CORDIS - EU research results

The Sun-chariot’s Journey Towards the Nordic Sky: on the (Pre-)History of Ideas on Sky, Sun, and Sunlight in Northern Europe

Project description

Unveiling prehistorical poetics, myths and cosmologies

Comparative Indo-European poetics (CIEP) is an emerging field of archaeolinguistics. The attempt to reconstruct prehistorical Indo-European poetics was possible due to former interdisciplinary collaboration in comparative study decoding the proto-Indo-European language – the common ancestor of all ancient Indo-European languages. Now, it is also possible to trace and research elements of prehistorical cosmologies like the sky, sunlight or concepts of deities present in northern and central European prehistorical cultures to unveil amazing secrets concerning our prehistorical past. The EU-funded SunSHINE project aims to further broaden research in the field of CIEP as well as develop and strengthen the collaboration between historical linguistics, archaeologists and other scholars in deep research on our proto-Indo-European heritage.


The objectives of my project are:
(1) to further develop the field of Comparative Indo-European Poetics (CIEP) and to strengthen the interdisciplinary collaboration between Historical Linguistics and Archaeology;
(2) to apply the approach of CIEP to Old Norse (ON) and Germanic (Gmc.) texts by analysing poetic phraseology and mythological conceptions concerning the sky, the sun, and sunlight which find correspondences in other Indo-European (IE) traditions and may reflect Proto-Indo-European (PIE) heritage;
(3) to connect the results of this analysis with prehistoric archaeological artefacts by means of an interdisciplinary approach to these issues.
Spoken more than 5000 years ago, PIE is the reconstructed ancestor of all IE languages, among which are Hittite, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, as well as ON and other ancient Gmc. languages (such as Old English and Old Saxon). By studying these languages in a comparative perspective, historical linguists have reconstructed not only an impressive amount of the words of PIE, but also of its traditional formulas and poetic phrases. These are the subject of study of CIEP, whose approach has only sporadically been applied to ON and Gmc. texts.
CIEP gives us precious insights into the mythological beliefs of the speakers of PIE: inter alia, we can reconstruct numerous PIE poetic images and cosmological conceptions concerning the day-lit sky, the sun, the sunlight, and the deities which were associated with them. Some of these conceptions are, on the one hand, attested in ON and Gmc. texts and, on the other hand, have parallels in Bronze Age archaeological artefacts belonging to Northern and Central European prehistoric cultures, whose formation has recently been traced back by scholars of Archaeology, Genomics, and Archaeolinguistics (an interdisciplinary field combining Historical Linguistics and Archaeology) to contacts between pre-existing populations of Neolithic farmers and migrating groups of PIE-speaking pastoralists.


Net EU contribution
€ 207 312,00
1165 Kobenhavn

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Danmark Hovedstaden Byen København
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 207 312,00