This autumn's major exhibition "The Vikings" is organized by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin's Museum of Prehistory and Early History and will take up residency at the Gropius Bau from 10 September. The exhibition features one of the most spectacular archaeological finds of the last century: the longship Roskilde 6. The vessel was discovered in 1997 in the Roskilde Fjord in Denmark along with several other shipwrecks, all dating to some 1000 years ago. With a length of thirty-seven meters and a width of just under four meters, it is the largest Viking ship known so far.
After elaborate and lengthy conservation treatments which were only completed in 2012, the vessel is now going on display for the first time: after Copenhagen and London, Berlin is the third stage of a collaborative exhibition held between the National Museum of Denmark, the British Museum, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
The work on the vessel's assembly and installation in Berlin will be completed by the end of August. A section of the floor and the entire 32-metre-long keel of the original warship have been embedded in a modern steel reconstruction and now form the centrepiece of the Viking exhibition.
The Roskilde 6 was originally served by up to 78 oarsmen and now fills the atrium of the Gropius Bau so completely that its bow and stern protrude into the surrounding colonnades. It is the largest exhibit ever displayed in the Gropius Bau. For display purposes, the original sail from a Danish longship-replica, the Havhingsten fra Glendalough (Sea Stallion from Glendalough), will be unfurled atop the Roskilde 6, giving a formidable impression of how Viking ships must have appeared 1000 years ago.
Ships were not only a means of transport for the Vikings, but were present in all areas of their society: in art, religion, architecture, and as cultural symbols. In no other period in the history of Scandinavia were ships, seafaring, and society so closely intertwined as in the Viking age. For this reason, the unique reconstruction of the Roskilde 6 forms the prominent centrepiece of the exhibition. It embodies the four thematic strands to the exhibition: "War and Conquest", "Power and Dominion", "Faith and Ritual", and "Contacts and Exchange".