Agents of Death: Reassessing social agency and gendered narratives of human sacrifice in the Viking Age

Marianne Moen, Matthew Walsh

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article seeks to approach the famous tenth-century account of the burial of a chieftain of the Rus, narrated by the Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan, in a new light. Placing focus on how gendered expectations have coloured the interpretation and subsequent archaeological use of this source, we argue that a new focus on the social agency of some of the central actors can open up alternative interpretations. Viewing the source in light of theories of human sacrifice in the Viking Age, we examine the promotion of culturally appropriate gendered roles, where women are often depicted as victims of male violence. In light of recent trends in theoretical approaches where gender is foregrounded, we perceive that a new focus on agency in such narratives can renew and rejuvenate important debates.
TidsskriftCambridge Archaeological Journal
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)597-611
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2021