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  • Fighting the winter: Indo-European rituals and cosmogony in cold climates

    Anders Kaliff, Terje Oestigaard

    Chapter from the book: Larsson, J et al. 2024. Indo-European Interfaces: Integrating Linguistics, Mythology and Archaeology.

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    In Indo-European mythology, there is a strong focus on the horse and the sun in a water and fertility perspective. However, if there is one particular characteristic of the northern and Scandinavian ecology, it is the long, cold and dark winters. The seasonality of the Scandinavian ecology structured all life and wealth in prehistoric Scandinavia. The winter limited and defined the agricultural growth season and when it was possible to travel on boats further south and partake in exchange networks. Cosmologically, it was not the sun that melted away the snow during the spring, but particular water powers like springs, rivers and waterfalls were “eating away” the snow from beneath and the underworld. The Scandinavian skeid tradition with horse-fights, rituals and sacrifices is one of the longest living traditions in the world with 4000 years of continuity. The last remains of this great tradition was found in late 19th-century rural Norway and Sweden. Using archaeological and ethnographic examples, the aim of this chapter is to analyse the specific type of Indo-European ritual tradition and cosmogony when the powers of the winter were fought and overcome in Scandinavia.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Kaliff A. & Oestigaard T. 2024. Fighting the winter: Indo-European rituals and cosmogony in cold climates. In: Larsson, J et al (eds.), Indo-European Interfaces. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bcn.i

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on June 11, 2024


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