Kufic script on Viking-Age textiles: A statement from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History

2017-11-01

On 2017-10-02 a media release was sent out by Uppsala University’s Press Office announcing a claim by Dr Annika Larsson to have discovered Kufic script on Viking-Age textiles. Contrary to standard university practice, Dr Larsson’s unpublished interpretations were not peer-reviewed prior to their announcement. Over the past few weeks, they have received widespread media attention and severe criticism from textile researchers and experts in Islamic art.

We take seriously our responsibilities as Dr Larsson’s employer, and naturally we also maintain the important principles of research freedom (fri forskning). Research must be open in its outlook, respectful of sometimes widely-differing interpretations, and free from external pressure. It is of course also subject to constructive academic critique, with the expectation of an appropriately engaged response.

Dr Larsson has clarified that she sees her ideas as part of an exhibition that attempts to challenge accepted views of the Viking Age. She has now declared her intention to submit her findings for peer review as soon as possible, in fulfilment of her responsibilities to the academic community.


Dr Larsson’s exhibition project, Viking Couture, is funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ), and is summarised here:

https://rj.se/anslag/2016/viking-couturepublik-arena-for-forskning-dialog-och-kommunikation/

The work is not primarily research-based, but located within the RJ category of Communication Projects, whose purpose is summarised here: https://rj.se/For-forskare/kommunikationsprojekt/


Links:

Dr Larsson’s press release with updates and a comment:

http://www.uu.se/en/news-media/news/article/?id=9390

An overview of the critical reactions, summarized in The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/viking-couture-allah/543045/

Enköping Museum’s statement on the partial closure of the Viking Couture exhibition:

http://enkoping.se/underwebbar/enkopings-museum/aktuellt/nyhetsarkiv/2017-10-30-angaende-reaktioner-pa-forskningsresultat-i-utstallning.html