Second Year of PhD Project

On 30 September 2021, I finished the second year of my PhD project (see summery of the first year here). It was a time full of home-office work on new chapters, attendance in online conferences and talks, and preparation of the publications. During this year, I visited several parts of Oslo and took numerous photos of nature and landscapes.

2020

From the beginning of October, I was started to work more from home than in my office. I spent a lot of time reading publications concerning human-nonhuman relations. I would like to be acknowledged with details and hypotheses in these works before starting to write ‘Theory and Methods’ chapter of my PhD thesis. I read numerous excellent works exploring interactions among humans, other mammals, and birds. However, I enjoyed, in particular, the article ‘Archaeo-Ornithology: Towards an Archaeology of Human-Bird Interfaces’ by Catrin Kost and Shumon T. Hussain, ‘Archaeology and Human-Animal Relations: Thinking Through Anthropocentrism’ by Brian Boyd, and ‘Between Trust and Domination: Social Contracts Between Humans and Animals’ by Kristin Armstrong Oma.

This month, I also participated in several online meetings in the scope of the ‘Theory of Knowledge‘ course. During it, in the small group, we worked on a presentation concerning interdisciplinarity in the scope of humanities. It was a fantastic experience to work with such nice and knowledgeable people. Thank you very much for this wonderful collaboration!

Furthermore, I also participated in several interesting online lectures and talks. On the 7th of October, I listened to an online lecture by Neil Price entitled ‘Children of Ash and Elm: A New Look at the Vikings’. This event was associated with the premiere of new Neil Price’s book on Viking Age beliefs which is entitled ‘Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings’. It was very nice to hear new fascinating hypotheses on beliefs in the Viking Age.

On the 12th of October, I took part in the Zoom lecture ‘Memorializing 22. July’ by Helge Jordheim, which was part of the Difficult Heritage Symposium organised by the University of Oslo.

On the 16th of October, I took part in another PhD research seminar. This time online on Zoom. During this meeting, I presented a draft version of my article concerning waterfowl remains in Viking Age graves from Scandinavia. Moreover, it was very nice to meet and discuss various works by PhD students. I am really grateful to all of the participants for their remarks on this version.

On 26th of October, I took part in an online ‘Research Ethics’ course, which was part of the PhD course at the University of Oslo.

In October, I also had the opportunity to memorise several wonderful sunrises over Oslo. I also went to the short walk to Bygdøy during which I had the opportunity to observe Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) (see galleries ‘Oktobers soloppganger’ and ‘Tur på Bygdøy’).

In November 2020, the situation with COVID-19 again has been becoming more unsure and problematic. There were again numerous cases in Oslo and Norway. Therefore, it has been again not so safe to meet people. Therefore, I decided to move with my work to the home office. This time, I was so much better prepared than in the spring by the beginnings of pandemics. I organised space for work: I prepared a table for my office notebook, shelves for books and prints of articles. Thanks to these changes in my flat, I was able to work much pleasant and efficient than in the first months of pandemics.

In the first week of November, I finished the first draft of the ‘Theory and Methods’ chapter and send it to my supervisors.

On 16th November, I participated in another PhD research seminar at Zoom. It was very nice to listen to talks about new research projects at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo.

In November, I had also the opportunity to take photos numerous photos of sunrises and sunsets (gallery ‘Novembers sky’). I also memorised nature and some parts of Oslo during my walk to the office (gallery ‘Tur til Oslo sentrum’), morning or evening walks (galleries ‘Tur på morgenen’, ‘Tur om kvelden’). I also document a beautiful moon over Oslo (gallery ‘Novembers måne’).

In December 2020, I continued my work from the home office because the general situation was still unsure. In the last months in my home office, I worked used only my notebook. It was a little difficult for me to write and read text using a relatively small screen. Therefore, in the second week of December, one of my colleagues helped me to move the screen from the office. I would like to cordially thank her for her kind help!

