MU­SE­UMS & GAL­LERIES

The Vik­ings are com­ing! But don’t fear, says Lau­ren Oyler – the only pil­lag­ing you’ll see here is his­tor­i­cal.

Where Berlin - - Contents -

The Vik­ings are com­ing! Take a closer look at their cul­ture with weapons, trea­sure, and a 37-me­ter-long royal war­ship.

Although it makes for an easy Hal­loween cos­tume, the stereo­type of sav­age war­rior in funny hel­met does the Vik­ings lit­tle jus­tice. With an em­pire that spanned the 9th to 11th cen­turies and stretched from North Amer­ica across Eng­land, Den­mark, Norway, and parts of Swe­den at its peak, the Vik­ings’ ex­ten­sive trade net­work, fas­ci­nat­ing re­li­gious and cul­tic rit­u­als, and mar­itime achieve­ments make it clear their cul­ture de­serves a closer look.

And now they’re get­ting it. Pre­sented in con­junc­tion with the Bri­tish Mu­seum and the Na­tional Mu­seum of Den­mark, The

Vik­ings ex­hibit at the Martin- Gropius-Bau (p. 44) brings to­gether years of archaeological find­ings, his­tor­i­cal re­search, and cu­ra­to­rial bril­liance to deepen our un­der­stand­ing of this an­cient so­ci­ety of raiders, set­tlers, traders, and sea­far­ers. Fea­tur­ing loot, weapons, re­mains un­earthed from a mass ex­e­cu­tion grave, and more, the show is di­vided into four seg­ments de­signed to showcase the depth and breadth of Vik­ing life: “War and Con­quest,” “Power and Do­min­ion,” “Faith and Rit­ual,” and “Con­tacts and Ex­change.” Many ob­jects will be ex­hib­ited to the pub­lic for the first time, and the fa­mous Vale of York Hoard – one of the largest and most sig­nif­i­cant col­lec­tions of Vik­ing ar­ti­facts dis­cov­ered since 1840 – will also be shown in its en­tirety: 617 coins, six arm rings, and a siz­able amount of bul­lion and hack-sil­ver, which would have been used as cur­rency.

While there will surely be some funny hel­mets as well, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s pièce de ré­sis­tance is a 37-me­ter-long royal war­ship ex­ca­vated from the Roskilde fjord in Den­mark and re­con­structed to full size on a stain­less steel frame. Dat­ing from 1025 AD, the re­main­ing tim­bers rep­re­sent many things: the largest Vik­ing ship ever found, the vi­tal role of the sea in Vik­ing cul­ture and con­quest, and, along­side rooms’ worth of plun­der and weaponry, the em­pire’s en­dur­ing power.

“Many ob­jects will be ex­hib­ited for the very

first time.”

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