Vikingafenomenet - seminarieserie

Viking Phenomena: current research on late Iron Age Scandinavia

The seminar series Viking Phenomena: current research on late Iron Age Scandinavia

Introducing


Dr. Tuija Kirkinen

Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki. Awarded by Gustaf Adolf Akademien 2019 for her doctoral thesis Between skins.


Date: 7th of November 2019
Time: 15 – 17
Place: Uppsala Eng/ 2-0024 – Uppsalarummet, A30, Campus Gotland


FIBERS AND FUR REMAINS FROM BURIALS - microscoping the roles of furs in the past
Tuija Kirkinen, University of Helsinki tuija.kirkinen@helsinki.fi

In Finnish archaeology, furs have been discussed almost entirely from the points of view of trade. Moreover, fur trade has had a strong explanatory power in interpreting the colonization of Finland, social differentiation and material culture.
In this presentation, I focus on the roles that animal skins held in populations which have been classified as producers of furs. For these groups of people, the lives of humans and wild animals were closely engaged and the skins had specific agency, which can be reached in Kalevalaic epic poems and ethnographic materials. In contrast to this, for people who didn’t live in close contact with wild animals, the products hypothetically represented otherness and were rare and exotic, even status items.
For east Fennoscandian Iron Age research, this study brings new information about the roles that animal skins and wild animals held in societies, which presumably produced furs for international trade networks. Compared to previous research, the work evidences the legacies of hunting traditions in populations, which have been seen foremost as agrarian.
First, I present the animal skin material identified from Iron Age and medieval burials in Finland and Karelia (Russia). Second, I discuss the preservation of fibers and the identification methods used. Finally, I discuss human-animal relationships and the agency of furs on the basis of the fur finds.
The presentation is based on my PhD thesis Between skins - animal skins in the Iron Age and historical burials in Eastern Fennoscandia (https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/299558).
Additionally, I show some preliminary results of the ongoing research of microfibers from Mesolithic red ochre graves and Viking Age inhumation burials.

Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Poster


The seminar series Viking Phenomena: current research on late Iron Age Scandinavia

Introducing

Leszek Gardeła
(Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literatures, University of Bonn, Germany Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen, Norway)


Date: 16th of April 2019
Time: 15 – 17
Venue: Uppsala Eng/2-1024 – Campus Gotland Gotl/B43


RIDERS ON THE STORM: West Slavic Warriors in the Viking World
The turn of the tenth and eleventh centuries was a time of turbulent social and ideological transformations in Central Europe. Petty kings and local chieftains engaged in power struggles with the intention to extend the limits of their domains. Clear traces of their military activities can be seen in the hundreds of large strongholds constructed out of soil, timber and stone. These monumental structures served as centres of local life, with administrative, military, and sacral functions. Positioned in strategic locations, dominating over the vast fields and forests, they became some of the most enduring hallmarks of West Slavic presence in Europe.


Slavic attitudes to war can also be inferred from graves which likely held the remains of warriors furnished with lavish and costly goods including weapons, equestrian equipment and other objects associated with the luxurious life of the elites. These mortuary remains show explicitly that the members of Slavic elite retinues used weapons and equestrian equipment of the highest quality, crafted to perfection by both local and foreign blacksmiths and artisans. Through characteristic ornamental designs – often depicting snakes – the war-gear of the Western Slavs manifested the distinct identity and group affiliation of their owners, as well as displaying their sophisticated religious beliefs which were deeply rooted in pre-Christian worldviews. It appears that to the Western Slavs warfare was not only about the tough physical struggle and the clash of arms; it was also a highly ritualized endeavor.


The Central European landscape was particularly suited to waging war on foot and from horseback, but on some occasions the Slavs also engaged in military endeavors on rivers and the open sea. Indeed, new isotope studies and other specialist analyses are beginning to show the great extent of their cross-cultural contacts, suggesting that West Slavic warriors served as mercenaries or advisors in the retinues of foreign rulers. The aim of this lecture is to shed new light on West Slavic warfare, drawing on textual and archaeological evidence from their homelands in Central Europe and (re)examining a range of finds from Scandinavia and England.


Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte


Introducing
 
Maths Bertell
Senior Lecturer in Religious Science at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mid Sweden University


Date: 28th of March 2019
Time: 13 – 15
Place: Uppsala Eng/ 3-2028 – Campus Gotland Gotl/A30


”REGIONAL AND SOCIAL VARIANTS IN SCANDINAVIAN PRE-CHRISTIAN RELIGION. Religiolects of the North.”
There are differences within every religion, and there is constant change in every religion. Hence, also in the Old Norse religion. By introducing religiolects, I want to offer a tool where these differences and changes can be identified and discussed. These religiolects are defined by social/economic, regional and chronological factors. In my presentation I will try to identify two religiolects and bring them into discussion: the aristocratic hall religiolect and the fertility religiolect.
Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Introducing
Dr. Clare Downham Senior Lecturer in Irish Studies, University of Liverpool


