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Chapter Five - Maritime Warfare in Scandinavian Rock Art

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2018

Christian Horn
Christian-Albrechts Universität zu Kiel, Germany
Kristian Kristiansen
Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden
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The Scandinavian rock art ships show, beyond any doubt, clear antagonistic dimensions which we should not deny or be blind to. Most of the depicted warriors and combat scenes have been made close or adjacent to a contemporary ship depiction, and the warriors should therefore be discussed against this maritime background and be defined as maritime warriors. Moreover, several ship scenes show that codes of social inequality were formulated and performed in the ships. Many rock-art scenes depict smaller ship images positioned around a larger ship, as if they were in support. Thus, in a real conflict it may have been more rational to attack an enemy with several smaller ships than just one large vessel, since this would have constituted a less vulnerable and more mobile and effective force. It is further argued that the praxis of pecking ships could have served to manifest the agency of the maritime social world and, to some extent, to make this ideology more dominant.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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