Olof Sundqvist. Foto: Niklas Björling.

Olof Sundqvist


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Works at Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies
Telephone 08-16 30 11
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 E, plan 7
Room E 785
Postal address 106 91 Stockholm 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am professor and deputy head of the Department of ethnology, history of religions and gender studies.


My research focuses on ancient Scandinavian religion, particularly religious ruler ideology, cultic leaders, ceremonial buildings/sanctuaries, rituals, cosmology and myths, and also the theme of early runic inscriptions and religion. In addition to this, I have also discussed medieval Christianity in some studies, for instance the cult of royal saints, the ideological dimension of the early medieval churches and more generally the question of religious continuity from the Viking Age to the Early Middle Ages. One of my great interests is related to different types of religious encounters. Together with the archaeologist Anders Kaliff, I have explored the encounter between the Roman cult of Mithras and the Germanic religion, which took place during the Roman Iron Age (c. 0–375 AD). Finally, I have also written some articles about religion and education, i.e. texts with didactical perspectives.

I have published four monographs: "Freyr’s offspring" (2002), "Oden och Mithraskulten" (2004) (together with Kaliff), "Kultledare i fornskandinavisk religion" (2007) and "An Arena for Higher Powers" (2016). In my fourth book from 2016, I investigate the relationship between ceremonial buildings and religious strategies for rulership in Late Iron Age Scandinavia (i.e. 550-1050/1100 AD). More precisely, I offer an account of the role played by religion in political undertakings among the pre-Christian ruling elites at halls and cultic buildings. A regional approach was applied in this study so as to be able to account for the specific historical, cultural and social contexts.

During the last few years, I have been working with an externally financed project. In the years 2007 and 2008, I was engaged full-time with the research project entitled "Ideology and Power in the Viking and Middle Ages" lead by Professor Gro Steinsland at the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo. During the period 2008 to 2011, I worked with an individual project financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond called "An Arena for Higher Powers" (see the results above). During the period of 2011-2013, I took part in a project at the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger called "Et Akropolis på Jæren" (lead by Professor Siv Kristoffersen). In 2018-2019, I will return to the Centre for Advanced Study in Oslo and engage full-time in a project called “The Demise of Religion”, which will be governed by Professor Michael Stausberg.

I have an extensive research network in the field of Viking Age history, culture and religion. I am also a working member of both the Nathan Söderblom Society and the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database Show all publications by Olof Sundqvist at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 20, 2018

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