Date: 23 October 2018
Time: 15 - 17
Place: 6-0031, Engelska parken


"A Context for the Birka Grave?: Women and Leadership in the Tenth Century"
The public reaction to the publication of Hedenstierna-Jonson et al. 'A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics' raises issues of the perceived roles of women in tenth century society. Drawing on parallels from tenth century England and the Continent, this paper argues that women had a more prominent role in political leadership in the tenth century Europe than they would in succeeding centuries. This could extend to women exercising a military role. The growing intolerance to female power and greater demarcation of gender roles over time is touched upon. This maybe compared to general trends in policing social identities expressed in R.I. Moore's 'The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Authority and Deviance in Western Europe 950-1250' a seminal work, but one in which gender roles and boundaries were not widely discussed.
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Neil, John & Charlotte


Introducing
Barbora Žiačková Oxford University


Date: 28th of May 2018
Time: 13 – 15
Venue: Uppsala/Eng 2-2033 – Campus Gotland A30, Uppsalarummet

The all-speaking eye: Eastern imports and visual communication in Viking Age Sweden
Amongst the thousands of Islamic silver dirhams found in Scandinavia, dated to the Viking Age (750-1050 CE), many show evidence of having been altered into worn ornaments. Whilst contemporaneous Byzantine and European coin ornaments are often interpreted as signifiers of Christian belief, the more numerous Islamic examples tend to be conceptualised as status symbols. This paper will reconsider Viking Age dirham ornaments, using them as a vector to gain insight into the possible meanings that Eastern objects gained – or retained – as they were appropriated into the Scandinavian milieu. Based on work undertaken for my MA thesis (completed at University College London in 2017), this paper will present the results of spatial and statistical analyses of Viking Age dirham ornaments found in present-day Sweden, seeking to identify and explain underlying spatio-temporal patterns. The results are then contextualised within existing literature, and used as a starting point in exploring the role of Eastern material culture as part of Viking Age Scandinavian visual communication: both internally within Scandinavian society, and as part of the mercantile relationships with their Steppe Nomadic and Muslim contemporaries.

Key Words: Viking Age, Sweden, dirhams, trade, visual communication

Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Poster

Introducing
Dr. Ingrid Gustin Researcher, Historical Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University

Date: 16th of May 2018
Time: 15 – 17
Venue: 2-2033, Engelska parken

Contacts between Svear and Finns during the Vendel and Viking period
There is archaeological evidence of contacts between eastern central Sweden and south-western Finland through the ages: in the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, the Early Iron Age, and the Late Iron Age. Archaeologists in Finland have often pointed out the close links between the areas during the Viking Age, whereas Swedish archaeologists have surprisingly seldom discussed these connections. It has therefore been of interest to examine to what extent and during what period artefacts from Finland are found in graves in the Mälaren region and in Birka and thus to find out what can be concluded about the contacts between these regions.
As has been shown by finds of Permian belts and other objects of eastern origin in Vakka-Suomi, groups in Western Finland were linked to routes and networks spanning much further east already in the late 7th century. Probably it was through the population of western Finland that the Svear got information about Fenno-ugric groups in NW Russia and the routes along lakes, streams and rivers that led beyond the Finnish peninsula. Thanks to that knowledge, the Svear were able to travel beyond the Gulf of Finland, to Ladoga Lake and then further east along the Russian rivers down to areas where furs from the north could be exchanged for Islamic silver coins and eastern luxury products.


Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Poster

Introducing
Peter Pentz Curator at the National Museum of Denmark
Date: 25th of April 2018
Time: 15 – 17
Venue: Uppsala/Eng 2-1024 – Campus Gotland A30, Uppsalarummet

To get to the other side...? The Ravning Enge bridge and other Viking Age bridges in Southern Scandinavia.
A bridge is basically a structure built to span physical obstacles. King Harald Blåtand´s more than 750 meters long bridge at Ravning Enge in Jutland spanning over Vejle Ådal was built in 980/981. In spite of the resources spent, the scope of the meaning remains uncertain. The paper will survey the Ravning bridge in particular, but also review other Viking Age bridges of Denmark.
Welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Poster


Introducing
Prof. Dagfinn Skre Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo
Date: 13th of April 2018
Time: 10 – 12
Place: 2-0033, Engelska parken
Venue: Uppsalarummet, A30, Campus Gotland

"Avaldsnes: A sea-kings’ seat at the Island of Kǫrmt"
The 2011–12 excavations at Avaldsnes, western Norway, are the first to explore one of the five royal manors that according to Snorri were the seats of the first King of Norway, Haraldr hárfagri. The five are all situated along the sailing route along the western Scandinavian coast, the Norðvegr, indicating that the dominion of the sea route was a primary condition for attaining control of the realm. The evidence from Avaldsnes and the near vicinity indicate that control of the sea route was sought by the powerful for 2-3 millennia. The recent excavations supply the basis for writing the history of this sea-kings’ seat from the Roman Iron Age until the High Middle Ages. In the paper some main themes in this history will be outlined; among them some interesting parallels and contrast between a sea-kings’ manor and the seats of land kings detected elsewhere in Scandinavia.

All welcome!
Neil, John & Charlotte

Poster