Virtual Reconstruction, Interpretation and Preservation of the Textile Artifacts from the Oseberg Find (TexRec)
Over 80 fragments of tapestries are preserved from a Viking Age burial mound at Oseberg in south Norway. This collection is one of a kind and the fragments therefore constitute a unique source of knowledge about Viking Age design, mythology and textile technology. The tapestry fragments show scenes with finely crafted human figures, weapons, animals, carriages and houses, as well as geometric symbols. TexRec seeks answers to how the individual scenes have formed coherent narratives and to the use of dyes and colours in the production of the textiles. This forms the basis of a virtual reconstruction. We are also developing a modern conservation strategy for these vulnerable textiles. A wide range of methods within chemistry, archaeology, computer science, imaging, material science, botany and conservation will be applied to answer the research questions.
The research project is a collaboration between the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, Department of Computer Science and Norwegian Colour and Visual Computing Laboratory at NTNU, The National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics at University of Nottingham, and DWI- Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, Aachen. The project is led by associate Professor Hartmut Kutzke (Chemistry/heritage science) with Professor Marianne Vedeler (Archaeology) as coo-leader, both at the Museum of Cultural History, UIO
The present project is the first comprehensive study on the textile artifacts rescued from the Oseberg gravemound. A visual reconstruction based on a combination of natural scientific methods and computer-aided visualization techniques will open up new possibilities for the interpretation of the artifacts from an archaeological as well as from an art and cultural historical point of view. The project consists of five main parts: 1) a thorough investigation of the artifacts, 2) virtual reconstruction of the original appearance, 3) archaeological interpretation of the find, 4) exploration of suitable preservation strategies including development of new bio-inspired conservation materials and 5) dissemination of the results to professional communities as well as to the wider public. The project will be carried out by an international consortium led by the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.
In 1904 a burial mound was excavated, situated in the Oslofjord area and containing a Viking ship and human bones, accompanied by a rich collection of various gravegoods. The artifacts are housed by The Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo (KHM). Amongst the artifacts there different types of textiles were found. The proposed project focuses on tapestries excavated from gravemound. A multitude of figures, objects and symbols is depicted on the fabrics, providing an unique insight into myths and histories of the Viking culture.
During time colours have bleached out and faded, and many original patterns are hard to recognize. The textiles are fragmented and fragile. A wide range of scientific methods will be used to make the rich world of images accessible to scholarship, resulting in a virtual reconstruction of the original appearance and leading to deeper insight in manufacturing and dyeing techniques in the Viking Age.
Possible conservation strategies will be developed and evaluated, focusing on bio-inspired materials, to preserve the unique artifacts.