The Well-Laden Ship: Viking exhibition soon to reach America
11 April 2018
In late April, a ship will reach New York bringing the exhibition “The Vikings Begin” which will embark on a two-year tour of the US. On display will be a selection of 1,300-year-old items from the pre-Viking Age. Usually in storage at Gustavianum in Uppsala, they have never crossed the Atlantic before. But now the mysterious world of the early Vikings will be revealed to a wider audience, with a premiere at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut in May.
The exhibition The Vikings Begin – Treasures from Uppsala University was produced by Gustavianum, Uppsala University Museum, in collaboration with archaeologists at the University. It aims to shed new light on the emergence of the Viking Age, based on advanced research and a trove of world-class objects from the University’s collections.
This will be the first time items from this period have been displayed in America. The exhibition contains magnificent weapons, and also small treasures such as jewellery and objects of magical significance.
It tells the story of how the Viking Age began, and describes how the objects relate to the rest of the world; their spiritual and supernatural connotations; the role of war; the importance of water, waterways and trade routes, and how they affected development.
Viking society dominated Sweden, Denmark and Norway from around 750 CE until the mid-11th century – some 300 years. During this time, the Vikings travelled far and wide in the world. Their settlements have been found on the shores of the Baltic Sea and banks of Russian rivers, in the Byzantine Empire and what is now Britain, along the Mediterranean coast and in North America.
Gustavianum curates a magnificent cultural heritage. Its huge collections include an assemblage of spectacular objects from the burial site in Valsgärde, north of Uppsala. There, Uppsala archaeologists have carried out two major excavations, in the 1920s and 1950s. The jewellery, weapons, textiles and utility items found by researchers have greatly boosted our understanding of Nordic society in ancient times.
Among the most intriguing aspects of the burial ground in Valsgärde are the long period in which it was used and the variety of grave types represented. There are numerous finds from the centuries preceding the Viking Age. The objects from Valsgärde tell a complex and interesting story of why and when Viking society actually began.
A few years ago, Neil Price, a Professor at Uppsala, jointly with archaeologists John Ljungkvist and Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, received a large research grant from the Swedish Research Council for the their “Viking Phenomenon” project. The collections from Valsgärde, in particular, are a key set of material evidence for answering questions on the rise of Viking society. For this reason, items from the collection are included in the exhibition that is now to be shown in the US.
In the exhibition, the objects create a story in six “chapters”, which give an idea of how society in the Vendel period developed and which features of Viking society were already beginning to emerge in the early 7th century. The researchers have provided documentation for articles and themselves written essays for an exhibition catalogue. In addition, Gustavianum has created scenography in which the objects are given prominence, as valuable treasures that tell stories of our ancient times.
“The Vikings Begin is a comprehensive and professional production of a kind that’s new to Gustavianum and Uppsala University,” says Marika Hedin, Museum Director at Gustavianum. “It’s a completely finished exhibition with walls, lighting, pictures, films and security fittings, which can be installed and packed up in a week.”
Keen interest has been shown by American museums, and to date bookings at three have been made:
- Mystic Seaport in Connecticut
- Nordic Museum (the revamped Nordic Heritage Museum) in Seattle
- American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis
At the beginning of April the entire exhibition, except the items flown by courier, was loaded into three large containers. At the time of writing, they are on board a ship somewhere in the Atlantic, heading for New York Harbor.
Fallen in battle, these Swedish Vikings are part of a larger genetic puzzle
17 september 2020
In a recently published article in the journal Nature, 90 researchers from various countries have collaborated to develop new knowledge about the Viking-era population. Marie Allen, professor of forensic genetics at Uppsala University, has contrib...
The VR game that takes you to medieval Visby
14 augusti 2020
Using a VR helmet, you can try your hand at archery in 14th century Visby. This new VR game has been developed by the game company Disir, which was founded by a game developer and three archaeologists, of which two research at Uppsala University.
“The American dilemma is far from resolved”
15 juni 2020
The police violence in Minneapolis that resulted in the death of George Floyd has once again thrust relations between black and white Americans onto the agenda, a dilemma that will most likely play a central role in this autumn’s presidential elec...
Social graces and etiquette vital for Carl Linnaeus
04 juni 2020
What would have become of Carl Linnaeus if he had remained single? Would science have missed out on one of its major lodestars without his well-functioning household? And was his son, Carl Linnaeus the Younger, really the ne’er-do-well he was repu...
