In the Company of Men: Alternative masculine gender identities in the Nordic Bronze Age. Re-interpreting a same-sex double-grave from Karlstrup, Denmark

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Diverse non-binary gender categories have been identified in numerous cultural contexts around the world . Here, we offer the possibility that the hierarchal warrior class – the so-called ‘warrior elite’ – of Early Bronze Age society in southern Scandinavia may have embodied, in some cases, a distinctive and as-yet unrecognized gender category of its own. We evaluate possible evidence that the professional warrior class of the Nordic Bronze Age may have been characterized, at least in part, by intensely intimate same-sex relationships between men which may possibly even have been of a homoerotic nature in some circumstances. We posit that if such a warrior-gender existed, Bronze Age societies would have recognized, and in some cases sanctioned, intimate homoerotic relationships between men. Such institutionalized relations among men in fraternal contexts would have been an understood and accepted potential feature of the warrior identity and its ideology. We examine evidence that may suggest that such an intimate connection between two men could have been recognized within a rare mortuary tradition, i.e. an integrated double male grave. To develop this hypothesis, we compare a sample of Nordic Bronze Age (NBA) double burials and generate a neighbor-joining analysis to help illustrate the dynamics between them. We then interpret these results from through the lens of gender studies, taking into account numerous examples from Classical and anthropological literature, to shed light on the conceivable vicissitudes of warrior-gender identities and their expression(s) in late prehistory in Northern Europe.
TidsskriftActa Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 8
Sider (fra-til)159-181
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 5 okt. 2022