Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.
(Media-Newswire.com) - Research into pagan Viking burials has provided an Aberdeen academic with new revelations into the way the early Norse led their lives and their attitude towards mortality.
Studies led by Professor Neil Price, Chair of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, exploring thousands of excavated graves known from the Viking world, revealed that no two of these burial monuments were the same.
The research also showed that Viking funerals involved complex elements of mortuary theatre – ritual plays which were literally performed at the graveside.
Detailed analysis of the burials revealed the sheer variety of objects found alongside the bodies - from everyday items to great longships and vehicles such as wagons and sleds, together with animals of many different species and even human sacrifices.
These findings will be showcased to the public at Professor Price's lecture Passing into Poetry: Viking Funerals and the Origins of Norse Mythology on Monday 27 October, which takes place as part of the University of Aberdeen Inaugural Lectures 2008 series.
Professor Price said: "Close analysis of Viking burials not only gives us an insight into the workings of their minds, but most importantly how slim they perceived the boundaries to be between life and death, and between humans and animals. Archaeology does not just uncover bodies and finds from the graves, it also reveals the complex rituals that took place when these burials were made.
"The research focused on the examination of excavated material and Old Norse texts, combined with eye witness descriptions of Viking burial ceremonies found in contemporary literature. The study demonstrated the significant role that storytelling and dramatisation played in the Viking disposal of the dead. It seems clear that public enactments took place on these occasions, intended to provide the deceased with a poetic passage into the next life.
"The work suggests that Vikings used these funeral stories as a way of connecting the world of the living and the worlds of the dead. It is likely that these dramas, which were created and acted out using objects that were placed with the body in the grave or on the cremation pyre, form the beginnings of what we know today as Norse mythology."
Professor Price's lecture Passing into Poetry: Viking Funerals and the Origins of Norse Mythology takes place on Monday 27 October at 6pm at the Kings College Conference Centre, University of Aberdeen. The lecture will be followed by an informal wine reception.
Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: ( 01224 ) 272014.
Issued on: Thursday 23rd of October 2008
Ref: 302vikings Contact: Kelly Cromar
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