Article

Unearthing Atlantis and performing the past: Ancient things, alternative histories and the present past in the Baroque world

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This article discusses fabrications and alternative histories, and their relationship with antiquarian and early archaeological practice, in the Baroque world through the case of an alabaster urn reportedly found in the garden of a Swedish royal castle in 1685. The urn, decorated with a strange inscription, is used to address broader issues of how the past was conceived in the Baroque world, and how the relationship between the past and present was manipulated through antiquarian research. Certain characteristics of the urn and its cultural life have led modern scholarship to dismiss the artefact as ‘unauthentic’ and hence uninteresting, whereas this article seeks to reconsider the nature and meanings of fabricating the past in the 17th century. It will be argued that the past was not fixed in the Baroque world, but various material and magical practices enabled altering the past. It is against that background, and within the Baroque relational understanding of reality, that the 17th-century interest in and manipulations of the urn must be understood.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Godwin 2002, 181-202;Nordin 2013, 198). Mixing different times and places provided an arena for figuring out relationships between peoples, the past and present, and oneself and the world (Herva and Nordin 2015). More recently, groups of Czech people, for instance, adopted the practice, during the communist regime, of spending weekends in the woods, dressed up as cowboys and Indians as an escape from the normal world (Symonds and Vareka 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines mechanisms of marginalization in the monocultural setting of Finland in the early 1990s through the case of the multinational Iriadamant "lifestyle Indians". The Iriadamant imitated Native Americans in appearance, and the "tribe" settled in Finnish Lapland to experiment with a non-consumerist ecological and spiritual way of living off-grid. We examine how this community was perceived in Finland and assess how Finnish perceptions of Iriadamant otherness and marginality were anchored on material culture and material practices. Furthermore, we discuss how the marginalization of the Iriadamant resonated and was intertwined with the marginalization and exoticization of Lapland, which is part of the ancestral homelands of the indigenous Sámi and has for centuries been seen as an enchanted land of natural and supernatural wonders. We consider marginality and marginalization in the context of the Iriadamant in Lapland through more specific issues of identity/indigeneity, ecology and spirituality.
... From the entry of the Swedes in the war in 1630 the Catholic League accused the Swedish army of being ungodly in using Lappish sorcerers conducting witchcraft (Rydving 2006 , also paid much interest to Sápmi as well as the North in more general terms, nourishing the idea of the Swedes as the hyperboreans, the descendants of Atlantis, living in the far North (Eriksson 2002, Herva & Nordin 2015. ...
Article
This paper presents the research project Collecting Sápmi. Early modern globalization of Sámi material culture and Sámi cultural heritage today, financed by the Swedish Research Council 2014–18. The aim of the project is to examine early modern collecting of Sámi material culture and early descriptions of Sámi culture, primarily in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We aim to study early modern networks of scholars and collectors interested in Sámi material culture, to investigate how and why the collecting was conducted, and to follow the movement of Sámi objects between collections and collectors around Europe. Furthermore, the project aims to discuss the importance of early modern collecting and the collected objects in today’s society. Here, critical issues are raised concerning colonial histories and relations in Sápmi, motivations and ideologies of collecting over time, as well as the rights to Sámi cultural heritage and its management today and in the future.
... Many have implicitly or explicitly referred to abduction when discussing IBE as a model of hypothesis formation and/or selection (Plog 1974, Kelley and Hanen 1988, Hanen and Kelley 1989, Routledge 1995, Fogelin 2007, Chadha 2010, Bogaard 2015, Dallas 2016. Some accounts make use of the term in reference to Alfred Gell's (1998) 'abduction of agency' (Alberti 2001, Shapland 2010, Herva and Nordin 2015. Others use the concept in the context of digital or computational archaeology, such as model building, simulation and artificial intelligence studies (Doran 1986, Madella et al. 2014 or Bayesian archaeology (Buck and Meson 2015). ...
