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Preparations under way for 'Vikings' exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau museum in Berlin
Annemarie Juul (L) and Anne Moesgaard, conservators of the National Museum of Denmark, build together the wreckage of the Roskilde 6 vessel from the Viking Age at the atrium of the Martin Gropius Bau museum in Berlin, where preparations are under way on August 13, 2014 for the exhibition "The Vikings". The ship, measuring 37 metres in length, it is the longest warship from this epoch ever to be found. The exhibition running from September 10, 2014 to January 4, 2015 features warrior graves and weapons finds, grave goods for affluent women, archaeologically important settlement finds, as well as evidence of cultic and religious practices of historical value. AFP PHOTO / DPA / MAURIZIO GAMBARINI.
BERLIN.- The extraordinary Viking expansion from the Scandinavian homelands during this era created a cultural network with contacts from the Caspian Sea to the North Atlantic, and from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean. The Vikings are viewed in a global context that highlights the multi-faceted influences arising from extensive cultural contacts.

The exhibition features many new archaeological discoveries and objects never seen before alongside important Viking Age artefacts from the British Museum’s own collection and elsewhere in Britain and Ireland. It capitalises on new research and thousands of recent discoveries by both archaeologists and metal-detectorists, to set the developments of the Viking Age in context. These new finds have changed our understanding of the nature of Viking identity, trade, magic and belief and the role of the warrior in Viking society. Above all, it was the maritime character of Viking society and their extraordinary shipbuilding skills that were key to their achievements. At the centre of the exhibition are the surviving timbers of a 37-metre-long Viking warship, the longest ever found and never seen before.

The ship, known as Roskilde 6, was excavated from the banks of Roskilde fjord in Denmark during the course of work undertaken to develop the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum in 1997. Since the excavation, the timbers have been painstakingly conserved and analysed by the National Museum of Denmark. The surviving timbers – approximately 20% of the original ship - have now been re-assembled for display in a specially made stainless steel frame that reconstructs the full size and shape of the original ship. The construction of the ship has been dated to around AD 1025, the high point of the Viking Age when England, Denmark, Norway and possibly parts of Sweden were united under the rule of Cnut the Great. The size of the ship and the amount of resources required to build it suggest that it was almost certainly a royal warship, possibly connected with the wars fought by Cnut to assert his authority over this short-lived North Sea Empire.

New interpretations place warfare and warrior identity at the centre of what it meant to be a Viking; cultural contact was often violent, and the transportation of looted goods and slaves reflects the role of Vikings as both raiders and traders. Recently excavated skeletons from a mass grave of executed Vikings near Weymouth in Dorset, provides a close-up encounter with ‘real’ Vikings and illustrate what happened when things went wrong for Viking warriors on British soil.

Ostentatious jewellery of gold and silver demonstrates how status was vividly displayed by Viking men and women. These include a stunning silver hoard from Gnezdovo in Russia, which highlights the combination of Scandinavian, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences which contributed to the development of the early Russian state in the Viking Age.

An exhibition presented by the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) in conjunction with the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, and the British Museum, London.





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