University of Mississippi

Dr. Nancy Wicker

Professor of Art History
Medieval Art History and Archaeology

MA, PhD, University of Minnesota
BA, Eastern Illinois University


My interdisciplinary research focuses on the art of Scandinavia during the Early Medieval Period, from the Migration Period of the 5th and 6th centuries through the Viking Age, c. 750–1100.

Finding the Vikings in Viking art: National Humanities Center Fellow

The study of Viking-Age art has been dominated by formalistic investigation of abstracted animal-style art. During the 2016–2017 academic year while a Fellow at the National Humanities Center at Research Triangle, North Carolina, I will move beyond that formal approach to focus on the roles of people in Viking art—patrons and clients who sponsored or purchased the art, artists and artisans who made the works, men and women who used and viewed the objects, and also the humans and anthropomorphic deities who were the subjects depicted in art.

Project Andvari: supported by the NEH

I am co-director of Project Andvari, an international collaborative project to create a free digital portal that will provide online integrated access to dispersed collections of early medieval artifacts (4th–12th centuries). With funding support from a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant, Level II, from the National Endowment for the Humanities (HD-248511), we have launched Stage II development, which will produce a functioning pilot platform featuring initial data sets from The British Museum, the Swedish National Heritage Board’s Kringla database, and Norwich Castle Museum.

Broken bracteates: collaboration with UMMC

With a colleague at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, I am examining damaged Migration Period gold pendants called bracteates to determine which ones show breakage due to metal fatigue and which ones are the result of violence such as tearing the pendant from the wearer’s neck. To examine damaged metal objects, in May and June of 2016, I made impressions of torn surfaces of gold jewelry in the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, using polyvinyl siloxane (PVS), the blue and pink material that dentists use to make impressions of teeth. This is part of a larger project with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to analyze fatigue fractures of dental materials.

From Rome to Scandinavia: Getty Foundation Seminar

From 2011 through 2013, I participated in the Getty Foundation Seminar, “The Arts of Rome’s Provinces” in England, Greece, and at the Getty Center in Malibu. My focus was on the reception of Roman art in Scandinavia during the Early Medieval Period. I am interested in how Late Roman medallions inspired bracteates, which were worn by elite women across northern Europe.

Other areas of interest

In the past, I have collaborated with contemporary smiths and jewelers to reconstruct early medieval jewelry techniques, and in the 1990s I excavated at the Viking Age site of Birka in Sweden. I have also published on gender in archaeology, female infanticide during the Viking Age, and runic literacy. I have co-edited three books on gender and archaeology, most recently, Situating Gender in European Archaeologies (Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2010).

Upcoming and recent presentations

In September 2016, I will present two papers at the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, held in Vilnius, Lithuania: “Lost and Found: The Complexity of Find Contexts and the Technology of Bracteate Breakage,” and “Value-added Gold: The Physical, Social, and Cultural Re-purposing of Scandinavian Bracteates.” In January 2017, I will present “Networks and Entanglements from Rome to Scandinavia: Medallions on the Move,” at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Toronto, Canada.

In June 2016, I presented a paper titled “Finding the Vikings in Viking Art: Makers, Patrons, Users, and Subjects” at the special conference, “The Viking World: Diversity and Change,” in Nottingham, England.

In September 2015, I read a paper on “Saxon Identity Formation Examined through Material Culture” at the meeting of the Sachsensymposium in Leipzig, Germany, and in February 2015, I presented “Gold in Motion: Women and Jewelry from Early Medieval Scandinavia” in a session sponsored by the International Center for Medieval Art at the meeting of the College Art Association in New York City.

Honors, fellowships, and grants (summary)

I have been a Visiting Professor at Uppsala University and the first woman elected to foreign membership in the Philosophical-historical Section of the Royal Society of Humanities at Uppsala, Sweden. I am also the first (and only) American chosen for membership in the Sachsensymposion, an international archaeological society.

My research has been supported by fellowships from the National Humanities Center, American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Getty Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, as well as grants from the American Philosophical Society, the American Numismatic Society, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and several Scandinavian sources.

Service to professional societies

Currently I am a Co-Chair of the international working party, Archaeology of Gender in Archaeology, an Associate Editor of the journal Medieval Archaeology (London), and serve on the Runic Advisory Group for the International Symposium on Runes and Runic Inscriptions. I have also served as President of the Society of Historians of Scandinavia, on the Executive Council of The Medieval Academy of America and on the boards of the International Center of Medieval Art and the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study.


In the academic year 2016–2017, I will be on sabbatical and not offering any courses. I expect to teach AH 336 Viking Art and Archaeology when I return to The University of Mississippi in the fall of 2017.

Courses at The University of Mississippi:
AH 101 Introduction to Art (not for art or art history majors)
AH 201 History of Art I (Honors)
AH 332 Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art
AH 334 Early Medieval Art and Archaeology (cross-listed with Anth 332)
AH 336 Viking Art and Archaeology (cross-listed with Anth 336)
AH 338 Romanesque and Gothic Art
AH 401 Research and Writing in Art
AH 408 Seminar in Art History
AH 508 Seminar in Art History (for graduate students)
AH 532 Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art (for graduate students)
AH 534 Early Medieval Art and Archaeology (for graduate students)
AH 536 Viking Art and Archaeology (for graduate students)
AH 538 Romanesque and Gothic Art (for graduate students)