Excavations at Helgo XVI
Exotic & Sacral Finds from Helgo
By Bo Gyllensvard, et al.
Almqvist & Wiksell
182 pages, Illustrated, 8 ¾" x 11 ¾"
$89.50 Paper Original
This book contains six articles by different authors. Two deal with unique finds of distant origin: a Buddha figurine and the head of a richly decorated enameled crozier. The Helgo Buddha displays close parallels with the Buddha figures from the Swat Valley in North-West India, where it must have been made as early as the sixth century AD.
Like the Tang Dynasty silk discovered through excavations at Birka, it gradually found its way, initially along the Silk Road, to Lake Malaren. The crozier, which has no known parallels, could alternatively be interpreted as a finial from a post on a 'high seat.' Comparisons with Insular manuscripts and the ornament on metal artifacts point to a date c. 800 AD, and an Irish origin.
Three articles are devoted to objects and phenomena that can be associated with cult practices. The 26 figural gold foils found at Helgo are used as the starting point for a survey of all the Swedish gold foils so far known. They are discussed from various points of view, such as research history, religious history, iconography, chronology, technique, and social significance, and a variety of interpretations are proposed.
Another article discusses two fragmentary bracteates from Helgo, closely related to the figural gold foils in their iconography. The third article in this group emphasizes Helgo's role as a center for ritual ceremonies. Foundation IV in the Central Building Group is reinterpreted. The author convincingly demonstrates that it was not the site of a conventional settlement but that it was an open space used for cult activities from the Roman Iron Age to the Viking Age.
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