Post-Imperial Western Europe

  • Created by: Lauriie
  • Created on: 30-04-19 14:50
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  • Post Imperial Western Europe
    • Theory
      • 'decentralisation': the foci of power and politics shift away from the capital cities to the frontiers. The centre is fragmented.
        • physical movement, dislocation
        • new elites with spectacular burial complexes.
          • ideas of kingship which drew on the trappings of imperial power as a strategy for legitimation
      • 'Roman' and 'Barbarian' become less distinguishable concepts: role of the Roman army in employing barbarians, foederati; a process which had been occuring for a long time.
        • Stilicho dyptich c395: shows high up army figure with his wife and son,
          • Stilicho was a barbarian who achieved high status in the Roman Army, like many others. Influences from both Roman and barbarian culture: eg trousers, crossbow brooch. His wife is dressed like a roman lady.
            • However, this was a long process that didnt immediately cause the collapse of the empire. also on the frontiers, did people really care to distinguish between roman and barbarian?
              • Hackenbeck- study of diet in Pannonia- how clearly were these norms defined to begin with?
      • Just because we are archaeologists, we shouldn't forget the clear cut changes- eg Roman military withdrawal (410 AD in Britain), increasing military rebellions and war on the frontiers (eg war in Gaul causing Romans to pull back from Britain. )
    • new elites
      • Childeric's grave at Tournai: Identified by ring. Huge burial mound with multiple horse burials and elaborate weapons and regalia.
      • Apahida grave: elaborate horse trappings which mirror Emperor Justinian on the Barberini ivory. Part of a network of global elite, who draw on Roman symbolism
      • Theodoric: Theodoric medallion. Portrayal of the goddess Nike, imitating HRE in style, controversial moustache
      • Sutton Hoo ship burial: a bit later perhaps, but possibly reflected the last of a burial tradition starting after 410 AD. Large ship burial with sword, shield, helmet as well as silver plate
      • emergence of warlords among the frontier, they draw power from modelling themselves on Rome
    • Physical migration
      • Lombards: highly mobile group according to texts. They start out outside the empire, are led by Aduin across the Danube into Pannonia.
        • genetic/ isotopic studies of Szolad and Collegno cemeteries
          • (Alt. al) a highly mobile group settled for one generation in Szolad. 31% of them had died at a location other than where they were born and/or had moved during their childhood.
            • A highly mobile migration period lifestyle.
          • dominated by a small group of men? who have more access to meat
          • Amorim et. al: each cemetery organised primarily around 1 pedigree. Biological kinship very important in these groups. But each cemetery has a genetic structure involving 2 groups, a north and a south one- not ethnically homogeneous
            • The group at Collegno appeared to be related to the one at Szolad
              • at szolad, all arranged around a 3 generation kindred with 10 members. 9 of them northern, included the oldest individual in the cemetery and the individual with the deepest grave (also buried with a horse). All had a diet high in animal protein.
                • A related group did migrate from pannonia to hungary. It wasn't ethnically homogeneous or closed to outsiders, but it was organised around kinships.
    • changes in everyday life
      • local 'decentralisation' from urban centres; process replicated in different ways
        • roman britain; reduction in activity in towns, case study of london, godmanchester in cambirdgeshire
          • this theory has changed from complete abandonment to a change in occupation- but seem to be less people compared to countryside.
      • regional differentiation
        • all the groups were very different; see other mind-map
          • but they were increasingly locked together as part of a new European elite, which traded on similar rich elite goods as symbols of power.
        • A point James Gerrard makes when talking about the changes in pottery industry in 410: there were, during the Roman period too, interlocking local economies, interests and institutions.
          • The change in imperial structure therefore effected different regions and industries differently.
    • Beyond the frontiers
      • Post-Roman Iron Age in Scandinavia
        • The roman period had had an impact on Scandinavia: Scandinavian adaptons of local style eg silverware. An possible geopolitical impacts too.
          • The end of the Roman period brought a return of pre-roman myth elements such as Odin to prominence
            • there was a similar process of mirroring elements of imperial regalia to legitimise local power (eg migration period gold bracteates, but with Scandinavian designs)
          • The origin myths of many key 'migration period' players were outside the empire in places like Scandinavia
            • eg the mythical Scandsa, home of the Goths
              • Reflects the pact that politics was no longer centered on the empire and the within/without the empire dichotomy. The players were operating on a truly global basis
        • An increase in interest in the North: for example Procopius' account of the Sami in c560
    • Little Ice Age
      • 'Black Cloud' theory
    • Justinianic plague
      • first broke out in 541-544 and continued over the next centuries
        • Caused by bacterium Yersinia pestis
      • Textual sources:
        • John of Ephesus 'villages whose inhabitants have perished altogether'
          • Procopius described how 10,000 people died in a single day in Constantinople
            • range of sources from different geographical locations and walks of life
      • it had a small impact
        • Jean Durliat; one of the most decisive critiques of the idea there was mass demographic decline.
          • epigraphic evidence from the late antique period: the plague was limited to urban areas and caused no massive impact on mortality.
            • Clive Foss: survey of Syrian sites. lack of any fundamental changes relating to demographic decline, and little change in rural setlement.
              • A lack of obvious mass burials like we have for the black death, and a lack of inscriptions which acknowledge the plague
                • Only 2 inscriptions: one in Syria, one in Spain
            • what if some traditional funerary practices had to be abandoned?
      • it had a large impact
        • Mass burials: can be hard to identify arcaheologically: cemeteries can be crowded and burials overcut anyway: err on side of caution
          • not the only way to deal with the dead: one way of coping is to stick as much as possible to normal
            • double and triple burials:
              • Ascheim cemetery in Germany: c470-600. Looks like a normal cemetery on first glance
                • 28.8% of graves in the cemetery are multiple graves, but most of these are standard double burials
                  • also these graves are furnished in a normal manner with a range of richness and variety of objects
                    • However: there was a burial of 5 people discovered which encouraged archaeologists to look into the cemetery more thoroughly.
                      • 'stacatto surge' in burial shown by the epigraphy, and then a population collapse around 550
                        • biomolecular analysis of the remains showed evidence of Y. pestis DNA
              • if we could look into these innocuous burials more we might find more evidence.
            • even during the black death, mass graves such as east and west smithfield were only one burial type; plenty of single, double or triple burials.
        • longer term impact:
          • might not cause an economic crisis: the survivors of a plague might find themselves better off.
          • evidence of a population getting smaller eg fewer new dwellings/ town neighbourhoods?
            • Kennedy (2015)
              • Antioch: reconstructed after 540 persian invasions, suburban areas seem to fare slightly better than urban centres
                • Apamea: no newly built houses after 540, many houses deserted by end of 6th century (this may be due to 573 persian conquest)
                  • Scythopolis- persistence of investment in public civic architecture (baths, walls), which abruptly cuts off after 541. Population stagnation
                    • rural areas: Dehes: house building stops c550, although elaboration continues.
                      • arcaheological evidence could be consistent with a pandemic but it isnt decisive, perhaps we should just privilege the texts?
              • problems: we can date the justinianic plague outbreak very accurately, but its much harder to date using ceramics with any = accuracy
                • so much was happening during the 500s, how can we attribute changes specifically to the plague and not to the earthquakes, famines etc?

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