M.C. van Haperen M.A.

Position:
  • PhD Student




In touch with the dead. A study of early medieval reopened graves.

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The richly furnished graves from Merovingian cemeteries form a formidable source for the study of early medieval society. These graves were frequently reopened while the cemetery was still in use. Such post-depositional interventions are traditionally interpreted as grave robbery. Nonetheless many archaeological observations seem to contradict this interpretation. Given the frequent occurrence of interventions, it seems better not to approach them as deviant behaviour, but to study their role in the spectrum of interactions between the living and dead in early medieval society.

Reopened graves have not often been studied systematically and many fundamental questions remain unanswered. Similarly, the theoretical framework concerning Merovingian grave reopenings is not well developed. An in-depth study of these practices is therefore required. Using reopened graves from the Southern Netherlands and adjacent regions, this study will increase empirical knowledge on grave reopenings, test traditional assumptions and develop new interpretive models. The research will consider the role of grave reopenings in early medieval society in general and mortuary practices in particular, taking into account important scholarly themes such as Christianization, early medieval attitudes towards the dead, perceptions of heritage in the past, the negotiation of identities, the cultural biography of artefacts and the archaeology of personhood.


Last Modified: 01-02-2016