New publication : Ritualiser, gérer, piller. Rencontre autour des réouvertures de tombes et de la manipulation des ossements

Finally, here is the publication of the proceedings of the 9th Meeting of the Gaaf!
Remember, in May 2017, Astrid Noterman and Mathilde Cervel organised the first conference held in France on the topic of grave reopening. During 3 days, archaeologists, physical anthropologists, historians and ethnologists shared their questions, methods and approaches to the issue of grave reopening from the prehistoric period to the present day.

The publication is organized around three themes (grave robbery, management of burial space, and cult practices) and aims to bring together some thirty contributions from these days. It opens the discussion around various practices whose archaeological manifestation is identical: the manipulation of the deceased. What field methodology is applied to these structures? What can we learn from these changes in the societies of the past? What motivations drive the living to reintervene in the graves of their loved ones? These are all questions that French and foreign specialists are asking in this new Gaaf volume.

The book is available here : https://www.gaaf-asso.fr/publication/ritualiser-gerer-piller-rencontre-autour-des-reouvertures-de-tombes-et-de-la-manipulation-des-ossements/ and here: https://www.chauvigny-patrimoine.fr/Editions/fiche_memoires.php?sku=MEM052

Bonne lecture !

Table of Contents

IntroductionRequiem aeternam dona eis… Quelques remarques introductives autour de l’ouverture des tombes et la manipulation des corps – Cécile Treffort

1re partie – Le pillage des sépultures

  1. Le pillage des nécropoles à travers le temps en Champagne-Ardenne – Stéphanie Desbrosse-Degobertière, Cécile Paresys
  2. Pillages contemporains des inhumations ou fouilles anciennes ? L’exemple d’un site laténien à Witry-lès-Reims (Marne) – Natacha Crépeau, Mélody Félix-Sanchez
  3. Réouvertures de tombes et pillages à La Tène ancienne ? Le site de Pierre-de-Bresse “L’Aubépin” (Saône-et-Loire) – Carole Fossurier, Valérie Taillandier, Sébastien Chevrier
  4. Réouvertures de sépultures et pillages : l’exemple de la nécropole tardo-antique de Saint-Martin-le-Bas à Gruissan (Aude) – Mireille Cobos, Marie Perrin, Guillaume Duperron
  5. Pilleurs de tombes sur la colline du “Marxberg” : études de cas au sein de la nécropole de l’Antiquité tardive de Pons Saravi (Sarrebourg, Moselle, France) – Christèle Baillif-Ducros, Nicolas Meyer, Jimmy Coster, Yannick Milerski
  6. La perturbation des sépultures au haut Moyen Âge : discussion et collaboration européenne – Astrid A. Noterman, Edeltraud Aspöck, Alison Klevnäs, Martine van Haperen, Stephanie Zintl
  7. Lésions osseuses traumatiques : analyse comparative entre une étude expérimentale sur des os de porc et 19 individus de l’ensemble funéraire altomédiéval d’Ensisheim-Réguisheimerfeld (Haut-Rhin) – Julia Kientz, Tania Delabarde, Amélie Pélissier
  8. Les réouvertures de tombes de la nécropole du haut Moyen Âge de Vitry-la-Ville (Marne) : approches, méthodologies et résultats – Benjamin Tixier, Astrid A. Noterman avec la collaboration d’Alexis Corrochano, Gwenaëlle Grange
  9. Le pillage de sépultures sur le site “Michelet” à Lisieux (Calvados, IVe-IXe siècle). Essai de synthèse et révision des données – Julia Pacory, Astrid A. Noterman, Cécile Chapelain de Seréville-Niel, Didier Paillard
  10. La difficulté de dater le pillage de sépultures : l’exemple de la petite nécropole mérovingienne de Bergnicourt (Ardennes)- Nadège Robin, Soazic Bezault
  11. Au contact des morts : les actes post-funéraires du site de Monsidun, à L’Houmeau (Charente-Maritime) – Fabrice Leroy
  12. Des morts qui marchent : un témoignage archéologique des croyances médiévales (Saint-Georges-de-Montaigu, Vendée, XIe-XIIe siècle) – Véronique Gallien, Ludovic Schmitt, Yves Darton
  13. Les nécropoles de la Croix-Blandin (Marne) : pillages à l’époque contemporaine et manipulations d’ossements durant La Tène ancienne – Guillaume Seguin
  14. Du pillage au saccage : l’expertise archéologique d’urgence de la chapelle Saint-Georges de Céreste (Alpes de Haute-Provence) – Élise Henrion, Mathieu Vivas, David Lavergne, Xavier Margarit

