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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 213: Belief, Burials, and Bulls: Religious and Cultural Identity in Early Medieval Europe

Monday 6 July 2015, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Medieval Archaeology: Journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Moderator/Chair:Elizabeth Craig-Atkins, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield
Paper 213-aA Study of Historical and Archaeological Sources from the 4th-7th Centuries: Building Christianity and Local Religions in Western Europe
(Language: English)
Lilian Regina Gonçalves Diniz, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Università Ca' Foscari, Venezia
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Pagan Religions, Religious Life, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 213-b'Poor Little Rich Kids': Changes in Conspicuous Burials of Children in 5th-Century Britain
(Language: English)
Janet Kay, Department of History, Boston College, Massachusetts
Index terms: Archaeology - Artefacts, Archaeology - Sites, Social History
Paper 213-cArtificial Cranial Deformation: Sense of Beauty and Power?
(Language: English)
Astrid Schmölzer, Institut für Alte Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Index terms: Anthropology, Archaeology - General
Paper 213-dThe Cult of Mithras in Salona: Art, Religion, and Identity
(Language: English)
Nirvana Silnovic, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Index terms: Art History - Sculpture, Religious Life

Paper -a:
The period between the 4th and 7th centuries witnessed some important efforts in the process of Christianization of Western Europe, but either pagans or 'weak Christians' still lived among those communities where the new religion was victorious. Sermons, ecclesiastical councils, letters, and other written and archaeological sources can provide crucial information about this environment and how contemporaries dealt with the traditional gestures that remained. These documents show traces of ancient beliefs that had survived inside Christianity, and this study will present some sources that introduce syncretism and local religion to Gaul, to the south of Britain, and to Portugal.

Paper -b:
This paper explores a trend of child burial throughout Britain from 350-550. Many communities, within their larger cemeteries, buried one or two young children with a large number of grave goods, many of which would have been expensive or rare during a period of material scarcity. It looks at the ways in which these child burials change over these two centuries, particularly in relation to other changes in burial practices within the cemetery and larger region. In particular, it examines the ties that the community maintained or severed with the recent Roman past through the inclusion of particular artifacts.

Paper -c:
This paper shall overview graves with deformed skulls found in Austria. Along with conformities in style and grade of deformation, facts like similar dating recommendations and parallel findings of various grave goods provide a slight insight into possible motivations for cranial deformation. We have to consider that it was the parents' decision to shape the heads of their children. In some cases it is possible to get an idea of who these people have been - the problems concerning ethnicity, social range, and sense of beauty at this time are thematised together and demand a lot of interpretation work from archaeologists, anthropologists and ethnologists.

Paper -d:
This paper will focus on the rich material evidence of the cult of Mithras in Salona, one of the most prominent cults in the capital of the province of Dalmatia. It will be shown that according to the typological and iconographical analysis approximate time frame of the cult's existence in Salona could be established. Moreover, it will be shown that Salona was not a passive adopter of the new cult, but showed a remarkable creativity and ingenuity in its further development. Especially the uniqueness and complexity of the Salonitan tondo points to the high cultural environment the cult has once enjoyed. Besides a high level of imaginativeness, the cult has reached its full adaptation and independence marked by the usage of specific local artistic idiom which helped the Mithraic communities in Salona to establish their own local identity.