Seminar in Trondheim

On 21-23 September 2017 our association took part in the “Norwegian Forum for Experimental Archeology” seminar organized by Hands on History and Trondheim Vikinglag. The main topic was experiment as a research method. Experiments are increasingly used in modern archeology, especially by archaeologists – reenactors and institutions such as museums, craftsmen associations and open-air museums. Examples of experimental projects include: the reconstruction of the Skuldelev viking ship in the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (Denmark), recreation of cooking methods used in the Middle Ages, or building medieval musical instruments. During the seminar we discussed what “authenticity” means in reconstruction and reenactment. We came to the conclusion that it is not an objective feature, but it depends on our earlier expectations and ideas of what can be considered “authentic” or “period”. The source of our expectations is knowledge and science, but also popular culture. Just think of a bearded pirate-soldier which still persists as the most common Viking stereotype popular among the audiences of medieval events but not quite among the reenactors. We also talked about how to organize historical events to achieve a win-win cooperation between organizers, spectators, craftsmen and reconstructors. The last seminar day was open to public and featured crafts shows and a mini escape room where visitors tried to solve a puzzle around Trondheim’s medieval cathedral and king Olaf Tryggvason, the founder of the city. The construction of the escape room was a result of this part of the seminar in which we discussed which educational methods are most interesting for visitors of reenactment events, museums and archaeological parks. The puzzle was successfully solved.