Background and activities

My ORCID id:

My reseach focus

My main research interest is medieval urbanisation  withg a particular focus on the development of urban social pracise ("urbanity"), urban identity,  social space formation processe and urban ecology . In earlier reserach this interest focused on medieval urbanization as a part of state formation processes, including discussions on the role and nature of trade and production, control over valuables/prestige object, natural resources and trading routes and christianisation  as an instrument for gaining and maintaining political power. At the end of the 1990s I felt this was a too narrow basis for understanding urban development, and I seached for alternative approaches of understanding “urbanism” percieved  from principally being understood as a matter of topographical and functional development to "urban ways of living", a matter of social practice very much inspired by Georg Simmel, Andreas reckwitz, Theodor Schatzky and Elizabeth Shove.From this a groeing interest tokk place in medieval urban health and welfare, which in 2016  led to the  cross-disciplinary project “Medieval urban health: From individual to public responsibility AD 1000-1600” funded by  Norwegian Research Council (FRIPRO-HUMSAM research program). Fort further information follow the link

Health and welfare is very much dependent on the material environment, which for the very last years have trigged a groving interest for (medieval) urban ecology and the correspondence between the medieval comprehension of  Nature and the relationship between religious belief, Nature and how it affects the ability to act towards treats and danger from the environment and environmental (climatic) changes

My other  interest is in heritage management and museology,  with particular focus on the history of museums,  knowledge production in university museums and heritage in conflict.. With colleagues from other university museums in Norway we launched in 2010 a research project in museology, The Knowledge of Museums (no. Museers Viten),  funded by the Norwegian Research Council.

My interest in heritage management was trigged by the ongoing threat of war and conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in 2007 I   launched a small awareness building project together with anthropologists:  Afghanistan: Heritage in Danger financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affaires, funded by The Royal Norwegian Society of sciences and letters. The purpose was to draw attention to  cultural heritage in war and conflict and the connection between cultural heritage and human rights, with particular focus on the situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar.The main outcome of this activity has, so far, been photo exhibitions presented in Scandinavia (

A short biography/CV

I have been professor in Historical Archaeology at the NTNU University  Museum in Trondheim since 1998. Between 2002-2013  I was appointed Director of the NTNU University Museum. During my time as director the museum was awarded the Trondheim City´s Residents Associations Award (2009), The Museum of the Year in Norway (2010) and membership in the European Museum Excellence Club - Best in Heritage (2011). In 2013 I returned to my professorship in historical archaeology. In 2014 I was research Fellow at the McDonald Institute of Archaeology. During my stay in Cambridge I studied urban materiality and changing social behavior in urban communities in medieval Scandinavia.

Name:                          Axel Christophersen
Present position:        Professor, NTNU University Museum, Norway
Born:                            13.10.1951, Trondheim
Nationality:                  Norwegian
Civil status:                 Married, 2 children (1980, 1986)

Years with the firm:  Aug.1998

Previous occupations:

1980-1983: Lecturer in medieval archaeology, Ins. of Medieval Archaeology, University of Lund, Sweden
1982-1985: Curator, Copenhagen City Museum, Denmark

1985-1993: Senior antiquarian, The Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings,  Norway

1994-1995: Director, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Trondheim, Norway
1995-1998: Head of research division/senior researcher, Norwegian Institute of  Cultural Heritage Research, Divisionof Archaeology and Landscape.
1998-2002: Professor in historical archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, NTNU Norway.


2002 -2013 : Director of the University Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, NTNU, Norway.

2013 -         : Professor in historical archaeology, Section of Archaeology, University Museum, NTNU

Publ. charge:

Leader of The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institution, Council of University Museums (2004-2008), member of The Councils of Deans NTNU, Head of the board of Norwegian Museums Association (2011- ), Member of Scientific Committe ERA JPI Cultural heritage and Global Chance (2014 - ), member of The Norwegian National Museum of Justice Board (2005 - ), Member of The Universitu Museum, University of Stavanger (2016 -), various national official committees appointed by the Ministry of Education and research.


Apr. 120 publications (books, papers and articles in national and international scientific journals) within
theoretical archaeology, state formation processes, urbanisation/long term urban developement, medieval household and housing, medieval economic and social developement, cultural landscapes, social space. Hundreds of popular articles, cronicles etc on historical and archaeological issues, museum politics, culture management etc.


1970: (Trondheim Katedralskole)
1971: Ethnology (40 point), University of Oslo
1973: European archaeology (40 point), University of Bergen
1974: History (40 point), University of Trondheim
1980: Phil. Dr. in medieval archaeology, University of  Lund, Sweden
2004-2005: Nordic Museum Leadership Programme, The Danish Museum Training Institute.


1994: Det Kongelige norske Vitenskabers Selskab, Humanistisk klasse (The Royal Society for Science and Humatities)


1994: The Trondheim Council Culture Price (for archeological investigations, reseach and publications in the history of medieval Trondheim)  shared witrh Erik Jondell and Sæbjørg Nordeide.

2008: The Trondheim City's Welfare Committee's Price (on behalf of NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet).

2010: Museum of the Year 2010