2e partie – La gestion de l’espace funéraire

  1. Attente ou catastrophe ? Analyse d’une sépulture collective de la fin du Néolithique – Mélie Le Roy, Stéphane Rottier, Camille de Becdelièvre, Sandrine Thiol
  2. Réinvestissement et pillage d’une tombe monumentale étrusque : Grotte Scalina (Viterbe) – Paola Catalano, Giordana Amicucci, Vincent Jolivet, Edwige Lovergne
  3. Que reste-t-il de la nécropole païenne au-dessus de la catacombe chrétienne des Saints Pierre-et-Marcellin à Rome ? Le témoignage des inscriptions funéraires conservées dans cette catacombe au troisième mille de la Via Labicana – Edoardo Radaelli, Ilaria Gabrielli
  4. Réouvertures de tombes dans la nécropole antique de Saint- Vulbas (Ain) – Gwenaëlle Grange, Sabrina Charbouillot, Tony Silvino
  5. La mort en arpentage ou la délimitation des domaines et territoires antiques par l’instrumentalisation de la tombe : le cas de Monsidun à L’Houmeau (Charente-Maritime), approche préliminaire – Fabrice Leroy
  6. Réouvertures, superpositions, réductions… Manipulations dans la nécropole alto-médiévale (Ve-IXe siècles ap. J.-C.) de Vitry-sur-Orne “Vallange” (Moselle) : quel geste pour quelle nécessité ? – Amandine Mauduit
  7. Caveaux funéraires d’église : entre mémoire et oubli, présentation de cas en région Centre-Val de Loire (Tours, Blois, Épernon et Véretz) – Viviane Aubourg, Philippe Blanchard, Jean-Philippe Chimier, Didier Josset
  8. La mission française de recherche des corps de déportés en Allemagne, 1945-1960. L’exemple du camp de Gandersheim (Allemagne) – Jean-Marc Dreyfus
  9. Destruction de fosses clandestines et déplacement des morts à la fin de la dictature militaire uruguayenne (1983-1985) – José López Mazz

3e partie – Les pratiques cultuelles

  1. Un cas peu ordinaire de manipulation de squelette médiéval au sein d’un monument néolithique à Quiberon “Roch Priol” (Morbihan) – Olivier Agogué, Astrid Suaud-Préault
  2. Prélèvement et introduction d’ossements dans des sépultures de l’âge du Bronze à Riom, ZA de Layat
  3. (Puy-de-Dôme) – Ivy Thomson, Damien Martinez
  4. Homme Vs animal : une même intention cultuelle dans les silos du second âge du Fer du Bassin parisien ? – Valérie Delattre avec la collaboration de Ginette Auxiette
  5. Pratiques funéraires au second âge du Fer et fosses siloïformes : la question des dépôts primaires et secondaires du site B de “la Haute-Voie”, à Loisy-sur-Marne (Marne) – Élodie Wermuth, Régis Issenmann
  6. Les fragments d’éternité. La manipulation d’ossements dans le judaïsme et le christianisme, entre le pragmatisme, la sacralité et le châtiment – Piotr Kuberski
  7. L’in-quiétude des morts : typologie des pratiques et enjeux sociaux-culturels des manipulations “post-rituelles” des vestiges funéraires – Aurélien Baroiller

Conclusion – Enluminures, dessins, restitutions. Quelles images pour la réouverture des sépultures et la manipulation des ossements ? – Astrid A. Noterman, Mathilde Cervel

 

Dialogues with the dead in Vikings

A new paper by Professor Howard Williams from the University of Chester and GRR member Alison Klevnäs brings mortuary archaeology to meet popular TV, discussing encounters with the remains of the dead seen in the History Channel’s Viking series.

(Williams, H. & Klevnäs, A. 2019. Dialogues with the Dead in Vikings. In Vikings and the Vikings: The Norse World(s) of the History Channel Series, edited by P. Hardwick & K. Lister. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland.)

Starting up the new project

This month Astrid Noterman and I are starting up the first major project put together by reopenedgraves.eu members to investigate early medieval grave reopening on a transnational scale. It’s called Interacting with the dead. Belief and conflict in early medieval Europe, has been funded by the Swedish Research Council and is based at Stockholm University. In brief, the aim is to bring together the regional studies carried out by the research network members, produce the first Europe-wide survey of Merovingian-period reopening practices, and explore the implications for our understandings of the societies of the period.

