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Models and moulds: nonferrous metalworking moulds from Viking Age Ribe through the lens of 3D modeling

This PhD project will investigate and contextualise the corpus of nonferrous metal-casting mould fragments unearthed during the 2017-2018 Northern Emporium excavations of Viking Age Ribe. Over 700 of these fragments contain impressions of the objects they were used to cast, and include many varying types of brooches, pendants, amulets, keys, fittings, weapon components, and coins. Emerging out of the High-Definition methodology undertaken during the Northern Emporium excavation, the mould fragments thus represent crucial contextual anchor points for the understanding of Viking Age artefact types and art.

The project will use 3D scanning technology to recreate these moulds as digital models, which will allow for these fragmented and often difficult-to-read impressions to become more visually accessible. Being able to visualize the impressions present on the moulds will ultimately allow the objects being produced at Ribe to be identified typologically, and thus analysed chronologically and spatially.

Furthermore, it will allow for the individual casting models for these objects to be seen, making the individual craftsman more perceptible within the archaeological record. The central aims of this project are thus twofold: to establish Viking Age Ribe as a central hub of creativity and innovation for the production of jewelry and artistic motifs around Scandinavia and northern Europe; and to demonstrate the reach and output of its craftsmen through their individual ‘fingerprints’.

PI: Derek James Parrott