At the beginning of this month, I also received wonderful mail. In it was informed that the EAA session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’ which, I proposed together with Riley Smallman and Sigmund Oehrl was accepted for a conference in Kiel. I was really happy about it! It was one of my dreams to have the session during this conference in this wonderful city.

Moreover, they were days during which the weather was so bad that I was not able to go for a walk. However, I found a solution to this situation. In the morning, when I boiled water in my electric kettle for coffee or tea, meanwhile waiting I did some simple exercises. It started with several minutes of simple physical training (partially based on exercises that I remembered from kung-fu training). Over time, it was developed into a 20-30 minute workout. Furthermore, during these exercises, I started to listen to different podcasts in Norwegian or German, which allowed me to practice my language skills, learn numerous fascinating details concerning science or culture, but they helped me also to stick to the time during my workouts.

In December, I also went for a nice walk to Østernvann (gallery ‘Til Østernvann’). In this year situation was still too unsure and unsafe for me to travel and to visit my family during Jul. Therefore, I decided again to spend this special time in Oslo. That was my second Jul which I spent in this beautiful city in the north (see gallery ‘Jul i Oslo’). Luckily, not like in 2019, I was not alone. On the evening of 24 December 2020, I was invited for a festive supper. I had the opportunity to taste special Norwegian cuisine (including smalahove with red and white cabbage and potatoes). I am a pescatarian and my daily diet is pant based (I rarely eat fish meat) so tasting such a meal was an extraordinary and peculiar experience for me. It was really nice to experience some magic of Norwegian Jul on this day. I would like to thank you very much for the kind invitation!

Last day of 2020, I spent in Oslo, like in the previous year (see gallery ‘Nyttårsaften i Oslo’). In the morning, I went for a short walk. Later, I started to prepare myself for the celebration in the evening.

2021

January 2021 started with cold and cloudy days. This month, I started to work on the corrections of my ‘Theory and Methods’ chapter. Furthermore, I did not only do my daily workouts but I also tried to go for afternoon or evening walks. During them, I had the possibility not only to observe daily life in the district in which I am living. Moreover, I also spotted different species of birds flying above (or swimming in) waters of Oslofjorden. I posted some mobile photos from my walks in highlights ‘I Oslo’, ‘I Oslo (del 2)’ and ‘Fugler i Oslo’ on my Instagram.

In this month, I also had the possibility to photograph a beautiful morning’s sky over Oslo (gallery ‘Januars sky’).

February was a busy month for me. I was really occupied with other corrections of my ‘Theory and Methods’ chapter. Furthermore, I also corrected my article on the meanings of waterbirds, which I received after peer-review. Moreover, I also coordinated a call for papers for our EAA session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’ in Kiel. I also had the opportunity to participate in several fascinating events.

On the 4th of February, I had the opportunity to participate in a nice and interesting online lecture ‘Norse Amazons: Women, Weapons, and Warfare in the Viking World’ by Leszek Gardeła.

On Friday (5th February), I participated in the first online PhD lunch, during which I had the opportunity to meet different PhD students from the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo. It was really nice to have conversations on different subjects.

On 11th February, I listened to the captivating talk ‘Bird Imagery in La Tène Art’ by Rebecca L. Ellis. It was wonderful to hear about the meaning and symbolism of various birds in Iron Age iconography.

On Friday (12th February), I attended fascinating online talk ‘Animals’ by Shumon T. Hussain. It was very nice to hear numerous interesting facts concerning human-nonhuman relations in the past. This fascinating talk is now available online on the YouTube channel of the Faculty of Humanities.

In the afternoon of 15th February, I watched some online talks delivered during the Oslo Life Science Conference.

On the afternoon of the 16th, I participated in an interesting online talk ‘Vikingtidens berserker i myte og virkelighet’ by Roderick Dale. On the evening of 18th February, I take part in the online promotion of the new book ‘River Kings A New History of Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads’ by Cat Jarman.

In this busy month, I also had the opportunity to take some photos (gallery ‘Soloppgangen i februar’).

