Fellows at Museum of Cultural History
The Museum of Cultural History has today eight PhD research fellow positions, of which two will be announced yearly to applicants within the three research fields of the museum.
All PhD research fellows share one office area, and are connected to one or more of the research groups of the Museum of Cultural History. The PhD research fellows of the Museum of Cultural History have a supervisor at the museum, and follow relevant programs for PhD research fellows at the University of Oslo.
The Museum of Cultural History emphasizes that the PhD research fellows have independent projects of high quality, and offers a professionally stimulating working environment. The KHM encourages to international mobility and networking, and constitutes an arena where the PhD research fellows are inspired to think of the dissemination of research results.
Handel, religiøs makt og utviklingen av urban matkultur i høymiddelalderens Oslo. En studie av middelalderens keramikk og endringer i matkultur 1100-1350
Kan endringer i middelalderens matkultur spores i endringer i keramikk?
Det store identitetsprosjektet for Europa i høymiddelalderen var kristendommen: Pavekirken var på høyden av sin makt i Europa og søkte kontroll over alle sider av menneskelivet. Samtidig vokste de europeiske byene frem, med en unik rettslig og sosioøkonomisk status. Etter korstogene hadde europeerne gjenopptatt handelsrutene til India og Kina via de norditalienske bystatene og Midtøsten. Dette medførte ikke bare en fornyelse av filosofi, arkitektur og teknologi, men også en utvikling av ny matkultur og en utstrakt bruk av importerte krydder. Gjennom forbruk av en viss type mat knyttet til tallrike religiøse høytider, konsoliderte den nye byborgeren sin religiøse og verdslige status.
Keramikk var trolig det viktigste materialet innen middelalderens husgeråd ved siden av tregjenstander, og er det som er best bevart og representert gjennom arkeologiske utgravninger. Fra middelalderen er det imidlertid ingen funn av keramikkproduksjon i Norge, til tross for mange og store utgravninger i middelalderbyene. Dette gjør Norge unikt i en europeisk sammenheng: All keramikk er importert i denne perioden. Keramikk var derfor en viktig handelsvare i norske byer, som i hovedsak ble produsert i Østersjøregionen, Sørskandinavia, de tyske områdene, Nederlandene, Frankrike og England. Dette gjør keramikken særlig interessant for forståelsen av Oslos posisjon i nye europeiske nettverk i tidlig høymiddelalder.
I dette prosjektet vil jeg undersøke om, og eventuelt hvordan, den nye, urbane matkulturen i middelalder kan spores i samtidige endringer i keramikken fra middelalderbyen Oslo. Problemstillingen knytter seg til de overordnede spørsmålene i FOODIMPACT-prosjektet, med særskilt fokus på relasjonen mellom middelalderbyen og internasjonal handel, samt hvordan matkultur definerer og former urbane identiteter (FOODIMPACT strand 2-3).
Meaningful Materialities: The Oscar Mamen Collection as a Source of Empirical Investigation
The museum collection that forms the basis for this research project was collected from 1911 to 1937 in Mongolia by Oscar Mamen, a Norwegian tradesman and traveller. He collected around 500 objects and took over 8000 pictures from Mongolian festivities and every day life. In addition, the collection consists of diaries, books with photo descriptions, travel documents, receipts, film rolls and an unpublished manuscript.
Inspired by Tim Ingold, this PhD project aim to investegate the materiality of the Oscar Mamen material, that is, the meaning such museum collection can evoke through involvement in different practices and contexts (Ingold, 2007). Through book releases, an exhibition and by interviewing Mongolians, I aim to look at the material´s materiality as it unfolds during fieldwork in Mongolia.
The photos from Mongolia are especially interesting. Oscar Mamen took photos in a time of political unrest. He witnessed several events of national importance for Mongolia. Mamen was there when the «living God King», Bogda Khan, was crowned in 1911, the first act of Mongolian independence after the fall of the Chinese Qing dynasty. He photographed the following war between Mongolia and China, officials negotiating peace treaties, the Mongolian revolution and the subsequent transformation into a Soviet satelite state in 1924. His photos cover these politically important events, but also everyday life in Ulan Bator (formerly Urga).
