Five questions about early Ribe

Based on the overall aim of the project, the five work packages below are meant to tackle more specific culture-historical aims of the project related to the urban development of early Ribe.

  1. How did Ribe emerge? Micromorphology and soil-chemical and environmental-archaeological investigations will show whether the earliest activity layers show signs of seasonal activity or permanent settlement as well as how long it took for the place to be characterised by urban-like settlement. Previous research has indicated an activity phase prior to the allotment of plots; however, the duration and the nature of this phase remain unknown.

  2. Was the earliest Ribe characterised by high-density housing? Open area excavation of two plots and parts of the adjoining main street will show which type of buildings characterised the earliest phases. Previous research has assumed an open, market-like space of small, temporary buildings; however, a re-analysis of older excavations argues for high-density housing in the area (Croix 2015).

  3. Who were the earliest dwellers in the North? Contextual analysis of activity traces, e.g. the relationship between household and craft and between various specialised crafts, will show which identities and cultural and economic relations characterise the settlement. The question pertains to e.g. the relation between visitors and locals and between free and unfree players.

  4. Which events had an impact on Ribe’s development? The potential of the stratigraphy needs to tapped in order to yield a coherent analysis of changes in the cultural layers (floors, workshops, fire and destruction layers, growth layers and backfill of manure) as well as the finds (varying frequency of trades; new patterns of import, e.g. the arrival of beads from the Islamic world immediately prior to 800 CE). Can observed changes be connected to historical phenomena such as the Carolingian Saxon Wars or the raids of the Viking Age?

  5. How long did Ribe survive as an emporium? The younger layers of the site are not as well-preserved, and that has given rise to an essential question about the development of the city: did the activity in Ribe cease in the second half of the ninth century (Feveile 2012, 120), of did it continue for a significantly longer period (Jensen 2013, 22)? Dendrochronology, Bayesian-modelled AMS C14 dating and tephrochronology will offer an improved chronology of the changes Ribe underwent after the mid-800s.