Sagaholm: North European Bronze Age rock art and burial ritual [Paperback]

Joakim Goldhahn (Author)

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ISBN: 9781785702648 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 192p, H280 x W220 (mm) b/w and colour



This major new study by one of Europe’s leading prehistorians presents and discusses a series of rock art engravings from a Bronze Age barrow in Ljungarum parish, Jönköping Län, situated in the central part of southern Sweden. Sagaholm contains the largest group of rock engravings discovered in a burial context in northern Europe. Joachim Goldhahn addresses a number of aspects of the use of rock engravings in burial rituals during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1600–1100 BC), combining the antiquarian and scientific history of this extraordinary find. In order to understand the meaning and significance of the rock art in the barrow, the author presents a theoretical argument that the art is meaningfully composed and can been seen as the result of an active symbolic praxis which mirrors a metaphorical way of thinking. Special concern is given to the frequent horse motifs at Sagaholm, and it is argued that they, and the morphology of this particular barrow, can be seen as a metaphor for a new and exotic cosmology that reached southern Scandinavia during the Middle Bronze Age. It is further suggested that this extraordinary find points to a (re)interpretation of Scandinavian Bronze Age rock art as an important part of burial ritual, linked to certain beliefs about the regeneration of life.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction
Primary objectives and questions
Implementation and acknowledgements
Organisation of the book
Chapter 2 An antiquarian biography
 The oldest sources
 The 1971 excavation
 Research methods and reporting
 ‘A sensation’
 Forgotten finds from Sagaholm
 The spearhead
Chapter 3 In the name of science
 Anders Wihlborg
 Harry Bergenblad
 Göran Burenhult
 Mats P. Malmer
 Jarl Nordbladh
 Klavs Randsborg
Chapter 4 The motifs
 Technical concepts and terminology
 Motifs by slab
 The other sandstone slabs in the kerb
 Technique and motif
 Techniques and details on the motifs
 Final comments
Chapter 5 The monument
 Morphology of the barrow
 History of the sandstone slabs
 Why the choice of sandstone?
Chapter 6 Chronology
 The Carbon 14 method
 Comparative dating
 Analogies to barrows
Chapter 7 Narrative and metaphors
 Interpreting rock art
 A narrative landscape in miniature
 Narrative metaphorics of the body
 Metaphorics of the burial monument
 Regarding the significance of the cup marked stones
 Digression – rock engravings
Chapter 8 Beyond Sagaholm
 Creation myths, chaos and material culture
 The significance of the burial ceremony
 Beyond Sagaholm
 A scenario
 The metaphorics of burial monuments
 The metaphorics of the body
 The metaphorics of the grave gifts and ornamentations
Chapter 9 Return to Sagaholm
 The burial ritual’s rite of passage
 Liminal phase

Reviews & Quotes

"This English version of the book is most welcome... well organised and concise."
Courtney Nimura
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (11/05/2017)

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