Oscar Mamen was one of few with camera equipment during this period of time. In addition, as a part of the Soviet world, the national culture in Mongolia was to be comprised of “values that were national in form but socialist in essence” (Szynkiewics 1990: 3). In concequence, much of the old Mongolian culture was forbidden, confiscated or destroyed. These two facts make the Oscar Mamen collection exceptional and therefore important to the Mongolian formation of national identity.
Ingold, Tim. 2007. “Materials against materiality”. In Archaeological Dialogues, 14 (1): 1–16.
Szynkiewics, Slawoj. 1990. “Mythologized Representations in Soviet Thinking on the Nationalities Problem”. In Anthropology Today 6 (2): 3.
Astrid Tvedte Kristoffersen
Heavy metal and silvery tunes. Medieval metal production in Eastern Norway and its impact on the region’s economy and urban development.
The Old Town of Oslo and Hamarkaupangen grew up as urban centres during the early Middle Ages in the beginning of the 11th century. In both Oslo and Hamar archaeologists have uncovered production sites for artefacts from non-ferrous metals, e.g. silver and lead. Silver coins were minted in Hamar under the reign of king Harald Hardråde (1047–1066) and in Oslo under Duke Håkon Magnusson towards the end of the 1200s. The metal itself is believed to have been imported, as the first documented written source on mining in Norway dates to 1490. The region in question is, however, rich in minerals from the geological Oslo Paleorift. By lead isotope analysis, I have recently argued for lead and silver production in the Old Town of Oslo as early as 1150–1200. This is 300 years earlier than previously documented. The scale of the production and the full significance of the local raw material, however, has not yet been studied.
The main objective of the project is to investigate how access to local raw material for silver and lead production has affected the economy and social development in Eastern Norway in the Middle Ages (1030–1536). By interdisciplinary analysis, I will study the scale of production, technical characteristics, the processes, and the actors involved. New methods for non-destructive sampling of collections at the Museum of cultural history at The University of Oslo will be applied. The purpose is to get a better understanding of the medieval society in this region, and shed light on urban growth and decline.
On Wings to the Otherworld: Bird Remains in Viking Age Graves from Scandinavia and the British Isles
The main aim of the project is a new analysis and interpretation of graves with eggshells, feather remains, and bird bones dated to the Viking Age discovered in Scandinavia and in the British Isles. In my proposed PhD thesis, I will also compare the conclusions emerging from the analysis of archaeological finds from funerary and other contexts with the meanings of birds in medieval written sources, as well as discussing selected bird depictions in Viking Age iconography.
The project will be conducted in three stages during which different material will be re-examined and described. The first stage will be devoted to the analysis of the bird bones and archaeological reports which were stored in the various museum and archives in Scandinavia, Germany and in the British Isles. During short research stays, finds will be re-examined and described in the extensive database. Next stage of the PhD project will be devoted to the comparative analyses of Viking Age graves from different regions (Northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, British Isles). The Viking Age graves from Scandinavia and the British Isles will be juxtaposed with selected Vendel and Anglo-Saxon graves. During this time, in the detailed analyses differences and similarities between graves will be shown and described in the two separate chapters of PhD thesis. In the final stage of the PhD project, Old Norse and non-Scandinavian written sources and depictions of birds in Viking Age art will be examined, described using comparative methods established by the specialist in Scandinavian history and Viking Age art and compared archaeological sources. Finally, details collected during these three stages will be prepared for submission and publications.
Ingar Mørkestøl Gundersen
«År uten somre» AD 536: Krise eller adapsjon?
De senere årene har flere forskere trukket frem klimakrise og pest – med påfølgende befolkningsnedgang – som en grunnleggende eller medvirkende årsak til omfattende sosiale, materielle og ideologiske endringer i overgangen mellom eldre og yngre jernalder i Skandinavia. Sentralt i tolkningene står omfattende naturvitenskapelige beviser for en global klimakrise på 500-tallet.
Jeg argumenterer for at erkjennelsen av klimakrisen ikke er tilstrekkelig for å forstå endringenes karakter. Det er en betydelig regional variasjon i det arkeologiske materialet, som indikerer forskjellige forutsetninger for tilpasning og endring. Med et utgangspunkt i antropologisk og arkeologisk katastrofeforskning – ofte sammenfattet som resiliensteori – mener jeg at både kulturelle og klimatiske faktorer må vektlegges for å forstå endringsprosessene. For å oppnå dette må utviklingsforløpet analyseres over et lengre tidsrom.
