This is part one of the picture reel from my latest visit to this glorious museum. I hope you enjoy it!
“There were five rattles in the Oseberg grave. We are not sure what they were used for: perhaps as musical instruments, sleigh bells fitted on the brindle or cult objects to be used in religious rituals or processions.”
“One of the rattles found in the grave chamber would appear to be of this last variety. The rattle and hook were found fastened to the carved animal head-posts.”
Detail on the bucket found in the Oseberg mound (ca AD 800). You probably notice the Swastika. In the 1940s, it was misinterpreted by the nazis as a “proof” of white supremacy thoughts among vikings. According to Kim Hjardar, (historian and writer of “Vikinger i Krig”) The vikings had no racial agenda for their pillaging.
Animal heads. There are loads of different theories about what they were used for. They might have had ritualistic significance.
“When the objects in the Oseberg mound were excavated, there were remnants of colours on some of them: Red, reddish brown, black, yellow and grey-white. The most colourful of all the burial gifts were the sledges.”
“In his diary, archeologist professor G. Gustafson who was in charge of the excavation in 1904 writes about his dilemma. Should the colors or the carvings be given priority? Alum conservation was the best and only method of preserving the shape and carvings of the artefacts. The problem was that alum conservation would also destroy the surface and therefore the colours. Gustafson sacrificed the colours to save the carvings.”
“What can be done to prevent the artefacts from the Oseberg mound from degrade? Research to conserve the Oseberg find proceeding on three main fronts:
– Elucidating the current condition of the physical and chemical composition of the wood on the artefacts
– Examining wether existing conservation methods can be adapted and used
– Developing completely new conservation methods
This is urgent! The researchers face difficult choices, and their decisions may have terminal consequences:
Should the researchers take action now? Halting the degradation before it goes too far? They are concerned that the existing methods may not be sufficient since there is a lack of knowledge of how current methods last over time. Or wether there are unforeseen problems with them. Should conservation wait until researchers have found better methods? This risks that the artefacts will disintegrate while awaiting new treatment. How long can they wait?”
To those of you who have the opportunity to go and se the Oseberg finds in person: please do so. There is a high probability that it won’t last long due to the degrading.
TEXT: from The Viking Ship Museum, University of Oslo, Norway.
Pictures: Sól Geirsdóttir, The Viking Queen.