Liv Helga Dommasnes

30.5.1949 (Molde, Norway) - 13.9.2023 (Bergen, Norway)

We are deeply saddened to share the news of the passing of our colleague, mentor, and friend professor Liv Helga Dommasnes on September 13th, 2023.

Dr. philos. Liv Helga Dommasnes was a professor of archaeology at the Department of Cultural History, University Museum of Bergen, Norway. She was an expert on Late Iron Age finds, primarily from the Roman Iron Age to the Migration Period and Early Middle Ages. She was also responsible for the collection and preservation of artefacts from those periods, which unfortunately were not displayed for many years of her career. In her scholarly work, Liv Helga Dommasnes focused mainly on the Early Middle Ages (Migration Period through the Viking Age). She made significant contributions to the fields of burial rites and religion studies, as well as feminist archaeology, especially regarding the archaeology of women and children.

Liv Helga graduated in 1976 with her doctoral thesis on ‘Yngre jernalder i Sogn - forsøk på sosial rekonstruksjon’ (Early Iron Age in Sogn - Attempt at Social Reconstruction) from University of Bergen. This was one of the first works in European archaeology that adopted a gender perspective and challenged the male-dominated narratives of the past. About her motivation, she wrote: “When my turn came to choose a subject for my dissertation, I decided that I wanted to know about Viking women of the past, but I also had the good sense to name it ‘investigating social structure’.” This was a truly pioneering and courageous work that also inspired many other archaeologists.

Liv Helga Dommasnes was also an activist who promoted the role of women in archaeology. She was one of the women behind the 1985 founding of the KAN organization (Kvinner i Arkeologi i Norge, Women in Archaeology in Norway) and its corresponding journal, devoted to the study of women in the past and to exploring ways of improving conditions for women in archaeology in the present. She was also instrumental in establishing the working group and current EAA community ‘Archaeology and Gender in Europe (AGE)’ in 2008. She served as co-chair of the EAA community from 2009 to 2014, along with Sandra Montón Subías. Liv Helga knew the importance of networking and collaboration. She brought together researchers from different academic traditions and backgrounds. She also paved the way into archaeology for many of her younger colleagues.

Liv Helga Dommasnes was a brilliant scholar, a generous mentor, and a kind friend. Her profound knowledge, cooperative attitude and kindness will be missed by all who knew her. Her insightful work will remain an inspiration for all those aiming at a more equitable future through investigations and representations of the past.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. May she rest in peace.

Sandra Montón Subías, ICREA-Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann, University of the Bundeswehr Munich, Germany
Alf Tore Hommedal, University Museum of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

In the photo above Prof. Dommasnes (L) and Institute Director Asbjørn Engevik (R) show artefacts to the press. Photo by Ole Marius Kvamme.