Makt uttryckt i jord och sten : Stora högar och maktstrukturer i Mälardalen under järnåldern

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur

Sammanfattning: This thesis focuses on power structures in the Mälaren basin during the Iron Age, and how these structures change over time. In the viewpoint of the author, constructing large mounds was an important way for the elite in the Mälaren basin to distinguish themselves from other groups in the region during the relevant period. By studying how the mounds differ in size and contents in relation to the norm, at least two different social strata can be discerned. The lower stratum was more similar to warriors than heads of power, and vice versa. The burial mounds from the Late Iron Age are almost always located in burial-grounds which belong to villages and farms, and which often extend back to the transition between the Roman Iron Age and the Migration period. It was not until the early Vendel period that cremation and mound building became the standard burial practice for the elite in the Mälaren basin. The analysis also reveals that large mounds were built mainly in the early Vendel period (AD 550–700) and the late Viking Age (tenth century).To find out how the elite used the large mounds in their social strategies, the author conducts a landscape-archaeological analysis in which the locations and visual effects of the mounds in the landscape are described and interpreted. The landscape analysis clearly shows that the mound-building elite in the Mälaren basin preferred to have their farms situated close to major communication routes, especially at important junctions in the landscape. The analysis further shows that some of the great mounds served as meeting places for the Thing. On the other hand, the mounds seldom coincide with cult places. The latter are often situated on the periphery of settlement complexes with mounds rather than at the sites of the mounds themselves.Finally, the author sets the results of the landscape analysis in a culture-historical context. The discussion centres on when and why large mounds were built in the Mälaren basin during the Iron Age. In addition, the author discusses the role of the mound-building elite and their relationship to other elite groups in the political development, which ranged from small local dominions in the Migration period to the early medieval Christian kingdom.

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