Article
The rapid development of natural scientific methods coupled with the recent popularity of new materialist philosophies in archaeological theory has raised discussion about the possibility of a return to empiricism in archaeology. While empiricism as a pragmatic philosophy is in line with archaeology’s hands-on character, the recent development has left some concerned about the vanishing role of vagueness and ambiguity in archaeological interpretation. In this setting, the exactitude of natural scientific methods is seen as a process of simplification that compromises the tacit dimensions of archaeological knowledge. This article discusses vagueness as an elementary part of all archaeological knowledge formation, with a particular emphasis on the role of perception and senses in finds analysis. Archaeological finds analysis is explored as an example of epistemologically vague and creative hypothesis formation.
Article
This article discusses a lithic object originally used as a mould for cross decorations and later reworked into the shape of a disc and inscribed with peculiar signs. Besides discussing the disc’s possible provenance and age, the emphasis of this study is put on the signs. It is suggested that even if zodiac symbols were the main inspiration for carving signs onto this disc, the purpose was not to depict only the zodiac circle itself but the meaning of the whole composition derived from Early Modern astral magic. Thus, the main function of the disc was most probably to solicit the help of some spirits and secure benefits for the owner of the disc.
Article
Full-text available
The unknown and exotic North fascinated European minds in the early modern period. A land of natural and supernatural wonders, and of the indigenous Sámi people, the northern margins of Europe stirred up imagination and a plethora of cultural fantasies, which also affected early antiquarian research and the period understanding of the past. This article employs an alleged runestone discovered in northernmost Sweden in the seventeenth century to explore how ancient times and northern margins of the continent were understood in early modern Europe. We examine how the peculiar monument of the Vinsavaara stone was perceived and signified in relation to its materiality, landscape setting, and the cultural-cosmological context of the Renaissance–Baroque world. On a more general level, we use the Vinsavaara stone to assess the nature and character of early modern antiquarianism in relation to the period's nationalism, colonialism and classicism.
Article
Full-text available
Santa Cruz de los Pinos is a small town like most others in the Cuban countryside. But half a century ago it was the epicenter of the 1962 Missile Crisis. During that time it served as a Soviet base for middle-range nuclear missiles, and the US air reconnaissance photos of it were spread through media all around the world. The crisis was solved through negotiations without Cuban involvement, and as a result of this neglect the Missile Crisis has been an under-communicated part of history in Cuba. A Swedish—Cuban research project has now investigated what kinds of memories of the crisis remain today at the former missile base — in the ground as well as in people’s minds. Digging in the ground has proved to be an effective way to start a remembering process and to help disarm a politically loaded history and uncover stories other than those dominating ‘big history’.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper I investigate how the effects of the disordered spaces of industrial ruins can interrogate and contest the normative ways in which memory is spatialised in the city. By focusing upon confrontations with the ghosts which haunt ruins, I will suggest that the affective and sensual memories conjured up act as an antidote to the fixed, classified, and commodified memories purveyed in heritage and commemorative spaces. In contradistinction to the didactic and constrained remembering that prevails across Western cities, a form of remembering which is inarticulate, sensual, and conjectural allows improvisatory scope to supplement and challenge ordered forms of social remembering.
Article
The history of Sweden in the seventeenth century is perhaps one of the most remarkable political success stories of early modern Europe. Little more than a century after achieving independence from Denmark, Sweden - an impoverished and sparsely-populated state - had defeated all of its most fearsome enemies and was ranked amongst the great powers of Europe. In this book, which incorporates the latest research on the subject, Paul Douglas Lockhart: - surveys the political, diplomatic, economic, social and cultural history of the country, from the beginnings of its career as an empire to its decline at the end of the seventeenth century - examines the mechanisms that helped Sweden to achieve the status of a great power, and the reasons for its eventual downfall - emphasises the interplay between social structure, constitutional development, and military necessity Clear and well-written, Lockhart's text is essential reading for all those with an interest in the fascinating history of early modern Sweden.
