Rúnar Leifsson - verkefnalýsing

Evolving Traditions. Horse Slaughter and Burial Customs in Viking Age Iceland
Thesis supervisor: Orri Vésteinsson
A characteristic of Icelandic Viking Age burials is the common occurrence of ritually killed horses deposited into the graves, both with humans and without. In the thesis this curious tradition is explored. How was the ritual killing practiced, what sort of animals were chosen and why, where and when did the tradition originate, how did it develop in the settlement society of Iceland and what sort of society does this reflect. It is possible to get remarkably close to these ancient customs by bringing results from zooarchaeological analysis of the animal remains found on the Viking burial grounds into context with other archaeological and historical data. The objective is to gain a new perspective on the Viking Age society of Iceland. This entails an investigation on how materially detectable traditions are selected or dismissed, developed or fixed, and how they are used to negotiate identity and status in the formation of a new society.

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