"Deyr fé, deyja frændr". Re-animating mortuary remains from Viking Age Iceland
Research on the material culture of Viking Age graves in Iceland, and Icelandic Viking Age archaeology more generally, has long been strongly influenced and restricted by the established authority of the written sources. In accordance with this the material has mostly been used to shed light on questions concerning the origin of the first settlers, the timing of their arrival and their technological progress and connections overseas in the years to come. These studies, whether or not deliberately performed to illustrate or corroborate the historical record, have consequently focused more or less on how the corpus deviates from other traditions and particularly the Norwegian. Moreover, the constant contrast with either the historical record or the other traditions has lead to a devaluation of the material at hand. It is often described as homogenous, poor and simple, and hence believed to have a scarce informative potential. This thesis attempts to provide an alternative to this established view of the Viking Age graves and their interpretive potential by employing a theoretical framework that pays credit to the social as well as personal significance of material culture, and by emphasizing the corpus on its own terms without much comparison to other traditions. By acknowledging the variation and recurring characteristics within the material not as deviations but as significant traits the focus will be reoriented to what the material actually has to provide for our understanding of Viking Age Iceland.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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