The Norwegian forum for experimental archaeology (NFEA) 2023 was held on the 15th and 16th of September at Tingvatn Fornminnepark in Agder, Norway. Tingvatn, a part of the Vestagder museum, is well known in Norway as a museum where the main focus lies on experimental archeology and historical crafts. The director of Tingvatn fornminnepark, Katja Regevik, organized the seminar.
The first day
The program began with a presentation by archaeologist Morten Kutschera from the department of cultural heritage in Agder County. He was involved in a project called Vannvandringene, investigating stone age sites in Agder.
Experimental archeology was used there to better understand the technological processes involved, then using the knowledge gained to date the different sites.
The second presentation was by Jenni Sahramaa, a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. Her presentation was called “Sensory Archaeology and Archaeological Textiles – How to touch the untouchable?” She pointed out that textiles can be hard to accurately describe in a meaningful way; they need to be touched. Making reproductions that are accurate enough to give the same feeling as the original fabric is difficult for many reasons, such as skill level and high costs.
After a short break it was time for another presentation with a focus on textiles. Astri Bryde, currently taking a master’s degree at the University of South Eastern Norway, is researching some of the textile tools from Oseberg. By testing different reproductions of the tools, she is trying to determine how they were used and if they could be connected to the production of the tapestry found in the ship.
The last presentation on the first day was by the woodcrafter Øyvind Mauren. He presented a project in which a stave church, built using traditional methods, will be built in Setesdal valley in Agder. The project’s main goal is to gain new insights into how stave churches were constructed and assembled.
After the presentations it was time for a guided tour around the area. The guide, Samuel Høiland, is a historian working at Tingvatn Fornminnepark. The area is full of iron age graves and stone circles, and has been used as an assembly site. The tour ended with a visit to the museum exhibition and some information about the new exhibition the museum is working on.
The day ended with a dinner and discussions.
The second day
The second day started with a presentation by Ida Moi, a blacksmith currently working on a 3-year scholarship at the Norwegian crafts institute, documenting and learning the craft of making wood augers. Her mentor is the 96-year-old smith Johannes Fosse. The presentation focused on crafts as a medium for the transfer of knowledge between generations.
The next presentation was by archaeologist Marita Fleseland from the department of cultural heritage in Agder County. Together with Morten Kutschera, they were attempting to make a soapstone pot based on a specific find. The idea was to get more information about the production process for these kinds of pots and to recreate possible tools and toolmarks.
Katja Regevik, the director of Tingvatn Fornminnepark, held a presentation focused on the role of museums as an enabler within politics, research and volunteer work, both locally and for the region. The museum’s involvement in research on the tablet woven bands from Snartemo was an example of this.
Kari Marie Helland from the Vestfold Museums followed, with a presentation about her involvement in different international projects. The focus was on historical food and how it can be used to create involvement in local communities.
After lunch, Solveig Liv Chaudesaigues-Clausen, PhD candidate from the University of Bergen presented her research on stone tools from the Funnelbeaker culture. Her research involved experiments on the production of holes in Astragalus and Phalanx bones, and their possible uses. In addition, she had been experimenting with knives made from shoulder blades from cattle. The knives were surprisingly effective for various tasks, such as cutting small trees and grass.
The next two hours were reserved for different practical demonstrations for the participants. This also provided a good opportunity for the participants to discuss the “nerdier” details of the different crafts and experiments.
The seminar ended with a short discussion around the different topics, and about the way forward. One issue that was discussed was how to create more awareness, both about experimental archeology and about the NFEA as a network.
Planning is currently underway for NFEA 2024, hopefully at another interesting location.