Why pay attention to the old iron nails?

The iron nail is a prime carrier of the global history of civilization. In many ways it is both a reason for, – and a creator of, the core possibilities. Possibilities to build and construct.

We will never know the origin of the first nail. We only know it has been here a long time, – from the very beginning of the cooperation between humans and the resources of the metal. We even have reasons to believe the first nails where made of iron from heaven , the meteorites that introduced the humans to the iron, and the shaping of strong and lasting tools and weapons.

Soon it created craftsmanship, professions – and even the first towns. It created industry, the aspect of producing and commercialism. Then logistics and trade .

The iron nail brought us inventions and the culture of mechanics.

Yet it is so easy overseen and forgotten. Major archaeological projects neglects the iron nail. The nails are left behind and considered as trash . Experiencing that myself, when participating in a project in 2011, I decided not to accept such an attitude towards the iron nail. So I started collecting them.

Numedal in Norway is an important scenery in the Norwegian history and still contains very old houses and buildings, back to the pre-medieval time. So in this soil, in these old forests, there are laying old iron nails. Documents from our important past, that for sure deserve a more humble attitude!

The Gvammen Reference Collection of Old Iron Nails is an exposing of this. Just a collection of old iron nails that not are allowed to be forgotten.

They all tell history. Important history of our old times. May be we cannot read them all, yet, – but to once be able to learn to read them, we must see them, pay attention to them, investigate them!

The iron nails are a dominating part of any culture-landscape. Because of such a factum, every landscape should collect, preserve and present their old iron nails.

But also because respect for the old iron nails, is respect for the ordinary everyday life in the discipline of history! Much more important, much more truth telling, than gold and silver from a fragmentary and minor upper-class, or one or other single and atypical treasure chest

Ulf Skauli


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