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Wirkmächtige Kommunikationsmedien : Menschenbilder der Vendel- und Wikingerzeit und ihre Kontexte

Helmbrecht, Michaela LU (2011) In Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 4° 30.
Abstract
This PhD thesis deals with anthropomorphic images from the Vendel and Viking Ages, their contexts and functions. The images are seen as means of communication with “effective power” or agency ("Wirkmächtigkeit"). They could have had a relationship of interaction or partial identity with what was represented, due to the fact that the Vendel and Viking Age societies were largely based on oral tradition. Using a semiotic approach, rules for the use of images can be deduced, and it can be differentiated between various levels of meanings. In a semiotic perspective, it is also the image-carrying object and the specific situation that contribute to the meanings of an image.

The pictures are assigned to five groups: scenes, single... (More)
This PhD thesis deals with anthropomorphic images from the Vendel and Viking Ages, their contexts and functions. The images are seen as means of communication with “effective power” or agency ("Wirkmächtigkeit"). They could have had a relationship of interaction or partial identity with what was represented, due to the fact that the Vendel and Viking Age societies were largely based on oral tradition. Using a semiotic approach, rules for the use of images can be deduced, and it can be differentiated between various levels of meanings. In a semiotic perspective, it is also the image-carrying object and the specific situation that contribute to the meanings of an image.

The pictures are assigned to five groups: scenes, single figures, gestures and attributes, human-animal transformations, and heads/faces. These groups are subdivided into motif-groups and iconographic interpretations are discussed. Some important pictorial topics are journeys, battles, gender-specific actions, transformations between humans and animals, and binding. Only few motifs can be plausibly identified with narratives preserved in medieval texts. In the second part of the analysis, the image-carrying objects are discussed and compared with the written sources. The quantitatively largest groups are gold foil figures, components of clothing, and coins. Most motifs were used only on certain types of objects. Motifs and image carriers underwent changes during the Vendel and Viking Ages, especially in the decades before and around 800 A.D. Several motifs were transferred from the gold foil figures to pendants. Although the archaeological record and the information in the texts rarely correspond directly, the texts, too, contain distorted echoes of Vendel and Viking Age conceptions of the "Wirkmächtigkeit" of images, and their use in social strategies.

Some situations of communication with and through pictures are discussed: the deposition of gold foil figures as an act of communication with “other worlds”; the material expression of gender identity in graves; the Gotlanders´ expression of their cultural identity and the role of anthropomorphic pictures at “central places”.



The images were on the one hand media among the living, by conveying messages of wealth and visual complexity, which makes them active devices in social strategies. On the other hand, their Wirkmächtigkeit is also grounded in their artistic production, and in the relationship of mutual influence or partial identity of the image and the represented, so that the communication is also directed to “other worlds”. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • fil dr Gaimster, Märit, PreConstruct Archaeology, London
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
in
Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 4°
volume
30
pages
540 pages
defense location
Kulturens auditorium, Tegnérsplatsen, Lund
defense date
2011-06-03 10:15
ISSN
0065-1001
ISBN
978-91-89578-38-8
language
German
LU publication?
yes
id
47ae8e72-603c-418e-8c6c-d25f93cc6c03 (old id 1936472)
date added to LUP
2011-05-04 14:52:43
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:01
@phdthesis{47ae8e72-603c-418e-8c6c-d25f93cc6c03,
  abstract     = {This PhD thesis deals with anthropomorphic images from the Vendel and Viking Ages, their contexts and functions. The images are seen as means of communication with “effective power” or agency ("Wirkmächtigkeit"). They could have had a relationship of interaction or partial identity with what was represented, due to the fact that the Vendel and Viking Age societies were largely based on oral tradition. Using a semiotic approach, rules for the use of images can be deduced, and it can be differentiated between various levels of meanings. In a semiotic perspective, it is also the image-carrying object and the specific situation that contribute to the meanings of an image.<br/><br>
The pictures are assigned to five groups: scenes, single figures, gestures and attributes, human-animal transformations, and heads/faces. These groups are subdivided into motif-groups and iconographic interpretations are discussed. Some important pictorial topics are journeys, battles, gender-specific actions, transformations between humans and animals, and binding. Only few motifs can be plausibly identified with narratives preserved in medieval texts. In the second part of the analysis, the image-carrying objects are discussed and compared with the written sources. The quantitatively largest groups are gold foil figures, components of clothing, and coins. Most motifs were used only on certain types of objects. Motifs and image carriers underwent changes during the Vendel and Viking Ages, especially in the decades before and around 800 A.D. Several motifs were transferred from the gold foil figures to pendants. Although the archaeological record and the information in the texts rarely correspond directly, the texts, too, contain distorted echoes of Vendel and Viking Age conceptions of the "Wirkmächtigkeit" of images, and their use in social strategies.<br/><br>
Some situations of communication with and through pictures are discussed: the deposition of gold foil figures as an act of communication with “other worlds”; the material expression of gender identity in graves; the Gotlanders´ expression of their cultural identity and the role of anthropomorphic pictures at “central places”.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The images were on the one hand media among the living, by conveying messages of wealth and visual complexity, which makes them active devices in social strategies. On the other hand, their Wirkmächtigkeit is also grounded in their artistic production, and in the relationship of mutual influence or partial identity of the image and the represented, so that the communication is also directed to “other worlds”.},
  author       = {Helmbrecht, Michaela},
  isbn         = {978-91-89578-38-8},
  issn         = {0065-1001},
  language     = {ger},
  pages        = {540},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Series in 4°},
  title        = {Wirkmächtige Kommunikationsmedien : Menschenbilder der Vendel- und Wikingerzeit und ihre Kontexte},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2011},
}