Material culture and forms of culture in a long-term perspective

Research areas at the NTNU University Museum:

Material culture and forms of culture in a long-term perspective

Research on loose and permanent cultural monuments and cultural forms through long periods of time, as they are expressed through material culture, in light of aspects such as continuity, change and variation in a Norwegian, European and global context. The research is multifaceted and includes empirical and theoretical perspectives.

Some of the questions we work with: 

  • How have humans and society changed over time?
  • What can changes in form and expression tell us about prehistoric society?
  • How can cultural monuments and cultural forms provide knowledge about the use of cities and landscapes?
  • How can we understand political, religious and economic power relations through material culture?

Contact persons: Axel Christophersen and Hein Bjerck.


MedHeal600´s hypothesis is that public health management derives from a number of specific practices to prevent diseases and debility caused by the particular physical environment that constituted the medieval urbanscape and the dependence of the ecological conditions that surrounded the towns. The basic information will be gathered from the collection of human bones/skeletons from medieval cemeteries in Trondheim. Biomolecular analysis is applied to identify the character and volume of infectious deceases in the urban population during the periode c. AD100-1600. To identify mobility geneticand infectious deceases DNA analysis is applied. To identify mobility and diet, isotope analysis is applied. The research is based on a interdiciplinary cooperation between a diverse set of scolarly competence and a multiple set of data, sources and methods.

MedHeal600s website

Agdenes is located at a key position at the mouth of the Trondheim Fjord. The area´s strategic position and importance is reflected in a number of monumental grave mounds from the Iron Age and a harbour with preserved wooden constructions from the Viking Age or the Early Medieval period, known by the name of King Øystein`s harbour. The Agdenes project seeks to explore the mechanisms behind the power relations in the area in the Iron Age and the Early Middle Ages by making use of both prehistoric finds and monuments, written sources and landscape analysis. Ancient harbours will be at the centre of the project.  

Religion and Money is a multi-disciplinary project headed at the UiO: Museum of Cultural History. We aim towards a combination of historical records, material culture and innovative theory to fill the concepts of religion, money and morality with new insight. This project will address the issue of religious thought and the perception and use of money in ancient and medieval societies by looking at religion, money and trust in relation to one another. Important perspectives are interactions with religion, language, economy, and material culture and physical environment in which they lived, and in their conception of life and afterlife.

This is a multi-disciplinary project consisting of researchers specializing in metallurgy, numismatics, history and archaeology. The main area of research is the technological aspects of the activities of the archbishops’ mint in Trondheim, and to put this in a broader political and economic framework.

C 1500 Greek and Roman provincial coins from the bequest of Arne E. Holm will be published in the series Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, instigated by the British Academy. Authors: Håkon Roland (UiO: Museum of Cultural History), Jon Anders Risvaag (NTNU University Museum).

The many changes that occur in the archaeological record during the transition from the Early to the Late Iron Age have been acknowledged since the 19th century. Since the 1970s, there has been a trend towards explaining the changes in society from the Roman period to the Viking/Medieval Age as a process of growing social, political and economic complexity in terms of higher centralization and hierarchization. This project challenge this view by examining the many changes that occur in the archaeological material during the transition between the Early and Late Iron Age. My hypothesis is the society in the Early Iron Age was a society with strong pastoral values and that the transition to the Late Iron Age should be seen as a transition to a society with agrarian values.

Contact person: Geir Grønnesby

The theme involves research on hunter-fisher-gatherer communities during the early prehistoric periods, covering the Stone Age periods as well as the early metal using phases. The research entails rawmaterial-, technological and activity studies, using of a wide specter of natural scientific methods (including for example chemical and petrological analysis, DNA, isotopes, lipids a.s.o.) on
the archaeological contexts in order to enhance knowledge on demographic fluctuations, settlement variability, inter-regional mobility, social networks and cultural transmission.

Contact person: Associate professor Birgitte Skar