The Northern way – Conceptualization of Nonhuman Animals in the Animal Art of 5-6th century Norway

Author(s): Elna Siv Kristoffersen

Year: 2017


The presentation takes up a northern way of expression opposed to a southern one – namely the stylistic depiction and focus on animals and mixed animal/human designs prevailing in the Nordic Barbaric area opposed to a focus on the naturalistic ideal of the human body throughout the classical world. The complexity and continuity of this Nordic art form indicates that it was structurally incorporated in an overarching principle that reflects social and cosmic order. The mixed animal-human designs create species that cross-cut traditional categories and enforce reflections on such relationships. On such a basis certain motifs within the Animal Art open up to a pre-Christian understanding of the potential for interchangeability between not only animals and humans – but also objects, where a basic transformative logic is evident. It is, however, a question whether the hybridity in the representations, in their bringing together of different elements and the overcoming of boundaries, might be taken as an expression of a relationship in real life without opposition or distinction. And whether investment of creativity in their representation might be taken as an indication of the essentiality of these designs in respect of ideas of a transcending relationship between animals and humans.

Cite this Record

The Northern way – Conceptualization of Nonhuman Animals in the Animal Art of 5-6th century Norway. Elna Siv Kristoffersen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429574)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16793