This article presents the ethnographically driven multi-method research perspective of vernacular religion and analyses its potential to contribute to the theoretical advancement of Jewish studies. The ongoing discussion on religion and change within the study of religions in general and Jewish studies in particular is outlined and structured around three ‘turns’ identified in the research on vernacular religiosity. To exemplify these theoretical and methodological considerations, a recently initiated research project focusing on vernacular Judaism in Finland is presented. This project seeks to examine central ideas of boundaries as they are negotiated and interpreted among Finnish Jewry, to compare the emerging patterns with Nordic counterparts and thus contribute to a more nuanced perception of Jewish identities in these contexts. The article concludes with a discussion on the advances of such an approach, pointing to the relative novelty of research into vernacular religion within Jewish studies and the exceptionality of the Finnish Jewish context.
How can the Danish lawn be read and interpreted through the last century? The cases vary a lot, therefore the cases reach out towards a general discussion.The investigation aims at exploring the Danish lawn in an international perspective, and lawns in landscape architecture or lawns as symbols signify critical points of view to societal matters.The present contribution explores the lawn as a central component in selected cases from 1915 till today. The modern breakthrough in the 1920s in Danish landscape architecture revitalized the lawn. Further artistic contributions in the 1950s launched the lawn in a delicate poetic edition. Only a few years later in the 1960s, the lawn signified the inhuman, industrialized suburb. The color TV in the 1980s made the lawn synonymous with commercial football and technology. In 2019, the lawn is an everyday thing, and parallelly it exists as the antonym to the ecological flower meadow – the “true” urban nature.
In September 1704 a man named Sæmundur Þórarinsson was murdered by the river Elliðaá (fig. 1). Steinunn Guðmundsdóttir, his 43-year old wife, and Sigurður Arason, a 26-year-old man who lived with his mother, had had an affair and when Sæmundur was found dead in the river, rumours arose that he had been murdered. Sigurður was arrested for the murder. He first denied all allegations, but eventually he confessed and said that Steinunn had urged him to kill her husband. On November 14tth they were both sentenced to death at Kópavogur’s assembly and executed the following day. He was beheaded and his head put on a stake. She was drowned. Both were buried in unconsecrated ground on the opposite side of the road (fig. 2). In the spring of 1988, the archaeologists Guðmundur Ólafsson, Lise Gjedssø Bertelsen and Sigurður Bergsteinsson excavated their remains. The excavation uncovered a pair of barrows (fig. 3). A lot of small stones had been thrown on top of the original layer by passers-by, a custom which prevented revenance according to Icelandic folklore. Grave 1. Under the pile of stones, in a shallow grave, with no traces of a coffin, lay the skeleton of a woman (figs. 4–6). Her legs were crossed, and most of the bones from the toes were not found. The left arm was slanted down towards the stomach, the right arm inclined up towards the chest. The fists were clenched. The skull was in a strange distorted position. Two cervical vertebrae lay outside normal position, and the two front upper teeth were missing, but one was found in the grave behind the skull. She had been drowned with a sack covering her upper body. Although the missing toes and teeth raised the suspicion of torture, there is, no written evidence of torture in Kópavogur and by civil law, torture of the accused, but yet not convicted was banned and recent analysis showed no signs of torture. A confession given under torture could not be used as evidence in a lawsuit, however, when a person had been sentenced to death, he or she could be tortured, as an addition to the punishment in Denmark as well as in Iceland. Grave 2. On top of the second pile of stones a lower jaw of a man’s skull was found and some loose teeth, the grim remains of the skull that had been placed on a stake, and eventually fallen down (fig. 7). In a shallow grave under the stones lay the skeleton of the beheaded man (figs. 6 & 8), with the skull and the upper 2½ cervical vertebrae missing. The legs were crossed (figs. 6 & 8). By his feet was a 9 cm wide round hole for the stake, supported by several stones. The decapitated head had been placed at the top of the stake to intimidate passers-by on the road (figs. 6 & 8). There were no traces of a coffin. From literary sources we know that at least 12 death sentences were carried out at Kópavogur’s assembly. The last one was carried out in 1704 over Steinunn and Sigurður in accordance to Icelandic law. The Kópavogur gravesite is the only excavated execution site in Iceland, but comparable cases have been found in Denmark, such as one from 1822. Thomas Thomasen Bisp was executed in Vendsyssel for the murder of his wife Maren Justdatter. He had an affair with his maid Ane Margrethe Christensdatter and poisoned his wife. Thomas was sentenced to death by beheading and penalty on wheels and steep. Thomas’s body, including the head pierced by an iron nail, was soon removed and buried in a nearby hill, where it lay undisturbed for 78 years until road workers discovered it (fig. 9). Then the bones came at Vendsyssel Historical Museum. Ane Margrethe was sentenced to lifelong work detention in Viborg Prison, but after many years she was pardoned. https://doi.org/10.33063/diva-400603
Masonic Media: On Mediation of Secrets in Speech, Handwriting and Print within Eighteenth Century Freemasonry.This article deals with 18th century Freemasonry as a platform for mediation of secrets. First it discusses different theoretical aspects that can be applied when studying the phenomenon of initiatory orders with communication in focus. But it also uses different masonic sources in order to investigate some of the techniques used to mediate secrets, most notably ciphers and hieroglyphs. Aligning myself with Linda Simonis’ system theoretical view of masonry, I show that masonry depended on a distinction between secret and disclosure in order to make new candidates pass from profane to initiate. In order to distribute – but also in a sense create – secrets, the masons made use of several techniques such as vows of silence, locked archives, ciphers and hieroglyphs which were used either to enclose information (at the level of the medium) or encode it (at the level of meaning). Through use of such techniques the masonic organisations – with their sharp borders between inside and outside – can itself be conceived as mediums for the “secret of masonry”. This in turn put masonry into opposition to the transparency ideal of the Enlightenment.
