Reopening graves in the early Middle Ages: from local practice to European phenomenon

Today we’ve published an Open Access paper in the journal Antiquity summarizing results from all five members of the research network, plus new wider perspectives:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/reopening-graves-in-the-early-middle-ages-from-local-practice-to-european-phenomenon/7AF3550F7CDD3FEEF7E1E8146BF71284

Abstract: Across Europe early medieval archaeologists have long recognised significant numbers of graves displaying evidence for the intentional post-burial disturbance of skeletons and artefacts. The practice of reopening and manipulating graves soon after burial, traditionally described—and dismissed—as ‘robbing’, is documented at cemeteries from Transylvania to southern England. This article presents a synthesis of five recent regional studies to investigate the evidence of and the motivations for the reopening of early medieval graves. From the later sixth century AD, the reopening of individual graves and removal of selected artefact types rapidly became part of the shared treatment of the dead across this wide area.

Klevnäs, A., Aspöck, E., Noterman, A. A., van Haperen, M. C., & Zintl, S. (2021). Reopening graves in the early Middle Ages: from local practice to European phenomenon. Antiquity, 1-22, doi:10.15184/aqy.2020.217.

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