The project will run for three years so we’re still taking our first steps at the moment – including taking part in the EAA and Sachsensymposium and lots of practical things like getting offices set up.

But I did a quick back of the envelope calculation this week and realized that although this is a new phase of research, it’s actually based on about 17 years of previous work. That’s four PhD projects investigating the evidence for ancient grave reopening in different regions of Merovingian-period Europe: Alison Klevnäs – southern England 2010, Stephanie Zintl – Bavaria 2012,  Martine van Haperen – low countries 2016, Astrid Noterman- northern France 2017. Plus Edeltraud Aspöck’s 2005 publication of the heavily disturbed cemetery at Brunn am Gebirge in Lower Austria, which has been influential for all of us. In fact that’s an underestimate, because Edeltraud’s further work developing techniques for recording disturbed burials also directly informs the project.

And so far this year, before the project was fully underway, we’ve already had great contributions from one of my MA students at Stockholm University, Tobias Vinoy, who wrote his dissertation on the disturbance of Roman Iron Age graves in Denmark, and Giorgia Sottotetti, an Erasmus trainee from the University of Pisa, who has been collecting and investigating early medieval cemeteries with reopened graves in northern Italy.

So that all explains why the first stage of the project is going to be a round of publications. Over the last two or three years we’ve presented comparisons between our regional studies at a number of conferences, and last year in Stockholm we had a whole colloquium to discuss findings in the different areas. So we’ve already spent a while puzzling over the details of what the reopening practices in different areas look like, defining the research questions for the next stage, and locating areas for some targeted new data-gathering. Now all of that work needs to come out in print… watch this space.

New project: Belief and conflict in Early Medieval Europe

We are very happy to announce that the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has awarded funding for a three-year project entitled ‘Interacting with the dead. Belief and conflict in Early Medieval Europe (AD 450-750)’ to Alison Klevnäs and Astrid Noterman. The project will start in September 2018 and be based in the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies at Stockholm University. The other network members – Edeltraud Aspöck, Martine van Haperen, and Stephanie Zintl – are currently busy with other research, but will participate as project advisors.

Interacting with the dead. Belief and conflict in Early Medieval Europe (AD 450-750)

This project will study customs of revisiting, reworking, and retrieving human and material remains which have newly been recognised in burial grounds across early medieval Europe, using them as an innovative route into understanding beliefs and community life in this formative period of social and religious change.

Once into the Christian Middle Ages, burial sites became places of worship and pilgrimage, with human body parts revered as relics. But the traditional view of the earlier pagan societies is that the dead were kept separate from the living, lying undisturbed in rows of graves in quiet fields, surrounded by their treasured possessions and grave gifts.

This research will show that far from decomposing in peace, the pre-Christian dead were regularly and frequently unearthed. Over 3 years, it will bring together the first Europe-wide survey of grave reopening practices, showing that a set of related customs can be seen at hundreds of excavated sites over a geographic range from Transylvania to central Spain to southern England.

Applying forensic and archaeothanatological techniques to the excavated evidence, the researchers will reconstruct the reopening practices in detail, exploring their methods and motives as a source for past understandings of such fundamental concepts as death, the body, and ownership. Tracing the spatial and chronological development of the customs, the project will ask how their recognition changes our picture of the societies of the period.

Reopening of Viking period graves: new publication

A new article in the European Journal of Archaeology by GRR member Alison Klevnäs explores the widespread early disturbance of Vendel and Viking period burials in Scandinavia. The paper is currently open access, i.e. free to read.

Abstract:

This article examines the wide range of grave disturbance practices seen in Viking-age burials across Scandinavia. It argues that the much-debated reopenings at high-profile sites, notably the Norwegian ‘royal’ mounds, should be seen against a background of widespread and varied evidence for burial reworking in Scandinavia throughout the first-millennium ad and into the Middle Ages. Interventions into Viking-age graves are interpreted as disruptive, intended to derail practices of memory-creation set in motion by funerary displays and monuments. However, the reopening and reworking of burials were also mnemonic citations in their own right, using a recurrent set of practices to make heroic, mythological, and genealogical allusions. The retrieval of portable artefacts was a key element in this repertoire, and in this article I use archaeological and written sources to explore the particular concepts of ownership which enabled certain possessions to work as material citations appropriating attributes of dead persons for living claimants.