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Visual History

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This Research Priority focuses on the analysis of the material and immaterial dimensions of artefacts bearing images or signs, which have been found in the North and Baltic Sea regions. In principle, we investigate the languages of images and signs in all periods. Traditions that continue over several periods are as important as phenomena of limited duration. A key field of research, covering a number of projects, deals with the characteristic pictorial language in northern Europe during the first millennium AD. 

Images and signs are identifying and determining elements in the archaeological remains of even preliterate cultures: today, deciphering them can complement the purely archaeological results and lead to a better understanding of historical conditions and cultural, political and religious developments. However, both the reading and, above all, the interpretation of many of the images, signs and symbols on archaeological objects are contested today. Figurative, ornamental or symbolic depictions can only be understood if their original contexts are identified, together with their former significance and historical importance. However, there are no comprehensive methods or assured access approaches for the reconstruction of such contexts. We fill this void with the project “Archaeological Visual History”. Our aim, in the long run, is to determine the general rules, premises and mechanisms of visual art and find suitable instruments for the interpretation of ancient motifs and signs. Both within and beyond this field of research, our intention is to supply a fresh impetus and build up close cooperation with a widespread interdisciplinary network of partners in other institutions in both Germany and other countries. In particular, we integrate researchers in the humanities for the correlation of the different access approaches to interpretation.


This Research Priority is assigned to the Strategic Research Area ► Man and Artefact.

'Barbarian art' − roots, synthesis, purpose
Dr. Ruth Blankenfeldt, Prof. Dr. Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, PD Dr. phil. habil. Alexandra Pesch
Examination and dating of Mesolithic antler head-dresses
Markus Wild MA, Dr. John Meadows, Dr. Martin Street (MONREPOS, RGZM)
Gold collars: The power of beasts
Dr. Alexandra Pesch
Imagery: Cultic communication (and: Legacy of Karl Hauck)
Dr. Alexandra Pesch
Late Iron Age pendants (800–1250 AD) in the Eastern Baltic: adorning, self-definition, religion
Tuuli Kurisoo MA
S-shaped clasps in european Barbaricum
Krzysztof Patalan M.A.
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Aktueller Hinweis!

Das Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie arbeitet aufgrund der Corona-Krise ab dem 17.3.2020 überwiegend im Homeoffice. Unter den bekannten Mailadressen sind die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter erreichbar.

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From 17/3/2020 the staff of the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology will be mainly working from home due to the Corona crisis. The employees can be reached under the known email addresses.

For this reason, guest researchers do currently not have access to our facilities. Please get in touch with the known contact persons in due course.

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