Beyond Mapping Movement: Travel and Exchange

This session sets out to explore the various social, political and economic implications of long-distance travel. From the beginning of the Late Neolithic and following into the Bronze Age, new technologies, social networks, and knowledge systems enabled regular long-distance travel, and changed the way people moved and interacted. The aim of this session is to explore the many contrasting paths and facets of travel and exchange that affected the geographically, climatically as well as culturally diverse societies of the Nordic Bronze Age world.

Recent advances within the natural sciences have changed the way we perceive movement and exchange in the Bronze Age. Provenance analysis of raw materials like metal, amber, and glass seem to imply that long-distance trading expeditions were organized on a regular basis between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. Similarly, we are now able to map movement of individuals with origins hundreds of kilometres away from their final resting place. Sophisticated chronological resolution opens up for discussions of long-term oscillating patterns of exchange and rupture. In order to explain and not just describe the processes of interaction reflected by this growing body of data, re-energised interpretive discussions based on new methodological and theoretical tools are called for.

The new sets of evidence need to be understood within their sociohistorical contexts. This concerns physical as well as cultural preconditions for travel and interaction within or across cultural borders. How was boat-building or long sea journeys organised? What social relations were preconditions for travel? Where and when did people gather to exchange commodities? How did people communicate across language barriers? To expand our knowledge of these issues, we invite papers that discuss travel and exchange at different interpretative levels; at the local, regional and interregional levels.


Session organisers

Lene Melheim

Museum of Cultural History, Department of Archaeology,

University of Oslo


Knut Ivar Austvoll

Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History,

University of Oslo


Johan Ling

Department of Historical Studies, Archaeology,

University of Gothenburg



Published Oct. 10, 2016 8:35 PM - Last modified Oct. 17, 2016 5:39 PM