Marika Mägi’s book considers the cultural, mercantile and political interaction of the Viking Age (9th-11th century), focusing on the eastern coasts of the Baltic Sea. The majority of research on Viking activity in the East has so far concentrated on the modern-day lands of Russia, while the archaeology and Viking Age history of today’s small nation states along the eastern coasts of the Baltic Sea is little known to a global audience.
This study looks at the area from a trans-regional perspective, combining archaeological evidence with written sources, and offering reflections on the many different factors of climate, topography, logistics, technology, politics and trade that shaped travel in this period. The work offers a nuanced vision of Eastern Viking expansion, in which the Eastern Baltic frequently acted as buffer zone between eastern and western powers.
Winner of the Early Slavic Studies Association 2018 Book Prize for most outstanding recent scholarly monograph on pre-modern Slavdom.
The work was described by the prize committee in the following terms: "The scope of this book is far broader than the title might suggest. It amounts to a substantial rethinking of the history of the eastern Baltic from the tenth to the thirteenth century, based on both archaelogical and written evidence. The author is by training an archaeologist, and she mounts a powerful criticism of historians who prioritise the written sources and then pick and choose from the archaeological evidence to suit their theories. This book foregrounds the archaeology, which is used to question and consider the written evidence. The author is also highly and rightly critical of the archaeological scholarship, for projecting back into the past the narrow concerns of the numerous nation states that now exist across the eastern and northern Baltic, or the Great Russian nationalist-materialist-imperialist interpretations of the Soviet period. The result is a detailed and fascinating account of the interactions of the worlds of Scandinavia and Rusʹ with the various peoples of the Baltic region, both Finno-Ugric and Baltic. The resulting picture of commercial, political, and cultural interaction across several cultures, and based on reading in a wide range of languages, is a tour-de-force."
Marika Mägi, Ph.D. (2002), Tartu University, is senior research fellow at the Centre for Medieval Studies at Tallinn University. She is an archaeologist and historian, and has published mainly on Viking Age and Middle Ages in Estonia and neighbouring areas.
Table of contents
Preface and Acknowledgements List of Illustrations List of Abbreviations
Viking Age Cultural Contacts across The Baltic Sea: Behind the Interpretations 1.1 The Evolutionary Development Model
1.2 Eastern Baltic Archaeology and the Concepts of Different Cultural Impacts
1.3 The Character of Communications across the Baltic Sea
Clan-Based Collectivists or Hierarchical Individualists? Late Prehistoric Societies in the Eastern Baltic 2.1 Finland
2.3 Latvia and Lithuania
2.5 Comparing Social Systems in Different Regions in the Eastern Baltic
Making Trade: Cultural Landscapes and Communication Routes 3.1 Maritime Landscapes in Countries around the Baltic
3.2 Long-distance Trade Routes through the Eastern Baltic
3.3 Travelling along Viking Age Routes
3.4 Points in Communication
3.5 Different Modes of Communication in the Eastern Baltic
The Historical Reality: Places, Place Names, and Ethnonyms in Written Sources 4.1 Estland(s) in the East
4.2 Pre-viking and Viking Age Eastern Baltic in Scandinavian Sources
4.3 What Was
4.4 Languages and Personal Names
Networks Take Shape: Communication Through the Eastern Baltic 600–850 5.1 Cultural Situation around the Northern Part of the Baltic Sea
5.2 Viking Colonies in the Southern Half of the Eastern Baltic
5.3 Pre-viking Period Hill-Forts and Trade Centres along the Eastern Baltic Coast
West Goes East: Viking Age Long-distance Communication and the Eastern Baltic 850-ca. 1000 6.1 Viking Age Centres Connected with International Trade Routes in the Eastern Baltic
6.2 Cultural Landscapes along the Eastern Way
6.3 Cultural Landscapes in the Middle Part of the Eastern Baltic
6.4 Coin Finds in the Eastern Baltic
6.5 Interpreting Routes and Centres in the 9th–10th Centuries
Between Consolidating States. The Eastern Baltic Areas in the 11th and 12th Centuries 7.1 Interaction with Scandinavian Kingdoms
7.2 Northern Eastern Baltic in the Final Centuries of Prehistory
7.3 The East Attacks
7.4 Landscapes around the Daugava Route
7.5 Southern Couronian Coast
7.6 Coins and Trade
Summing up and Conclusions 8.1 Two Cultural Spheres in the Eastern Baltic
8.2 The Shared Cultural Sphere of Warriors
8.3 Written Sources and Places on the Eastern Coasts of the Baltic Sea
8.4 Different Periods in the Viking Age
All interested in the history and archaeology of the Vikings, especially of Eastern Vikings, and anyone concerned with the earlier history of the Baltic States and Finland.