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Today I Am Not the One I Was Yesterday: Archaeology, Identity, and Change
 9985409329,  9789985409329

Table of contents :
Editorial / Arvi Haak, Valter Lang, and Mika Lavento 7
BASE 4: Archaeology and Identity
Arvi Haak: Problems of defining ethnic identity in medieval towns of Estonia on the basis of archaeological sources 13
Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu: An approach to personal adornments in early modern gender performance 29
Laurynas Kurila: Social classes in the Iron Age east Lithuania: An attempt of identification in the mortuary record 45
Valter Lang: Creating the prehistoric past and modern identity 65
Algimantas Merkevičius: The Baltic Bronze Age in the light of identity theory 85
Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė: On the identity of prehistoric lake dwellers in Lithuania 95
Ester Oras: My research – my identity. Context and hermeneutic nature of archaeological research 107
Anna-Kaisa Salmi: Wild foods and identity in early modern northern Finland 123
Andris Šnē: Faith, society and identity: Religious and social identity in Latvia on the eve and early stage of the Crusades 137
Martti Veldi: Identity-creating landscapes. Who owns archaeological sites? 151
BASE 5: Archaeology today: Things to be changed
Elīna Guščika: Flat burials in the area of barrow cemeteries of the Roman Iron Age in Latvia and Lithuania: Burial practices in the reconstructions of the past 165
Sonja Hukantaival: Understanding past actions – changing attitudes towards ritual, religion and everyday life 183
Marko Marila: Pragmaticism – the new possibility of a scientific archaeology as seen in the light of the history of archaeology 197
Algimantas Merkevičius: Archaeology of late prehistoric religion in Lithuania: New reconstruction possibilities 219
Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė: Securing the timeline of our past: Concerns and perspectives of radiocarbon dating in the east Baltic 231
Aija Vilka: (Re)examining the children: Case studies from the Middle and Late Iron Age burials in Latvia 239

Citation preview

interarchaeologia, 4

Official publication of the University of Tartu the University of Helsinki the University of Latvia and the University of Vilnius Interarchaeologia Organisational and Editorial Board Arvi Haak Valter Lang Mika Lavento Liis Livin Algimantas Merkevičius Rėda Nemickienė Mervi Suhonen Andris Šnē Andrejs Vasks Anna Wessmann

Tallinn University / University of Tartu University of Tartu University of Helsinki University of Tartu University of Vilnius University of Vilnius University of Helsinki University of Latvia University of Latvia University of Helsinki

Interarchaeologia is a peer-reviewed publication of extended presentations held at the theoretical seminars of the Baltic archaeologists Interarchaeologia, 4 Today I am not the one I was yesterday: Archaeology, identity, and change Editors: Arvi Haak, Valter Lang, and Mika Lavento English editor: Mara Woods Lay-out: Kristel Roog

Printed in Estonia ISSN 1736-2806 ISBN 978-9985-4-0932-9

interarchaeologia, 4

TODAY I AM NOT THE ONE I WAS YESTERDAY: ARCHAEOLOGY, IDENTITY, AND CHANGE Papers from the Fourth Theoretical Seminar of the Baltic Archaeologists (BASE), Archaeology and Identity, held at the University of Helsinki, Finland, October 8th–10th, 2009, and the Fifth Theoretical Seminar, Archaeology Today: Things to be Changed, held at the University of Tartu, October 27th–29th, 2011

Edited by Arvi Haak, Valter Lang & Mika Lavento

Tartu – Helsinki – Riga – Vilnius 2015


Editorial (Arvi Haak, Valter Lang, and Mika Lavento)

. . . . . . . 7

BASE 4: Archaeology and Identity Arvi Haak Problems of defining ethnic identity in medieval towns of Estonia on the basis of archaeological sources

. . . . . . . 13

Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu An approach to personal adornments in early modern gender performance

. . . . . . . 29

Laurynas Kurila Social classes in the Iron Age east Lithuania: An attempt of identification in the mortuary record

. . . . . . . 45

Valter Lang Creating the prehistoric past and modern identity

. . . . . . . 65

Algimantas Merkevičius The Baltic Bronze Age in the light of identity theory

. . . . . . . 85

Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė On the identity of prehistoric lake dwellers in Lithuania

. . . . . . . 95

Ester Oras My research – my identity. Context and hermeneutic nature of archaeological research

. . . . . . . 107

Anna-Kaisa Salmi Wild foods and identity in early modern northern Finland

. . . . . . . 123

Andris Šnē Faith, society and identity: Religious and social identity in Latvia on the eve and early stage of the Crusades

. . . . . . . 137

Martti Veldi Identity-creating landscapes. Who owns archaeological sites?

. . . . . . . 151 5

BASE 5: Archaeology today: Things to be changed Elīna Guščika Flat burials in the area of barrow cemeteries of the Roman Iron Age in Latvia and Lithuania: Burial practices in the reconstructions of the past

. . . . . . . 165

Sonja Hukantaival Understanding past actions – changing attitudes towards ritual, religion and everyday life

. . . . . . . 183

Marko Marila Pragmaticism – the new possibility of a scientific archaeology as seen in the light of the history of archaeology

. . . . . . . 197

Algimantas Merkevičius Archaeology of late prehistoric religion in Lithuania: New reconstruction possibilities

. . . . . . . 219

Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė Securing the timeline of our past: Concerns and perspectives of radiocarbon dating in the east Baltic

. . . . . . . 231

Aija Vilka (Re)examining the children: Case studies from the Middle and Late Iron Age burials in Latvia

. . . . . . . 239



The bi-annual Baltic Archaeological Seminars (BASE) have brought together archaeologists from the Baltic States and Finland to discuss theory-laden problems relevant to their research. Starting from 2003, this year will bring already the seventh BASE, due to be held in Latvia in October 2015. The current volume consists of 16 papers from the last two BASE meetings, held in 2011 and 2013. As is traditional, these BASE seminars have been focusing on a central theme. From 8th–10th October, 2009, archaeologists from all participating countries gathered in Tvärminne, Finland for BASE-4, to listen to 17 presentations addressing the topic of the seminar, “Archaeology and identity”. The problems how archaeology can reach identity have been in focus for several decades and many well-known publications (e.g. Shennan 1989; Graves et al. 1996; Diaz-Andreu 2005; Insoll 2007) discuss the main aspects of identity and the role of archaeology in studying it. We may consider the understanding of material culture as active and meaning-laden (e.g. Hodder 1982) as one of the focal points that provoked an outburst of scientific thinking on that topic. Recent studies have brought along several interesting issues connected to specific aspects of identity, such as foodways or landscape usage; several of these were also addressed in the seminar presentations. In the Baltic countries and Finland the theoretical discussions on that topic have not been very widespread and the seminar was seen as a perfect opportunity to discuss the theoretical basis or even its apparent missing in our archaeological interpretations. The full programme of the meeting is also available in the Internet (http://; the current volume includes 10 articles that developed from the papers given at BASE-4 seminar. It should be noted that the original intention was to publish the papers from BASE-4 shortly after the seminar. Many of the papers in this part were originally written in 2010, with only minimal corrections made before publishing, and thus may not reflect the latest developments and literature in the field. The decision was taken to publish them with only small corrections to reflect the topics included in the seminar, as otherwise some of the texts would have been effectively re-written in the light of new excavations or rapid developments in laboratory work and theoretical discussions. In his article, Valter Lang (Tartu) discusses the connection between the present and the study of the past – what has been the role of the prevailing opinion or ‘social order’ in the construction of past societies? Lang illustrates his discussion with the example of changing interpretations of Estonian prehistory, some of what clearly reflect the political or social changes in the present. In a somewhat related theme, Ester Oras (Tartu) uses Gadamer’s concept of the hermeneutic circle to discuss the role of the scholars’ contemporary context on their research. Martti Veldi (Tartu) discusses the different views on archaeological landscapes held by the several interest groups involved, including landowners, tourists, scientists, the local community, heritage protection officials, amateur archaeologists or treasure hunters, etc. Several papers concentrate on certain identity groups in the past. Algimantas Merkevičius (Vilnius) concentrates on 7

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the Baltic society of the Bronze Age, proposing it as a separate cultural region during that period. Giedrė MotuzaitėMatuzevičiūtė (Vilnius) discusses the phenomenon of Lithuanian Iron Age lake dwellings, relying on scientific analyses from the Lake Luokesas site. This methodology allows her to compare the lake dwellers with those inhabiting the hilltop sites. Laurynas Kurila (Vilnius) attempts to identify social classes in Lithuania from the grave goods found in the burials. Andris Šnē (Riga) focuses on the Latvian elite during the crusading period, discussing their social as well as religious identity and the formation of social roles. Arvi Haak (Tartu/Tallinn) discusses the ways to study ethnic identity in the Livonian medieval towns, focusing on the understanding of ethnic groups as self-conscious and changing. Aino-Kaisa Salmi (Oulu) uses zooarchaeological material and recipes to discuss the role of food and foodways in identity creation in early modern Oulu and Tornio. Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi, and Timo Ylimaunu (Oulu) rely on Judith Butler’s theory of gender performance to establish the role of clothing in identity creation in early modern Oulu. The topic of the fifth BASE, held in Tartu, Estonia in 27th–29th October, 2011, was even more thought-provoking: the participants were asked to reflect on the title “Archaeology today: Things to be changed”. The presenters were asked to address the topics and issues where they felt that needed changing within the discipline. Changes in theories, methodology, details, ethics, education, and popularisation were singled out in the call for papers. 16 authors, again from all participating countries, took the challenge to address a variety of topics where changes were deemed important. The full programme is also available on the Internet ( 8

BASE-5-initial-program1.pdf). Six of these presentations can be published here in article form. In his search for scientific archaeology, Marko Marila (Helsinki) proposes the use of Peircean semiotics and Peirce’s system of the sign to strive to bring back into archaeology something that he calls ‘scientific attitude’. The latter is a continuous attempt to propose better hypotheses for understanding the past. The use of scientific dating methods is the focus of the paper by Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė (Vilnius), who discusses the credibility of the radiocarbon dates used in dating the sites in the Baltic countries, and proposes a protocol to ensure that the dates utilised in scientific conclusions actually are reliable. Two papers have been written about the study of burials. Elīna Guščika (Riga) discusses the flat burials in Iron Age Latvia, reaching the conclusion that the existence of this grave form in the area of barrow cemeteries has not been proved beyond doubt. Aija Vilka (Riga) reviews the methods for identifying children in the cemeteries of Middle and Late Iron Age in Latvia and points out the need for osteological analyses in this work. Finally, there are two contributions to the growing topic of archaeology of religion. Sonja Hukantaival (Turku) discusses the changing attitude towards past actions and points out that dichotomies such as ritual/profane do not help in understanding the complexity of thinking of past people. Algimantas Merkevičius (Vilnius) reflects on the situation of archaeological studies of religion in Lithuania, stressing the need for more attention to the topic and proposing the use of post-processual methodology for that aim. Both authors are certain that religion had a much greater role in the past societies than most of the archaeologists have so far been ready to acknowledge.