Medieval manuscript fragments acquired
26 maj 2020
A group of fragments of medieval manuscripts has been acquired by Uppsala University Library. Among these there is a fragment related to Saint Bridget of Sweden. This particular fragment may have been written at or owned by the Vadstena Abbey.
She studies AI as existential media
30 april 2020
How are we influenced when smart digital assistants, like Siri and Alexa, become part of our homes? And what happens when we begin to track deviating individuals through biometrics? “More research is needed on what it means to be human in a digita...
New study reveals unknown side of Astrid Lindgren’s creative process
21 februari 2020
Why did Jonathan Lionheart’s pitch-black hair suddenly turn golden? And how did Master Detective Kalle Blomqvist get his proper name? In the “Astrid Lindgren Code”, literature researcher Malin Nauwerck lifts the lid on some of the literary world’s...
History professor given prestigious assignment
22 januari 2020
Maria Ågren, professor of history, has been awarded a distinguished professor grant of SEK 50 million over 10 years by the Swedish Research Council. The council awarded grants totalling some SEK 380 million to eight applicants.
Winner of the 2019 Geijer Prize Named
14 januari 2020
The Geijer Prize for history 2019 has been awarded to Mia Kuritzen Löwengart for her doctoral thesis A Matter of Social Urgency: The emergence of a symphony orchestra and concert house in Stockholm, ca. 1890-1926 and Hedvig Widmalm for her doctora...
Legendary runestone bears witness to climate anxiety 1,200 years ago
08 januari 2020
After more than 1,000 years, one of the greatest mysteries of the early Viking Age, the Rök runestone which bears the world’s longest runic inscription, appears to have been solved. According to four Swedish researchers, the puzzling inscription h...
Martin Henriksson Holmdahl Prize goes to Afaf Doleeb and Patricia Lorenzoni
21 november 2019
The Martin Henriksson Holmdahl Prize is Uppsala University’s foremost award for contributions to the promotion of human rights and liberty. This year’s prize is shared by graduate student Afaf Doleeb and researcher Patricia Lorenzoni for their com...
Large-scale cadastral maps on parchment digitised
08 november 2019
Uppsala University Archives holds a large collection of hand-drawn seventeenth century maps on parchment. These maps are of significant historical value and a valuable source of information on the University’s agricultural properties at the time.
New Honorary Doctors Appointed at Uppsala University
21 oktober 2019
The nine faculties at Uppsala University have decided on who they wish to appoint as honorary doctors this academic year. The new honorary doctors include researchers in fields as diverse as string theory, maternal healthcare, evolutionary biology...
Excavation documentation from Labraunda digitised
21 oktober 2019
Uppsala University Library's part of the project Mötesplats Medelhavet ("Labraunda") - a research platform for digitised archaeological collections and archives at the Swedish institutes in Athens, Rome and Istanbul, is now being started. The aim ...
Aristocratic family trees became scientific model
01 oktober 2019
Before the French Revolution, family trees were reserved for the feudal upper classes, who used them to consolidate their social status. While feudalism broke down and family trees lost their old roles, the trees gained new functions as scientific...
Uppsala philosopher elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
19 september 2019
Folke Tersman, professor of practical philosophy at Uppsala University, has been elected as a member of the class for humanities and for outstanding services to science at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Johan Ihre’s dissertations now in digital form.
06 september 2019
Johan Ihre (1707-1780) was professor of Rethoric and Politics at Uppsala University for 42 years. During this time he managed no less than 453 dissertations, the theses of the time. These dissertations are currently a widely used source material i...
Sustainable urbanisation requires collaboration
10 juni 2019
On Sunday, 30 June, six seminars on sustainability and urbanisation focusing on India and Sweden will take place in Almedalen. To find out more, we talked to Swaminathan Ramanathan, visiting research fellow, and Owe Ronström, professor of ethnolog...
Races for women play an important role
06 maj 2019
Participating in a race for women plays an important role for women and increases self-confidence among participants. Women aim to perform as well as they can, and they place most emphasis on their physical performance, despite the organisers’ oft...
Award for research and teaching on the Holocaust
11 april 2019
Tomislav Dulić, Senior Lecturer in History and Director of the Hugo Valentin Centre, has been awarded the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award 2019.