Polynesians of the Atlantic? Precedents, potentials, and pitfalls in Oceanic analogies of the Vikings
By Neil Price and John Ljungkvist
Danish Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 7:2 (2018)
Abstract: Comparisons between Viking-Age Scandinavia and the cultures of Oceania have long antecedents, stretching back at least to the late nineteenth century, with a significant milestone in the first-ever synthesis of Polynesian archaeology – Peter Buck’s Vikings of the Sunrise published in 1938.
This brief contribution offers some critical commentary on a recent example, Mads Ravn’s paper in the 2018 volume of this journal, setting it in disciplinary context and also against Hawaiian work on this topic that has been undertaken by the authors since 2013. We consider the very real potential in this kind of comparative research, with some discussion of possible ways forward, and a note on pitfalls that must be avoided. Long sequences of continuous historical data, with a focus on internal social processes in addition to external influences, are at the centre of our approach.
Above all, we stress the need for an emphasis on emic perspectives, not only in relation to native Hawaiians and other Pasifika, but also – as far as possible – in the study of the Scandinavian Iron Age.
Top Image: Viking explorations map – by Pinpin / Wikimedia Commons