Baltic Archaeological Seminar

The presented papers, plus a few presentations that could not be included as articles, give an authoritative cross-section of the theoretical ideas utilised in the archaeological research in the Baltic countries and Finland during the recent years. The wide timeline and extensive coverage of different areas of study allow smaller themes of interest as well as larger problems faced by all participating authors to be addressed. We may hope that the spirit of using, describing, and discussing theory used in the research will only grow in the following years, and we can see a role for BASE in that trend. Acknowledgements: We wish to thank the organisers of meetings: BASE-4 was organised by Mika Lavento and Mervi Suhonen from the University of Helsinki, while Anna Wessmann was responsible for the excursion. For the organisational work for BASE-5, PhD students Eve Rannamäe and

Liis Livin (University of Tartu) contributed much of their energy and time, the excursion was organised by PhD students Anti Lillak and Martin Malve. The Tartu meeting was supported by the Estonian Council of the Gambling Tax. Several people were involved in the preparation of the current volume. First of all, we wish to thank Mervi Suhonen, who arranged peer reviews and worked with a large number of papers from the BASE-4 meeting. Our sincere thanks go to our linguistic editor Mara Woods for her profound attitude and for doing a lot more than could usually be expected from a linguistic editor, and to Kristel Roog for her similarly uncompromising work in preparing the layout. Publication of the volume was made possible by funding from the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory, CECT). The editing of the volume was supported by institutional research funding IUT (IUT18-8 and IUT20-7) of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.


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References Diaz-Andreu, M., Lucy, S., Babić, S. & Edwards, D. N. 2005. The Archaeology of Identity. Routledge, London; New York. Graves-Brown, P., Jones, S. & Gamble, C. 1996. Cultural Identity and Archaeology: The Construction of European Communities. Routledge, London.


Hodder, I. 1982. Symbols in Action. Ethnoarchaeological Studies of Material Culture. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Insoll, T. (ed.) 2007. The Archaeology of Identities. A Reader. Routledge, London; New York. Shennan, S. J. (ed.) 1989. Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. Unwin & Hyman, London.

BASE 4: Archaeology and Identity


Problems IN defining ethnic identity in MEDIEVAL towns OF ESTONIA on the basis of archaeological sources Arvi Haak While analysing the ethnic or ethno-social background of the inhabitants of the medieval towns of Livonia, the concept of Deutsch and Undeutsch has been used. These categories, primarily used in historical writings, are based on ethnonyms, but cannot be considered purely ethnic. The current article concentrates on the problems related to determining ethnic identities on the archaeological material of medieval towns of Old Livonia, with a focus on problems in positioning ethnic identity among other facets of identity formation. Presented and analysed are the possible reasons for the problems in determining ethnic group identity in the material remains of medieval towns in Livonia. An attempt to use the definition by S.  Jones (1997) for discussing the situation in Estonia during the medieval period is a key to further discussion. As a way forward the smallest time frames or phases that can be identified in the archaeological material should be focussed on in order to include the ambiguity and the changing nature of these ethnic categories also into archaeological research. Key words: ethnic identities, archaeology of ethnicities, medieval period, towns, Estonia. Arvi Haak, Institute of History, Tallinn University, 6 Rüütli St, 10130 Tallinn Estonia;; Tartu City Museum, 23 Narva Road, 51009, Tartu, Estonia

Introduction In analysing the social organisation of medieval Old Livonia (present-day Estonia and northern Latvia), the utmost polarisation of the society has been stressed (e.g. Valk 2005; 2006, 205). Two categories are usually contrasted, especially while speaking about the medieval towns, these are termed Deutsch (Germans) and Undeutsch (non-Germans). The former is synonymous with the upper social class, which dominated the administration, trade, and ecclesiastical systems. The latter, on the one hand, are considered to be descendants of the native people who resisted the crusaders of the early 13th century, and,

on the other hand, are seen as the ancestors of the modern Estonian nation (e.g. Johansen & Mühlen 1973). This straightforward and unilinear view of progression has dominated the historiography of the 20th century and has remained largely intact in the popular discourse, although the scientific point of view has changed considerably since the 1990s, which is also reflected in the latest general treatment of that period in Estonia (Selart 2012). The national consciousness of the Estonians actually formed during the 19th century, and is often connected to the period of national awakening and the patriotic speeches of C. R. Jakobson. The ethnic Estonians are only casually mentioned 13

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Figure 1. Medieval towns in the territory of present-day Estonia. Drawing by Kristel Roog.

in medieval sources and, consequently, are not central in most of the historiography. On that background, the ‘discovery’ of the Estonians has been considered one of the tasks of the archaeological research of the medieval period of the territory of present-day Estonia, although this has not been achieved. The method to accomplish this goal, on the other hand, has always remained rather vague, but still is seldom problematised in the literature. The aim of the current paper is first to give an overview of the usages of the concept of ‘ethnicity’ and then discuss the possible archaeological interpretations of ‘ethnic’ terms. It is based on the presentation made at the fourth BASE seminar in 2009, and was finished in 2011, with only minimal additions before publishing. The combination of information from historical sources with that of archaeological interpretations is another point of concern. Only too often has the role of archaeological information been little more than illustrative: the material available is 14

used to give additional proof to statements based on written sources. Archaeological information, on the other hand, does not offer an unproblematic path to the question of ethnicity and its usage may only be possible if there is sufficient written evidence to form a suitable starting point. The nine medieval towns of Estonia (Fig. 1) are unevenly represented in the written sources, and archaeological investigations have also been of differing scale, with the largest excavated areas connected with construction sites in Tallinn and Tartu. It is therefore around the problems of identifying ethnic groups in these towns that the main discussion of this paper will focus. Historiography and situation of research in Livonia The national awareness of the 19th century has had a dramatic influence on the emerging historiographical tradition. While the historians of Baltic German

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origin concentrated on the rich source material of the medieval period, the Estonian national awareness was constructed on the basis of the theory of ‘700 years of slavery’, which meant subjugation to the conquerors and thus forming a generally negative attitude towards the medieval period, especially in contrast with the ‘onetime freedom’ of the prehistoric period1. Although academic research of the medieval period in Livonia by historians of Estonian background started in the 1920s, historians of Baltic German origin have made the most important contributions on the medieval period until the 1970s. With regard to the question of the local inhabitants of medieval Livonian towns, this issue has been addressed mostly on the basis of the written sources. In the case of Riga, the groundbreaking contribution was made by Leonid Arbusow (1921), while in the 1930s, Paul Johansen ‘discovered’ the local population of Tallinn (Johansen 1934). In this, Johansen mostly equalled the Undeutsch with Estonians (Johansen 1934, 180), although he stressed the multi-ethnic composition of the population of medieval Tallinn. However, it seems clear that the subjects of Christianised rulers, i.e. Danes, Russians, Swedes, and sometimes also Lithuanians, are not included in the Undeutsch concept (e.g. Johansen & Mühlen 1973, fig. 1; Kaplinski 1980, 83). The non-German population of Tallinn remained one of the main topics of Johansen also in exile. During the 1940s and 50s, the concept of local inhabitants in medieval Livonian towns was a valid subject of research among the historians both in Estonia and in exile, as well as those in the neighbouring countries. The contributions of Vilho   P. Ligi (1995, 186–187) was the first to point out the national romanticism present in the archaeological interpretations of Estonian prehistoric society.


Niitemaa (1949), Paul Johansen, and most importantly Johansen and Heinz von zur Mühlen (Johansen & Mühlen 1973) elaborated the study of these topics in detail. In the 1970s, Küllike Kaplinski used the thenfashionable statistical methods to analyse the inhabitants of 14th-century Tallinn, based on names featured in the documents (Kaplinski 1980, 80–92). Understandably, such contributions mostly concentrated on cities where rich source material was at hand, most notably Tallinn. More recently, Anti Selart (2009; 2010) and Inna Põltsam-Jürjo (2009, 74–76) have paid attention to the ethnic composition of townspeople in Estonia. While Põltsam-Jürjo holds the opinion that the ethnonyms present in the sources should mostly be understood as ethnic (e.g. 2009, 74, footnote 265), then already Johansen (1934, 184–185) and especially Selart (2010) have stressed that these terms cannot be taken as ethnic terms in the sense of our time. Rather, the usage should be considered with regard to the considerations of the authors. In other words, there is no straightforward ethnic understanding of the Undeutsch or even Estonians (Esten), present in the sources. This is somewhat similar to the idea of Wilhelm Lenz (2004), who stresses that the meaning of the term ‘Undeutsch’ has changed over time: while in the 14th and 15th century it is explicitly used to denote the local population, since the 1470s the term was used to refer to other people from nations outside Livonia, especially in connection to military and political matters (Lenz 2004, 176–177). Estonian archaeologists have addressed questions of ethnicity mostly in cases of prehistoric entities. In archaeological research of medieval towns and castles, on the other hand, an ethnic (or, more precisely, anti-German) perspective served as a justification for research into the medieval period. While this method of 15