Article
Western esotericism combines spirituality with an empirical observation of the natural world while also relating humanity to the universe through a harmonious celestial order. This introduction to the Western esoteric traditions offers a concise overview of their historical development. It explores these traditions, from their roots in Hermeticism, Neo-Platonism, and Gnosticism in the early Christian era up to their reverberations in today's scientific paradigms. While the study of Western esotericism is usually confined to the history of ideas, the book examines the phenomenon much more broadly. It demonstrates that, far from being a strictly intellectual movement, the spread of esotericism owes a great deal to geopolitics and globalization. In Hellenistic culture, for example, the empire of Alexander the Great, which stretched across Egypt and Western Asia to provinces in India, facilitated a mixing of Eastern and Western cultures. As the Greeks absorbed ideas from Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia, they gave rise to the first esoteric movements. From the late 16th to the 18th centuries, post-Reformation spirituality found expression in theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and Freemasonry. Similarly, in the modern era, dissatisfaction with the hegemony of science in Western culture and a lack of faith in traditional Christianity led thinkers like Madame Blavatsky to look east for spiritual inspiration. The book further examines Modern esoteric thought in the light of new scientific and medical paradigms along with the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung.
Article
What do walking, weaving, observing, storytelling, singing, drawing and writing have in common? The answer is that they all proceed along lines. In this extraordinary book Tim Ingold imagines a world in which everyone and everything consists of interwoven or interconnected lines and lays the foundations for a completely new discipline: the anthropological archaeology of the line. Ingold's argument leads us through the music of Ancient Greece and contemporary Japan, Siberian labyrinths and Roman roads, Chinese calligraphy and the printed alphabet, weaving a path between antiquity and the present. Setting out from a puzzle about the relation between speech and song, Ingold considers how two kinds of line - threads and traces - can turn into one another as surfaces form or dissolve. He reveals how our perception of lines has changed over time, with modernity converting to point-to-point connectors before becoming straight, only to be ruptured and fragmented by the postmodern world. Drawing on a multitude of disciplines including archaeology, classical studies, art history, linguistics, psychology, musicology, philosophy and many others, and including more than seventy illustrations, this book takes us on an exhilarating intellectual journey that will change the way we look at the world and how we go about in it.
Article
Contextual and interpretive approaches have broadened perspectives on historical cartography since the 1980s, but maps still continue to be understood as a means of encoding and communicating spatial information and ideas. These established approaches to maps, however, are embedded in modernist assumptions and may misrepresent the function and meaning of maps, especially in contexts such as Renaissance Europe. This article considers the meaning of the magical associations and aspects of Renaissance maps from a relational perspective. It is argued on historical and theoretical grounds that maps engaged, and were recognized to engage, directly with the workings of the world and thus exercised causations of a magical kind.The explicit magical associations of cartography waned towards the end of the 17th century, but the magic of maps became hidden rather than lost in the process.
Article
The New World was present in material representations in the 17th-century castle of Skokloster, Sweden, in contrast to the concepts of history and centrality that were used in the construction of a locality of power in a European colonial society. Material displays, architecture and art visually constructed the New World as an integral, yet inferior, part of the Old World. The commodification of the material culture of the North American Indian reproduced the dominion of the colonial powers but at the same time included the New World in the old. Parallel to this process was the integration of history on the estate. Architecture, the construction of landscape and material culture became an arena for the display of a new, hybrid global culture, signifying the advent of modernity. Although juxtaposed in their display, the New and Old Worlds mingled and created a world of hybridity expressed and executed in the castle and estate of Skokloster.
Book
Anthropology is a disciplined inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life. Generations of theorists, however, have expunged life from their accounts, treating it as the mere output of patterns, codes, structures or systems variously defined as genetic or cultural, natural or social. Building on his classic work The Perception of the Environment, Tim Ingold sets out to restore life to where it should belong, at the heart of anthropological concern.
