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Archaeological research project 2012-2014 In collaboration between Aarhus University, Denmark, and University of York, UK

This Archaeological project explores the expansion of maritime communication and network urbanism in the period c. 500-1200 AD through comparative studies into material flows.

In the early Middle Ages urbanism and cultural network were transformed across Africa, Asia and Europe. While the model of urbanism, which had formed the backbone of empires for almost a millennium, largely ceased in many regions, new models of complex so­ci­eties and new cultural diversity emerged. Among these are the Scandinavian Viking Age towns and their maritime networks. Recent archaeological investigations demonstrate remarkably similar and almost synchronous developments in a number of maritime regions across the world, from Indonesia to Ireland and from Arab and African mariners to the Frisians and Vikings of the North Sea. These developments do not merely express general conjunctures, but very direct material links: flows of objects or raw materials, or adoption of similar technological and social innovations.

The project comprises a series of pilot studies, field works and analyses reaching from Northern Europe through the Mediterranean to Eastern Africa and India. They explore the application of developing methodologies in material science, bioarchaeology and surveying techniques, and integrate these with established archaeological approaches. This shall promote an innovative vision and agenda for comparative archaeological research into an ill recognized early medieval world heritage.

The project funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) research career programme Sapere Aude.



  • Ivory working and flows of raw materials – artefactual and isotopic studies (postdoctoral researcher supervised by Paul Lane, to commence autumn 2012)
  • Copper alloy working – technological innovations, learning and adoption (Unn Pedersen, to commence summer 2012)
  • Antler working and flows of raw materials – artefactual studies and proteonomics (postdoctoral researcher supervised by Steve Ashby, to commence summer 2012)
  • Ceramic displacement and emulation – artefactual studies and material science (Lars Krats Larsen, Moesgaard Museum, to commence 2013)


  • Fieldwork in the region of Split, Croatia (supervised by Søren Sindbæk, to commence summer 2012)
  • Fieldwork in Unguja Ukuu, Zanzibar (supervised by Stephanie Wynne-Jones, to commence summer 2013)


  • Contextual relations – interpreting situated human-material interaction in urban activity layers (postdoctoral assistant supervised by Søren Sindbæk, to commence autumn 2012)
  • Early medieval urbanism in Western India: the artefactual evidence (postdoctoral assistant Jason Hawkes, to commence spring 2012)
  • Monetisation and exchange (Mateusz Bogucki, to commence 2013)



  • Søren M. Sindbæk, lecturer and research leader (Principal Investigator)
  • Jason Hawkes, postdoctoral researcher (to commence April 2012)
  • Unn Pedersen, postdoctoral researcher (to commence April 2012)
  • , Director of HEEAL, University of York (visiting researcher 2012)
  • Stephanie Wynne-Jones, lecturer, University of York (visiting researcher 2013)
  • Steve Ashby, lecturer, University of York (visiting researcher 2012)
  • Mateusz Bogucki, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw (visiting researcher 2013)