In March, I started to prepare the first analytic chapter of PhD thesis. It is focused on the meaning of various species of waterbirds in Viking Age funerary practices and beliefs. I also coordinated another part of the call of papers of our EAA session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’. Furthermore, I also started to work on my parts of a co-authored article on a fascinating funerary topic. This month was relatively cold and rainy. Therefore, I had not so many opportunities to go for photo walks and I was only able to photograph the sky over Oslo (gallery ‘Mars sky’). I also posted some mobile photos from my walks in highlights ‘I Oslo (del 2)’ and ‘Fugler i Oslo’ on my Instagram.

On the 10th of March, I participated in an interesting online talk ‘Creating Relations throught Time in Viking Age Societies. Using Past in the Past’ by Julie Lund.

At the beginning of April, we accepted papers for our session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’. We will have several papers on fascinating topics. Unfortunately, this year EAA conference will not take place in Kiel. It was completely moved online so this year it will be not possible to hear presentations live and to meet researchers.

In April, I also continued work on my chapter on waterbirds and co-authored an article. On the 7th April 2021, I had the pleasure to take part in the fascinating online conferenceAnimals and Religion – The Joint Annual Conference of The Finnish Society for Human-Animal Studies and the Finnish Society for the Study of Religion‘.

April was a difficult month for me because of the very cold and rainy weather. It was not so many opportunities to take photos. From this month, I have only some mobile photos which I posted in highlights on my Instagram.

At the beginning of May weather begone slightly to change. This month, I continued my work on my PhD chapter on waterbirds. May was also another month in which I nearly did not take photos with my camera. I would like to be focused more on my academic work. I would like to be done with editing photos from 2020 and early 2021 before I start my new photo adventures. Furthermore, in May I also baked my first loaf of bread.

On the 5th of May, I listened to a talk by Yuval Noah Harari and Mayim Bialik entitled ‘Why Do We Fear Innovation?’.

17th of May is a special day for me. One of my dreams is to take part in the celebrations and parades in Oslo. In the last year, all of the official events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic (see gallery ‘17. mai 2020‘). This year, most events took place online and parades were cancelled. I planned to cycle to the centre of Oslo to document decorations and the overall situation. Unfortunately, the weather on this day was terrible. From early morning till late evening was heavy rains. That made my bicycle trip impossible. Therefore, I decided to spend the whole day at home and celebrate this day in a different way (see gallery ‘17. mai 2021 i regn’).

On 25th May, I participated in the fascinating talk by Neil Price delivered during ‘Potentials and Pitfalls of Comparison in the Understanding of the Past’.

Furthermore, on the 29th May I was on a nice bicycle trip towards Ulvøya.

June was another month that I spent improving the first analytic chapter of my PhD thesis. I also reworked some parts of my forthcoming article concerning human-waterbird relations in the Viking Age funerary rituals. This month, I was also able to go for nice bicycle trips and to take some photos with my mobile phone (see highlights on my Instagram).

On the 2nd of June, I participated in the interesting Innovasjonstalen 2021. It was really nice to hear about innovations in Norwegian business, industry and finance.

On the 24th of June, I participated in a nice Q&A session concerning the archaeology of the Viking Age.

From 28th June till 6th July, I started my vacation. I devoted them to managing some practical matters.

July was a month that I partially spend on my vacations and preparing files for the Midway Assessment, which was planned for August.

5th of July was a special day for me. Then, after months of waiting, I received the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. It was a fantastic feeling to have it!

During my vacations (19th July – 9th August), I had the opportunity to visit several places in Oslo and the neighbourhood. On the 22nd of July, I saw a beautiful view from Kongens utsikt.

Furthermore, I also see from a shore Utøya. It was a really sad experience to see this place 10 years after these tragic events.