Publisher: Uppsala universitet, Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia
Medieval stone moulds – mass-production of metal objects for secular and religious use in RibeThe Museum of Southwest Jutland’s collection contains seven fragments of High Medieval metal-casting moulds of stone, all found during construction works and archaeological excavations in Ribe (figs. 1 and 5). These moulds constitute a relatively rare artefact type in Denmark and the examples from Ribe differ from those found in the rest of the country (figs. 2-4). Five of the moulds were recovered in the vicinity of the cathedral, suggesting that it was in this area that metal casting, and perhaps also sale of the finished products, took place.The moulds are all in the form of fragments, but they contain a great deal of information with respect to the production techniques, craftsmanship and artefact types of the period. They are all made of limestone, which must have been imported to Ribe, but perhaps also arrived in the form of finished products. This is hinted at by the major differences in the quality of their execution as well as the existence of some very close foreign parallels to the more spectacular and complicated pieces. Comparisons with other finds, coupled with X-ray analyses, suggest that the moulds were used to cast objects of lead/tin alloy. These mould types and metal types are a reflection of the mass-production of small objects that developed in the High and Late Middle Ages; a phenomenon that is documented in written sources, supported by the large number of artefacts surviving from this period.The artefacts cast in the moulds fall into the category of small objects intended for personal use: costume accessories and ornaments as well as objects with religious/magical symbolism and application (figs. 9-16).The demand for mass-produced objects included both costume accessories and ornaments intended to be sewn on to clothing, as well as other small objects with either a secular or religious iconography or function.Compared to the rest of Denmark, Ribe has yielded a relatively large number of Medieval stone moulds. However, relative to similar records from elsewhere in northern Europe, the finds from Ribe are rather modest, both in number and in quality. Nevertheless, they bear witness to Ribe’s strong contacts and exchange network with Medieval towns across northern Europe and to the everyday objects and religious accessories that had the same form across a vast area.The finding of mould fragments in Ribe shows that here, as in other European Medieval towns, there were also mass-produced secular personal items as well as objects for religious use. Recent excavations in the town have been responsible for the recovery of half the (stone) mould fragments found in the museum’s collection. This is due partly to the application of sieving as an excavation method and perhaps also to the fact that the area around the cathedral, the location of the excavations of recent years, was where the metal casters plied their trade. Perhaps they sold their wares here too, either from their workshops or from stalls on the market, Fisketorvet, which lay directly east of the cathedral. Written sources from pilgrimage sites around Europe document the sale of both religious equipment and other items in the close vicinity of churches, which were places that attracted large numbers of visitors. The fact that so many fragments have been recovered during the excavations here possibly means that many more than have been recovered to date lie concealed in the area, and the present finds provide just a hint of the metal-casting activities that took place here in the High Middle Ages.The limestone used to make the moulds must have been imported to Ribe. Whether this represented a by-product or reuse of imported building materials, actual minor import of stone or perhaps material brought to Ribe by non-local craftsmen is impossible to say. From the moulds’ motifs it can be seen that the quality of the finished products varied immensely. Some of the carvings are very beautifully executed, for example those for the openwork spherical object and the ampoule, while those for the costume accessories and other items appear much coarser and more carelessly made. The latter could though, in some cases, represent worn-out moulds or practice pieces. The mould for the spherical object has a close parallel in a find from Magdeburg, prompting speculation about whether some of the finest moulds could have been imported from much more skilled and highly-specialised workshops located in the major towns and cities of Europe.There are already a number of finds of Medieval metal costume accessories and ornaments, but the local production of these items has not previously been demonstrated. One of the most interesting aspects is the local production of religious equipment in Ribe. The manufacture of ampoules to hold sacred fluids, a pan-European phenomenon associated with pilgrimages and pilgrimage sites, raises questions about whether these ampoules were sold as pilgrim souvenirs in Ribe and what the nature was of the sacred fluid with which they were filled. Or were they sold to pilgrims who were on their way out into Europe, so they could fill them with sacred fluid on reaching their destination?The relatively large number of mould fragments from Ribe must reflect the town’s international contacts and orientation at this time, with strong cultural contacts and exchange networks involving other north European towns. However, the state of preservation of the cultural deposits and the archaeological methods applied in their excavation has also played a role. For the purposes of comparison, an earlier discovery of a metal workshop in Aalborg shows, in terms of date and repertoire, great similarity to the finds from Ribe. Perhaps this range of small personal objects was something that was manufactured in every Medieval town with respect for itself, even though no major traces of this craft survive.Mette Højmark SøvsøSydvestjyske MuseerAnne Juul JensenSyddansk UniversitetMichael NeißUppsala Universitet
Publisher: University of Oslo & Uppsala University
Runic inscriptions on Scandinavian Migration Period gold bracteates have long been considered problematic. Although many of them are readable, only a few are interpretable. One of the major questions about bracteate texts is whether they are related to the images depicted on the pieces. During the past quarter century, these inscriptions have been interpreted chiefly on the basis of Karl Hauck’s identification of the major figure depicted on bracteates as Odin. However, there are other interpretations of the pictures that may also assist our understanding of the texts. This paper examines some of these alternative explanations of bracteate imagery, with particular reference to how the objects were used and by whom, the aim being to arrive at a better understanding of the inscriptions.