Value and economics of grave reopenings

rural riches royal ragsMartine van Haperen recently published a short article with an ethnographic/economic perspective on grave reopenings in the festschrift presented to prof. dr. Frans Theuws for his 65th birthday.

‘Van Haperen M. (2018), Exchanges with the Dead: Economic Aspects of Reopening graves. In: M. Kars, R. van Oosten, M.A. Roxburgh, A. Verhoeven (eds.), Rural Riches & Royal Rags? Studies on medieval and modern archaeology, presented to Frans Theuws, 110-114.’

At the EAA 2018 in Barcelona, Van Haperen will also present a paper closely related to this subject, titled ‘Deposition, Transformation, Retrieval: the Value of Objects from Reopened Graves’.

Workshop in Hamburg

There will be a workshop in Hamburg on 10-11 November 2017, titled “Rest in peace? Burial grounds as spaces for non-funerary activities”, will look into just this: what else happened, or might have happened, in burial places, apart from people burying their deceased? As the program shows, the presentations cover a wide range both in regards to time and regions. Stephanie Zintl will talk about the reopening of early medieval graves and what these actions may tell us about the cemeteries’ role beyond being used for burying people; and will draw attention to newer research and ideas on what was traditionally only seen as “grave robbery”.

The workshop is organized by Daniela Hofmann and Robert Schumann at the University of Hamburg and is free of charge. If you want to attend please contact the organizers.

Reopened graves at the Sachsensymposion

In September 2017 Martine van Haperen and Alison Klevnäs attended the 68th Internationales Sachsensymposion, held this year in Canterbury, England. Alison presented a paper introducing the new research carried out by GRR network members on Merovingian-period grave reopening and was delighted to receive lots of useful feedback and new leads from the audience of early medievalists. Highlights (for reopening researchers) included Jean Soulat and Laure Pecqueur’s presentation of the burial grounds at Vicq which include a large number of disturbed burials, currently being investigated by Astrid Noterman.

Ritualiser, Gérer, Piller

On 10th to 12th May 2017, Astrid Noterman (CESCM, CRAHAM) and Mathilde Cervel (EPHE) organised the first conference held in France on the topic of grave reopening.

The 9th Meeting of Le Groupe d’anthropologie et d’archéologie funéraire/the Group of anthropology and funerary archaeology (Gaaf) in Poitiers aimed to open up discussions on grave reopening and bone manipulation by questioning the motives of the living and the means available to archaeologists achieve their understanding.

The symposium was built around three sessions, each of which dealt with a different type of reopening from prehistory to the modern period – Session 1: grave robbery / Session 2: funerary space management / Session 3: cultural practice.

A panel of archaeologists, historians, anthropologists and sociologists from several countries (France, Italy, Portugal, Uruguay, England…) presented on specific cases of grave disturbance but also on the best way to excavate and interpret them.

During the symposium GRR presented a poster entitled ‘Grave Reopening Research Group – A research collaboration to investigate early medieval grave disturbance‘. This poster highlighted the widespread phenomenon of reopening in early medieval Europe, and the work carried out by each member of GRR on grave disturbance in England, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

A publication of the symposium will follow in the coming years.