On the beautiful sunny afternoon of the 24th of July, I decided to paddle in Oslofjorden. I choose an easy path leading along the shore of Bygdøy because it was my first lonely paddling trip. I paddled till a small isle called Store Herbern. I decided to rest by the shores of it. During this break, I had the opportunity to experience wonderful encounters. Firstly, I saw female common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) with several ducklings. Later, one nimble Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) hung in the air several meters above my kayak. Just seconds later, it with extreme precision dived some meters from the bow of my kayak. It was such an extraordinary and wonderful experience to see this bird in action!

On the 25th of July, I decided to photograph some sculptures in Oslo. Furthermore, I also cycled a path along Akerselva. On the 27th of July, I had the opportunity to photograph wonderful orange sunset over Oslo. Photos from my trips will be soon published on my photoblog ‘Hrafn Photography’.

I started August with a further part of my vacation (which lasted till the 9th of August). On the 10th of August, I started to prepare another analytic chapter of my PhD thesis. This part will be devoted to the meanings of birds of order Galliformes in the scope of Viking Age funerary rituals.

On 21st August, I was on a nice bicycle trip. I paned to see the view from Kolsåstoppen. However, when I reach the forest path leading to this peak, I was lost. I walked with my bike back and forth and I was unable to find a way that Google showed me. Therefore, I decided to go to Kalvøya which is in the neighbourhood. I cycled around this island. It was really nice to visit such a pleasant area! I will post photos from my trip soon.

On 25 August, I get a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. I was really happy that it was possible to get the second dose earlier than was planned (27 September).

On 26 August, I had my Midway Assessment. During this very nice and fruitful meeting, a received several very useful comments on my PhD thesis.

On 29 August, I had the opportunity to photograph nice sunset over Oslo.

September was a month which I devoted to the preparation of the following parts of my chapter on Galliformes. I also edited my previously finished chapters after proofreading. Furthermore, I also participated in several fascinating online events.

From 8th to 11th of September I participated in the 27th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. On 9th September, I had the honour and the pleasure to co-host the session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’. It was wonderful to hear such captivating talks on the meanings and functions of birds in the late Iron Age.

On the 16th of September, I participated in PhD defence of Irmelin Axelsen. She presented and defended her thesis entitled ‘Hva er greia med gamle ting? Når historiejegere møter arkeologisk forvaltning’. It was wonderful to hear about such a fascinating work!

To conclude, I am really happy that I was able to continue my work on human-avian relations in the Viking Age funerary rituals. During this year, I was able to explore in greater detail different aspects of these interactions. I included these observations in the analytic chapters of my thesis. This year, I also prepared some publications and participated in two online conferences. It was wonderful to meet (even online) and to collaborate with numerous knowledgeable researchers and hear their captivating presentations.

I hope that the following year of my PhD project will be surer, and the situation will come back to normality. I am also looking forward to exploring more aspects of human-avian relations. I am also hoping that some postponed conferences will take place in the next year.

EAA 2021: Session 141

On 9 September 2021 in the morning together with Riley Smallman (HumAnE Bioarchaeology, University of Exeter) and Sigmund Oehrl (Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur, Stockholms universitet) I started supervision of our EAA session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’ (141). It was dived for three blocks each of which was moderated by one of us.

The first block of the session supervised by Riley Smallman was mainly focused on the meanings of domestic chickens in the late Iron Age. We started with the paper ‘From Special Animals to Chicken Dinner: Exploring the Changing Role of Chickens’ by Julia Best (Cardiff University), Sean Doherty (University of Exeter) and Alison Foster (Freelance), presented by Julia. She discussed numerous complete and partial skeletons of domestic chickens discovered in special and ritual contexts, dated to the Roman Iron Age. Julia mentioned remains of chickens who were used for cockfighting and those who were buried in ceramic pots. The results, which she presented, were conducted in the scope of the project focused on human-chicken interactions in the past (see more details here).

