This bibliography was first circulated in pamphlet form as a teaching aid in 1993. In 1997 it was updated and became part of my chapter in a museum handbook for Viking Age living history interpreters at the L' Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in Canada. In 2000 it was augmented again and restructured. If you're just looking for a couple of line drawings, though, you can have a look at the three sources recommended at the bottom of this article.
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© 1993, 1997, 2000 Carolyn Priest-Dorman
Below are listed several useful sources that discuss archaeological finds of textiles, garment pieces, and/or clothing ornamentation from the Viking Age. I have relegated information on colors and dyestuffs to another article.
Those sources which consider and/or illustrate any pattern draft--conjectural or actual--for any garment are marked with asterisks. The more asterisks next to a source, the more useful it is as a source for patterns.
Bender Jørgensen, Lise. 1986. Forhistoriske Textiler i Skandinavien. Købnhavn: Det Kongelike Nordiske Oldskriftselskab.
Enormous comparative study of early archaeological textiles in Scandinavia; includes statistical analyses. Extensive English summary.
-----. 1992. North European Textiles before 1000 A.D. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press.
Although this book considers mainly north European culture outside Scandinavia, there is also some supplemental information on Scandinavian finds, including first publication of some of the Valsgärde textiles.
*** [Council of Europe "Cultural Routes" Programme.] 1994. The World of the Vikings, CD-ROM for Windows. York Archaeological Trust, National Museum of Denmark, Multimedia Management and Past Forward, Ltd.
Over 3000 images of Viking Age artifacts, including some that have never been published in English. A surviving mitten, many details of the Mammen accessories, and a section on the Viborg shirt are just some of the useful images.
Crowfoot, Grace. Various sections on textiles, pp. 43-44 and 80-83, in Gerhard Bersu and David M. Wilson, Three Viking Graves in the Isle of Man. Medieval Archaeology Monograph Series 1. London: The Society for Medieval Archaeology, 1966.
The longer section includes a write-up on a pile cloak.
*** Fentz, Mytte. 1992. "An 11th Century Linen Shirt from Viborg Søndersø, Denmark." Archaeological Textiles in Northern Europe: Report from the 4th NESAT Symposium 1.-5. May 1990 in Copenhagen, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 83-92. Tidens Tand 5. Copenhagen: Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi.
An in-depth analysis and reconstruction of the most complete surviving linen smock from the Viking Age.
Fjellström, Phebe. 1985. "The Hlað. A Viking Hair Ornament." In Honorem Evert Baudou, ed. Margareta Backe et al., pp. 119-124. Archaeology and Environment 4. Umeå, Sweden: Department of Archaeology, University of Umeå.
Written before the publication of Hägg's 1986 work on the Birka ornaments. Briefly reports on one set of metal mounts dated to North Sweden, circa 1000 CE, which are believed by the author to have belonged to a woman's hlað. Extensive parallels drawn to Saami culture and to practices from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Gabra-Sanders, Thea. 1998. "A Review of Viking-Age Textiles and Fibres from Scotland: An Interim Report." Textiles in European Archaeology: Report from the 6th NESAT Symposium, 7-11th May 1996 in Borås, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Christina Rinaldo, pp. 177-185. GOTARC Series A, Vol. 1. Göteborg: Göteborg University Department of Archaeology.
Excellent brief summary extracted from a larger work in progress, an updated catalogue of Viking Age graves in Scotland.
* Geijer, Agnes. 1938. Die Textilfunde aus den Gräbern. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien II. Uppsala: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien.
Much of this work has been superseded, but still an excellent source. The plates are stunning.
-----. 1979. A History of Textile Art: A Selective Account. London: Pasold Research Fund/Sotheby Parke Bernet.
Notable for the black and white plate of a samite from Oseberg, a rarity.
* -----. 1980. "The Textile Finds from Birka: Birka III, Die Textilfunde aus den Gräbern, revised by the author." Acta Archaeologica 50, pp. 209-222.
