Mellan gåva och marknad : handel, tillit och materiell kultur under vikingatid
Sammanfattning: The view of the exchange and trade that took place during the Viking Age has varied considerably. This variation is obvious from a scrutiny of how one and the same place, Birka, is described by different scholars over a period of a hundred years. Two very polarized pictures of Birka appear: A town with a mostly free market-oriented trade or an emporium with an administered commodity exchange controlled by the elite/king and with no market principles involved. This thesis aims at examining how these two polarized stereotypes have come into existence and at presenting a more varied picture. Other questions posed in this dissertation are geared to what we can say on the basis of material culture about the market sphere during the Viking Age. What was the character and practice of commercial transactions during the period? How were trust and stabilizing mechanisms in trade created? Who were the players in trade and what type of social relations occurred in the market sphere? The material point of departure for the discussions about the character and practice of commercial transactions during the Viking Age consists above all of the cubo-octahedral weights and the cubo-octahedral design elements which can be associated with means of payment and the weighing of precious metals. Jewellery, such as penannular brooches, and other items of material culture which can carry messages about identity and group affiliation serve as a starting-point for discussions about actors in trade, social relations, and any organizations that may have existed in the market sphere.
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