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GNS Guest Lecture: What Did Vikings Do in Poland (and Why Should We Care)?” with Leszek Gardeła
February 16 @ 2:30 pm
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Although still largely unknown to the Anglophone world, the history of Polish and German fascinations with the Vikings goes back all the way to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As early as the National Romantic period, Polish scholars, artists and writers expressed great interest in Old Norse sagas and myths. This was soon followed by archaeological excavations, some of which brought to light artefacts of Northern provenance and led to new and more sophisticated questions concerning the nature of Scandinavian-Slavic interactions. During the Second World War, studies on the Scandinavian presence in Poland still continued, but Nazi occupation meant that they had very strong ideological and political undertones. The post-war period saw increased attempts to revise earlier misuses of the past.
We know today that in the period between the ninth and eleventh centuries the southern coasts of the Baltic were frequently visited by people from Scandinavia. Many of them probably came as traders with the hope to sell and exchange foreign goods in the vibrant and multicultural ports of trade and emporia. Some of the Scandinavians, however, had different roles to play and to achieve their goals they had to sail up the Oder and Vistula rivers or travel on foot or horseback through the interior of the emerging Piast realm and its vast forests and fields. This lecture will investigate the nature of ‘Viking’ interactions in Poland using a wide array of sources. It will also seek to demonstrate that our understanding of the Viking world, its archaeology and history, is incomplete without taking into account the Scandinavians’ southern and eastern neighbors, namely the Western Slavs.
About the Speaker: Leszek Gardeła is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at the National Museum of Denmark. He received his Ph.D. in Archeology from the University of Aberdeen (UK) and has published widely on early medieval mortuary behavior in Scandinavia and Central Europe. He has published over 100 articles on this and related topics and is currently working on a monograph about Vikings in Poland. He has also authored 5 monographs, with the recent one, “Women and Weapons in the Viking World: Amazons of the North,” published in 2021.