Archive for January, 2009

Three New Books on Myth

The seventeenth book in the estimable Viking Collection from the University Press of Southern Denmark is Jens Peter Schjødt’s Initiation Between Two Worlds. Structure and Symbolism in Pre-Christian Scandinavia (Odense, 2008). Read more »

Scandinavica seeks Medieval Submissions

Scandinavica is an established and well-respected journal published by Norvik Press, a small specialist publisher that has recently relocated from the University of East Anglia to University College London. At the same time, the editorial team of Scandinavica has changed (and I’ve become Deputy Editor), and the journal is going to be relaunched with a new look and a slightly different focus in 2009.

Hitherto, Scandinavica has specialized mainly in modern Nordic literatures and cultures.  We intend to build on these traditional strengths by expanding the chronological scope of the journal to include more work on the Scandinavian Middle Ages.  Read more »

Viking Swords — The Afghan Connection(?)

As reported by The Register, Viking-Age metalurgical techniques were imported to the Baltic region from the Middle East. Analysis by scientists at the British National Physical Laboratory suggests that steel for sword-making may have been produced using methods imported along Viking trade routes through Russia:

The results showed that the swords were made of imperfectly melted steel – consisting of a mixture of iron and carbonaceous materials heated together to give high-carbon steel. NPL’s results match descriptions of ancient sword making in Herat (now in Afghanistan) described by ninth century Arab philosopher and writer Al-Kindi. This links to a known Viking trade route down the Volga and across the Caspian Sea to Iran … until now it was not known that Vikings had brought crucible steel back to Scandinavia and integrated ancient Arab steelmaking methods with their own swordsmithing.

I’d be interested to know if any archaeologically-minded readers have opnions on this story. While the discovery of more details about Viking-Age steel making is certainly interesting, I can see some methodological problems with making the leap to this proposed route of transmission for the technology.