Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Session 6 – Crossing boundaries, bridging cultures

Session 6 – Crossing boundaries, bridging cultures

Moderator: Bethan Morris

A: Alex Woolf

                Sutton Hoo and Sweden

In this paper I shall endeavour to revisit the relationships between the boat burial in mound one and Sutton Hoo and the analogues high status burials of Vendel period Sweden. The analysis will focus on the social context of deposition rather than on the direct relationship of the material culture deposited. It will be argued that both East Anglia and northern Uppland were frontier territories of Germanic-speaking Europe where new social hierarchies were struggling to establish themselves in the decades around 600.

Response: Brian Wallace

B: Jörg Drauschke

                The development of contacts and trade between the Byzantine Empire and the Frankish Kingdom until the early 8th century

The paper focuses the question, how contacts and exchange between the eastern Mediterranean and northwest continental Europe developed during the 7th century AD. The research is based on the archaeological sources from the Frankish Kingdom but takes also into account important written source material. Following the traditional view, international trade and transport in the Mediterranean reached its bottom from the middle of the 7th century onwards, mainly influenced by the research of Henri Pirenne, but after his famous study this subject was discussed even more intensely until today with different opinions about the date concerning the closing of the Mediterranean Sea.

At first sight archaeological material from the Frankish Kingdom does not seem to can add a significant contribution to this problem. But with the help of a careful analysis of the inventories of Merovingian row graves a large group of objects could be identified that due to their provenance must have been transported from the eastern Mediterranean resp. the Byzantine Empire and even from regions far more east over the Mediterranean and Italy and southern France to the regions in northern Gaul and north of the Alps. Among these finds are precious stones from India/Sri Lanka (red garnet, amethyst), cowrie shells from the Red Sea, elephant ivory from northeast Africa, jewellery, bronze vessels, and buckles from the Byzantine Empire. Not only the quantity of these objects is surprising that reaches its height at the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th century, but also the fact that – in spite of a constant decrease of their total number during the 7th century – they still appear in the graves at the time around 700 AD. This is explained as an indication of a continuity of exchange between the regions in question, but with clear signs of decline and change of general circumstances.

Response: Tom Brown

                When the East came to the West: the seventh century in south-east Spain: living amongst Visigoths, Byzantines and Muslims

The seventh century in Iberia brought about a number of transformations in a society that had kept a remarkable continuity of the cultural and political structure of Rome during the “long sixth century”. In this century, the Visigoths achieved the unification of their society under the Catholic creed and consolidated their dominion of Iberia by expelling the Byzantines from their last peninsular strongholds. And yet the classical tradition was visible in many aspects of this society until the Islamic invasion of the eighth century, which meant the downfall of the Visigothic Kingdom and a fast Islamicisation of the Peninsula. This event produced a very different sort of “long eighth century” in Iberia as compared to the rest of Europe and is marked by deep changes at all levels. It meant a much more evident break with the Roman past.

The phenomena described in the paragraph above can be clearly identified in a space the was a border area between the Visigothic kingdom and the Byzantine occupation in Iberia: the Vega of Granada. After an early occupation by the Muslim invaders, this was also the space in which Islam lasted longer in the peninsula, until the conquest of Granada in the fifteenth century. Therefore, it is a space of special interest for the identification of the patterns of continuity and break that took place in the seventh and eighth centuries. In this paper we will offer information about settlement patterns, cemeteries and ceramic production of these two centuries. The combined analysis of these archaeological features will allow to venture the meaning of the transformations of the end of the Roman world in an essentially rural area placed in a very strategic location.

Respondent: Javier Martinez

See the full schedule for more details!

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