In the Darkest of Days: Exploring Human Sacrifice & Value in Southern Scandinavian Prehistory

Matthew Walsh (Editor), Sean O’Neill (Editor), Lasse Sørensen (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This book collects recent works on the subjects of sacrificial offerings, ritualized violence and the relative values thereof in the contexts of Scandinavian prehistory from the Neolithic to the Viking era. The volume builds on a workshop hosted at the National Museum of Denmark in 2018 which inaugurated the beginning of the research project ‘Human Sacrifice and Value: The limits of sacred violence’ and was supported by the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo. The volume brings together research and perspectives that attempt to go beyond the who, what and where of most archaeological and anthropological investigations of sacrificial violence to address both the underlying and explicit forms of value associated with such events.

The volume re-opens investigations into notions of value relating to diverse evidence and suggested evidence for human sacrifice and related ritualized violence. It covers a broad spectrum of issues relating to novel interpretations of the existing archaeological materials, but with a focus on the study of value and value dynamics in these diverse ritual contexts, engaging in questions of identity, cosmology, economics and social relations. Cases span from the Scandinavian Late Neolithic and Nordic Bronze Age, through to the well-known wetland deposits and bog bodies of the Iron Age, to Viking era executions, ‘deviant’ burials and contemporaneous double/multiple graves, exploring the implications for the transformation of sacrificial practices across Scandinavian prehistory.

Each contribution attempts to untangle the myriad forms of value at play in different incarnations of human offerings, and provide insights into how those values were expressed, e.g., in the selection and treatment of victims in relation to their status, personhood, identity and life-history.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Number of pages150
ISBN (Print)978-1-78925-859-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78925-860-8
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • human sacrifice
  • Southern Scandinavia
  • prehistory
  • Archaeology

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