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Death as an architect of societies: Burial and social identity during the Viking Age in South-western Scania

Satalecki, Franciszek LU (2014) ARKM21 20141
Archaeology
Abstract
In this thesis I explore the subject on how burial was used by Viking Age population of South-western Scania to express their social identity. As opposed to most earlier research concerning Viking Age burials I utilise regional, mourner-centred and practice-based approach.
I am following observations conducted for burials in Denmark by J. Ulriksen (2011), focused on traces of deposition of burned and unburned human remains in the grave fills, the
practice of opening the burial and tracing the intersection and overlays of the graves. I have selected the graves from a catalogue of burials in South-eastern Scandinavia compiled by F. Svanberg (2003b) on a basis of displaying possible signs of those practices. In effect, burial grounds at... (More)
In this thesis I explore the subject on how burial was used by Viking Age population of South-western Scania to express their social identity. As opposed to most earlier research concerning Viking Age burials I utilise regional, mourner-centred and practice-based approach.
I am following observations conducted for burials in Denmark by J. Ulriksen (2011), focused on traces of deposition of burned and unburned human remains in the grave fills, the
practice of opening the burial and tracing the intersection and overlays of the graves. I have selected the graves from a catalogue of burials in South-eastern Scandinavia compiled by F. Svanberg (2003b) on a basis of displaying possible signs of those practices. In effect, burial grounds at Önsvala, Ljungbacka, Stävie, Norrvidinge, Trelleborg and Råga Hörstad were
selected.
As I perceive social dimension as the most important in this thesis, introduction chapter starts with the definition of social identity as processual in nature, fluent and contextual. Identities are perceived as displayed through performance, following development in gender studies. I understand rituals as a privileged practice, following the theories of
ritualisation. Graves are seen as a result of action, and as such, are analysed with stratigraphic observations and observations derived from field anthropology. In the analysis of burial context, the written sources possess only limited significance. They are, however, employed to create a model of social relations in the Viking Age emphasising the importance
of social connections for the perception of an individual as a person and his social significance. In the first chapter, I present the analysis of selected sites, their settlement context and
highlight their importance as places, in which society is constructed during funeral ceremonies. In the second chapter of the analysis, I explore the subject of deposition of cremated human remains in inhumation burials. Differences in practice are observed and its intentionality is attested. In the third chapter, I examine the intersections of graves and re-use
of burial pits. The practice is viewed as intentional and its possible explanation – as related to the importance of certain areas of the burial grounds, or as the way of displaying social
connection, is proposed. In the following fourth chapter, I analyse the deposits of unburned human remains in the fills of inhumation burials. I review critically the evidence for possible
human sacrifice and present problems related to reliance on narrations provided by written sources. In the last chapter, I describe the evidence for post-funeral interaction with burial
context. The conclusion, reached in the closing chapter of the thesis, is that the dead were, in fact, in an ongoing relation with the population of the living and through that interaction
identities for both were created. The living benefited from possessing a genealogy and the dead were perceived as existing in altered state, as long as social memory of them prevailed.
The graves should not be perceived as passive reflections of identities of the deceased and rather viewed in relation to living identities they supported, as they are phenomenons that
were subjected to change during the on-going process of identification. Final parts of the conclusion are devoted towards considerations about the practice-based theoretical
approach for the excavation methodology and towards highlighting limitations of the thesis and problems that need further research. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Satalecki, Franciszek LU
supervisor
organization
course
ARKM21 20141
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Viking Age, death and burial, Social Identity, Human Sacrifice
language
English
id
4451731
date added to LUP
2014-06-26 10:36:21
date last changed
2014-06-26 10:36:21
@misc{4451731,
  abstract     = {In this thesis I explore the subject on how burial was used by Viking Age population of South-western Scania to express their social identity. As opposed to most earlier research concerning Viking Age burials I utilise regional, mourner-centred and practice-based approach.
I am following observations conducted for burials in Denmark by J. Ulriksen (2011), focused on traces of deposition of burned and unburned human remains in the grave fills, the
practice of opening the burial and tracing the intersection and overlays of the graves. I have selected the graves from a catalogue of burials in South-eastern Scandinavia compiled by F. Svanberg (2003b) on a basis of displaying possible signs of those practices. In effect, burial grounds at Önsvala, Ljungbacka, Stävie, Norrvidinge, Trelleborg and Råga Hörstad were
selected.
As I perceive social dimension as the most important in this thesis, introduction chapter starts with the definition of social identity as processual in nature, fluent and contextual. Identities are perceived as displayed through performance, following development in gender studies. I understand rituals as a privileged practice, following the theories of
ritualisation. Graves are seen as a result of action, and as such, are analysed with stratigraphic observations and observations derived from field anthropology. In the analysis of burial context, the written sources possess only limited significance. They are, however, employed to create a model of social relations in the Viking Age emphasising the importance
of social connections for the perception of an individual as a person and his social significance. In the first chapter, I present the analysis of selected sites, their settlement context and
highlight their importance as places, in which society is constructed during funeral ceremonies. In the second chapter of the analysis, I explore the subject of deposition of cremated human remains in inhumation burials. Differences in practice are observed and its intentionality is attested. In the third chapter, I examine the intersections of graves and re-use
of burial pits. The practice is viewed as intentional and its possible explanation – as related to the importance of certain areas of the burial grounds, or as the way of displaying social
connection, is proposed. In the following fourth chapter, I analyse the deposits of unburned human remains in the fills of inhumation burials. I review critically the evidence for possible
human sacrifice and present problems related to reliance on narrations provided by written sources. In the last chapter, I describe the evidence for post-funeral interaction with burial
context. The conclusion, reached in the closing chapter of the thesis, is that the dead were, in fact, in an ongoing relation with the population of the living and through that interaction
identities for both were created. The living benefited from possessing a genealogy and the dead were perceived as existing in altered state, as long as social memory of them prevailed.
The graves should not be perceived as passive reflections of identities of the deceased and rather viewed in relation to living identities they supported, as they are phenomenons that
were subjected to change during the on-going process of identification. Final parts of the conclusion are devoted towards considerations about the practice-based theoretical
approach for the excavation methodology and towards highlighting limitations of the thesis and problems that need further research.},
  author       = {Satalecki, Franciszek},
  keyword      = {Viking Age,death and burial,Social Identity,Human Sacrifice},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Death as an architect of societies: Burial and social identity during the Viking Age in South-western Scania},
  year         = {2014},
}