In the Company of Men. Thoughts on warrior identities and a peculiar double grave from Karlstrup, Denmark

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


Throughout history alternative gender identities and categories have been integral to social groups that are highly-performative and/or rigorously hierarchical, as e.g. within martial fraternities. Here, we open up for an alternative interpretation of a same-sex double grave from the Early Nordic Bronze Age from Denmark. We suggest the possibility that the hierarchal warrior class – the so-called ‘warrior elite’, may have embodied a distinctive gender category of its own, based on individual mobility and dynamic fraternal relationships. Thus, we suggest that male identities, as represented in some mortuary contexts in the Nordic Bronze Age including members of the warrior class, were more complex than may be hypothesized based purely on gender-normative notions of masculinity. We propose that the warrior lifestyle might have sanctioned intimate interpersonal relationships between men as part of the shared warrior ideology and that this type of relationship might have been a recognized feature of the warrior elite. To investigate this hypothesis, we look at features of the same-sex male double grave from Karlstrup, Denmark and compare it with other Nordic Bronze Age double burials. For broader context, we draw insights on the graves in our sample with evidence from, among others, Classical and anthropological literature. We offer a brief discussion of why gender-related interpretive frameworks are of value to our understandings of the archaeological record, and provide another layer of information offering a deeper understanding of prehistoric societies and individuals’ potential social mobility in the past.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2019
EventThe 15th Nordic Bronze Age Symposium - Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Duration: 11 Jun 201915 Jun 2019


ConferenceThe 15th Nordic Bronze Age Symposium
LocationLund University


  • Nordic Bronze Age
  • gender
  • identity
  • double-graves
  • warrior ideology

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