skip to main content

Art & Art History

University of Mississippi

Dr. Nancy Wicker

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. mid-8th through the end of the 12th century. Here are various projects in which I’ve been involved:

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, but I focus on the roles of people in Viking-Age art. While I was on sabbatical during the 2016–2017 academic year, I was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center at Research Triangle, North Carolina. As a Fellow, I had the opportunity to investigate 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 Viking-Age art. I am working on a book on this topic.

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 are producing a pilot platform that will feature 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 who researches material failures, I am studying damaged Migration Period gold pendants called bracteates to determine which ones show breakage due to metal fatigue and which ones were damaged as the result of violence. To examine damaged metal objects, 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. Then the impressions are examined using an electron microscope to view breakage at micro-levels.

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, in 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 examined 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 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, including Situating Gender in European Archaeologies (Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2010).


Recent publications

“Scandinavian Migration Period Gold Bracteates” (updated), in “Medieval Studies,” edited by Paul E. Szarmach. Oxford Bibliographies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018-05-24. (17,000-word bibliographic essay). DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396584-0107

“Decolonizing Gold Bracteates: From Late Roman Medallions to Scandinavian Migration Period Pendants,” in Postcolonising the Medieval Image, edited by Eva Frojmovic and Catherine Karkov. London: Routledge, 2017, pp. 17–36.

“The Reception of Figurative Art beyond the Frontier: Scandinavian Encounters with Roman Numismatic Imagery,” in Rome and the Worlds Beyond Roman Frontiers: The Eleventh Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire, edited by Danielle Slootjes and Michael Peachin. Impact of Empire 21. Leiden: Brill, 2016, pp. 243–256.

“Women in the Roman Iron Age (A.D. 0–400) in Scandinavia,” pp. in Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World, edited by Stephanie Lynn Budin and Jean MacIntosh Turfa. Rewriting Antiquity. London: Routledge, 2016, pp. 1027–1036.

“Roman Medallions in Scandinavia: Shifting Contexts of Space, Time, and Meaning,” in Beyond Boundaries: Connecting Visual Cultures in the Roman Provinces, edited by Susan Alcock, Mariana Egri, and James F. D. Frakes. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2016, pp. 232–247.


Recent reviews

Das Thorsberger Moor, vol. 4, Fund- und Forschungsgeschichte, naturwissenschaftliche und materialkundliche Untersuchungen, edited by Claus von Carnap-Bornheim. Schleswig: Schloß Gottorf, 2014. Bonner Jahrbücher 215, 2015, (2016): 533–536.

The Cruciform Brooch and Anglo-Saxon England, by Toby F. Martin. Woodbridge UK and Rochester NY, 2015. Speculum 91:4 (2016): 1138–1139.

Anglo-Saxon Graves and Grave Goods of the 6th and 7th Centuries AD: A Chronological Framework, by Alex Bayliss, John Hines, Karen Høilund Nielsen, Gerry McCormac and Christopher Scull, edited by Alex Bayliss and John Hines. The Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 33. London: The Society for Medieval Archaeology, 2013. The American Journal of Archaeology 120:1 (2016), DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1201.Wicker


Selected recent and upcoming presentations

By invitation, I will present “Broken Edges: Investigating Jewelry Damage by Violence and Fatigue,” at a symposium organized by Robin Fleming and Patrick Fazioli at the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 10–14 April 2019

At the Sachsensymposion in September 2018, I presented a paper on “Change in Scandinavian Figural Imagery and Artistic Techniques from the Early to Late Iron Age.”

By invitation, I participated in a workshop on “The Scandinavian Casket at San Isidoro in the Context of Viking Art and Society,” in León, Spain, in September 2018.

In May 2018, I presented a paper on “Broken or Whole? The Condition of Migration Period Gold Bracteates,” for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies at UCLA.

In February 2018, I gave a public presentation at Rice University on “Making and Using Early Medieval Jewelry: Scandinavian Gold Bracteates.”


Summary of honors, fellowships, and grants

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, and I am one of the very few Americans ever selected to present a paper at the Viking Congress.

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 serve on the Runic Advisory Group for the International Symposium on Runes and Runic Inscriptions, and I am on the Editorial Board of Gesta, the journal of the International Center of Medieval Art. I just completed a three-year term as Co-Chair of the international working party, Archaeology of Gender in Archaeology, I have previously served as an Associate Editor of the journal Medieval Archaeology (London), 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.



I am teaching AH 332/532 Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art during the fall of 2018. In the spring of 2018, I will offer AH 334/AH534/Anth 332 Early Medieval Art and Archaeology. My 3xx/5xx courses are on a two-year rotation.

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 section)
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)