Classic Norwegian Finds Pics On-line


One of the founding fathers of Norwegian archaeology and place-name scholarship was Oluf Rygh (1833-1899). In 1875, he became Scandinavia’s first professor of archaeology. One of the most enduring parts of his legacy is his 1885 book Norske Oldsager, “Norwegian Antiquities” (re-issued in 1999). Not because many read either the Norwegian or the French text in the book any more: Norske Oldsager is used to this day for its illustrations. Hundreds of beautiful drawings of exquisite finds, all reproduced through the late 19th century’s signature printing method, wood engraving.

If I want to talk about a certain type of Norwegian tortoise brooch from about AD 800, then people in the know understand me if I say “R643“: figure 643 in Rygh’s book.

A little-known archaeological resource on the web, hugely useful to anyone who works with Scandinavian small finds, is found at the following URL.

Except for a handful of missed pics, this site has all the illustrations in Norske Oldsager available by figure number. But no database interface, no search facilities, no thumbnails page. You simply have to type numbers into the URL. Or write a perl script to copy all the pics down to your local hard drive… The excellent Hans Persson has made a script available to allow anyone to browse Rygh’s pictures easily. And Frans-Arne Stylegar points out that there’s a clickable list in Norwegian by Espen Uleberg, allowing you to search for artefact types by name.

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  1. #1 martha
    January 24, 2007

    When I saw this picture, I immediately thought of the art of Native Americans in the northwest Pacific and Western Canadian areas. Interesting to me that there seems to be such a visual similarity produced by two groups of people, on either side of the globe, but both in the far north. Maybe a completely imaginary connection, but it was striking to me.

  2. #2 Martin R
    January 24, 2007

    Yeah, aesthetics is definitely part of the reason I’m an archaeologist. So many beautiful objects and structures! What little I’ve seen of NW American native art is awesome.

  3. #3 Hans Persson
    January 25, 2007

    Gah! I said I was going to make you an index for that and then I promptly forgot all about it. Oh well. Here it is.

    I may tinker with the looks of it somewhat, but it’ll stay at the same place. Let me know how it can be more useful.

  4. #4 Martin R
    January 25, 2007

    Hans, you star!!! Love you, man!

  5. #5 M
    January 25, 2007

    What a lovely collection of images. Thanks for sharing!

  6. #6 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    January 26, 2007
  7. #7 Christian B. Kau
    February 24, 2007

    just, plain FANTASTIC images/info.
    Enough for MANY MANY hours of research.!

    Thanks a lot!

    Christian “kejser” B. Kau

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