Article
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Swedish court militantly promoted its claim to descent from the Gothic tribes described by ancient authors. Although fully entwined in many aspects of court life and well known in the literature, it is familiar as an essentially textual project. The court was fully aware of the importance of visual modes of representation – from portraiture to architecture – and went to great trouble to attract skilled artists to Stockholm, but any perceptible trace of the Gothic claims seems to be absent from their works, which instead meet a fairly standardized international expectation for royal representation. Rather, the visual representation of the Gothic nature of the kingdom is to be found in the representation of northern nature in paintings, prints, and other media. Many official works include a remarkable emphasis on the natural world that was central to the literature, much of which presents the land as formative for the Gothic people. This allowed the court and its monarchs to present themselves within European-wide conventions of representation and simultaneously to frame it within the landscape from which its Gothic heritage arose.
Article
Multi-isotope fingerprinting (sulphur, oxygen and strontium isotopes) has been tested to study the provenances of medieval and Renaissance French and Swedish alabaster works of art. Isotope signatures of historical English, French and Spanish alabaster source quarries or areas are revealed to be highly specific, with a strong intra-group homogeneity and strong inter-group contrasts, especially for Sr and S isotopes. The chosen combination of isotope tracers is a good basis for forensic work on alabaster provenance, allowing verification of hypotheses about historical trade routes as well as identification of fakes and their origin. The applied analytical techniques of continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry (CF–IRMS) and thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) only require micro-samples in the low-milligram range, thus minimizing the impact on the works of art.
Article
Everyone who has dug up anything knows the excitement of bringing an ancient object to its first light for centuries. Everyone who has directed an archaeological excavation knows the excitement of finding sense in the pattern of many ancient objects revealed. Why is it, then, that the publication of that pattern in a site report is a more wearisome business when—if ever—it take place? Is that just the nature of the business, or is there more to be revealed?
Article
This essay is concerned with one aspect of the European antiquarian movement of the seventeenth century. Like the humanist movement out of which it developed, antiquarianism was originally text-centered. However, in the course of time the antiquaries became more and more interested in the material culture of the past. This article adopts a comparative approach to the study of what might be called the "three antiquities," classical, Christian, and barbarian, and focuses on the question of evidence, especially on what the scholars of the time considered to be reliable evidence.
Article
This paper is an attempt to argue that there existed a very prominent view of signs and signification in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe which can help us to understand several puzzling aspects of baroque culture. This view, called here "pansemioticism," constituted a fundamental part of the ba- roque conception of the world. After sketching the content and importance of pansemioticism, I will show how it can help us to understand the (from a modern perspective) rather puzzling concept of the polymath, or polyhistor, which con- stituted the ideal of the baroque scientist. In this context I will also discuss a seventeenth century phenomenon essentially connected with polyhistorism, namely that of the early modern polyhistorical collections, the Wunderkammern. Since such a study needs a clearly determined focal point, we will concentrate on the last three quarters of the seventeenth century and will mainly discuss works by German authors of the time. 1
Article
This essay considers the politics of describing Indigenous peoples as ghostly or haunting presences. Focusing on the history of haunting tropes in Canadian cultural production and the recent re-emergence of the spectral Indigenous figure in, among other places, a wilderness park in southwestern British Columbia, I argue that the mobilization of haunting tropes to make sense of contemporary settler-Indigenous relations reinscribes colonial power relations and fails to account for the specific experiences and claims of Indigenous peoples. At a time when cultural geographers are contemplating the possibilities of a ‘spectral turn’, this essay asks what politics are involved in deploying a spectro-geographical approach to studies of the colonial and postcolonial.