Largely the same as Geijer, 1983.
* -----. 1983. "The Textile Finds from Birka." Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe, ed. N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting, pp. 80-99. London: Heinemann.
The best English version of Geijer's work on Birka, with some nice photos and tablet-woven motifs.
* Ginters, Valdemars. 1981. Tracht und Schmuck in Birka und im Ostbaltischen Raum. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets.
Mainly about the Livonians after the Viking Age, but draws some parallels with Birka based on the relationship of jewelry to garments.
Graham-Campbell, James. 1980. Viking Artefacts: A Select Catalogue. London: British Museum Publications, Ltd.
Includes photos of some obscure finds like the Valsgärde embroidery.
Graham-Campbell, James, and Kidd, Dafydd. 1980. The Vikings. London: Tabard Press and The Trustees of the British Museum.
A good color photo of the Lund "embroidery," which is actually appliqué work and not embroidery at all. Still, it's a good example of a Viking-style trimming technique.
Guðjónsson, Elsa E. "Forn röggvarvefnaður," Árbók hins Izlenska Fornleifafélags, 1962, pp. 12-71. Reykjavík: Ísafoldarprentsja H.F., 1962.
Viking Age information included in a wide historic survey of pile (shaggy) cloaks, still the seminal work on the subject. Includes information on appearance and historic dimensions of Icelandic pile cloaks, taken from Grágás. Very good English summary.
** Hägg, Inga. 1974. Kvinnodrakten i Birka: Livplaggens Rekonstruktion pa Grundval av det Arkaeologiska Materialet. Uppsala: Archaeological Institute.
Hägg's first book on Birka, since superseded by her 1986 work (see below), has some interesting conclusions, not all of which are followed up in the 1986 work. Brief German summary.
* -----. 1982. "Einige Beobachtungen über die Birkatracht." Textilsymposium Neumünster: Archäologische Textilfunde, 6.5. - 8.5.1981., ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Klaus Tidow, pp. 249-265. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster.
Informal working paper which is similar to her 1983 work (see below) but more chatty. Good brief chronological summary of the ninth- and tenth-century "looks."
** -----. 1983. "Viking Women's Dress at Birka: A Reconstruction by Archaeological Methods." Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe, ed. N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting, pp. 316-350. London: Heinemann.
A little heavy for non-archaeologists, but not incomprehensible. Extremely valuable information on the order of garment layering.
*** -----. 1984. Die Textilfunde aus dem Hafen von Haithabu. Berichte über die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu 20. Neumünster: Karl Wachholz Verlag.
Excellent diagrams, photos, and background information. Many garment fragments, both men's and women's, discussed and catalogued thoroughly.
*** -----. 1986. "Die Tracht." Systematische Analysen der Graberfunde, ed. Greta Arwidsson, pp. 51-72. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien II:2. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell.
Most in-depth piece on the garments from Birka, with fascinating charts as well as explicit discussion of such topics as smock construction. Useful for determining chronological trends and appropriate accessorizing.
*** -----. 1991. Die Textilfunde aus der Seidlung und aus den Gräbern von Haithabu. Berichte über die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu, Bericht 29. Neumünuster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag.
Textiles from the burial grounds at Hedeby, with a few surprises. Also distinguished by her usual careful analysis, suggested reconstructions, and related useful information.
** Hald, Margrethe. 1980. Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials, trans. Jean Olsen. Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark.
Organizational scheme a little confusing if you're looking for information on a specific find, but full of riches if you're patient. Fantastic contextual information on several forms of textiles, some since outdated by individual, more focused works.
** Hall, Richard A. 1984. The Viking Dig: The Excavations at York. London: The Bodley Head.
Photos and line drawings of some of the finds of everyday objects from various levels of the York dig, including a woman wearing an original, nearly-complete silk cap.
