Associated projects

Associated projects are projects that are carried out at the Museum of Cultural History to develop methods and produce comparative data necessary for Gokstad revitalised, but also for other research projects.

They have their own funding, generally from the museum's research budgets. At the time being there are three associated projects.

Reconstructed section through a bed plank from the Gokstad burial, partially enlarged. With the industrial CT-scanner it was possible to measure year-rings down to 0.2mm thickness.

1) DendroCT

DendroCT is a project that aims at developing a non-destructive procedure for dendrochronology, based on the use of X-ray computer tomography. This is important while dendrochronology can provide exact datings and information about timber provenance, but it has until now required sampling with destructive methods, something which is in many cases not acceptable. The project was initiated in 2008 in a cooperation between the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, the Departement for Animal and Aquacultural Science at the Norwegian University of Life Science, the Town Museum in Gothenburg and the Danish dendrochronology company, Later the Norwegian Geological Institute joined the project, which has been financed by the Nordic Culture Fund and the partners. The project is today in its final phase, with publication of the results.

Two different scanners

The project tested two different computer tomographs, a Siemens Somatom Emotion single slice scanner developed for medical use, and a Nikon Metrology model XT H 225 LC, which is an industrial type scanner. Both scanners were tested against air-dried, archaeological oak wood, and more limited experiments were made with waterlogged wood and wood conserved with high-molecular polyethylene glycol. After scanning the resulting imagery were measured and analysed for dendrochronology using off-the-shelf software for handling and measuring on the images and the specialist programme DENDRO for the dendrochronological analyses.

Industrial scanner best images

The results showed that only the industrial scanner produced sufficiently clear imagery to allow for dendrochronological analyses. Using it on air-dried, archaeological oak there were no significant difference in results or success rates between dating conventionally and on the basis of CT-scans. The limited experiments with PEG-conserved and waterlogged oak were not successfull, and these types of material requires further experimentation.

Scanning many wooden objects

The results of the project allowed for the scanning of a large number of wooden objects from the Gokstad burial, which would otherwise not have been accessible for dendrochronology. It also opens for the non-destructive dating and provenancing of thousands of other archaeological and art-historical objects. A manuscript has been delivered to the journal Dendrochronologia with a description of the method.

The project group includes Jan Bill from the Museum of Cultural History, Aoife Daly from, Øistein Johnsen from Norwegian Geological Institute and Knut Dalen, recently retired from the Norwegian University of Life Science.

A plot from a multicorrespondance analysis of the content of 43 main, minor and trace elements found in slags from seven different iron production sites in Eastern Norway.

2) Iron Origins

In Scandinavia iron was produced exclusively from bog ore from the 5th century BC to the High Middle Ages. Thousands of iron production sites has been found alone in Norway, and iron formed an important element of the economy. The project Iron Origins is carried out by the Museum of Cultural History in collaboration with Geoarkeologiskt Laboratorium at Riksantikvarämbetet in Sweden since 2009. Its goal is to make it possible to determine the origin of iron produced from bog ore, in order to study how iron was produced and distributed. By analysing the chemical signature of production slag from well defined contexts in iron production sites a database with such signatures are being constructed. In iron objects it is possible to find microscopic inclusions of production slags, and determine their chemical signature. By comparing them to those of the production sites, the origin of the iron can be determined.

Eastern Norway

The project so far encompasses Eastern Norway, and it has been possible to demonstrate that there are clear regional differences between the signatures of the different iron production sites within this area. Production slags in some iron nails from the Gokstad ship has also been analysed, demonstrating that some of the nails seems to have been made from iron local to the area where the ship burial took place, while other came from other areas.

It is planned to expand the project in cooperation with the other university museums to include all of Norway, and later all of Scandinavia.

The project group includes Bernt Rundberget, Jan Henning Larsen and Jan Bill at the Museum for Cultural History, and Lena Grandin from Geoarkeologiskt Laboratorium.



Sites with preserved human skeletal remains from the later Iron Age being analysed in the SIGMA project.

SIGMA is an abbreviation for Social Identity and Geographical Mobility – archaeological and scientific Analyses of inhumation burials from the later Iron Age. The project was initiated in 2008 in cooperation between the Museum of Cultural History, Institute of Archaeology, Conservation and History, Institute of Biology and Institute of Basic Medical Science, all at the University of Oslo.

The project investigates burials and skeletal remains from ca 200 individuals from the later Iron Age in Norway archaeologically and with biometric analyses including osteology (all), ancient DNA (aDNA; ca 70) and isotope analyses (ca 70). The aim is to compare the biometric evidence with the archaeological, seeking to refine our understanding of both in terms of identity, life conditions and mobility. A wider goal is to be able to compare them with other preserved skeletons from a wider chronological and geographical range and with modern DNA data.

An important aspect in relation to the Gokstad revitalised project is that SIGMA will produce a comparative material against which the remains of the deceased in the Gokstad burial can be seen.

The project group includes Maja Krzewinska (aDNA), Elin Brødholt (osteology, archaeology), Elise Naumann (isotopes, archaeology) and Jan Bill.

(last updated 28.03.2011)



Published Feb. 5, 2013 2:48 PM