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connecting certain groupings in the material culture to the supposed entities (cultures) was novel in the 1950s (e.g. Moora 1956), its usage also raised significant criticism (Lang 2001; 2005). It is only with the publication of the new edition of the general treatment of the Middle Ages in Estonia, Eesti ajalugu II (Selart 2012), that the problems regarding the dominant understanding of ethnic groups in medieval Estonia were brought to public attention. Regarding treatments mainly based on archaeological data, the concept of ‘ethnocultural identities’ has been utilised up to the present (e.g. Laul & Valk 2007, 109–122; Aun 2009, 104–106; Valk 2009, 154–164; Selart & Valk 2009, 245–250). It is impossible to summarise the viewpoint here in detail, but in general terms, this position holds that certain phenomena that can be traced archaeologically (e.g. construction of graves; certain patterns of decorations, etc.) can still be interpreted as carriers of ethnic information. The main difference of this treatment from earlier considerations is that 1) more emphasis is put on smaller details, i.e. not only grave types or one category of items, but rather certain traits of construction of graves, and a combination of certain set of items, e.g. ornaments are used as ‘markers’, and 2) ethnicity is seen in contrast with all the surrounding groups, and both similarities and differences are included in the comparison. Still, this perspective has emphasised distinguishing ethnic entities in the material rather than the problems of the construction of the ethnic identity. The situation for tracing ethnicities during the medieval period in the archaeological material is ironically even more complicated. Even if we see material culture of the local population, their ethnocultural identities and the material correlates of the latter as direct continuations from the Final Iron Age, there is 16

still no ‘local background’ in the forming towns and castles, against which the ‘novelties’ connected with the newcomers of German origin could be contrasted. The development of the towns brought along changes in the use of material culture by all the ethnic groups that took part in the town formations. Within studies dealing with the material from the medieval period, there have been a few attempts to reach the non-German population of the towns of Livonia. In this sense, A. Pärn (2004) and A. Lavi (2012) have used information from housing remains. However, this approach has been successful only during the formation period of Livonian towns, while buildings with parallels to the contemporary village architecture of Estonia are clearly visible in the archaeological material (cf. Naum 2014, 660–664). Although the presence of the non-German population had not diminished later on, the house types of the medieval towns become standardised and archaeological traces that could be interpreted as specific to certain groups have been minimal. A recent contribution on the situation of Tallinn has been made by M. Naum (2014), who has combined the existing historical, topographic, and archaeological sources of the ethnic groups mentioned in the written sources, and analysed their ambiguous representations in the material culture. However, Naum’s focus has not been on problematising the constitution and coherence of these groups. Therefore, in spite of these important results, there is still a potential for additional research to reach these objectives. As a summary to the current research, the problems of defining ethnic identities on the basis of the archaeological material have quite often been expressed, but despite these concerns, the authors have usually been positive about the attempts to distinguish ethnicities in the

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archaeological material. Only Lang has considered this task outside the reach of archaeology at its present state. If the same phenomena need to be addressed in urban complexes, there have been only minimal contributions, and these attempt to address the question on the basis of archaeological sources. Theoretical perspectives: ethnic groups and material culture The main question to be addressed before continuing the discussion about signs of ethnicity in the archaeological material of the towns of Estonia during the medieval period remains: what is understood under ethnicity and is it at all within the reach of archaeology? How can ethnicity be understood during the medieval period, and when should information from written sources be included in the discussion? What is the role of archaeology and which are its means to approach ethnicity, and, finally, to reach an understanding of the subject? The problem of the representation of ethnicity in the material culture has been a subject of a remarkable amount of consideration since the late 1960s. The obvious concerns of polysemy, as well as the changes of meaning taking place during periods of usage, and the importance of the context of usage have been made obvious (e.g. Jones 1997, 116–119). However, although all of these concerns are justified, there is little evidence for a ‘positive programme’ for reflections of ethnic identity in the material culture. In an ethnoarchaeological contribution, Ian Hodder once stated that [the archaeologist] “can identify ethnicity if by this is meant ... the mechanism by which interest groups use culture to symbolize their within-group organization in opposition

to and in competition with other interest groups” (Hodder 1979, 452). Thus, group organisation was seen as the main factor in developing identity markers that would be reflected in the material culture, and thus also in the archaeological remains. However, such interest groups may have other uniting criteria besides or instead of ethnic belonging. According to the definition of Siân Jones, ethnic groups were seen as “self-conscious identity groups constructed through the process of social and cultural comparison vis-à-vis others” (Jones 1997, 115). This includes at least three critical criteria to be traced and included in the analysis: 1) Self-consciousness. In addition to finding certain traits that might more or less correlate with the supposed territory inhabited by the ethnic group in question, it is important to find out how medieval townspeople themselves understood and communicated their ethnic affiliation. In the case of the German population, it seems clear that they conceptualised the idea of German origin, as it was quite often contrasted with other groups, either in Livonian towns, or in neighbouring territories. Whether there actually existed a ‘non-German’ consciousness, however, remains rather problematic. On the one hand, there are some cases that indeed do support it, such as the event reported by Johansen, in which the boatmen of Tallinn tried to include in their charter that Germans should be excluded from the membership of their guild (Johansen 1934, 182). On the other hand, the concept mostly seems to act as the other, a contrast, seen only from the German point of view, but not understood as such by those labelled with it. The presence of people classified as Russians (Selart 2009), Swedes, and Danes (Johansen & Mühlen 1973, 19) is also beyond doubt, yet these ethnicities were not included 17

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in the Undeutsch concept.2 Finally, it is highly probable that there were different factions among the native population of the towns, with the region of origin as the most likely (but by no means the only possible) criterion for identity construction. However, addressing these questions with the help of archaeological sources is even more problematic. It is clear that the patterning of material traits may allow the inhabitants of a town to be connected with their region of origin. Although it might support the argument for ethnic connections, usually there are no straightforward parallels and only too often there is a trend to see such groups as static, e.g. to write them off only because the traits archaeologists have luckily been able to trace (or invent) disappear; or to claim their existence because of the continuous usage of certain item or house types. 2) The ‘others’. According to this point of view, it is of utmost importance to distinguish the ‘others’ against whom the ethnic identity was constructed. In the case of Estonian towns, it might seem that there is no problem at all, as we have started with the Deutsch/ Undeutsch dichotomy. However, as discussed above, that would mostly suit the German viewpoint, but not necessarily those classified outside the German category. Certainly those within the Undeutsch group constructed the ‘other’ among themselves, as well as saw it in the German group, and most likely also people in the countryside formed a different interest group, another ‘other’, which might in certain areas have more conflicting interests 2   The problem of collective names and ethnic groups in Swedish archaeology has been discussed by Th. Wallenström (1997, 317–329).


with the Undeutsch in the town than the German group. This might be even more true if the traditional historiographic notion that the towns were actually dependent on the influx of workforce from the countryside (e.g. Johansen & Mühlen 1973, 20) is taken into consideration. So, it seems plausible to think that there certainly were several social and interest groups acting within medieval towns, and those used ethnic identities as one of the possible tools to propagate their interest among other groups. Whether the differences between the local population in the towns and in the countryside was actually conceptualised as ethnic is another question, which actually illustrates how problematic it is to distinguish ethnic identity from other parameters of identity construction. 3) The processes of construction of identity. According to the definition of Jones cited above, comparison with other groups is one of the central issues of group identity. While speaking of the townspeople of Livonia, the question of critical importance here would be whether the people taking the ‘suitable’ jobs in the towns actually conceptualised themselves as an ethnic group (e.g., Estonians, or Estonians of the town, to use terminology of our time) or did they simply see moving into the town as an opportunity for social mobility? In that case, would they fit into an existing system, prescribed by the ruling German grouping? While moving from the countryside to the town, a cultural change definitively took place, but was there a strict dichotomy between ‘locals’ and ‘Germans’? Understandably, these problems are the hardest to assess with the help of archaeological sources, but at least theoretically, there could be at least a moderate chance to see markers

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of such comparisons taking place in the material culture. Just as one example, the consumption of stoneware vessels, almost non-existent in the countryside until the 16th century (Russow 2006, 207), can still be traced to the suburbs as well as market towns in front of castles, where the majority of the population was of local origin. Thus it would seem that such vessels were not conceptualised as ethnic by the Livonian non-German urban population – a conclusion in sharp contrast with the opinion of D. Gaimster regarding the Russian population of Novgorod (Gaimster 2001, 71– 76; 2014, 74–75). Mats Roslund has also used ceramic evidence, especially forming practices, in an attempt to trace the region of origin of people who used the archaeological sites in Scandinavia (Roslund 2007). The concept of tracing ethnic groups with the help of the archaeological material has usually been based on identifying ‘ethnic markers’, which can be justified only if their time and context of usage is also considered, along with other possible interpretations for such phenomena (e.g. Jones 1999, 221– 222; see also Hillerdal 2009, 73–81). If the concept of ethnicity lies within reach of archaeological enquiry, it is certain that differences in the material culture will be the main starting point for analysis. However, instead of relying on the distribution of a single item, or a group of such, a more promising analysis would establish its place in contemporary practices – both within and outside the supposed group – to single out the scale of importance of this current phenomenon. Of course, there will be no guarantee of success, but only in this way might the archaeological search for ethnic identity overcome the problems accompanying the current paradigm of ‘ethnic’ or ‘ethnocultural’ groups.




If anything, the one notion that is beneficial to the attempt to define ethnic groups in the material culture is the resolution that these differences have existed, and have been of importance at least to the literate groups, whose opinion has reached us through the written sources. In this sense, it is quite surprising that the attempts to distinguish ethnic groups in the material culture of the towns of Livonia have been met with rather limited success. In addition to certain house types, and several ethnic markers (mostly items of decoration), there has been no ‘real’ success during the whole medieval period. Is it really that the ethnic variability visible in the written documents is not distinguishable in the material culture? Or are we lacking a perspective to use the existing information toward that end? The attempt made by Naum (2014) to determine the existence of certain ethnic groups in specific town areas by combining all available data might be one way forward, yet it does not allow us to understand the choices people made on the household level, or reach the changes in the usage of material culture items by a certain ethnic group. In order to continue the search for signs of ethnicity in medieval Livonia, it is necessary to reconsider what actually is expected. How did the people see, understand, and communicate differences that would fit our understanding of ‘ethnic’? Group organisation in Livonian towns and archaeological determination thereof As usual with societies, group formation is one of the processes which takes place almost everywhere. Several social groups were formed in the Livonian towns, some of which were sanctioned by a system of 19

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regulations (e.g. citizens and non-citizens, members of guilds); others were based on profession, place of living, background and origin, wealth, etc. The same goes for the ethnic groups. All the towns in Livonia were multi-ethnic during the medieval period. The actual ethnic composition of the townspeople depended, of course, on the location of the town in the first place. The main problem of the research is to distinguish those groups, and search for their formation and self-construction. Due to the terminology used in the written sources, it seems plausible that the main defining character of an ethnic group in the Livonian towns during the medieval period was the language spoken. However, we cannot think of ethnic groups only as linguistic ones: although communication largely depended on language, there were other characteristics (e.g. origin, place of living, etc.), which were included in the group formation. There are several cases when one could actually change one’s ethnic belonging (e.g. Wubs-Mrozewicz 2004); the integration of persons of ethnic Estonian background into the German society (e.g. Johansen & Mühlen 1973, 409–422) could be another example. It should also be stressed that the situation of different ethnicities present in the towns of Livonia has changed over time. One of the turning points, both in Livonia, and in northern European towns in general, is the 14th century, during which ethnic tension in the towns grew (e.g. Selart 2009, 27ff) and the situation of the nonGermans of Livonian towns deteriorated remarkably (Johansen & Mühlen 1973, 22; Hellmann 1988; Põltsam 1997, 33–35; Pärn 2004, 282). It might be of interest to discover whether this tension is also reflected in the archaeological material; the current research has not focused on that specific problem. The archaeological research of language groups is problematic, as the amount of 20

linguistic data in the archaeological record is very limited. In the case of languages used in Estonia during the medieval period, there are notes on wax tablets (Treumann 1977, 27ff) or texts on grave stones (e.g. Mänd 2014), both either in Latin or Low German. For a profound analysis of linguistic issues on that ground, a larger corpus of texts would be useful. For example, the birch bark documents from Novgorod have revealed a text in Karelian (e.g. Khelimskij 1986) among the mass of Russian-language texts. It should also be kept in mind that if the spread of literacy may be different among the groups, or written notes are rare and reflect the views of a limited number of authors, these could mostly or totally reflect the viewpoint of only one of the groups involved, which seems also to be the case in medieval Livonia. The standard methodology, which focused on ‘identifying’ groups mentioned in the written sources in the archaeological material, thus connecting these with some perceived grouping in the material culture, has been duly and extensively criticised (e.g. Jones 1999, 219–222; Brather 2004), and has been abandoned at least on the theoretical level. The use of limited ‘ethnic markers’ has also been criticised, especially if this is accompanied with the neglect of the find context (e.g. Hillerdal 2009, 54, 150). However, the contextual approach to the study of ethnicity necessitates taking into consideration the similarities, as well as differences, in all the available aspects of material culture. It still has to be stressed that unless the differences are emphasised with regard to the usage of material elements, it is almost impossible to ‘uncover’ ethnic differences with the methods of archaeological research. In order to choose a starting point, there should be a hypothesis about patterns which might be considered ethnic that forms the starting point for indepth contextual analysis.