After Julia’s paper, we moved to a feather-focused topic. Birgitta Berglund (Norwegian University of Science and Technology – NTNU, University Museum, Department of Archaeology and Cultural History) and Jørgen Rosvold (The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) presented their paper ‘Feathers for the Afterlife. Investigating Species Compositions of Feathers from Scandinavian Iron Age Burials Reveal New Perspectives on Human-Avian Interactions’. Birgitta presented results of the microscopic analyses of the feathers which were found in several richly equipped Vendel period and Viking Age mounds (e.g. Oseberg, Øksnes). These microstructure analyses showed that these remains belong not only to the variety of waterbirds but also to raptors. Research conducted by these researchers are also discussed in the scientific article ‘Microscopic identification of feathers from 7th century boat burials at Valsgärde in Central Sweden: Specialized long-distance feather trade or local bird use?’ and short posts on various websites (see for instance ‘What Vikings really put in their pillows’).

From detailed analyses of feathers, we moved to a discussion on late Viking Age and Medieval chicken remains. Samuel Walker (University Museum of Bergen, The Department of Natural History) and Gitte Hansen (University Museum of Bergen, The Department of Cultural History) presented the paper ‘Why did the Chicken Cross the North Sea? The Introduction of Chickens into Norway; New Evidence from the Borgund Kaupang’. Samuel talked over finds of chicken remains from settlement remains in Borgund Kaupang (Norway). He mentioned that these bones could not only belong to specimens kept for meat or eggs but also to these keep for pleasure (e. g. cockfighting). Samuel also mentioned that, probably due to preservation, they were relatively few bones belonging to juvenile cocks or hens. Results of the research presented by Samuel are partially based on his newly defended PhD thesis ‘Archaeological Bird Remains from Norway as a Means to Identify Long-Term Patterns in a Northern European Avifauna’. Furthermore, he co-published several articles discussing remains of chickens from the late Viking Age and Medieval Norway (e. g. ‘More than Food; Evidence for Different Breeds and Cockfighting in Gallus gallus Bones from Medieval and Post-Medieval Norway‘).

The following paper opened the second block of our session, which concerned raptors and falconry in the late Iron Age. This part was moderated by Sigmund Oehrl. Ellen Hagen (Arkeologisk museum, Universitetet i Stavanger), archaeologist and first Norwegian certified falconer (and one of the founders of Norsk Falkejakt Forbund), presented the paper entitled ‘Hunting with Raptors in the Old Norse Society – Understanding the Practical Side of Falconry in the Viking Age’. She discussed remains of the birds of prey discovered in various Viking Age graves. Furthermore, Ellen also talked over various iconographical and written sources concerning mentions related to falconry. She focused on words related to birds of prey and falconry in Skaldic poetry and visualisations of raptors on various runic and picture stones. Ellen also discussed various practical matters related to Iron Age falconry (e. g. taking raptors from nests, different ways of hunting).

Later, Oliver Grimm (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology – ZBSA) presented his paper ‘‘Falconer Burials‘ Revisited (Sweden and Norway, Germany, Czech Republic and Estonia; 500-1000 AD); On The Differences in Evidential Value’. He discussed different graves in which were documented human bones together with remains of birds of prey, which were probably trained for falconry. Oliver mentioned that relations between raptors and humans were unique and fragile. He considered cremation and inhumation graves from Northern and Central Europe. Furthermore, he talked over depictions of the falconers and raptors known from various objects dated to the late Iron Age. During his talk, Oliver talked over complex Vendel period graves discovered in Salme in Estonia, in which were found bones determined as falcons. Analyses of the bones from one of these graves were published in the article ‘The Salme I Ship Burial: An Osteological View of a Unique Burial in Northern Europe’.

The next paper opened the third and final block of our session, focused on the meanings of birds in the beliefs. Riley Smallman opened it with their paper ‘Funerary Practices Most Fowl: Patterns of Symbolic Chicken Deposition Through Iron Age and Roman Britain’. Riley discussed remains of domestic chickens found in various contexts dated to the Iron Age and Roman Iron Age. They talked over not only remains which could belong to breeds of these animals but also presented bones known from special deposits. They presented chicken bones excavated from wells which might relate to the liminal symbolism of these birds. Furthermore, they mentioned skeletons of chickens with burnt legs. Riley also discussed the headless remains of chickens.

