Globalization, trade, and magic: Weaving the threads of Iceland's Viking Age textiles.

Author(s): Michele Smith

Year: 2017


Icelandic Viking Age (9th-11th century) textiles are less frequently reported than their medieval counterparts, yet mineralized pseudomorphs adhering to copper alloy objects from burial contexts and a small number of items that survived in their organic forms suggest that this North Atlantic colony's textiles filled multiple roles and were produced through technical approaches with diverse origins. In the North Atlantic's Viking Age, some textiles were used as a form of currency within a commodity-money system that had continental Scandinavian counterparts and, perhaps, origins. Others were produced through approaches that integrated techniques linked not only to Scandinavia but also to other parts of the North Atlantic, including Scotland. Textiles dyed with plants brought from continental Europe, silks imported from the Mediterranean area as luxury items, and prestige goods embellished with copper, silver, or gold threads speak to the multi-facetted social uses and origins of textiles in Viking Age Iceland. Using archaeological and literary sources this paper will suggest not only that textiles were socially and economically important but also that they were imbued with mythological and magical meaning and were pivotal in trade networks reaching from the North Atlantic to Europe and the Middle East.

Cite this Record

Globalization, trade, and magic: Weaving the threads of Iceland's Viking Age textiles.. Michele Smith. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431177)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15838