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In order to concentrate on the contextual information of archaeological objects, the main hindrance lies in the situation of archaeological fieldwork; during the period of large-scale excavations in the medieval towns of Estonia during the last decades of the 20th century, investigations paid insufficient attention to the recording of find context. Thus, in many cases, there simply is not enough contextual information available to even try to go further with these attempts without additional fieldwork. In cases where scrupulous phasing has been established, the proposed theoretical framework could be tested to further the discussion on the material signs of medieval ethnicity. Discussion: Ethnic groups of the town in archaeological material – possibilities and perspectives Despite the obvious problems listed above, there have been several sources from which ethnic information can be and has been obtained. Analyses of medieval documents have mainly used cases when certain groups are mentioned, as well as the analysis of personal names that have been recorded in the documentation of the town. The archaeological perspective has rested on certain item types that have been used as ‘ethnic markers’. In the case of Estonian town cemeteries, Heiki Valk has termed several types of decorations as ‘non-German’ (Valk 2004a, 444), which can be corroborated with a list of decoration types associated with Estonians, compiled on the basis of written sources (Johansen & Mühlen 1973, 396–401). In addition to these, building traditions have been used to identify ethnic groups (Pärn 2004; Naum 2014, 659–663), when brought into connection either by house types from villages or German town areas.

The main method of establishing ethnic connections in the Baltic countries during the prehistoric period has been equating archaeological information with the territories inhabited by certain tribes named in the historical sources (cf. Brather 2004). However, the question of which elements of the material culture were actually attributed with ethnic meaning by the people themselves, and which ones could cross ethnic borders remains unanswered. This is also the reason why it is hard to include the information obtained from the countryside in establishing ethnic affiliation of the inhabitants of the towns during the medieval period. Finally, as shown by Lenz (2004), the meaning of these terms is not always consistent and may have changed over the medieval period. Even if a connection with the countryside in material culture can be established, this is only one element of the identity of the townspeople. Identity, including ethnic identity, is a multi-faceted concept, where connections with the recent past may be only one of the constituting elements, while identity as a whole is permanently in the process of reconstruction. So, it is impossible to exclude time and place from discussions of (ethnic) identity. The one element of material culture that is most rich in possibilities of ethnic symbolism and expression is dress and bodily adornment. Several investigators have reflected upon this assumption (e.g. Valk 2004b, 109; Hakenbeck 2002, 307). Dress also tends to be subject to significant changes, making a closer timeframe of the study possible. An in-depth analysis of dress and its accessories might be a plausible way to reach at least some aspects of ethnic manifestation. It also allows comparing information between written and archaeological sources. However, caution is needed also here; although the use of ‘ethnic markers’ in analysis cannot be avoided, it should be subjected to the 21

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critical considerations stated above. In this sense, Valk (2009, 163–164) has suggested ‘a new round’ of research on decorations, which would include the correlations of some singular traits, and their connection with other elements of mortuary practices. A consideration in which way ethnicity was actually felt and expressed by the population concerned would also be greatly needed if real progress is to be made. The main hindrance, however, lies in the fact that the item types have undergone persistent changes in their meaning, which would undermine any approach without awareness of a strict spatial, temporal, and usage-connected framework. Another topic which has been used in ethnic interpretations was the analysis of housing remains. While it has sometimes been possible to connect certain families mentioned in the written sources with archaeologically investigated properties, this approach is also subject to criticism. Both temporal and contextual considerations should be in place; although it is probable that the first inhabitants of the towns built their houses according to the tradition they had learnt earlier, the situation was likely to undergo changes over time. On that ground, a complex analysis of the collected finds would definitely be needed to support interpretations of the inhabitants and their ethnic belongings. Although there are several assumptions that inhabitants of certain ethnic groups were more likely to settle on certain streets (cf. Naum 2014, 660–663), the differentiation was not clear-cut, and the same goes for the archaeological investigation thereof: until now, the ‘territorial approach’ in the towns has not met any significant success in defining consumption patterns of these particular groups. Also at the household level, the presence of tenants, servants, etc., as well as the possibility of changing ownership should not be forgotten (cf. Courtney 1997, 100). Thus, there is no 22

straightforward approach to ethnic information, but I cannot see a better approach than the one which considers all these setbacks and recognises its limitations. Two more considerations might be useful. There might be periods when maintaining the cultural distinctiveness is disadvantageous to the group in economic terms. In one of his early writings, Ian Hodder gives an example from ethnoarchaeological studies in Africa, where one of the tribes found their livelihood by integrating with the existing economic system and thus gradually lost its distinctive cultural and ethnic identity (Hodder 1979, 448). The consequences of the economic benefits of adapting to the existing economic system that can provide income may be thoughtprovoking for reconstructing the strategies of inhabitants of the Livonian towns of the medieval period. Whether we should speak of assimilation or strategies of survival, is another question. Still, there are periods when certain ethnic attributes are more openly signalled and thus more easily distinguished using archaeological methods. In case of the Livonian towns, the periods of town formation, and the Livonian war clearly stand out. At the present stage of research, distinguishing strata that had formed during these periods has been easier, mostly because certain item types are only found in relation to those periods. This might also reflect that radical changes in the society are more likely to be ‘recognised’ in the archaeological material, but also that the communities living within a limited area maintained a distinct material culture that can then be used for interpretations, with ethnic differences as one possible reason for such patterning: On the other hand, processes of cultural contact and integration tend to make these differences less clear over longer periods of coexistence. As a way forward, the most plausible approach might indeed be to accept the

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multi-ethnic nature of the Livonian towns and, instead of trying to reach the ethnic groups as territorially bordered, to start using the ethnic differences as one of the possible explanations for all kinds of changes recognised in the material record. A more strict timeframe and development line are also needed to understand changes at the micro-level and ensure that the material analyses are contemporary, so that we could speak of groups in interaction and mutual influences. Identity building, including ethnic affiliations, might have influenced patterns of consumption, areas of production, differences in buildings and burial practises; in other words, all the categories where differences could be noticed. I hope that the present contribution has demonstrated that ethnicity is only very rarely the only possible or even the most likely explanation available for the discovered material culture patterning, but this is not a reason to exclude ethnic aspects from the analysis of the social situation. Still, the archaeological material collected from the town areas is in need of systematisation in order to continue with the ‘ethnic approach’ based on the archaeological sources. Conclusions The character of Livonian towns during the medieval period has been understood as multi-ethnic for almost a century. Usually the strongly maintained ethnic identities of the groups have been conceptualised as the ground-breaking watershed that illuminates the social and economic stratification of the town inhabitants. However, it currently seems that ethnic identity was only one facet of the identity construction of the social groups in towns. Its role may have come to the fore in the 14th century, as the position of the established townspeople became threatened

by the newcomers. It seems unlikely that the main antagonistic element was ethnic belonging; rather, these arguments were used in a social struggle to strengthen or uphold the position of the already established townspeople. As an issue of critical importance, there is a need to pay more attention to the contextual information that can only be recorded d u r i n g the archaeological fieldwork. In many cases, the finds have lost their connection to their exact archaeological context, which greatly diminishes the possibilities of their interpretation, especially in regard to establishing a precise timeline of developments. It is probably in this regard that the most promising results have been obtained from examining ornaments, which have mostly been collected from cemeteries, and from the study of housing remains, connected to the town formation period, which can be clearly distinguished in most cases and which have certain parallels to the homogenous ethnic background of the people in the countryside. Instead of continuous attempts to ‘recognise’ ethnic groups mentioned in the historical sources, or ‘invent’ new ones based on certain differences of some aspects of the material culture, one of the critical tasks would be a consideration of the processes of group formation and identity construction. This would require comparisons on larger scale, as well as within and between settlement units, but such an approach is necessary to understand whether we are dealing with a group identity after all, and if so, if ethnicity forms the most plausible grounds for their distinctiveness. In all likelihood, ethnic backgrounds could be both stressed and neglected, depending on the context and time of the event. The ethnic identities were certainly not static, neither in towns of Old Livonia, nor anywhere else. Thus, in the current situation, the first step forward would actually be backward, 23

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back to the principal data, in this case meaning the archaeological sources. Only if we align the perspectives of background, time, and context can we really speak of the reflection of identities and start discussing their meanings. Ethnic identity is inevitably among those elements that influenced the social order of medieval Livonia – but it cannot be singled out as the only or even the most influential one: the possibility that some groups chose not to express their ethnic affiliation (which, still does not mean they did not exist) should also be included in the analysis. Only if we get the perspective of both long-time change and short-time shifts in the study of identities will there be a platform for more promising discussions of their content and scope.


Acknowledgements: I wish to thank Mari Tõrv (Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schleswig) for her discussion and comments on the earlier versions of this paper, the reviewers for their useful comments and Mara Woods for her linguistic corrections and suggestions. This research was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (IUT18-8) and the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence CECT). The final corrections were made while using a stipend by European Social Fund’s Doctoral Studies and Internationalisation Programme DoRa, which is carried out by Foundation Archimedes.

