The Iron Age town in Uppåkra was founded about 2.100 years ago, when Rome had become a great power and the peoples in Scandinavia had good contacts with Europe. Uppåkra remained for 1.100 years, growing rich on craftsmanship and trading with the rest of the world. One might believe that people of ancient times did not travel much, but Uppåkra is a good example of that not being true. In Uppåkra, archaeologists have found coins minted in Rome, Greece and Persia, glassware from Germany, France and Ukraine, fittings from Ireland and jewellery from the Alps. Uppåkra had good contacts with Europe and the Middle East long before the Viking Age.
If you stay in contact with foreign countries, you will also be affected of what happens there. The great events that happened in Europe are reflected in finds made in Uppåkra and the rest of Scandinavia. Roman coins and weapons found in Norway, Sweden and Denmark probably came from Germanic warriors who had served in the Roman army before returning home. Bridles and stirrups made by the Huns have been found in graves from Skåne – perhaps there have been people from Skåne who rode with Attila?
Coins from Syria, Bagdad and Samarkand shows a blooming trade with the Middle East 1.000 years ago. Valuables such as glass beakers and jewellery of gold and silver shows that rulers of Uppåkra had contact with collegues both in Scandinavia and on the continent, and that they exchanged treasures – perhaps when making alliances or marrying each other. Crucifixes, reliquaries and Christian craftsmanship shows that the people in Uppåkra knew about Christianity long before Skåne converted from paganism. Many of the merchants travelling here were probably Christians.
Uppåkra did not just buy objects – the town crafted their own as well. Archaeologists have found smithies and workshops where a number of different objects – escpecially jewellery – have been made in gold, silver, bronze and iron. These were then sold or excahnged for other wares. The style of the objects changed over time, just like modern fashion. That the style changed at the saem time across northern Europe shows that people not only had good contact with each other, but also that they knew how to properly decorate themselves.
Uppåkra seems to have reached its peak during the Viking Age. The trade flourished, and the Viking travels abroad increased the power and wealth back home. It is a bit strange then that Uppåkra seems to have been abandoned at the end of the Viking Age. Very few finds from after 1.000 ad have been found. Perhaps this has something to do with Skåne becoming a part of a greater unity – the kingdom of Denmark – at the end of the 10th century, and that the Danish kings Sven Forkbeard and Canute the Great built a new trading town that also worked as their high quarter in Skåne: Lund.