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Ahmed, Adam och de asatroende: En undersökning av två samtida skildringar av offer i den fornnordiska religionen
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, History of Religions.
2014 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay takes its start in the problematic situation concerning source material in the study of the Norse religion before the Christianization of Scandinavia. There is a lack of written sources from the time when the religion was still practiced. There are plenty of archeological sources economic situation than their religious beliefs. The Icelandic stories written in the 13th and 14th centuries give us a broad pictureof the Norse mythology, but the writers were Christians which makes their reliability questionable.

The focus of this essay is therefore on two texts written during the time when the Norse religion was still in practice. The first source is the travel notes written in 922 by the Muslim scholar Ahmad ibn Fadlan who met a group of the Rus’ people. The Rus’ were mainly Scandinavians (possibly from Sweden) and their religious practices hence falls under the category of Norse religion. Ibn Fadlan showed a great interest in the Rus’ and describes their ritual sacrifices and a funeral of theirs in great detail. The second source is the description of the heathen cult in the Swedish town of Uppsala written in 1076 by the Christian scholar Adam of Bremen. He describes Uppsala as the last outpost of the religion and among other things he describes their practices, their ritual sacrifices and a golden temple.

I’ve used a comparative method as well as a historical critical method in order to findcredible similarities between the two sources. The focus is placed on the descriptions of the ritual sacrifices in both of the texts and how they can be understood in their context. This is done to find a common ground within the religion in order to construct a framework from which further research may find its foundation.

With the help from earlier research on these two texts, on other written material, such as thethe Icelandic stories, and on archeological findings I’ve found many similarities between my two sources which can be considered as real parts of the Norse religion. These are the sacrifice to images of the gods, the sacrifice of different animals, the sacrifice in sacred groves and the hanging of scarified animals in trees and on treelike poles, the central role of sacrificing heads of animals and different ritual practices in order to experience a higher reality. Human sacrifice can be strongly questioned and both of the texts point to hanging as a mean of execution instead of sacrifice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 36 p.
Keyword [en]
Norse religion, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Adam of Bremen, Rus’ people, Uppsala, ritual sites, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice
National Category
History of Religions
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-217336OAI: diva2:692901
Subject / course
History of Religions
Educational program
Teacher Education Programme
Available from: 2014-02-03 Created: 2014-02-03 Last updated: 2014-02-03Bibliographically approved

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