‘On the ice however one never, or seldom, meets any difficulty’ Frozen worlds of the North, Olaus Magnus and archaeology

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In 1518-19, Olaus Magnus – a Swedish scholar and the last (nominal) Catholic archbishop of Uppsala, travelled to the northern parts of Fenno-Scandinavia on behalf of the Vatican authorities to collect information about the region’s nature as well as the people and their customs, everyday life, beliefs, and folklore. Many years after his journey, in 1539, Olaus Magnus published a map, today known as Carta marina, one of the largest printed maps of its time. In 1555, he published an extensive, more than 800-paged work titled Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus – A Description of the Northern Peoples. The book, one of the oldest ethnological studies in Europe, was intended to complement the map, and many illustrations in this historical account are redrawings of details from the map. Both works represent a mixture of facts and fantasy but are nonetheless considered to provide many valuable insights into the 16th century North. Close-ups of Carta marina and descriptions in Historia are full of information and demonstrate the presence and vitality of life and movement both on land and the seas, which were clearly heavily trafficked also during wintertime. It seems moreover that in the book there is almost always winter. This contrasts with the archaeological studies of past life in Northern areas whereat winter, snow and ice have been rendered marginal and insignificant. In this contribution I would like to give an overview of how winter appears in the work of Olaus Magnus, with an interconnected emphasis on the possibility of archaeologically studying maritime networks in frozen worlds.
Period31 aug. 2023
HändelsetitelEuropean Association of Archaeologists: 29th Annual Meeting
Typ av evenemangKonferens
PlatsBelfast, StorbritannienVisa på karta