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Early Man and the Ocean 2010
- Social significant of Ocean Voyages

In search of the Material Pattern: Reconstructing the 3rd Gokstadboat and an Iron Age Rig

Terje Planke, PhD. Curator. Norwegian Maritime Museum, Oslo

Our practical knowledge is situated in preconceptions through tradition and previous experiences. Historical reconstruction through experiments is not only oriented toward the sources, but also a result of social practises - here and now. In this paper, I will show how I use the concept of pattern to go beyond each individual source, and at the same time questioning my own preconceptions. The goal is to get a grasp of an "incomprehensible" past.

The 3rd Gokstadboat was excavated by Nicolay Nicolaysen in 1880. It was found together with the Gokstad Ship and two other small boats, but first reconstructed after 120 years. The original boat was built in the late 800s, but was deliberately destroyed before it was included in the grave of the "Gokstad Man". The process of puzzling and reconstructing the boat was therefore complex. The rig of the Iron Age boats of Scandinavia is just as difficult to understand, and it is diffucult to believe some of the sorces. By reconstructing the pattern of both the boat and the rig, it became possible to interpret the individual sorces in new ways.