Moa Råhlander

Moa Råhlander


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Works at Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies
Telephone 08-16 34 11
Visiting address Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7
Room 317a
Postal address Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Phd Student, started in January 2018 and should be finished in 2020. Working with beads, mainly from Gotland with a specific focus on the Burial field of Ihre. Working around questions of how beads are used to articulate and communicate identity and personood in women during the first millenia.

The value of Beads? Artificial gemstones, trinkets or talismans.  

Beads are a common find for the Viking age. They are numerous numerous but valuable objects with long lifespans and a strong connection to the dress and body of the Scandinavian Iron age. As a group they have often been overlooked by archaeology and simply as shiny trinkets.

Their shapes and color differ with time and fashion throughout the Viking age, but they disappear with the emergence of Christianity, perhaps indicating something more than a piece of jewelry.

In the study the bead collections from several Swedish burial sites will be examined and compared from the perspective of their production techniques, materials, and damage from wear and cremation. This typological information is complemented by chronologies, literature studies and comparison between the different ways beads was used. Special attention is paid to the curation, mending and augmentation of broken beads. Who keeps broken beads?


What are the values embodied in the collection, curation and carrying of beads made from glass and stone? Who wears them and why? There are indications that beads have a symbolical value or function, to understand this function we need to understand who uses it.

Beads are found with all genders of the Viking age, but they seem to be most numerous in the burials of young women and children. This could indicate a protective quality, one of the most common attributes ascribed to beads throughout history, a value that is embodied by bead types like the Nazar with its simple design and stylistic motif of eyes.

Who made them? Many of these beads are imported from the cultural sphere around the Eastern Mediterranean, but others are made here from imported materials such as glass and stone. Can they tell more about what were desirable qualities of beads? Are there artistic elements in the beads made here that are not present or common in the imported material?

Is it possible to understand what this material and these objects symbolized for the people who made and collected them?



Main Supervisor - Vakant

Supervisor  dr Alison Klevnäs, Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens kultur, Stockholms universitet

Supervisor, professor emeritus, Johan Callmer, Lund 

Last updated: October 22, 2019

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