I mitt arbeid tar jeg for meg det jordbruks- og bosetningshistoriske materialet fra jernalderen i to områder; Gudbrandsdalen og Mjøsregionen. Jeg har valgt disse områdene fordi de utgjør det samme overordnete dal- og elvesystemet – og dermed påvirkes av beslektede klimaforhold og kulturelle impulser – men likevel har ulike forutsetninger for bosetning, jordbruk og erverv.
Min hypotese er at økende sårbarhet for klimaendringer, forårsaket av jordbruksekspansjon mot marginale områder i eldre jernalder, svekket samfunnets evne til å absorbere kritiske naturhendelser. En rekke sammenfallende begivenheter mot slutten av folkevandringstid, som klimaforverring, jordbrukskrise og geopolitiske omveltninger på kontinentet, bidro til å sentrere makt og innflytelse i velbergede enheter – avhengig av de ulike gruppenes forutsetninger for tilpasning. Varierende kulturelle og naturlige forhold har medført ulike konsekvenser både på lokale og regionale nivåer. Det er disse forutsetningene som står i sentrum for analysene i mitt prosjekt.
Effects of fluctuating climate and deformation characteristics of complex archaeological wooden objects. A study of the hygro-mechanical behaviour and deformation of the Oseberg and Gokstad ships.
The Viking ship museum at Bygdøy (VSH) houses one of the most comprehensive collections of wooden Viking Age objects in the world. Most of the objects are in display cases with a controlled climate. However, three ships, two smaller boats, a burial chamber and some other objects are exhibited openly and exposed to the climate variations within the building envelope Investigations the resent years has also revealed that the current state of deformation issues of the ships on display were larger and more complex than expected. What is quite clear is that the ships are in need of extended and improved support systems.
Large complex wooden structures in cultural heritage, ships in particular, are prone to gradual three-dimensional deformation. Just from the mere size or structural complexity of the objects, it can be hard to assess small deformations on a global level due to creep and crack formations, or movement induced by fluctuating climate. The overall changes can be slow, but gradually developing into more obvious problems.
This PhD project is part of the preventive conservation of the Saving Oseberg project. The main objective of this sub project is to identify relevant behavioural patterns of complex wooden structures with regards to effects of fluctuating climate, and deformation characteristics. It will also be pointed out how deformation (strain), measured by fixed target photogrammetry, can be contextualized with other methodologies such as static and dynamic load distribution (stress), and their correlations with climate monitoring.
The aim of this new methodological approach is to get an improved tool applicable for monitoring mechanical response to fluctuating climate, help evaluating allowable mechanical loads to minimize deformation in an exhibition setting, optimize climate set points, and define basic data input for numerical modelling approaches such as FEM. The methods proposed can be applied on any wood species, historical or archaeological, but are limited to wood in a preservation state capable of structural functionality.
Hunter-gatherers and the changing environment - vulnerability and resilience among hunter-gatherers in southeast norway and central sweden, c. 9000-7600 cal bp
The PhD project aims to investigate the vulnerability and resilience to climate-induced changes in the environment among hunter-gatherer groups in southeast Norway and interior, central Sweden using a climatic deterioration 8200 years ago as a case study. The so-called 8200 cal BP event is among the best documented climate events in the Holocene and is detected as a significant, but short–term fall in temperatures in multiple palaeoenvironmental records in the North Atlantic region. In archaeological research, the event has been connected to cultural and demographic changes across Europe.
The cooling event is detected in several palaeoenvironmental records from Southern Norway, the Norwegian Sea, and Western and Central Sweden, and this project aims to investigate if the event had any impact on the settlement in the case study area. Are there any demographic changes following the climatic cooling? Are there any changes in settlement patterns or mobility strategies? How vulnerable were the hunter-gatherers to climate-induced changes in the environment? Are there different strategies in inland versus coastal areas?
The project will investigate human responses to climate change by using two different scales of analysis, and will apply the following methods: Temporal distribution of shoreline dated sites and summed calibrated radiocarbon dates as a proxy for human activity over time (large-scale) and minimum analytical nodule analysis (MANA) of lithic assemblages (small-scale).