Session: #339

Theme & Session Format

1. Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Social Networks of Non-Urban Settlements during the Early and High Middle Ages in Europe
This session explores the potentials of the archaeology of small finds and the built environment for the study of social networks and social organisation in Medieval Europe. Large-scale excavations, intensive field surveys and recently, professional use of metal detectors allow us to examine settlement networks on a regional level or on an even larger scale. Changes in these networks, either continuous or sudden, very often originate in changes to the social pattern.
Artefact distribution and typology of objects may be used as a research tool for understanding social patterns and networks. While the mapping of luxury objects may highlight the distribution of power and welfare in medieval societies, small finds, treasure finds or large assemblies of pottery may make equally relevant contributions to our comprehension of the social organisation of past societies. Social and hierarchical relations between and within settlements are also manifested and communicated in the built environment. Therefore, the examination of space and place can be employed to analyse the emergence, continuity and changes in socio-cultural ideas and traditions. That way, the built environment can also be used in studying local and regional settlement patterns, reflecting the complexities of cultural contacts, the transmission of ideas and social change. This session will examine the problems and potentials of this topic. Are there any markers of social stratification in the material culture of rural communities, and what conclusions can be drawn from their spatial distribution? Can residential patterns reflect social structure and in what way? What sort of data can be employed to delineate the hierarchy of medieval settlements?
For this session, we invite speakers with new data on and approaches to material culture, settlement forms and landscape organisation to reveal the vivid and intricate social patterns of medieval communities.
social networks, material culture, medieval settlements
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Main organiser:
Tibor Rácz (Hungary) 1,2
Marie Ødegaard (Norway) 3
Nikolai Makarov (Russia) 4
Tuuli T. Heinonen (Finland) 5
Anastasia Fedorina (Russia) 4
1. Ferenczy Museum Centre
2. Pázmány Péter Catholic University
3. University of Oslo, Institute for Archaeology, Museum of Cultural History
4. Archaeological Institute, Russian Academy of Science
5. University of Helsinki, Department of cultures, Archaeology