The faunal remains from the medieval (10th-century) stronghold ‘Sand an der Thaya’ offered a new alternative interpretation, demonstrating that material items, like animal bones, can be transformed into indicators of behavioural patterns. The archaeozoological analysis argues that its inhabitants, probably a group of armed horsemen, exercised a predatory lifestyle, which had a serious negative impact on the economy of the local peasants. Since the majority of faunal finds constitutes food refuse, the animal bones of ‘Sand’ are an exceptional paradigm that dietary habits are part of a complex multi-layered social identity, which can be reconstructed by archaeozoological methods.
David Gaimster established the idea of a ‘hanseatic cultural signature’ physically formed through a shared built environment with architectural characteristics and domestic goods within the Baltic rim (Gaimster 2005). Even though his concept is controversial and criticised for being generalising and simplistic (cf. Müller 2013), it constitutes a starting point to rethink the unifying quality of material culture in medieval urban communes in the core region of hanseatic trade. Instead of searching for connecting links, I will focus on the separating function of materials by examining the question of an elite culture within towns on the southwestern Baltic shore.
With imported wooden beakers and their biography as a point of departure, the paper presents a study of the connection between cultural contacts and societal changes. The study show how a close contextual analysis has demonstrated an increased trade and cultural connectivity between Odense and the north-western European area and the area around the Baltic Sea in the 13th century, a connectivity that was facilitated by the Hanseatic trade and distribution network. This increased connectivity lead to a change in the nature of the imported goods but also to changes in eating habits and other daily practices.