Hansen, Egon. 1988. "Technical Variations in Pre-Medieval Tablet Weaving." Archaeological Textiles: Report from the Second NESAT Symposium, 1-4 May 1984, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen, Bente Magnus, and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 256-269. Arkaeologiske Skrifter 2. Købnhavn: Arkaeologisk Institut, Købnhavns Universitet.
Discusses finds as late as the tenth-century ones from Birka. He advances a theory about mixed-thread (e.g.,linen/wool) weaving that is elaborated in his Tablet Weaving (see below).
Hansen, Egon H. 1990. Tablet Weaving: History, Techniques, Colours, Patterns. Høbjerg, Denmark: Hovedland Publishers.
Explains how to reproduce some Viking Age tablet weaving techniques including 3/1 broken twill double-face and various types of brocading. Nice color plates of reproductions. However, his drafting technique is very idiosyncratic, the translation is sometimes fuzzy, a few mistakes were made in the printing of some drafts, and the book is badly organized. Takes a lot of patience to work with, but ultimately very rewarding.
*** Heckett, Elizabeth. 1987. "Some Hiberno-Norse Headcoverings from Fishamble Street and St. John's Lane, Dublin." Textile History 18, no. 2, pp. 159-174.
Brief, but thorough, this article contains the only hint I've seen of evidence (very conjectural) for the possible wearing of a "Viking kerchief." It's colored silk, with a fringe!
*** -----. 1990. "Some silk and wool head-coverings from Viking Dublin: uses and origins- -an enquiry." Textiles in Northern Archaeology, ed. Penelope Walton and John- Peter Wild, pp. 85-96. North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles, Monograph 3. London: Archetype Publications.
Archaeological examination of the little coifs worn in Dublin in the tenth and eleventh centuries, from a sartorial and cultural perspective.
-----. 1994. "Medieval Textiles from Waterford City." Archäologische Textilfunde--Archaeological textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 4.-7.5.1993, ed. Gisela Jaacks and Klaus Tidow, pp. 148-156. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster.
An interim report on a find of Hiberno-Norse textiles, mixed with some later ones. The Viking Age seems to have ended later in Ireland than in some other parts of northern Europe.
Hedges, John. 1982. "Fabric Types from Lloyd's Bank." Anglo-Scandinavian Finds from Lloyd's Bank, Pavement, and Other Sites, ed. Arthur MacGregor, pp. 102-127. The Archaeology of York, Vol. 17: The Small Finds, Fascicule 3. Dorchester: The Council for British Archaeology and The Dorset Press.
A collection of Anglo-Scandinavian textiles from Jorvík, differing somewhat from the Coppergate ones. Many 2/1 twills.
Henshall, Audrey S. "Early Textiles Found in Scotland, Part I: Locally Made," Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. LXXXVI (1951), pp. 1-29.
Brief information on several Viking Age textiles including a drawing of the Isle of Eigg pile weave.
Hoffman, Marta. 1974. The Warp Weighted Loom: Studies in the History and Technology of an Ancient Implement. Oslo: The Norwegian Resource Council for Science and the Humanities (Robin and Russ Handweavers reprint; original printing 1966, Studia Norvegica 16).
Historical information on textiles woven on the warp-weighted loom. For best information, mine the footnotes!
Ingstad, Anne Stine. 1982. "The Functional Textiles from the Oseberg Ship." Textilsymposium Neumünster: Archäologische Textilfunde, 6.5. - 8.5.1981., ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Klaus Tidow, pp. 85-96. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster.
Briefly discusses the garments of the queen and her servant buried in the ship at Oseberg, circa 834. Tantalizing, rare information.
-----. 1988. "Textiles from Oseberg, Gokstad and Kaupang." Archaeological Textiles: Report from the Second NESAT Symposium, 1-4 May 1984., ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen, Bente Magnus, and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 133-149. Arkaeologiske Skrifter 2. Købnhavn: Arkaeologisk Institut, Købnhavns Universitet.
Bits and pieces of information from various Norwegian sites, mainly for comparison purposes.
