EAA 2014

Edeltraud Aspöck will also visit the EAA 2014 in Istanbul and present a paper in session T06S025 Chasing Death Ways: new methods, techniques and practices in documenting and interpreting the funerary record, organised by Hayley Mickleburgh, Dr. Karina Gerdau Radonic, Rita Peyroteo Stjerna, Mari Tõrv.

Paper title will be:

The (micro)taphonomy of reopened graves

Abstract:  It is frequently the case that human remains which have been buried in graves are not left to ‘rest in peace’ eternally. There are a wide range of documented historical and ethnographical reasons and circumstances for the reopening of graves. For example, graves have been reopened as part of funerary rituals, for the removal of grave goods or body parts for symbolic reasons, as part of ancestral rites, or simply in order to be ‘robbed’ for materialistic reasons.

Understanding the reasons behind the reopening is often limited by a lack of understanding of the archaeological record. The methodological object of my post-doc project is to develop a new taphonomy-based method for the archaeological analysis of reopened graves. In this paper I will present preliminary results of the project, focusing on the results of my fieldwork on a reopened early Bronze Age inhumation grave in Austria. A bundle of methods has been applied, including archaeothanathology, single finds recording, soil analysis (micromorphology). The suitability of the applied methods for understanding the formation and the reopening of the grave will be discussed.

Welcome to the Grave Reopening Research (GRR) website

GRR is a working group of archaeologists who investigate grave disturbance. Current members are Edeltraud Aspöck, Alison Klevnäs, Martine van Haperen, Astrid Noterman, and Stephanie Zintl. We share an interest in grave disturbance in the provinces of early medieval Europe, but also work on grave robbery, reopening, and related practices in other periods and places. GRR is a platform for joint publications, projects, and events. We use this website to highlight our upcoming presentations and publications.

Please contact us if you have a question about archaeological reopening. We’re particularly keen to hear about new excavations of early medieval robbed burials – please do get in touch if you find evidence that looks like ancient reopening.

See below for our latest news.

EAA 2014

Dr Alison Klevnäs is co-organizing a session at the 20th Annual Meeting of European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul in September 2014, with Dr Isabelle Vella Gregory and Dr Sheila Kohring from the University of Cambridge.

Session T03S017: The material agent in technological processes

‘The embeddedness of technology in society is, by now, well established. However, what of materials themselves? Traditionally, materials were considered the defining features of technologies and even of human epochs. Yet paradoxically, they were seen only as passively manipulated within the technological process, with the ‘product’ or ‘artefact’ as the conceptualized outcome. Recent cross-disciplinary approaches renewing our interest in technologies have demonstrated its inextricable social role and it is time to take a closer look at the ways in which materials themselves facilitate and shape technological practices, processes, and social relations. This session explores the social relations of technologies by forefronting materials as active agents in shaping the objects, ideas, and organizing principles of the communities which use them. Questions of procurement, materializing practices, re-use, contact, creativity, and social boundaries are all areas to be explored. We welcome papers on a broad range of materials and periods.’

We’re looking forward to hearing lots of great papers from a wide variety of periods and places!

Alison’s paper develops of some of the ideas which came out of her research into early medieval grave disturbance: ‘Inalienable materials and ephemeral forms in early medieval craft production‘.