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John Ljungkvist

This article discusses material culture and European history during the time span between AD400 and 800.During this and many other phases of history, Scandinavia was separated from other parts of Europe inmore than one way. Its regions and countries have almost always been at a distance from the main con-flicts on the continent (though not necessarily remaining unaffected). There is no evidence that parts ofScandinavia were conquered by any of the big empires or were in the path of major migrations. In the longhistorical perspective, the Scandinavians instead were either spectators or plunderers and conquerors. Butwhether they were active on the continent or not, there have always been contacts of some sort with thecontinent. Archaeologically this is reflected in imported goods and domestic objects influenced by foreigncultures. These contacts have continuously affected the religion, economy and social life of people in Scan-dinavia.This paper focuses upon imported goods found primarily in present-day Sweden, and dated between the 5th and 9th centuries AD. The nature of this trade and exchange is a very broad subject, which is hard tocover in a single article. Here I shall present an overview of different types of imports that reached Scan-dinavia in the period concerned. There is a need for a broad view, as different materials may provide dif-ferent answers or perhaps strengthen earlier interpretations. I will also try to develop previous researcher’sviews upon distinct changes in the trading patterns around the middle of the 6th century.

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