Next paper entitled ‘Eggstra Questions Answered: Using Proteomic Approaches for Exploring the Relevance of Domestic Chicken in Viking Age Post-Cremation Rites’ by Anna Jelicic (Stockholm University) and Beatrice Demarchi (University of Turin) presented results of the new interdisciplinary analyses of eggshells. Anna presented results of the examinations of the unburnt eggshells found in cremation Viking Age graves from Central Sweden (see overview of there sites in Anna’s Mater thesis ‘En hårdkokt historia: en studie av äggskalfynd från vikingatida gravkontext med särskilt fokus på Uppland och Gotland’). She also presented possible meanings of these remains. According to her they could be not only associated with food but also bear elaborate pre-Christian symbolism.

Later, we moved to a discussion on the symbolism of birds in late Iron Age iconography. Sigmund Oehrl presented his paper ‘Avian Iconography on the Gotland Picture Stones – Vendel and Viking Period Bird Symbolism’. He talked over various depictions of avifauna known from Swedish picture stones. Sigmund observed that the majority of these visualisations have features of various waterbirds. He stressed that these animals could be psychopomps leading dead to the otherworld (see also discussions in Sigmund’s paper ‘Ornithomorphe Psychopompoi im Bildprogramm der gotländischen Bildsteine’). However, he also mentions that these birds could be transformations of gods, goddesses, or supernatural beings. Sigmund also not excluded that these birds could have different symbolism.

Unfortunately, Pawel Szczepanik was not able to participate in our session. Therefore, we decided to let Hilary White (Irish Hawking Club; International Association of Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey) present his poster ‘Viking Falconry – A New Take on the Raptor Remains at the Viking Settlement of Wood Quay, Dublin’. He discussed not only the remains of birds of prey from Wood Quay but also presented his interpretation of a leather bag discovered at this place.

The last paper in this session was my own entitled ‘Last Crows: Gamefowl in Viking Age Funerary Practices and Beliefs’. In my presentation, I discussed various aspects of human-gamefowl relations. I talked over selected graves with remains of birds belonging to Galliformes, which were discovered in Viking Age graves from Norway and Sweden. I presented interactions that might occur between Viking Age people and wild or domesticated Galliformes in various phases of funerary rituals. I think that these animals could have pragmatic and symbolic meanings in Furthermore, I also discussed mentions of these animals in various written sources. Results of the research, which I presented in this presentation, are included in one of the chapters of my PhD thesis.

After my paper, we had a short discussion slot. During it, we had numerous fascinating discussions on various aspects of human-avian relations in the late Iron Age.

In my opinion, it was a fantastic and fruitful event full of numerous captivating papers and discussions. It was a pity that some technical problems occurred but in the case of online events, they are nearly impossible to be avoided.
Tweets concerning this session are included in the moments ‘EAA 2021 in Kiel’ and ‘EAA 2021: Session 141’  

I am more than happy that I had the pleasure and the honour to work and host the EAA session with Riley and Sigmund. I am also glad for all of the Speakers for presenting such wonderful and fascinating papers. Huge thanks also to the Audience for interesting questions and discussions.

We hope to publish papers presented during this session. More details soon.

EAA 2021 Session: Programme

I have the honour and the pleasure to inform you that the programme of the EAA session ‘Between Bones and Beliefs: Human-Bird Relations in Central and Northern Europe in the 1st Millennium AD’, which I will co-host with Sigmund Oehrl and Riley Smallman at the EAA conference, is available now. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EAA conference will not take place in Kiel (as it was planned) but it will be hosted online on Hopin.

Our session will take place on 9th September 2021 at 9:00-13:00 CEST. During it will be presented papers discussing the meanings of avifauna in the late Iron Age. It will be discussed human-avian relations in daily life, iconography, and funerary practices. The abstracts of the papers could be found on the EAA website.

We are really looking forward to hearing your papers!

See you at the online EAA conference!