IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 721: Perceptions of Landscapes and Settlement in Northern and Eastern Europe

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Árni Daníel Júlíusson, Reykjavík Academy
Paper 721-aPre-Christian Perception of Nature and Perception of Creation on the South-Eastern Fringes of Carolingian Empire
(Language: English)
Benjamin Štular, Institute of Archaeology, Slovenian Academy of Sciences & Arts, Ljubljana
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Folk Studies, Language and Literature - Slavic, Mentalities
Paper 721-bKnow Thine Enemy: Norse Identity in the Viking Age
(Language: English)
Shane McLeod, School of Humanities, University of Western Australia
Index terms: Mentalities, Social History
Paper 721-cSacred Forests (and Trees) in Latvia and in the Latvian Mind
(Language: English)
Kaspars Klavins, Faculty of Humanities, Daugavpils University, Latvia
Index terms: Mentalities, Pagan Religions

Paper -a:
The paper deals not so much with human lives dependent on natural resources, but rather searches for human identities as defined by their relationship with their natural environment. In order to do that it draws on a decade of research that crosses traditional boundaries of discipline and topic. The main sources used are GIS-enabled landscape archaeology, oral tradition, and environmental studies.
We will show the process of taming the landscape upon arrival, ordering the landscape according to a specific belief system, adjusting to longer-term climatic change, and finally living the landscape. With the latter we describe an ideology of nature that was later replaced with the Christian ideology of man against the nature.
Paper -b:
In speaking of Norse attacks and settlements the primary records often employ terms like ‘Dane’, ‘Northman’ and ‘Swede’ to identify their enemy, and unsurprisingly such terminology has also often been used by scholars examining these events. This paper will examine the notion of Viking Age identity in the few primary written sources by the Norse of the 9th to 11th centuries to see if such terminology was also employed within Scandinavia. The paper will conclude with a case study of the settlement of eastern and northern England in the 9th century to determine what evidence there is for thinking that it was done by ‘Danes’.
Paper -c:
Life in a territory rich in forests and swamps accounts for the great importance of flora in the traditional religion, mythology and folklore of Latvians since ancient times. The role of ‘sacred forests’, groves and trees (oaks, linden) in their sacral world outlook should be specially marked. This phenomenon has made significant impact on the later Latvian literature, arts and environmental though. ‘Sacred forests’ in Latvia have been mentioned in travelers’ notes of the 15th and 16th centuries. While Jesuit reports in Eastern Latvia (Latgale) provide information on existence of sacred forests and worship of trees as late as in the 17th and 18th centuries.