Anonymous Artefacts and Revealing Runes, ch. 2

2. Earlier Research

2.1 Gender theory in archaeology

Gender theory in archaeology has developed in two stages. Alison Wylie in Gender Theory and the Archaeological Record: Why is There No Archaeology of Gender? (1991) questioned the non-existence of gender studies in archaeology, referring to the fact that while other sciences embraced the perspective, archaeology remained uninfluenced (Wylie 1991:31 ). Wylie criticised the archaeological disinterest in gender, highlighting the fact that while few had studied gender, numerous archaeologists nevertheless made biased assumptions about gender and particularly about women (Wylie 1991:33f).

In 1996, Cathy Lynne Costin published her article Exploring the Relationship Between Gender and Craft. Costin argues that in order to gender attribute specific crafts, several factors should be taken into consideration before drawing conclusions regarding pre-historic conditions of craft division (Costin 1996:112). The initial stage also consisted of an effort into bringing feminist ideas and ideals to the field of archaeology. Joan M Gero and Margaret Conkey proposed in their article Programme to Practice: Gender and Feminism in Archaeology (1997) that feminist theory should be part of how archaeology as a science is practised (Conkey & Gero 1997:41), considering that feminist theory has been questioning authority and social structures for a long time (Conkey & Gero 1997:426). In feminist theory there is the fundamental perception that politics and research are intertwined (Conkey & Gero 1997:427).

Elisabeth Arwill-Nordbladh represents the second stage of gender theory in archaeology. In 2003 she wrote a compendium of gender theory in archaeology titled Genusforskningen inom arkeologinwhere she argues that archaeology is androcentric in numerous ways (Arwill-Nordbladh 2003:22ff). Arwill-Nordbladh presents feminist ideals in a moderated form when compared to the earlier stage of gender theory. Instead Arwill-Nordbladh regards gender as social constructs that are subject to change (Arwill-Nordbladh 2003:30ff). Arwill-Nordbladh mentions female scholars that have contributed throughout the history of archaeology (Arwill-Nordbladh 2003:13ff). The second stage of gender theory has also highlighted the fact that there may be more genders than just the dichotomy between feminine and masculine gender (e.g. Ljungkvist 2008:186, Andersson 1998:23ff).

2.2 Runic artefacts

Lisbeth M Imer has in Runer og runeindskrifter: kronologi, kontekst og funktion i Skandinaviens jernalder og vikingetid (2007) assembled the most comprehensive archaeological survey of smaller runic artefacts in Scandinavia. Imer analyses different archaeological material with runic inscriptions dated to the entire Iron Age, 160–1050 AD (Imer 2007a:31). While SingularImer’s focus is on smaller runic artefacts, a brief discussion on rune stones is also included in the study (Imer 2007a:31)[/annotax] . The aim of her doctoral thesis is to analyse the material with regards to social status and what function the runic inscriptions might have served (Imer 2007a:241ff). New runic finds, often with interpretations of both artefact and inscription, are published each year in the Swedish journal Fornvännen, which is also accessible on the internet .