Kossinna, the Nordische Gedanke, and Swedish Archaeology: Discourse and politics in German and Swedish archaeology 1900-1950


  • Per Cornell Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg
  • Ulf Borelius Inst för kultur; estetik och tnedia/Centrum föir kulturstudier, Gothenburg University
  • Dan Kresa
  • Thomas Backlund




Montelius, Åberg, Lindquist, nation, Nazi Germany


This article looks at the relation between Swedish and German archaeology in the first half of the 20th century. In particular, the focus is on the question why Swedish prehistorians came to accept the archaeology of Gustaf Kossinna. Thc methodological inspiration principally comes from Carlo Ginzburg and his idea of clucs. The empirical material mainly consists of books and journals. Newspapers and archives have also been used, but to a much lesser cxtent. Gustaf Kossinna was the dominant archaeologist in Germany in the early 20th ccntury. The Siedliungsarchäologie was to a large extent his creation, and he was instrumental in making a spatial tum in archaeology. Kossinna was part of the Nordische Gedanke movement. Thus, the Nordic/Germanic blood, earth, and soil were paramount to Kossinnian archaeology. It was so important that Kossinna thought only Europe, in particular the Nordic region, which to him included parts of Germany, should be subjectcd to archaeological investigations. At the tum of the 20th ccntury, Swedish archaeology was dominated by Oscar Montelius and his chronological typology. In the 1910s, however, his position was challcngcd by proponents of a more spatially oriented archaeology. Among the opponents werc two young archaeologists, Nils Åberg and Sune Lindquist, who both had participated in the archaeological seminar organiscd by Knut Stjerna. In different ways, Åberg and Lindquist used Kossinna's archaeology in thc struggle against the Montelian dominance.


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How to Cite

Cornell, P., Borelius, U., Kresa, D. and Backlund, T. (2008) “Kossinna, the Nordische Gedanke, and Swedish Archaeology: Discourse and politics in German and Swedish archaeology 1900-1950”, Current Swedish Archaeology, 16(1), pp. 37–59. doi: 10.37718/CSA.2008.03.



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