Laufende Projekte:

Edition der südgermanischen Runeninschriften (mit K. Düwel und R. Nedoma)


Digitale Dokumentation paläolithischer Kunst (mit S. Veil)


Digitale Dokumentation von Runeninschriften





Vorläufig abgeschlossen:

Gotlands Bildsteine: Probleme und neue Wege ihrer Dokumentation und Deutung

The picture stones from the Isle of Gotland are a unique source for the study of Germanic History of Religion. However, there are many still unsolved problems, that make it almost impossible to make use of this treasure entirely. Many of the stones that were discovered after the 1960s are still unpublished. Furthermore, it is a main problem that the depictions on the stones are often hard to identify. The low reliefs are quite primitive and the carved lines are flat, almost invisible with the bare eye. In addition, the stones are often degraded by weathering or by footsteps. Sune Lindqvist, father of picture stone research, traced the figures on the stones with paint in order to make them visible. The painted stones are the basis of his book "Gotlands Bildsteine" published in 1941/42. As a result, these images of the stones, which still provide the main basis of research, reflect the individual view and estimation of one single person. However, subsequent research realized that certain parts and details on the stones can be interpreted in several ways, while Lindqvist’s illustrations represent only one possible perception.

More than half a decade after the publication of "Gotlands Bildsteine", the methods of Digital Archaeology can help us detecting and documenting details on the stones and objectifying or disproving questionable readings. Digital methods like Reflectance Transformation Imaging and 3D-modelling by Structure-from-motion-fotogrammetry will be demonstrated in my forthcoming book, and previously unpublished finds will be presented. Examples will be given for how surface re-analysis with these techniques can result in completely new iconographic interpretations. Finally, the possibilities and needs of future picture stone research will be discussed.

The Gotlandic picture stones are a unique and extraordinarily important source material. They deserve to be investigated comprehensively and to be documented in an up-to-date manner. The preliminary results of my research will be published in the forthcoming monograph. It is intended as a kind of second step, after the Picture Stone Symposium in Visby 2011, as a proposal and as a basis for the establishment of a new and systematic picture stone research that, as a long-term goal, will aim for an all-comprehensive, interdisciplinary and modern re-edition of the entire corpus.

The book will be published in 2018 in the series Studia archaeologiae medii aevi (ed. Bernd Päffgen, Likias-Verlag, ca. 600 pp. + more than 1000 pictures). The digital data is already accessible online:



Institut für Nordische Philologie

Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie und Provinzialrömische Archäologie

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1

80539 München



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Copyright 2015: Dr. Sigmund Oehrl