Hedeby, located in northern Germany, is one of those archaeological sites of the Early Middle Ages (known in Scandinavia as the Viking Age) where researchers can observe and document urban development. Those sites are considered to be precursors of the later towns in northern Europe. This fascinating site is presented quite extraordinarily in the present volume. The methodical procedure and the technical work processes are described and documented, and the characteristic features and the unique find material – scientifically processed by a large team of collaborators - are presented. The long path from excavation to historical knowledge can be authentically reconstructed through informative documentation. Scenic illustrations, all of which refer to excavation results in Hedeby, trigger associations and document the specific early medieval milieu of this settlement, which was shaped by different ethnicities and social groups. In this way, it becomes clear what variety of overlapping cooperation is required in settlement archaeology – borne by the passion of all those involved – in order to be finally conveyed to the public in a museum presentation.
Prof. Dr. Kurt Schietzel, who was born in Hamburg in 1993, studied Protohistory, Ethnology and Education in Hamburg and Cologne and obtained his doctorate in 1961. In 1962 he started working as an assistant at the Institute of Pre- and Protohistoric Archeology of the University of Kiel (Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel) and received a scholarship from the German Archeological Institute in Berlin (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Berlin). His studies at the time lead him to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and Egypt. In 1963 he began a new position at the Archealogical Museum of Schleswig-Holstein (Landesmuseum für Vor-und Frühgeschichte) at Gottorf Castle. From 1969 onwards he managed the department for research on Vikings and medieval settlement archeology and in 1983 he became the director of the archeological museum of the University of Kiel. Later, from 1995 to 98, he was the manager of the Viking Museum of Hedeby. Today he is retired.
Schietzel supervised significant excavations: The excavations of Hedeby, 1963–'69, the excavation of the city of Schleswig, 1969–'75, and from 1977 to '85 he led the project “Inspection of the port and the salvage of ships in Hedeby”. He was decorated with medals by the University of Kiel as well as the Jysk Arkæologisk Selskab, he is an honorary member of the Kongelige Nordiske Oldskriftselskab and in 2002 he was awarded a Cross of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany.