The Early Modern Town – archaeology between the local and the global

Project financed by the Swedish Research Council – Humanities and Social Sciences

The Early Modern Town is still highly relevant, since it, perhaps surprisingly, continues to be an ideal in the contemporary world. The Utopia of Moore, and so many other similar writings and images on the ideal world created in the Early Modern context were actually about cities. Though only a small segment of the population in most of Europe lived in cities at the time, it became the preferred spatial framing for a utopia. And even though many of these projects never became more than drawings and written text, elements of the ideals were brought into realised urban planning.

It is interesting, therefore, to take a closer look at these ideals and to what extent they were brought into practice. In order to do this, it is important to develop an inter-disciplinary methodology. For example, in contrasting written texts, drawings and archaeological evidence, we will be able to see in greater detail which ideals became actual social practice and which did not. We will also be able to see to what extent other agents and experiences influenced realised cities and towns.

The Early Modern Town project mainly focuses on examples from present day Sweden. One major goal is to create a database on early modern archaeology, in which we briefly summarise what has been done in this field. The database will also list major historical work on the towns included. The project also organise workshops and small conferences, opening up new fields of discussion. Further, it will produce some case-studies on particular themes, including more general discussion on the Early Modern, in which the Swedish material is placed in a broader international context. This is particularly important, given the global ambitions and colonial projects of the Early Modern, in which European urban models to some extent were brought to other parts of the world.

The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council – Humanities and Social Sciences (Vetenskapsrådet), and placed at the Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg. The project collaborates with the National Board of Antiquities (RAÄ), county museums and other actors in the cultural heritage sector.