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Northern Emporium

  • The archaeology of network urbanism in Viking-age Ribe

Northern Emporium: The Archaeology of Network Urbanism in Ribe

The Northern Emporium project aims to explore the evolution and dynamics of the earliest urban network in Scandinavia and the transition to the maritime-based network society in the Viking Age. It issues from new, significantly improved data based on a comprehensive, stratigraphic excavation of settlement and workshop layers in a central part of the earliest Ribe, one of the richest archaeological sites of the North Sea trading world, which emerged in the eighth century CE.

Urbanism, commercialization and globalization

The general culture-historical aim of the project is to shed light on urbanism as a network dynamic, and the significance of events, conflicts and flows on economic and cultural processes.  This will be done through a High-Definition archaeology, which will clarify the change of the site and its connections as well as the possible dynamics behind these, cf. the approach propagated by the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre of Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), reflecting its status as one of the three field-archaeological focus projects of the centre.

The analytical aims of the project focus on the interrelationships between processes and actors in urbanization, the scope and organization of commercial exchange, and the dynamics and impact of global flows. A combination of detailed data on context and chronology with a programme of scientific analysis on find materials aims to determine how – and to what extent – urban networks catalysed societal and environmental expansions and crises in the Nordic world on the threshold to the Viking Age.

High-definition excavation and dynamic documentation

The excavation will cover two plots and adjacent street-front in order to elucidate questions regarding the nature and the development of the settlement.  The project will apply a combination of consequent stratigraphic excavation and integration of High-Definition methods from the natural sciences (e.g. geochemical element analysis, dirt DNA, proteomics, micromorphology), in order to yield new knowledge about culture-historical problems. Furthermore, the documentation of the excavations will seek to implement dynamic digital methods and on-site recording.

The Northern Emporium project is an archaeological research project funded by the Carlsberg Foundation (Semper Ardens Fellowship). The project is affiliated to Centre of Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) at Aarhus University and carried out in close collaboration with Museum of Southwest Jutland.


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Fig. 1. Spatial mapping of phosphorous inside a Viking-age house based on three different grid sizes and their corresponding standard deviations. The maps are produced using ordinary kriging, which calculates the predicted elemental concentrations between samples. Illustration by Pernille L. K. Trant.
Fig. 2. Semivariogram showing the spatial correlation of phosphorous (at an indoor area) with the three grid sizes. When the semivariances are small, samples are strongly correlated at that distance. When the semivariances flattens, the correlation becomes smaller. The semivariogram is used to calculate the predicted concentrations using the semivariogram-model. Illustration by Pernille L. K. Trant.

2020.05.18 |

Soil sampling – when size matters!

Include soil geochemistry when excavating. This can help detangle details that might be invisible on site and hidden in the excavated soils. In this study, PhD Student Pernille L. K. Trant demonstrates why the chosen sampling grid size actually does matter for the result and the archaeological interpretations.

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