Article
In Northern Europe in the second half of the 17th century, Dutch architecture was regarded as an important source of inspiration since Dutch buildings showed how the Italian example and classical rules could be transformed and adapted to Northern demands. Noblemen and rich merchants from various countries around the Baltic Sea who wanted to modernize their governmental seats or private residences invited architects from Holland or just asked them to send their designs. Moreover, Dutch editions of important Italian treatises found their way into the Northern architectural design practice. This article offers some traces, just a first glimpse, of these architectural exchanges and does not purport to be a complete overview. Since this study is focused on the introduction of a classicist architectural style in the North in the second half of the 17th century, the attention is centred on some isolated but well-documented examples around the Baltic Sea, and therefore it is impossible to give quantitative figures.
Article
Early-modern Gothicism, or self-identification with the Gothic peoples described by classical authors, has usually been considered a Scandinavian, and particularly Swedish, affair. Particularly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Swedish court and universities insisted militantly that the kingdom was the Gothic homeland, and this has fostered an assumption that Gothicism represents a kind of embryonic nationalism. This interpretation was almost inevitable given the circumstances of modern interest in the phenomenon. Scandinavian scholars were the first to pick up the Gothic thread in the earlier twentieth century, and Swedes in particular have dominated the literature on Gothicism. At least in the early years, this may be related to a general trend to interpret the past in terms of a relatively inflexible, modern concept of nation. These earlier studies accordingly relied largely on the same, mostly Swedish, sources. Later work has generally not expanded the framework of the discourse, however.1 A number of important early modern texts that show the much broader appeal of Gothicism are not accounted for in the standard narrative of the rise of the phenomenon in the early modern period. I will show that the Scandinavian interpretation has been allowed to overshadow a much broader Gothic tradition that encompassed a broad part of Europe, including the German lands and Spain. Gothicism has thus been reduced to just one aspect of its original scope, and the scholarly nuances and historical jockeying that shaped the narrative have largely been lost. This reduction has had consequences not only for the familiar version of the story, largely derived from Swedish texts, but also for our understanding of history writing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Gothicism debate may be unique in its breadth and in the intensity of interest that it elicited. It is also remarkable for the variety of approaches to historical writing that scholars applied as each tried to develop a more impregnable argument than the last. Linguistic, geographical, archaeological, antiquarian, and textual methods intersected freely, inviting shifting and overlapping versions of the Gothic narrative that sometimes trace the linguistic legacy of the tribe, sometimes the ethnic legacy, and sometimes bind the two together. All of these narratives were basically concerned with the antiquity of the Goths and their legacy in early modern Europe. The implications of this were different for various regions and rulers, but most wanted to claim for themselves the strength, prestige, and antiquity of the tribe that toppled the Roman Empire, thus enhancing their own often dubious historical legitimacy. This debate often took a polemical character, particularly in the political sphere, where there were fierce disputes over which region was the true homeland of the tribe, and thus which area (or people or ruling dynasty) could claim the greatest honor from their exploits and claim to be their most direct descendants. But there was also a very clear corollary to this contentious discourse. As scholars from across a wide area produced mountains of evidence pointing to the Gothic origins of their own regions, it became possible to think of Gothic origins not only in terms of difference—which kingdom, dynasty, or geographic region could claim the greatest antiquity and eminence—but also in terms of shared history and common identity across political, geographical, and linguistic boundaries. In general, the polemic was restricted to the origins of the Goths. Many writers seem to have accepted that the Gothic lands cumulatively formed a sort of historical unity that was lost through later political divisions, but which could still be traced through other means. Particularly in the Holy Roman Empire—a largely political boundary encompassing many smaller states ruled by famously fractious princes of different confessions and languages—the more conceptual notion of deep-seated Gothic origins opened the way for a different alignment of identity both within and without the boundaries of the Empire, and especially with Scandinavia, which contributed such rich arguments to the debate. There are several significant problems in a study of the early-modern view of the Goths beyond the historiographical ones outlined above. They were widely associated with other tribes—often the Vandals—and these were frequently treated as closely related groups both in...