Michael Neiss

PhD student at Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Archaeology

Mobile phone:
+46 73 6462991
Visiting address:
Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3H

Postal address:
Box 626
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

PhD student representative:
The Faculty Board
The Board of Ethics and Research Conduct
The Faculty Committee for the Doctoral Education

UrbNet research partner

Material culture research cluster coordinator (VT 2017)

Elected member of The International Saxon Symposion

Award medal recipient of The Antiquarian Society of Sweden EST. 1869 (The Mandelgren Medal of 2017)

Recent news: Uppsala Nya Tidning ; Populär Historia

For thesis & research projects, see BIOGRAPHY & RESEACH

Also available at

My courses


My profound interest in crafts has led me into an artefact-oriented line of research, including 3D laser scanning, database development and analytical drawing. Preliminary results are published continuously, and I participate in various research projects (see http://katalog.uu.se/profile/?id=N9-1636_6).
In line with my general interests, my doctoral thesis deals with Viking Age women's brooches, with a focus on production patterns and typology, as well as the cognitive and religious meaning of the ornament covering these brooches: Viking Age pictures seldom appear as self-sufficient monuments. More often, they survive as Animal Art on utility goods (see http://michaelneiss.hardell.net/Illustrationer/Vestervang.jpg). The role of the goldsmith gives important clues towards the conditions of ornamental production, as well as the meaning of Animal Art. Did some motifs work as 'hieroglyphs' in the context of Viking Age orality, or do they represent mere nonsense? Generally, upper class imagery appears linked with skaldic poetry on various levels: Like skalds, smiths are in need of a patron in order to create a masterpiece. Within both arts, the hallmark of a true proficient is the ability to fit several motifs (= skaldic metaphors /puzzle pictures) into a narrow frame (= poetic metre /artefact structure) without breaking it. Just like the skald, the caster borrows motifs from somewhere else in order to unite them in a new composition. Just like the skald’s audience, the beholders of a brooch must sharpen their senses to solve the riddles. The intellectual challenge lays in puzzling together figures of increasing complexity.
All said, it seems tempting to associate the motifs in upper class brooches with the motifs in skaldic verse. My results open for the possibility that some brooches were integrated in the process of Viking Age ekphrasis (i.e. multimodal poems that guided the audience through the intricate brooch décor).

+++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++

NEWSFLASH [2017-04-26] The info about my award made their way into the newspapers!

+++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++

NEWSFLASH [2016-02-19] New research funding

+++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++

NEWSFLASH [2015-03-19] On the 'Allah' finger ring from Viking Age Birka

Wow! Our article on the Birka finger ring got some unexpected media attention (both at home and abroad). Let's see how things develop from here. After all, there was a solar eclipse earlier today that needs thorough news coverage :-)

Our article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/sca.21189/

Aftonbladet: http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article20506924.ab?teaser=true

Aftonbladet: http://www.aftonbladet.se/senastenytt/ttnyheter/inrikes/article20506398.ab

Archaeology: http://www.archaeology.org/news/3090-150317-sweden-viking-ring

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/19/europe/sweden-viking-arabic-ring/

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/03/19/orig-foster-islamic-ring-viking-sweden.cnn/video/playlists/stories-worth-watching/

Dagens Nyheter: http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/ring-for-samman-vikingar-och-islam/

Discovery Communications: http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/for-allah-inscription-found-on-viking-era-ring-15031.htm

Science Nordic: http://sciencenordic.com/ancient-ring-brings-vikings-and-islamic-civilizations-closer-together

Svenska Dagbladet: http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/ring-kopplar-vikingar-till-muslimer_4428635.svd

Tech Valley Times: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/40802/20150319/viking-ring-excavated-in-sweden-found-with-mysterious-islamic-engraving.htm

The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/03/18/why-was-a-9th-century-viking-woman-buried-with-a-ring-that-says-for-allah-on-it/

Videnskap DK: http://videnskab.dk/kort-nyt/mystisk-ring-bringer-skandinaviske-vikinger-og-islamiske-civilisationer-taet-sammen


Please contact the directory administrator for the organization (department or similar) to correct possible errors in the information.