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References Arbusow, L. 1921. Studien zur Geschichte der lettischen Bevölkerung Rigas im Mittelalter und 16. Jahrhundert. – Latvijas augsrskolas raksti / Acta universitatis Latviensis, I. Riga, 76–100. Aun. M. 2009. Keskmine rauaaeg ja viikingiaeg (400–1000/1050 pkr). – Setomaa koguteos, 2. Vanem ajalugu muinasajast kuni 1920. aastani. Ed. M. Aun. Eesti Rahva Muuseum, Tartu, 70–199. Brather, S. 2004. “Slawische Archäologie” und “ethnische Interpretation” – zur Rekonstruktion des frühen Mittelalters in Ostmitteleuropa. – The European Frontier. Clashes and Compromises in the Middle Ages. CCC Papers, 7. Lund, 59–71. Courtney, P. 1997. Ceramics and the history of consumption: pitfalls and prospects. – Medieval Ceramics, 21, 95–108. Gaimster, D. 2001. Pelts, pitch and pottery: The archaeology of Hanseatic trade in medieval Novgorod. – Novgorod: the Archaeology of a Russian Medieval City and its Hinterland. Eds M. Brisbane & D. Gaimster. The British Museum Occasional Paper, 141. London, 67–78. Gaimster, D. 2014. The Hanseatic cultural signature: Exploring globalization on the micro-scale in Late Medieval northern Europe. – European Journal of Archaeology 17: 1, 60–81. Hakenbeck, S. E. 2002. New approaches to early medieval ethnicity. – Centre, Region, Periphery. Medieval Europe – Basel 2002. Eds G. Helmig, B. Scholkmann & M. Untermann. Vol. 3. Archäologische Bodenforschung Basel-Stadt, Basel, 307–313. Hellmann, M. 1988. Sozialer und wirtschaftlicher Wandel in Alt-Livland im 14. Jahrhundert. Sonderdruck aus Gesellschaftsgeschichtige Festschrift für Karl Bosl zum 80. Geburtstag, Bd. 1. Ed. F. Seibt. Oldenbourg Verlag, München.

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M. Laneman. Estonian Archaeology, 1. Tartu University Press, Tartu. Valk, H. 2009. Hilisrauaaeg (1000/1050– 1225). – Setomaa koguteos, 2. Vanem ajalugu muinasajast kuni 1920. aastani. Ed. M. Aun. Eesti Rahva Muuseum, Tartu, 126–174. Wallerström, Th. 1997. On ethnicity as a methodological problem in historical archaeology. – Visions of the Past. Trends and Traditions in Swedish Medieval Archaeology. Eds H. Andersson, P. Carelli & L. Ersgård. Lund Studies in Medieval Archaeology, 19. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Stockholm, 299–352. Wubs-Mrozewicz, J. 2004. Interplay of identities: German settlers in late medieval Stockholm. – Scandinavian Journal of History, 29: 1, 53–67.


AN APPROACH TO PERSONAL ADORNMENTS IN EARLY MODERN GENDER PERFORMANCE Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu This paper discusses small personal items, buttons, buckles, and pins as a part of gender performance in early modern Oulu. The appearance of a costume is full of meanings; individuals and groups communicate via clothes and personal adornments. One of the divisions of identity, which we can examine through material remains, is gender. Our aim is to examine how costume both represents and produces gender identity. Our theoretical baseline is Judith Butler’s performance theory, where she argues that gender is a performatively constructed act. We will discuss how it is possible to study this act via archaeological material, concentrating on interpretation. The archaeological material examined here has been discovered from urban excavations at the NMKY plot in Oulu, northern Finland. It comprises 19 buttons, 5 buckles, and 22 pins mainly from the seventeenth century. While the early modern period can be defined in many ways, here it covers the early years of Oulu town, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The main focus is not to present completed results, but to show the multiple possibilities of interpretation and the various connections between gender identity and clothing. Key words: historical archaeology, gender performance, clothing, Oulu. Tiina Kuokkanen, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, Oulu 90014, Finland, tiina.kuokkanen@ Titta Kallio-Seppä, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, Oulu 90014, Finland, titta.kallio-seppa@ Risto Nurmi, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, Oulu 90014, Finland, [email protected] Timo Ylimaunu, University of Oulu, PO Box 1000, Oulu 90014, Finland, [email protected]

Introduction The theoretical baseline in this article is Judith Butler’s idea about gender as a performance: how do the regulatory practices in society constitute identity? Butler argues that gender is always an act and it is performatively constructed. Like other social actions gender requires a performance that is repeated (Butler 1990, 16, 24, 140). Because gender performance is repetitive action it is also very much material (Perry & Joyce 2001, 65–67). One of the fields

where this performance is produced is in clothing (Butler 1990). In our approach we follow the view of Carolyn L. White, Lynn Meskell, and Rosemary Joyce, archaeologists who have studied the role of clothing and identity, concentrating on gender. Because studies of small personal items from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have until recently been conducted in America, this study rests significantly on recent American research. European scholars have been more interested in small 29

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items from the Middle Ages (e.g. Egan & Pritchard 2002; Immonen 2009; 2012; Paavola et al. 2012), so it is quite logical to push the time line towards modernity. The archaeological material examined here has been discovered from urban archaeological excavations from the NMKY plot in Oulu (e.g. Mäkivuoti 2005) (Fig. 1). Oulu is a small town in northern Finland, founded in 1605 on the shore of the Bothnian Gulf. Our analysis and preliminary interpretations concern just this context. The excavated site is located in the centre of the town just next to the cathedral. Most of the documented finds date to the beginning of the seventeenth century. The area did not belong to the wealthiest part of the town then, but by the end of

the century it developed into a respected neighbourhood (Virkkunen 1953, 259, 492; Mäkivuoti 1991, 23, 41–42; 2005, 85–90). In this paper we will discuss gender identity in material culture. Our aim is to examine small personal items like buttons, buckles, and pins as a part of gendered costume. In Finnish research this kind of perspective is quite new; likewise in historical archaeology many such small personal items exist that have gone undiscussed from this perspective. The main focus here is not to present completed results but to discuss how to use these theoretical frameworks in urban archaeological research. Assemblage and method The large assemblage from the NMKY plot1 includes six categories of small personal items: buttons, buckles, pins, thimbles, hooks and eyes, and beads (Table 1). This study concentrates on buttons, paying a little attention to buckles and pins as well. All these items served both functional and decorative purposes. Buttons can be divided into three categories by size (White 2005, 57). In our assemblage (Fig. 2–3), the diameter of the buttons varies between 12 and 25 mm; mean value is 17 mm. According to the categories defined by White (2005), thirteen can be classified as ‘medium’ (12–18 mm) and six as ‘large’ (over 18 mm). In size and weight the biggest one is a pewter button with an iron shank found in a context dated to nineteenth or twentieth centuries (Fig. 2: 1). The smallest button is possibly made of shell (Fig. 3: 5). Most   The material on the whole has not been published, but two master’s theses, which studied clay pipes (Makkonen 1991) and ceramics (Luostarinen 2006), have been done. 1

Fig. 1. Location of Oulu. Drawing by Titta Kallio-Seppä and Timo Ylimaunu.


Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

Material silver silver-plated copper bronze brass iron pewter bone shell glass not identified Total





Hook and eye


20 1 1 3 5 1 3 1 1

1 1 1 1


2 3

1 2

2 4 19

1 5





Table 1. Small personal items from the NMKY plot. Table by Tiina Kuokkanen.

of the buttons are made of brass, bronze, or pewter. The best preserved buckles are two belt buckles. The material of another buckle is not yet identified; the other one is made of bronze. The only one with a frame and a chape is further discussed below. The length of pins varies between 17 and 40 mm; mean value is 26 mm. The focus of research in Finnish historical archaeology has traditionally been on typology and identification. However, the anthropological method, which emphasises contextual interpretation, provides many opportunities to study personal

Fig. 2. Buttons from the NMKY plot. (OMP86: 47, 718, 729, 881, 1049, 1179.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.

identity. In earlier research certain sources have been considered more informative than others, and small personal items have been dismissed as having only little value for the research trends that dominated. Recently the relation between person and item has received more attention and scholars have become increasingly aware of the interpretative potential of small things (e.g. Cochran and Beaudry 2006; Herva & Ylimaunu 2009; Herva 2010). Archaeological costume research has also focused on reconstruction and conservation, but lately the focus has shifted to examining dress as a culturally constructed social element (e.g. Sørensen 2000, 128; Joyce 2005, 140). Our assumptions of gender systems in past societies usually are based on modern cultural models (Conkey & Spector 1998, 11). One of the main focuses in gender archaeology is to understand how gender systems were constructed in different times, places, and cultures, and to avoid universalism (Nelson 1997, 55). Butler’s performance theory has the same focus. According to E. M. Perry and R. A. Joyce (Perry & Joyce 2001, 63−64) it emphasises the variability of gender constructions and 31

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how they are produced in a certain context. To archaeologists she gives an important tool of critique. Her idea encourages us to avoid studying the material culture as a representation of our culture’s perceptions of biology based on dualistic gender categories, but highlights the elements that impact the gender categories. The identity of a singular person is complicated and intertwined and gender forms one part of it (White 2005, 2–3). Clothing – field of manifestation and control Early modern Swedish society constituted of four classes which were based on the division of labour: the nobility, the clergy, the bourgeois, and the peasants. Until 1809 Finland was a part of Sweden, so the structure of society was same in all parts of kingdom, in Oulu as well. Usually the finest part of population of all classes is called

the gentry, which was separated from the common people. Just as the functioning of the whole society was based on class, so was the dress as well (Pylkkänen 1982, 26; Lehtinen et al. 2005, 7−10; Parland-von Essen 2010, 148). According to previous authors, dress visually marked which class the individual belonged to. Materials and colours were connected to class and the main purpose was to maintain class boundaries. Clothing had religious meaning as well; too fancy dress was a sin. If one broke the law, at the same time that person also committed a crime against God (Ojala 2002, 44). In Sweden clothing was more strictly regulated with the sumptuary laws since the seventeenth century. These laws were connected to mercantile politics. In the seventeenth century the laws concerned mainly the priests and the merchants. But by the eighteenth century common people began to clothe themselves following the upper classes and thus the laws were

Fig. 3. Buttons from the NMKY plot. (INS-87: 243, 541, 844, 1296, 1480, 1771, 1775, 1914, 1915, 2403, 2362, 2621, 2772.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.


Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

expanded to concern them as well. The emphasis of the law was now transferred to restrict the clothing of the common people. Control was at its peak in 1766, when all kind of luxury became illegal. Because clothing styles and fabrics were tightly controlled, small accessories and personal adornments became the key elements in expressing identity (VainioKorhonen 1998, 14–15; Pylkkänen 1982, 375; Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005, 7–10). Since the Medieval Period there has been conflict between fashion and the religious opinion about what is immoral (Lönnqvist 2008, 79–80). Sweden, where sumptuary laws arose in the thirteenth century, was not unique with its orders to restrain luxury (Jahnsson 1904, 172). In Europe sumptuary laws varied between countries but primarily arose in the Middle Ages (Heller 2004, 316). In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries laws controlled not only the clothing of living residents but the deceased as well (Rimpiläinen 1971, 244; Mytum 2004, 15). Fashion can be seen as a dualistic social process. There are broadly two social groups wherein the lower group desires to be part of the upper one (Lönnqvist 2008, 91). It was believed that luxury was suitable for the upper classes, but indecent to the common people. This interpretation is quite logical, but faces the same problems as dualistic views always do: those groups are not homogenous. Despite the fact that class was one of the most significant parts defining early modern individuals, classes consisted of people from different gender, ages, and professions. The public opinion against luxury was most intense when it concerned the lower class women (Goodwin 1999, 109). Women were warned not to dress in new styles, because such clothing styles signalled that a person was flighty (Pylkkänen 1970, 43). Society’s perceptions about decency focussed on women. Chaste women had

to avoid too showy dresses, because they were signs of indecency. Decency was an essential element of status in society where business and operating in trade were dependent on it (Parland-von Essen 2010, 191, 198). This appears well illustrated in the cases where people broke the sumptuary laws and were punished. Especially in the 1730s the strict laws increased the number of the offences. Punishment for a mild offence was a warning but if the crime was more serious or offender repeated the crime, she might have ended up in the town jail and got only water and bread for a few days. For example this was the fate of two maids in Turku. Their crime was that they had used colourful silk ribbons in their head-dresses (Ojala 2002, 42–44). These indecent maids could have been seen as liars who sought higher status. The status they showed by adornments was fake and thus unjustifiable for them. Elizabeth M. Perry and Rosemary Joyce (2001, 66; see also Joyce 2001) have asked, “how and why certain kinds of action came to be representative of certain kinds of gender”? They bring forward the regulatory effects which Butler (1990) perceives as one element in gender constructions. In early modern Sweden gender was partly produced via sumptuary laws, which relied on prevailing ideology, Christianity, and more specifically the Lutheran orthodoxy. Dominant sin perceptions were part of the patriarchal social order, which was perceived as constituted by God. Since worldly authorities defended this order in society, the sumptuary laws were justified by God (Einonen & Karonen 2002; Katajala-Peltomaa & Toivo 2009, 129–130). Following Butler’s theory, sumptuary laws can be seen as a part of the repetitive act of performance. It is part of everyday life and contributes the prevailing gender system. The stability of gender is an illusion produced by these ongoing actions 33

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(Butler 1999, 40–44). Clothing can be seen also as a part of the performance of power. Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood (2010) has criticised the study of power in historical archaeology. Power has usually been understood as domination and control, which are usually the same as legal, institutionalised, patriarchal power. This way of thinking rises from Michel Foucault’s ideas of power, surveillance, and control. According to Foucault there is always power which causes resistance. The weakness of this idea is that it simplifies power, and it has been criticised by many archaeologists like Meskell (1996). In her theoretical model of powers, Spencer-Wood (2010) sees power dynamics as a complex and diverse system, which includes both hierarchical and non-hierarchical power relations. In her model power as domination is only one form and it is called ‘powers over’. Besides this hierarchical power there are also ‘powers under’ and ‘powers with’ others and ‘powers to’ change things. Based on Spencer-Wood’s idea, clothing in early modern times includes all these forms of powers. Sumptuary laws, which defined decent clothes after gender and class, exhibited the crown’s power over individuals. At the same time people, lower class women who wanted to wear fancier clothes, can be seen as resisting the law, or executing ‘powers under’. How was it legally processed? How were these crimes against the natural balance of society noticed? One way was that residents reported improper clothing to officers (Jahnsson 1904, 182–186). If a maid wore dress seen as too showy, it was a threat against the upper classes and hence to those of the ‘powers with’. But despite the laws, people still expressed themselves via clothing and via forbidden adornments. In the seventeenth century sumptuary laws did not have a notable effect on common people, because they did not yet have any reason to challenge the powers 34

of the elite. In the next century the rising bourgeoisie did challenge the elite and wanted to show that defiance also via clothing. But there existed a dilemma. Upper-class people wanted to stand out by clothing, but at the same time one of the bourgeoisie’s arguments against nobles was their shallow arrogance (Parland-von Essen 2010, 148, 198−199). This paradox concerned especially women. Upper-class women were expected to show their status via clothing, but on the other hand vanity was regarded as precisely a woman’s sin (Katajala-Peltomaa & Toivo 2009, 28–30). Narratives behind items In Sweden buttons were the most important decoration in men’s clothes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In women’s dresses they appear more commonly during the nineteenth century (Pylkkänen 1970, 91; 1982 passim). The appropriate size of buttons in Sweden was defined by the sumptuary laws in 1720. The law remarked that sizes of buttons had to be decent. Control tightened in 1730, when they were not allowed to be larger than a silver coin, approximately 23 mm in diameter (Pylkkänen 1984, 12–14; Talvio 2010). Buttons in our assemblage (Fig. 2–3) are at most 25 mm in diameter, so amongst this assemblage we cannot talk about big buttons. On the other hand the mean value was 17 mm in diameter, which can be defined as medium size. If these buttons are from the eighteenth century, the sizes reflect the restrictions of the law. An earlier study (Mäkivuoti 1991) has dated this assemblage mostly to the seventeenth century. If the buttons are that old, they have been quite small even before the sumptuary laws, at least in Oulu. Because of the huge demand, many buttons were imported to Sweden during the seventeenth century, but mercantile

Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

politics had an effect on buttons as well as on other luxury products. Amongst other adornments, after 1641 gold and silver buttons with a low percentage of precious metal were withdrawn from markets. The aim was to prevent precious metals from ending up in cheap items. In 1644 several imported ornaments, like golden embroidery and silk lace, were made illegal. However, the new regulations did not concern gold, silver, and silk buttons. Later, an edict from 1688 illegalised them if they were imported. Silver buttons were in use through the seventeenth century. They were valuable items, which were often stolen, and pledged, but also mentioned in probate inventories. According to R. Pylkkänen (1970, 39–40, 44, 91), people used brass and pewter buttons in cheaper clothes. The prices of buttons varied between materials which correlated to economic status. Our assemblage does not have any valuable silver, gold, thread, or lace buttons. They were seldom lost, and some of the materials, like lace, could not have remained in the soil (Kuokkanen et al. 2009, 296). The most common materials of documented buttons in this assemblage are brass, bronze, and pewter. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries pewter was used by all social groups. During the mid- and late eighteenth century the gentry used other materials. Different kinds of copper alloy buttons were very popular at the end of the eighteenth century; especially in fashion were large gilded buttons amongst those who could afford them. The main reason for their success was the easy processing of the material (White 2005, 57). The only one from the NMKY plot which has notable decoration is one copper button covering with a loop-like string motif (Fig. 3: 2). Besides the large number of buttons imported into Finland, domestic button makers produced them as well (Pylkkänen 1970, 91). Mika Sarkkinen (1998, 45), who

has studied vernacular stone moulds, has argued that those moulds were mainly used for pewter moulding. But it is still possible that copper alloys were moulded as well (Leskinen 1939, 81). Because copper alloys and silver were more challenging materials than pewter, it is possible that pewter buttons were cast, bone buttons were lathed at home, and brass buttons were produced in small workshops. Such domestic manufacturing continued until the factory-made buttons came to markets. Pentti Koivunen has suggested that silver and golden buttons were imported (Sarkkinen 1998, 46–47; Koivunen 2007). Besides this we know that at least gildings were made also in Oulu (Kuokkanen et al. 2009, 195). In the NMKY assemblage the shank has been completely or partly preserved in seven metal buttons. Three of them (Fig. 4) are cast, four (Fig. 5) have been fastened by wire loop. The shanks are a good way to identify metal buttons: they indicate how usable the buttons were as fasteners and because they also varied over time. Shanks cast with the button was the first type and

Fig. 4. Cast bronze/pewter button. (INS-87: 1296.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.

Fig. 5. Wire-loop shank. (INS-87: 2403.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.


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they could have been manufactured in domestic conditions. According to White (2005, 63–64), cast shanks were in use between years 1700–1765, with wire loop shanks arriving at the end of the century. The make of shanks bears a strong connection to the manufacturer. Because of the restrictions concerning women’s work, it is probable that domestic workshops had women workers in some amounts. Women were not allowed to be legal bourgeois, practice handcraft under guilds, or get an official education. Despite of all these restrictions they were allowed to sell little items, like buckles and pins (VainioKorhonen 2007, 126–127). In the history of Oulu there is also a mention about a widow who worked as a copper (Halila 1953, 383). In 1788 King Gustav III instituted a clothing reform for the upper class. He wanted all inhabitants, except the lower classes, to wear a homogenous costume. The cut was strictly ordered, but colours and adornments signalled social status. According to Ole Gripenberg, it is ironic that the idea about unity led to highlight the class differences. But on the other hand, it is a quite clear result of this reform; the idea about unity did not include all inhabitants, so it highlighted the class differences from the beginning. The national court costume never became very popular but it was an important start to both army and civil officers’ uniforms. The dress designed by King Gustav III did not stay in use for long, but a few details remained such as the officers’ symbols and button models (Gripenberg 1965, 45, 52; 1969, 11–16; Lönnqvist 2008, 116–119). Whose desirable adornments? Shoe and knee buckles were part of the dress of the bourgeois, the gentry, and the servants alike in early modern Sweden. 36

Buckles were a novelty in England in the 1660s but were the peak of fashion in Sweden in the 1780s. Buckles were also part of the adornment of the common people to some extent. This was of course one target of the sumptuary laws. The most valuable and fashionable buckles of the Gustavian period (1746−1792) were made of silver. Because they were valuable, they were also stolen and mentioned in probate inventories, but also melted into other products. This is probably one reason for the small amount of silver buckles preserved in Finnish museums. Besides silver, according to U. T. Sirelius, knee buckles were also made from brass, pewter, and steel, and shoe buckles even from iron. The most common material in knee buckles was steel; less ordinary but most valued were the most expensive brass and silver buckles (Sirelius 1990 [1915], 183; Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005, 261–263). The most common type of buckles found in American excavations is the shoe buckle (White 2005, 39). Less common knee, garter, girdle, hat, stock, and spur buckles have also been identified (White 2005; 2009, 240–241). Because some buckle types were worn by men, and others by women, buckle type can be used to indicate gender (White 2005; 2009). A buckle found in NMKY plot consists of an iron frame and a pewter tongue (Fig. 6). It is 31 mm high and 24 mm wide. The orientation of this item is not clear, because part of the frame is missing and there is corrosion around the frame. Therefore the identification whether it is a shoe or knee buckle is also unclear (Kuokkanen 2011). If its orientation is vertical, this is typical of early modern knee buckles, although they were usually made from other materials (Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005, 262; White 2005, 45; 2009, 243−247; Kuokkanen 2011). Also the anchor roll, one typical feature of knee buckles (White 2005, 45), is missing. It is

Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

Fig. 6. Buckle from the NMKY plot, iron frame with pewter tongue. (INS-87: 1470.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.

also possible that the frame has originally been double-framed, as the small overhangs could be a part of another loop. Then the orientation would be horizontal and the item could be a double-framed eight-loop shoe buckle (Kuokkanen 2011). This shoe buckle shape is really uncommon both in European and American contexts, but it was in use in the first half of the seventeenth century (White 2005, 40), which is in accordance with the date of this context. Also, the material used in this buckle is usually found in shoe buckles (Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005, 263). The form and size of buckles varied over time, after the English fashion, in USA as well as in Sweden (Hazelius-Berg 1952, 102; White 2005; 2009). In the 1750s, when clothes started to be usually closed with buckles instead of buttons, they were small and square (White 2009, 245). Little by little their size increased. At the fashion peak during 1780s shoe buckles were often big angulars and knee buckles large ovals, although smaller sizes were also used (Jäfvert 1932, 66; Lehtinen & Sihvo 2005, 261−263). Probably the owner of this buckle did not belong to the upper classes, but anyway he or she could afford a pair of buckles.

