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Networks and nodal points: the emergence of towns in early Viking Age Scandinavia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Søren M. Sindbæk*
*Institute of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics, University of Aarhus, Denmark (Email:
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Did towns return to early medieval Europe through political leadership or economic expansion? This paper turns the spotlight on a particular group of actors, the long-distance traders, and finds that they stimulated proto-towns of a special kind among the Vikings. While social and economic changes, and aristocratic advantage, were widespread, it was the largely self-directed actions of these intrepid merchants which created what the author calls ‘the nodal points.’ One can think of many other periods and parts of the world in which this type of non-political initiative may well have proved pivotal.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 2007


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