Commodities and culture- encounters, exchange and social dynamics in Medieval Sigtuna, c 980 to 1350.

Project: Research

Layman's description

During the Middle Ages, Sigtuna held a position as a rich and important node in a varied international power and trade network.Through artefacts found in the deposits in Sigtuna, we can follow the changing interaction patterns. Foreign visitors acted within set social frames in the local community, but also changed embedded social and cultural patterns.

In texts from the High Middle Ages we meet tribute collection and lavish silver gifts as a means for powerful actors to enhance their status and create networks. An economy of gestures have represented exchange and trade. An archaization of trade can be discerned, emanating from a will to see it as embedded in the social relations of society. However, when fleeing from market economical models to anthropological explanations, the double nature of exchange has been lost. Gifts and commodities circulated in two different social spheres, but were parts of a common economy. While gifts were the lubricant, the commodities worked as an adhesive.

There were also other reasons and actors behind the “import” of foreign artefacts. To understand their interrelation, both rapid change and inertia, all foreign visitors must be taken into consideration. For studies of the social and cultural effects of strangers on the local community, I will focus on foreign residents in Sigtuna in the lake Mälaren region. Foreigners were important as they brought new social standards, resulting in culture change. I follow political, social and cultural patterns over time, between ca 900 AD to 1300 AD. The chronological and spatial patterning of these findings can be interpreted by using models from symbolic interactionism, as well as other micro-social human processes influenced by varying degree of presence in the early urban centres.
Effective start/end date2006/01/012014/12/31