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Mads Kähler Holst

Alken Enge: Sacred landscape and rituals of violence in the Early Iron Age

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Alken Enge is today the largest known locality in Scandinavia with direct traces of a major violent conflict (AD 2-54) from the time before the great war booty offerings (2nd-5th centuries AD). Over the course of the last century, and most recently in excavations in 2009-14, substantial quantities of scattered human skeletal remains have been found in the now overgrown lake basin, together with finds that include metal and wooden weapons, pottery, stones, worked wood and animal bones. The exceptional preservational conditions, coupled with the results of subsequent investigations, have prompted a number of central questions relating to prehistoric battlefields, the organisation of the warring forces and the aftermath and consequences of these major violent conflicts: Who were the dead warriors? Where did they come from? How should we perceive and understand these forms of ‘ritual violence’ and ‘rituals of violence’ – and their regional and international parallels? In what kinds of places did the offerings become embedded and what kind of landscape and environment emerged in the wake of these major events? The results of the investigations at Alken Enge have been made available successively in international journals and most recently in the book De dræbte krigere i Alken Enge: Efterkrigsritualer i ældre jernalder (The slain warriors at Alken Enge: Early Iron Age post-conflict rituals) (Løvschal et al. 2019a). The present paper is an edited English version of the introduction to the book. It presents an overview of Alken Enge as an archaeological locality, together with a collective interpretation of the site as it is currently understood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRitual Violence – Rituals of Violence (Editors: H. Meller, K. W. Alt, F. Bertemes, R. Micó, R. Risch)
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

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