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.
Conference: 30 years of EU citizenship
21 november 2022
This year marks 30 years since European Union citizenship came into being. It will be highlighted at an international, interdisciplinary conference in Uppsala on 22–23 November. Both researchers and all those interested are welcome to attend.
New honorary doctors in the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences
03 november 2022
The faculties at Uppsala University have decided on the award of honorary doctorates for 2022. Among the new honorary doctors at faculties in the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences are researchers in economic geography, family l...
The vulnerability of surrogate mothers in a global market
17 oktober 2022
A new dissertation on surrogacy highlights Thai women's experiences of having acted as surrogate mothers. The dissertation shows the women's vulnerability in a global surrogacy industry, but also provides a more nuanced picture of what makes women...
Historical discoveries as Linnaeus Garden is excavated
07 oktober 2022
Unique pots, eighteenth-century porcelain and the bones of countless fish and birds: archaeologists who have been excavating part of the Linnaeus Garden have come across a wealth of exciting objects that can tell us more about the people and anima...
Popular 18th-century medicine in a new form
05 september 2022
Hello to Nils-Otto Ahnfelt, PhD pharmacist and visiting researcher at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences. Together with the historian of science Hjalmar Fors, you have developed a reconstruction of the 300-year-old medicine Hjärnes Testa...
Torgny Segerstedt Medal and Geijer Prize winners announced
05 september 2022
This year’s Torgny Segerstedt Medal has been awarded to Mikael Stenmark, professor in philosophy of religion at the Department of Theology. The Geijer Prize goes to Viktor Persarvet and Astrid Wendel-Hansen.
Digging from the present down to antiquity
30 augusti 2022
Welcome to the Viking Age! The archaeology students, with their trowels and their scrapers, have dug past the medieval layers and made their way down to the 11th century, approximately 30 centimetres below today's ground level. During the seminar ...
The sheep – Gotland’s symbol of sustainability
14 juni 2022
Sheep are the strongest symbol of sustainability on Gotland, according to Gurbet Peker. Not only do real ones graze all over the island, you can even find sheep sculpted in concrete in Visby. Peker researches the day-to-day lives of lamb farmers i...
Can democracy solve the climate crisis?
13 juni 2022
Hello Linda Wedlin, organisor and moderator of a panel discussion during Almedalen Week with the theme ‘What knowledge and what kind of democracy is needed for a successful climate transition?’ What are you going to be discussing?
Mapping people of the past by means of their bones
09 maj 2022
What is the best way to find out about a human being or animal that has been dead for perhaps several centuries? “Study the bones” is what Sabine Sten, professor of osteoarchaeology, would say. They can reveal an individual's age, body length, DNA...
Transforming space and society in Kiruna
24 mars 2022
State and corporate ideas about nature, people and the future played a decisive role in the development of Kiruna as a mining town over a century ago. Since 2004, when 6,000 Kiruna residents were informed that they would have to move because of gr...
New light cast on female pelvises in University collections
04 mars 2022
Many of the University’s museums currently hold preserved specimens of embryos, fetuses, newborns, and women’s pelvises. During the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, these formed part of embryological and obstetric collections at...
350 years old remains in a Stone Age site in Portugal
25 februari 2022
An African man who lived just 350 years ago was buried in a prehistoric shell midden in Amoreira in Portugal. This was very surprising because Amoreira and other midden sites in the Muge region are well known by archaeologists for the cemeteries o...
ERC Starting Grant for historian of ideas
31 januari 2022
The Starting Grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) in its 2021 call have been announced. The awardees include an Uppsala researcher: Ylva Söderfeldt, Senior Lecturer at the University’s Department of History of Science and Ideas.
Saying and doing are two different things
18 januari 2022
COLUMN. While more and more people say Yes and Amen when you ask them about the importance of living in a more environmentally conscious and sustainable way, few actually change their behaviour, writes Katarina Graffman, PhD in cultural anthropology.
Telling the story of Sweden’s Jews
11 november 2021
"There are many ways of being Swedish, and being Jewish is one of them." These words set the seal on Carl Henrik Carlsson’s history of the Jews in Sweden (Judarnas historia i Sverige). Carlsson is a researcher at Uppsala University, and his book h...
Campus Gotland students unearth Iron Age warrior
10 september 2021
Uppsala University archaeology students’ summer excavations on the island of Gotland turned up an exciting surprise: they found a warrior, with sword and spurs, in an Iron Age grave in Buttle Änge. Now the skeleton and grave goods will be analysed...
How Linnaean learning spread far and wide
07 juni 2021
An inspiring middle-school teacher sparked Linda Andersson Burnett’s interest in history. Now a researcher in the history of science and ideas at Uppsala University, she is currently studying Carl Linnaeus and his influence, which extends far beyo...
Elly Griffiths is giving this year’s Adam Helms Lecture
03 juni 2021
Each year, Uppsala University and the Swedish Publishers’ Association arrange a lecture in memory of the publisher Adam Helms. This year’s lecture will be given by the internationally renown British crime novelist Elly Griffiths on 16 September 20...
New thesis: Finery for fashionable ladies
11 maj 2021
When the first descriptions of knitting and crochet were published in Swedish, in the mid-19th century, such handiwork was described as the finest of all feminine handicrafts, for the benefit and pleasure alike of the trend-conscious, diligent mid...