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12.01.11

 

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Words of hope, for a change of pace

12.01.11

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Internet - The Early Days

12.01.11

 

"Lundeborgís location has puzzled more  than one researcher (Fig. 2). It is described as ìstrangely peripheral on Fyn, cramped in between the forest-districts of inner Fyn and the Great Beltî (N‰sman 1991, 171; my translation). It has even been maintained that ìthe prominence of the region cannot be explained alone by the topography of the landscape, the fertility of the soil, good access or strategic position.

(...)

Yet a particular aspect of the location has escaped attention. Lundeborg is facing the Great Belt, one of the most trafficable central Danish waters, and the principal channel between the Baltic and the North Sea. Quite atypically for a Danish coastal settlement, Lundeborg is not in a sheltered fjord  or inlet, but on a directly exposed coast. Compared to the nearby medieval towns Svendborg and Rudk¯bing, Lundeborg has little maritime foreland, and no natural harbour (Crumlin-Pedersen et al. 1996, 86). Neither does the site refer to the strangulation-point between Nyborg, Sprog¯ and Kors¯r, fortified since the 12th century to control traffic through and across the Belt. Rather, Lundeborg is located at the point where the island Langeland splits the Great Belt into three waters: Fynske ÿhav, LangelandsbÊlt and SmÂlandshavet. This position has interesting implications.  Besides being equally accessible from each of these waters, and obviously from the terrestrial hinterland on Fyn, Lundeborg was accessible from a corridor of long-distance traffic, at a point that could be approached by visitors from remote regions without moving too close towards any settled districts and intimidating potential enemies on the ground. Likewise, it could be rapidly escaped if a conflict emerged. The scope of interregional contacts in the Baltic Sea region in the Late Roman Iron Age is brought out by the so-called Ejsb¯l-horizon of sacrificial weapondeposit, found in regions facing southern Danish Waters, but containing weapons and artefacts from central Scandinavia. In an age of sea-warriors, the sight of boats with foreigners ñ certainly armed, be that for defence or attack ñ might be enough to provoke an unwarranted conflict. Lundeborg was an obvious location for avoiding an unintended offence of peace.

(...)

From the Late Roman to the Merovingian Period, then, we find sites with intense evidence of long-distance exchange in the south-west Baltic area in very similar locations: At an open coast near the entrance to a narrow strait or sound that would demand foreign vessels to navigate uncomfortably close to inhabited coastal regions. The locations chosen were hardly optimal for controlling traffic. But they were locations where traffic from a large area convened, and to which foreigners could count on a neutral passage, even if no authority could guarantee peace but the landing place itself.  The locational principle of these sites was open access. Their archaeology suggests that this was exactly the quality that served their purpose: They were places of convention, of formal meeting or assembly between peers and their retinue from near and distant regions to confer and collaborate on politics, exchange, cult, and other matters of common concern.  Unlike the sites to complement or replace them in the following period, there is nothing in the location, or in the archaeological material, to indicate that they served generally for receiving or transmitting large cargoes. By nature of the activities taking place, they acted as  centres of distribution. The distribution concerned individual things, personal relations and power ñ things and relations that held value and whose protection was important to the people concerned. But they did not involve transhipped bulk-cargoes that posed marked constraints or demanded special landing facilities

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