** -----. 1992. "Textilene i Osebergskipet." Oseberg-Dronningens Grav: Vår arkeologiske nasjonalskatt i nytt lys, ed. Arne Emil Christensen, Anne Stine Ingstad, and Bjørn Myhre, pp. 176-208. Oslo: Schibsted.
Although it's in Norwegian, this chapter is useful to anyone because it has some interesting textile photos plus line drawings of some of the Oseberg embroideries.
Iversen, Mette; Näsman, Ulf; and Vellev, Jens. Mammen: Grav, kunst og samfund i vikengetid. Viborg Stiftsmuseum række bind 1. Jysk Arkæologisk Selskabs Skrifter XXVIII. Høbjerg, 1991.
A book of chapters by various experts on aspects of the Viking Age man's grave at Bjerringhøj, Mammen, Denmark. Summaries in English of the non-English chapters. Information on weaves, dyes, and a variety of textile and ornamentation techniques. The clothing was too fragmentary to reveal construction details, however.
*** Lehtosalo-Hilander, Pirkko-Liisa. 1984. Ancient Finnish Costumes. Helsinki: Finnish Archaeological Society.
Written by a museum professional, documenting not only the actual garments but the history of their misinterpretation. Good stuff.
Lindström, Märta. "Medieval Textile Finds in Lund," Textilsymposium Neumünster: Archäologische Textilfunde 6.5-8.5.1981 [NESAT 1], ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Karl Tidow, pp. 179-191. Neumünster: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 1982.
Textiles from 11th century Lund, including a large number of three-end twills.
Maik, Jerzy. 1988. "Frühmittelalterliche Textilwaren in Wolin," Archaeological Textiles: Report from the 2nd NESAT Symposium 1.-4.V.1984., ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen, Bente Magnus, and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 162-186. Arkaeologiske Skrifter 2. Købnhavn: Arkaeologisk Institut.
Report on some Viking Age and later textiles from Wolin, a Polish port at the mouth of the Oder River on the Baltic Sea.
-----. 1992. "Frühmittelalterliche Noppengewebe aus Opole in Schlesien." Archaeological Textiles in Northern Europe: Report from the 4th NESAT Symposium 1.-5. May 1990 in Copenhagen, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 105-116. Tidens Tand 5. Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi.
Details of several pile weaves from tenth- to twelfth-century Opole, Poland, a city on the Viking trade route between the Baltic and the Black Sea.
Mortensen, Mona. 1998. "'When they speed the Shuttle': The role of textile production in Viking Age society, as reflected in a pit house from Western Norway." Textiles in European Archaeology: Report from the 6th NESAT Symposium, 7-11th May 1996 in Borås, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Christina Rinaldo, pp. 187-195. GOTARC Series A, Vol. 1. Göteborg: Göteborg University Department of Archaeology.
Several linen tabbies of varying thread counts.
Munksgaard, Elisabeth. 1974. Oldtidsdragter. Kobenhavn: Nationalmuseet.
Photo of a reconstructed Gotlandic woman's parure (jewelry assemblage) over apron-dress. Line drawings of remains of a woman's cloak with fur and tablet weaving. Also a line drawing of a reconstructed Birka outfit consisting of pleated linen chemise and an apron-dress, information since augmented by Inga Hägg's work (1986) on the Birka overtunic.
-----. 1984. "The Embroideries from Bjerringhøj, Mammen." Festskrift til Thorleif Sj vold på 70-årsdagen, ed. Mari Høgestøl et al, pp. 159-71. Universitetets Oldsaksamlings Skrifter Ny rekke 5. Oslo: Universitetets Oldsaksamling.
An in-depth examination of the embroideries and textile grounds of this tenth-century find, including art-historical analysis and parallels to contemporary art in other media. Some guesses about which garment(s) might have been embroidered.
Pritchard, Frances. 1988. "Silk Braids and Textiles of the Viking Age from Dublin." Archaeological Textiles: Report from the Second NESAT Symposium, 1-4 May 1984., ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen, Bente Magnus, and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 149-61. Arkaeologiske Skrifter 2. Købnhavn: Arkaeologisk Institut, Købnhavns Universitet.
