond remains unbroken.