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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 608: Buried at the Borders: Four Case Studies in Space, Place, and Mortality

Tuesday 7 July 2020, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Olga Magoula, Department of History & Archaeology, University of Ioannina
Paper 608-aSpatial Distribution of Burials and the Status of the Deceased in a Christian Population of Medieval Sudan
(Language: English)
Joanna Ciesielska, Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw
Index terms: Anthropology, Archaeology - Sites, Monasticism, Social History
Paper 608-bMedieval Multicultural Spaces on the Borders of South Eastern Europe: Stećci in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Language: English)
Saša Čaval, Department of Archaeology University of Reading
Index terms: Anthropology, Archaeology - General
Paper 608-cFrom One Mortality Regime to Another?: Mortality Crises in Late Medieval Haarlem, Holland, in Perspective
(Language: English)
Daniel R. Curtis, Instituut voor Geschiedenis, Universiteit Leiden
Index terms: Demography, Economics - Urban
Paper 608-dBetween Paganism and Christianity: Religious and Social Strategies in Viking Burial Custom in Britain
(Language: English)
Dirk H. Steinforth, Independent Scholar, Göttingen
Index terms: Archaeology - General, Pagan Religions, Religious Life

Paper -a:
The funerary zone of Ghazali, Sudan is composed of four cemeteries of different attribution. Cemetery 2 is considered to be the monastic burial ground; other cemeteries were probably used by the lay population of the region. Distribution of various types of funerary architecture was subjected to spatial analysis in terms of social identity of the deceased. Statistical analyses showed clear association of architectural layout with the location of burial, with differences both between cemeteries and within the monastic burial ground. Following interpretation of results includes dating of the interments, age and sex disparities, wealth, performed functions, and hierarchy within the monastic ranks.

Paper -b:
This paper will present stećci, the medieval tombstones that are dispersed throughout the landscapes of western Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These monuments were in use between the 12th and 16th centuries, and characterise a specific funerary phenomenon. They represent a unique interdigitation of traditions, religions, artistic and aesthetic expressions, as well as languages. Their morphology varies immensely, from pseudo-sarcophagi to crosses, slabs, and chests. Some stećci bear decorations and epitaphs with their iconographies demonstrating continuity within medieval Europe, as well as unique local traditions. They embody centuries of Bosnian tolerance, which evolved from long-lasting cohabitation of local, diverse ethnicities. Simultaneously, these populations followed different religions: Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism, an alternative Christianity – the Bosnian Church which was declared heretical –, and Islam. Remarkably, stećci are not attributed to any ethnic or religious group and have always been considered enigmatic, lacking a clear, explicit belonging.

Paper -c:
This article employs a database of 10,360 deaths taken from registrations of graves dug and church bells tolled at Haarlem between the years 1412 to 1547 - one of the largest and longest mortality series samples produced for medieval Holland. Two key findings include: (i) mortality crises tended to produce more adult female victims than male (relative to normal times), and (ii) mortality crises in the late Middle Ages in Haarlem were sharper than those seen in the 17th century - thus pointing to a more severe 'medieval mortality regime' compared to that of the early modern period.

Paper -d:
When the Vikings settled in the British Isles, they discovered the Christian religion and gradually took the step of conversion. Being used to their traditional set of ways to convey religious, social, and political messages, they were forced to adapt, adopt, and invent new means that were compatible with Christianity. In the Viking Age burials in Britain, and especially in the Isle of Man, several reactions to the new religion are demonstrated: from blank refusal and reluctance to give up the old faith to an astonishing enthusiasm to replace old with new strategies to cope with change.