In her memoirs from the end of the eighteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth centuries Sara Wacklin describes the clothing of Ostrobothnia, of which Oulu was the capital. Mayor Timbom had large gilded buttons in his tailcoat and knee and shoe buckles from silver. Likewise, Mikael Wacklin, the son of a rich peasant, wore small silver buttons like bells and a big gold-plated silver buckle in his coat. Rafter Pikkarainen had in his full dress waistcoat with steel buttons and steel buckles in his hat. These descriptions about buttons and buckles concern men, more precisely, wealthy men. The mayor wore, of course, big buttons and silver buckles, but these kinds of items were available to peasants too. The rafter, who later became one of the delegates at parliament, had a shiny buckle as well, but it was of steel (Wacklin 2005 [1854], 12, 24, 32). In America, for the same functions that the gentry used buckles, common people used buttons and ties. Thus, buckles have been considered as an indicator of social status (White 2005; 2009). In our assemblage it is not that simple. Buckles were also manufactured from cheaper materials, like the one from the NMKY plot and similar finds. Wacklin has written that people who were not part of the gentry could wear them too. So, how they reflect social status and gender in the Finnish context needs more research. Artefacts leading to different perceptions of gender Gender can be described as a learned behaviour that is constructed according to cultural norms, which varies with context (Nelson 1997, 15), but the sex/gender dichotomy is problematic and has awakened a lot of questions. Judith Butler has criticised the distinction between gender and sex, arguing that sex and gender are both 37

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constructed categories. She argues that living in a gendered body cannot be fully understood because of the present day sex and gender categories (Butler 1990, 6, 33). Archaeologist Lynn Meskell points out that separating gender and sex leaves the connection between body and mind out of notice. If we separate gender and sex the person cannot be seen as a whole (Meskell 1999, 69). Nowadays the main question is not anymore whether gender or sexuality is dependent on biology or culture. The question is how biological and cognitive differences are interpreted culturally and how they vary between cultures (Gilchrist 1999, 9–14). Gender performance is easily noticed when there is visible conflict between biological markers of sex and performed gender like in drag or cross-dressing. But actually in a drag performance there are three dimensions under parody: anatomical sex, gender identity, and gender performance (Butler 1990, 37). In the same way gender is performed in everyday life, but because the costume is usually in line with the dominant sex-gender system we do not pay attention to the phenomenon. A good local example of a person who did not fit the existing gender system is from Alatornio in northern Finland. Pietari Herajärvi, ‘The Preacher of Kalkkimaa’, was a locally well-known village madman. He lived as a vagrant who preached amongst common people regardless of time and place. He has been described as a person who had long hair and beard and wore skirts. He was not a real man but on the other hand he was not a woman either. Maybe he had a role costume or maybe he was a gender blender, but anyhow he did not fit in the prevailing gender categories (Rantala 2009, 13–14, 67, 87, 194–202). The reasons for clothing choices can be derived from various circumstances. Riitta Heiskarinen, who in 1782 decided to wear men’s clothes because they were practical 38

at work, did not fit the frame the society of Oulu thought was naturally decent to women. Authorities thought the clothes had to be stolen or at least they were used with criminal intent. That’s why she was driven away from the town (Manninen 1986, 388). How society responded to dressing in the clothes of another gender signals an insecure border between them. Because the crossings between genders have been felt as a threat, there has been a need to maintain the existing distinction between them (Rantala 2009, 201). Butler has criticised that what is natural for being a man or a woman is culturally defined. Gender identities, produced through social performances, are not stable categories (Butler 1999, 7–12, 40–43). These examples show how fragile the illusion of the stability of genders produced by regulations is. Under those ongoing acts, performing gender is dependent on personal identity, which is not always in line with the roles that society finds tolerant. Dressing against natural law is an argument familiar in other European countries. English literature from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries produced many stories about women who wore men’s clothes. Festivals where prevailing sexroles turned upside down were popular, but outside festivals those role-reversals were not tolerated. Court records show that women who dressed like men were accused of ungovernability. They threatened the current social-sexual hierarchy and men’s authority and inspired writers to depict them as a phenomenon against God’s law and the natural order (Lucas 1988, 65−68). The reasons why it was not tolerated to wear clothes of another sex were similar in Sweden. They reflected an atmosphere where religion intertwined with the worldly law and order. Many of the items that have been related to identity have a connection to both body and clothing. Dress is widely understood

Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

to be part of communication, “Rather than simply dressing one’s body, presentation of the body through dress and adornment offers one of the most visual manifestations of one’s identity and self ” (Loren & Beaudry 2006, 263). The act of dressing is preparation for the presentation in the outside world. Body and presentation of self are significant parts of study when we are examining identity through personal adornments (White & Beaudry 2009, 212– 214). Fisher’s and Loren’s idea about dress as a social skin (Fisher & Loren 2003, 225) is descriptive. While exploring body and identity they have noticed that by dress and presentation an individual can put on a social skin that can make him/her part of a larger social group. Accordingly one can choose to dress the opposite way. Then a person can communicate to be against the prevailing code (White 2005, 4). By dressing up another gender’s costume, Herajärvi and Heiskari communicated against society’s norms. Some items may at first sight have connections to one gender, but may still have possibilities for other interpretations. Pins are often considered as low value items. This could have something to do with the social connection to women (Beaudry 2006, 13–14). Butler’s (1990) critique argues how so-called natural bases in analysing material can lead to quite narrow interpretations (Perry & Joyce 2001). Besides the common assumptions, pins can be connected to both genders, although women used them longer in their dress. In the seventeenth century those men who could not afford buttons used pins (Beaudry 2006, 13–14). The size of the pin is important in identifying the pins and their previous use. Smaller pins were not as effective as fasteners as longer ones, so the usage in costume varies after the pin’s length. Despite that small pins are usually connected to women, they were also used in men’s

Fig. 7. Five silver pins from NMKY plot. Size varies between 17–25 mm. (INS-87: 1001−1005.) Photo by Tiina Kuokkanen.

costumes like ruffs (Beaudry 2006, 13–14, 24). Pins in our assemblage (Fig. 7) are mostly small silver pins, which were probably part of personal adornment, and consequently not used to fasten very heavy garments. In many cultures children’s dress copies that of the adults (Rantala 2009, 201), thus these items can derive from their costumes as well. Conclusion All the parts of clothing, like pins, buttons, and buckles, are part of the gender performance, but how they were interpreted depended on the context. Pins are usually connected to women, but the small silver needles discussed here could have been worn and used by men and children as well. Buckles were manufactured from several materials, but are in Finnish literature described as a part of men’s costume and, in the American context, as a part of gentry’s costume. The buckle from the NMKY plot leads us to wider interpretations with further questions, like what kind of buckle it is after all, and were the wealthy men the only ones who wore them? Buttons may have been at first mostly men’s adornments, but it does not mean that they have 39

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nothing to reveal about women. Despite of the many restrictions concerning women’s work, they could produce and sell those little items. Clothing can be seen as a result of several multi-way processes, which include a myriad of various agents. In early modern Sweden it was important to dress in accordance with own class. Classes as well as gender norms had a religious background and they were perceived as a natural order, so clothing against them was not tolerated. But in the eighteenth century residents of towns even from the lower classes started to show their identity via clothing more like the upper classes, which caused restrictive regulations. Particularly this concerned lower class women. Who was permitted to wear what kind of clothes


was strictly ordered by social norms, but despite of that, violations against the sumptuary laws happened. In further studies one of the most fruitful research questions will discuss the enforcement of the regulations. This article did only scratch the surface, but has hopefully shown some opportunities for what can be discovered when investigating those little items that too often are missed among bigger finds. Our next goal is to widen this perspective to analyse other large assemblages from Oulu town added with new questions raised from this paper, like what was the correlation between gender performance and social status? But at first, the basic study which enables to answer these questions has to be done.



Tiina Kuokkanen, Titta Kallio-Seppä, Risto Nurmi and Timo Ylimaunu

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cultural landscapes in historical archaeology. – International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 14: 4, 498–526. Sørensen, M. L. S. 2000. Gender Archaeology. Polity Press, Cambridge. Vainio-Korhonen, K. 1998. Käsin tehty – miehelle ammatti, naiselle ansioiden lähde. Käsityötuotannon rakenteet ja strategiat esiteollisessa Turussa Ruotsin ajan lopulla. Historiallisia tutkimuksia, 200. Suomen Historiallinen Seura, Helsinki. Vainio-Korhonen, K. 2007. Käsityöläiset, pienkauppiaat ja ammattikuntalaitos. – Suomalaisen arjen historia. 2, Säätyjen Suomi. Eds I. Huhta & K. Häggman. Weilin + Göös, Helsinki, 122–127. Virkkunen, A. H. 1953 (¹1919). Oulun kaupungin historia. 1, Kaupungin alkuajoilta Isonvihan loppuun. 2nd edition. Kirjola, Oulu. Wacklin, S. 2005 [1854]. Sata muistelmaa Pohjanmaalta. Ed. A. Ruuttula-Vasari. Scripta historica, 15. Oulun historiaseura, Oulu. White, C. L. 2005. American Artifacts of Personal Adornment, 1680–1820: a Guide to Identification and Interpretation. AltaMira Press, Lanham. White, C. L. 2009. Knee, garter, girdle, hat, stock, and spur buckles from seven sites in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. – International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 13: 2, 239–253. White, C. L. & Beaudry M. C, 2009. Artifacts and personal identity. – International Handbook of Historical Archaeology. Eds T. Majewski & D. Gaimster. Springer, New York, 209–225. E-mail correspondence Talvio, T. 2010. Consultation about sexstyver coin 16.4.2010.