Discusses finds of brocaded bands, sprang, cords, tabbies, and patterned silks from Dublin.
-----. 1992. "Aspects of the Wool Textiles from Viking Age Dublin." Archaeological Textiles in Northern Europe: Report from the 4th NESAT Sympposium 1.-5.May 1990 in Copenhagen, ed. Lise Bender Jørgensen and Elisabeth Munksgaard, pp. 93-104. Tidens Tand 5. Copenhaven: Udgivet af Konservatorskolen Kulturhistorisk Linie/Det Kongelige Dansk Kunstakademi.
Summarizes types of extant wool textiles from tenth- to twelfth-century Dublin. Good photos.
** Rasmussen, Liisa, and Lönborg, Bjarne. 1993. "Dragtrester i grav ACQ, Köstrup." Fynske Minder (Odense bys Museer), pp. 175-182. Odense: Fyne Boghandels Forlag.
A tenth-century apron-dress with a pleated insert; also, a tablet-woven brocaded band decorating the top front edge.
Roesdahl, Else. 1982. Viking Age Denmark, trans. Susan Margeson and Kirsten Williams. London: British Museum Publications, Ltd.
Reproductions of the drawings made of the Mammen embroideries when they were excavated in the nineteenth century.
Tidow, Klaus. "Die Gewebefunde aus dem Gräberfeld von Thumby-Bienebek." Das Wikingerzeitliche Gräberfeld von Thumby-Bienebek (Kr. Rendsburg- Eckenförde), Teil 1, ed. Michael Müller-Wille, pp. 60-63. Offa-Bucher, Band 36. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag.
A number of tabby linen textiles from a tenth-century Viking cemetery in Schleswig-Holstein. Tidow includes the diameters of the yarns in his analyses.
Walton, Penelope. 1988. "Dyes and Wools in Iron Age Textiles from Norway and Denmark." Journal of Danish Archaeology 7, pp. 144-158.
Analysis of over 50 textile samples for fleece type and dyestuff content. Includes several samples from the Viking Age, many of them from lesser-known sites.
*** -----. 1989. Textiles, Cordage and Fiber from 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York 17: The Small Finds, Fascicule 5. Dorchester: The Council for British Archaeology and The Dorset Press.
In addition to the coverage of the famous Jorvík silk cap and nålebinding sock, there are pages of work on sewing stitches and seam finishes.
*** Ierusalimskaja, Anna A. 1996. Die Gräber der Moscevaja Balka: Frühmittelalterliche Funde an der Nordkaukasischen Seidenstrasse, trans. I.M. Smoljanski and Ursula Rosenschon. München: Editio Maris.
Surviving 8th and 9th century Alan caftans (from the area around the Sea of Azov) thought to resemble the Birka caftans.
Argues that parts of Denmark abandoned the tortoise brooch before the rest of Scandinavia.Munksgaard, Elisabeth. 1990. "The costumes depicted on gold-sheet figures (guldgubbar)." Textiles in Northern Archaeology, ed. Penelope Walton and John-Peter Wild, pp. 97-100. North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles, Monograph 3 [NESAT 3]. London: Archetype Publications.
Most are pre-Viking Age, but some depictions seem to be related to actual costumes of the Viking Age.
Elsner, Hildegard. 1989. Wikinger Museum Haithabu: Schaufenster einer frühen Stadt. Neumünster: Wachholtz, 1989.
Pages 45-49 has the best short clothing summary of any I've seen, including nice line drawings of several shoe styles.
Graham-Campbell, James, ed. 1994. A Cultural Atlas of the Viking World. New York: Facts on File, 1994.
Page 67 has some very good line drawings. Ignore the implied ubiquity of "finely pleated linen" and the depiction of the man's laced-neck shirt and you've got the best one-page summary I've seen in English.
