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Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns

New publication by Steven P. Ashby (The University of York) & Professor Søren M. Sindbæk.

Ashby, S. P. & Sindbæk, S. M. (eds.) (2019). Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns, Oxford: Oxbow Books.

From Oxbow:

Crafts and Social Networks in Viking Towns explores the interface between craft, communication networks, and urbanisation in Viking-Age northern Europe. Viking-period towns were the hubs of cross-cultural communication of their age, and innovations in specialised crafts provide archaeologists with some of the best evidence for studying this communication. The integrated results presented in these papers have been made possible through the sustained collaboration of a group of experts with complementary insights into individual crafts. Results emerge from recent scholarly advances in the study of artefacts and production: first, the application of new analytical techniques (e.g. metallographic, isotopic, and biomolecular techniques) and second, the shift in interpretative focus from a concern with object function to considerations of processes of production, and of the social agency of technology. Furthermore, the introduction of social network theory and actor-network theory has redirected attention toward the process of communication, and highlighted the significance of material culture in the learning and transmission of cultural knowledge, including technology. The volume brings together leading UK and Scandinavian archaeological specialists to explore crafted products and workshop-assemblages from Viking towns, in order to clarify how such long-range communication worked in pre-modern northern Europe. Contributors assess the implications for our understanding of early towns and the long-term societal change catalysed by them, including the initial steps towards commercial economies. Results are analysed in relation to social network theory, social and economic history, and models of communication, setting an agenda for further research. The volume provides a landmark statement on our knowledge of Viking-Age craft and communication.