Monday, September 14, 2009

Book on Viking material culture finds

There is another book coming out this year that tempts me very much, even though it isn't directly related to clothing or textiles. It's called Things from the Town: Artifacts and Inhabitants in Viking-age Kaupang (Kaupang Excavation Project) by Dagfinn Skre (Aarhus University Press) ISBN-10: 8779343090. Amazon is offering it for $63.56 USD which is about 15% off the $75.00 cover price. (I mention that fact not to drum up business for Amazon, but to help out anyone who is interested in the book and finds the cover price a bit steep. I've noticed lately that Amazon often has the best prices on brand new archaeological or other scholarly research tomes in my areas of interest.)

The book discusses the archaeological finds from the site of Viking era Kaupang, in Norway. It will be useful to costume-related studies, since the finds that are discussed include jewelry and textile-making tools. However, it also includes material about other kind of artifacts--what we today call "everyday household objects"--that should give us a much better idea of how people in Viking era Norway really lived. To quote the product description:

An exceptional wealth and diversity of artifacts distinguishes sites such as Kaupang from all other types of site in the Viking World. Above all, they reflect the fact that a large population of some 400-600 people lived closely together in the town, engaged in a comprehensive range of production and trade. The stratigraphically distinct layers from the first half of the 9th century allow us to put precise dates to the finds, and to the buildings and evidence of activities associated with them. The finds and structural remains make it possible to identify the activities that took place within the six buildings excavated. ...

Finds of personal equipment show that the inhabitants of the town were of diverse origins. Many of them were from southern and western Scandinavia, but there were also Frisians there. One house can be identified as that of a Frisian household engaged in trade. There were also Slavs in Kaupang, although it is not clear whether they were long-term residents.

I hope that this book, in addition to giving us a better idea of the how the inhabitants of Kaupang--both native and foreign--lived, traded, and worked, gives us some basis for comparing life in Kaupang with life in other Viking trade centers, such as Birka. But even if it doesn't, it sounds like a useful and fascinating read, for costumers and anyone else interested in Viking culture.

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