Globalizing Graves: Necklaces and Networks of Consumption during the Viking Age

Author(s): Matthew Delvaux

Year: 2016


Viking Age graves typically contain two types of exotic goods: coins and jewelry. Coins have long dominated discussions of early medieval economics because they have been understood as being closely linked to exchange. Two factors militate against this one-sided approach. First, coins appear alongside jewelry either as pendants worn singly or as parts of necklace groups. Second, ornamental objects appear in coin hoards, and beads in particular are attested in written sources as a means of payment. Bead assemblages therefore offer an important means for reassessing the long-distance dimensions of early medieval life.

This paper will survey the issues at stake in introducing beads to these discussion, presenting a summary of current research agendas and highlighting the significance of long-standing questions about early medieval economics. The majority of this paper, however, will focus on developing a methodological approach to challenge and complement the prevailing currents of previous scholarship. Building on recent studies that have argued that medieval exchange and production sites developed not as cores with local peripheries but rather as nodes in both local and long-distance networks, I will argue that beads represent points of consumption that likewise functioned as nodes in networks embracing both local and interregional contacts.

Cite this Record

Globalizing Graves: Necklaces and Networks of Consumption during the Viking Age. Matthew Delvaux. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404428)


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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;