*** Krupp, Christina, and Priest-Dorman, Carolyn. 1992. "Women's Garb in Northern Europe, 450-1000 C.E.: Frisians, Angles, Franks, Balts, Vikings, and Finns." Compleat Anachronist 59. Milpitas, California: The Society for Creative Anachronism.
Some in-depth discussion of Viking Age textiles, trimmings, and women's garment layering is available in the chapter on Vikings. Introduces the term "apron-dress"; however, the section on reconstructing the apron-dress is out of date.
Roesdahl, Else, and Wilson, David M. 1992. From Viking to Crusader. New York: Rizzoli International Publications Ltd.
Has a good comparative line drawing of the apron-dress and its Baltic and Finnish relatives. However, other parts of this chapter (like the "scarf knotted like a kerchief" and the cloak and embroidery of the "reconstruction" photo) are less firmly grounded in historical fact. The construction elements of the Canute reconstruction on page 193 (see below), although elegant, are actually a hybrid of influences from several centuries.
Some sustained museum efforts at reconstructions of Viking clothing have been written up in recent years. In the proceedings of the fifth NESAT [North Europe Symposium on Archaeological Textiles] there is mention of three such independent Danish efforts (see below for citations).
One is the"Viking King Canute," an attempt at an eleventh-century king's outfit on display at the National Museum, Copenhagen. This outfit was constructed utilizing iconographic evidence from the eleventh century and the textile information from the tenth-century Mammen burial. Many recent works including From Viking to Crusader (page 193) show a color photo of the outfit on a live model. The reconstructed outfit has been discussed in depth, although unfortunately not in English, in Mammen: Grav, kunst og samfund i vikengetid (Høbjerg 1991). In NESAT V, Lise Bender Jørgensen makes some interesting side comments on the subject of documenting and reconstructing historical clothing.
Another is the reconstruction of a "Viking magnate" outfit at Lejre, reported while in progress by Anne Hedeager Krag. This reconstruction is based mostly on the Hedeby textiles.
Another is the clothing for the Viking exhibit at the museum at Lindholm Høje, reported by Mytte Fentz.
Another museum reconstruction, this one of a Viking woman's clothing, about which I have seen no publications is that of the Vitenskapmuseum in Trondheim, Norway. It toured with the "From Viking to Crusader" exhibition but is not listed in the catalogue.
Bender Jørgensen, Lise. 1994. "Ancient costumes reconstructed: A New Field of Research." Archäologische Textilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 4.-7.5.1993, ed. Gisela Jaacks and Klaus Tidow, pp. 109-113. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster.
Interesting short article on reconstructions of the 20th century and their research and philosophical implications.
-----. LBJ, "I Knud den Store's klær" 1992. Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark, pp. 32-42. Kobenhavn: Nationalmuseet.
(I haven't seen this; it's listed here for the purpose of completeness.)
Fentz, Mytte. 1994. "Viking age replicas in research and communication." Archäologische Textilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 4.-7.5.1993, ed. Gisela Jaacks and Klaus Tidow, pp. 95-108. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster.
Reports on the reconstruction of the Viborg smock. Also some information on the clothing reconstructions at the Lindholm Høje museum. Provocative section on the philosophical ramifications of reconstructive work.
Krag, Anne Hedeager. 1994. "Reconstruction of a Viking Magnate Dress," Archäologische Textilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster, 4.-7.5.1993, ed. Gisela Jaacks and Klaus Tidow, pp. 114-119. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster
Interim report on the reconstruction of a "Viking magnate" outfit at Lejre, based on textiles from Hedeby. No photos.
Munksgaard, Elisabeth. 1991. "Kopien af Mannen-dragten."Mammen: Grav, kunst og samfund i vikengetid, pp. 151-153. Høbjerg.
The title of this is a little misleading, as Munksgaard says in the article that the National Museum's reconstructed costume is based on an illumination of King Canute, not on the Mammen clothing.
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