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En hårdkokt historia: En studie av äggskalfynd från vikingatida gravkontext med särskilt fokus på Uppland och Gotland
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
2017 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Hard-Boiled Mysteries : A study of archaeological eggshell finds within Viking Age grave contexts in Uppland and Gotland provinces (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines archaeological eggshell finds from cremation graves in the Swedish province of Uppland as well as inhumation graves from the island of Gotland. All graves are dated to the Viking Age, however, the chronology varies by the region, with the period´s ending placed around year 1050 AD in Uppland and around year 1150 AD at the island of Gotland. An attempt is made to create a list of all known cases of egg depositions in graves during the period of interest, and to subsequently analyse them all in order to get a better understanding of this practice.

The comparative analysis of the artefact assemblages within the graves and grave constructions is undertaken in order to identify possible regularities in how and when the egg was used within the ritual sequence. Although notable regional variations and differences in Viking Age burial customs are known to exist between the two investigated regions, and artefacts deposited within the graves are adapted to regional conditions, it is possible, amongst other things, to observe similarities in the timing of egg deposition.

By understanding the funeral as a rite of passage that signified the transition between the states of life and death, and with the final goal of achieving the distinction between the world of the living and the realm of deceased ancestors, it is possible to better comprehend the funeral rituals and their archaeological remains – in this case avian eggshells. By applying van Gennep's rites of passage tripartite structure, involving separation, liminality, and incorporation, it is concluded that eggs, as we see them in the archaeological material presented in this study, are used in the last stage of this model. This is the part of the process where the main goal is reintegration of those who participated in ritual into a new social order. It is thus proposed here that eggs might be seen as hierophanies:  profane, everyday objects that have manifested into something sacred and who are clearly understood as such to those involved in burial but not necessary to outsiders: as symbols for fertility, regeneration, rebirth and transformation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 96
Keywords [en]
Archaeological eggshells, Viking Age, mortuary practice, Uppland province, Gotland, context of discovery, rite of passage, ritual phase
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324894OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324894DiVA, id: diva2:1112047
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Available from: 2017-06-19 Created: 2017-06-19 Last updated: 2017-06-19Bibliographically approved

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