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AliceCHOYKE (Budapest History Museum)
Markus SANKE (University of Freiburg)
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  Tuesday, 18 April, 2006

JOB SEARCH - Part-time Teaching Position in Medieval Archaeology

Gellner Room


9:30 - 10:00
Members of the Search Committee meet all applicants

10:00 - 10:45
Markus Sanke - lecture

11:00 - 11:45
Alice Choyke- lecture

AliceCHOYKE (Budapest History Museum)

Breathing Life into Old Bones: Contextualizing Medieval Worked Bone

Contextualizing material culture from archaeological contexts means moving beyond the object itself by connecting it with human behavior. From production to use objects can open little windows that can illuminate the way people lived their lives in the past. The study of worked bone tools touches upon a number of production systems from acquisition of raw material to manufacturing styles and traditions of use and even, individual experience.
Humans have exploited animals for meat, hides, draught power and a variety of other raw materials for as long as they have mutually co-existed. Firm evidence for working osseous materials into ornaments, amulets and tools goes back at least 120,000 years. As societies grew in complexity, and certainly by the Middle Ages, the production systems for manufacturing objects from animal hard tissues became increasingly compartmentalized, depending on trade networks and inter-connected workshops for production in the towns. In the countryside and, to some extent in military fortifications, production had to be more self-reliant. The type and form of the tools made outside urban centers was shaped more by individual need, local tradition and ready availability of domestic animal bone than market forces. A variety of production systems from earlier prehistoric, Roman and Migration periods sites in the region can be contrasted with the complex context of daily life in medieval town and country.

Markus SANKE (University of Freiburg)

The graves of religious elites in medieval and post-medieval Europe –
an archaeological key to changes of mentality inside Christian belief

It is generally accepted that graves are the most useful archaeological sources for a reconstruction of prehistoric ideas und religions. With the occurrence and implementation of Christianity things seem to become different: Thinking about death and the next world is now clearly determined by the Christian credo, the belief in an immortal soul, the resurrection of the dead and the eternal life. In this concept the importance of material aspects of the burial seem to decrease, a quasi uniform, ‘poor’ grave culture comes into being and therefore graves of the post-heathen period are often regarded as ‘worthless’ and unable to tell us something about past ideology that we don’t know from other sources.

Nevertheless, a large series of excavated, well dated and personally identified graves of high clerics from the 8th to the 19th century and from entire Europe clearly shows a dramatic change of grave customs inside the supposed “homogenous” sphere of Christian dignitaries. This change occurs on very different and independent fields, e.g. grave location, position of the body, grave goods and treatment of the corpse. An analysis of this archaeological features proves that the material reality of graves distinctly reflects changes in man’s attitude towards death and the last things. This evolution can be seen on the background of eschatological writings, pictorial evidence and aspects of popular piety and religious practise. So archaeology, in decoding the ‘language of graves’, is well able to contribute to a history of medieval and post-medieval mentalities.

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