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Abbreviations: OMP-86 – Archaeological collection from the NMKY plot in Oulu, excavated in 1986 (stored at the University of Oulu) INS-87 – Archaeological collection from the NMKY plot in Oulu, excavated in 1987 (stored at the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum)


SOCIAL CLASSES IN THE IRON AGE EAST LITHUANIA: AN ATTEMPT OF IDENTIFICATION IN THE MORTUARY RECORD Laurynas Kurila The paper discusses the class structure of Iron Age east Lithuanian society (3/4th – 11/12th c. AD). Class is a complex concept that stands chiefly for a unit of hereditary stratification but also embraces rank and achieved status. In the present study, the perception of social classes approaches that of legal classes of European Barbarian societies. Definitions of archaeological correlates of class are burdened by methodological problems and interpretative issues which have to be considered. Wealth that is reflected in the burial does not directly correspond to legal status, although both are reciprocal. As the best suitable indicators of stratification in the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture, the number of artefacts and the number of weapons are analysed. On the basis of the analogies and sparse written record, the society under discussion is argued to have consisted of the unfree (and probably the half-free), common freemen, and the elite. The analysis of 190 single adult burials that have been osteologically identified as male or female suggests the following proportion of those classes: about one quarter of the burials are of the unfree or half-free, a half or more are of common freemen, and one fifth or one fourth are of the elite. Stratification presumably was not explicit and strongly legislated. Among the free classes, inequality ranged continuously through several sub-classes. Males display sharper class distinctions than females. Chronological inquiry reveals a general trend of the increase in the probable unfree part of the population, and the decrease in the number of representatives of the probable elite. Key words: Iron Age, east Lithuania, barrows, burial, inequality, stratification, social classes. Dr. Laurynas Kurila, Department of Archaeology, Lithuanian Institute of History, 5 Kražių St., LT-01108 Vilnius, Lithuania; [email protected]

Introduction Inequality has been universal since the dawn of humanity. There has hardly ever existed an entirely egalitarian society, although certain manifestations of inequality, as well as its levels, might vary greatly. This social phenomena may acquire an infinity of shapes and may have multiple reasons. Gender, age, skills, religion, wealth, or ethnicity are only a few of numerous

agents the differences within which may result in inequality. All identities that construct social personae or particular social groups can be prerequisites of unequal positions in the society. Numerous studies in archaeology have dealt with inequality, and many concepts or typologies of it have been proposed. One of the most relevant and universal classifications is the division of unequal statuses into achieved and ascribed (or inherited) 45

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ones (Peebles & Kus 1977; Wason 1994, 36–40; Gilman 1995; Schulting 1995, 11– 14; Ames 2008, 489–490). Societies usually consist of certain clusters or social groups, and the more advanced the ascribed differentiation is, the more solid and definite they are. Hereditary social groups (ranks, classes, castes) are the principal units in most of complex social organisations, at least at a level higher than one family or household. Archaeological cognition of past societies can by no means be complete if the fact of such grouping is ignored. In European early medieval Barbaricum, which is primarily referred to in this paper, inequality mainly manifested itself through legal social categories or classes. This model of social stratification is universally recorded in contemporaneous societies that surrounded the Balts. However, class systems and the role of inheritance in the structure of the Baltic tribes are still obscure. Direct information on the topic is meagre, and analysis of the archaeological record, especially that of burials, has potentially much to add. The focus of the present assay is social grouping in Iron Age east Lithuania, or the Lithuanian tribe. It aims at both shedding some light on the class structure in the region, and testing the potential of mortuary archaeology in the field. Archaeologically the Iron Age Lithuanians are chiefly represented by the so-called east Lithuanian barrows (3/4th – 11/12th c. AD). Despite of a considerable body of investigations, little interest had been previously shown to the social dimensions of this category of monuments. This is a substantial dearth of research, and even more so concerning the substantial role of the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture in the process of formation of Lithuanian statehood. Sparse earlier studies (Kurila 2007; 2009b) dealt more with age and gender as social agencies. Here, an attempt is made to approach the 46

material from the perspective of vertical stratification. The definition of social class is intricate in archaeology. In the sense it is perceived in this paper, the concept of hereditary inequality can be adopted from Morton Fried’s (1967, 109) description of a rank society as the one structured by imbalance between individual’s abilities for holding a certain societal position and his/her actual standing. A developed system of status ascription is the central point of a class society but not the only one. Not only do societies differ in levels of inequality but also in the ways it functions. The concepts of ranked and stratified (or class-based) societies are generally applied for different aspects of inequality. A rank society is structured by unequal prestige and dominance but without inequality in access to basic economic resources. Whereas in stratified society, social class is a division in economic terms. Different classes have different levels of access to resources (Fried 1967, 109–226; Berreman 1981, 9–12). Social class thus should be construed as position, first, received at birth and, second, determining individual‘s capabilities for economic dominance. The reality, though, is not that simple and restricted within theoretical terms. Particular stages of the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture are marked by uneven levels of hereditary inequality and different models of socio-political organisation, ranging from that similar to a big-man society to a complex chiefdom (Kurila 2009a, 45–47). The two modes of status construction, although being substantially different, do actually often interrelate. High ascribed statuses commonly allow greater achievements, and achieved statuses can be transferred to offspring through inheritance. Besides, there may be a multitude of positions within a single society obtainable both by inheritance and achievement. Archaeological methods are


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seldom powerful enough to make sharp distinctions of those in past societies. Also, mute archaeological data is not sufficient for clear distinctions between inequality in merely prestige and that in economic status. In a real society, the former commonly influences the latter, and vice versa. Some archaeologists and anthropologists lean to consider division into classes as characteristic to only states (which east Lithuania was certainly still not in the period under discussion) (e.g. Service 1975, 282–286; Kristiansen 1998; Trigger 2003) while others also use this concept for prestate socio-political organisations (e.g. Carneiro 1981; Johnson & Earle 2000). A discussion of this variance would return us to the problem of the definition of ‘class’ (as well as to a broad theoretical debate on transition from chiefdom to state). In archaeological studies, this term is often used rather loosely and can be paralleled to ‘status group’, ‘stratum’, ‘rank’, etc. in different contexts. In this study, concepts ‘rank’ and ‘class’ are in a way unified to mean a social attribute that is normally obtained by inheritance but not necessarily only so, and governs both prestige and economic substantiality but with possible exceptions and significant variations. The concept of social class here approaches that of legal class or group, although such perception brings forward a series of difficulties that will be discussed further. Legal classes in Barbarian Europe and the Baltic tribes European Barbarian societies had been highly socially stratified, with inequality sharply legislated. It should come as no surprise that within a huge area covering a large part of the continent, and throughout centuries, there had been different formats and levels of stratification. The social landscape of the Barbaricum was

highly variable, and each society had its distinctive traits. Barbarian societies were un­ evenly affected by contacts with the Roman civilisation, and their social organisation was therefore differently impacted. A pattern of the Barbarian class structure can thus be defined only at a very general level, which, on the other hand, is entirely sufficient for the topic followed here. A substantial study by Karol Modzelewski (2004) has shown striking homogeneity of legal social formations within the whole of the European Barbaricum. Archaic social norms had been essentially maintained despite contact with the Romans and the effect of Christianity. Visigothic, Burgundian, Frankish, and Langobard kingdoms even had separate laws for autochthonous Roman and Germanic populations (Modzelewski 2004, 66–87). All written sources describing Barbarian societies contemporaneous to the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture mention a similar set of several main legal categories or classes (Modzelewski 2004, 171–254). The structure of the Germanic societies can be deduced from the writings of the main Antique and Early Medieval authors: Publius Cornelius Tacitus (1999), Jordanes (2006), Gregory of Tours (1974), The Venerable Bede (Bede 1999), Paul the Deacon (2003) and others. None of these sources refers to the society’s class structure as its primary subject, but through them, a quite detailed image of the social reality can be observed. Legal classes are perceived as something natural without any need for supplementary comments. The Frankish society was divided into four main classes: aristocracy, common freemen and freewomen, the half-free or freedmen, and the unfree or slaves (James 1988, 216–219; Halsall 1995, 33– 60). Analogous division existed among the Anglo-Saxons (Härke 1997, 141). Scandinavian Viking societies consisted of the aristocracy, freemen, and slaves, 47

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with certain intermediate positions between the free and the unfree (Foote & Wilson 1973, 65–144; Pelteret 1991; Arnold 2006, 27–34). Similar class structure is also confirmed by the Barbarian law codes. It appears in the laws of the Visigoths (Scott 1910), Burgundians (Drew 1972), Franks (Drew 1991), AngloSaxons (Griffiths 1995), Alamans (Rivers 1977, 45–105), Langobards (Drew 1973), Bavarians (Rivers 1977, 107–180), Frisians (MGH 1982), Saxons (MGH 1918, 7–50), Thuringians (MGH 1918, 51–66) and other Germanic tribes, also in the Early Irish law (Kelly 1988). The concept of value of an individual, or wergild, applied in the law codes testifies not only about how the societies were divided, but also about what the distance between the classes was, e.g. through fines for injury or murder of a freeman, a half-free man, or a slave. The nearest eastern neighbours of Lithuanians were also similarly socially organised, as it is confirmed by the Ruthenian law Pravda russkaya (Aleksandrov et al. 1947). All of these law codes generally stress a clear divide between the unfree and the free, with finer and often rather confusing gradation among the latter. They contain little data about the social elite, yet its very existence does not raise any doubts. It is confirmed both by sporadic references to the nobles and, in many societies, the presence of the supreme class, i.e. the king and his administration. Still, a firm line can hardly be drawn between the elite and non-aristocratic free. The whole part of the society above the unfree was socially and legally rather amorphous. Written records that directly refer to the social structure of prehistoric Lithuanian or other Baltic societies are very poor. Most of the Baltic tribal laws that definitely existed in oral form did not outlive their creators and were not recorded. Only the Prussian law was codified in the 14th c. as Iura prutenorum. Although it, like other 48

Barbarian laws, does not contain a paragraph directly concerning legal classes, the presence of the nobles, commoners, and slaves is perceptible in it (Matuszewski & Kozłowska 1963, 25–61). Other written sources tell little to contribute to the knowledge of the social structure of the Baltic tribes. Wulfstan (late 9th c.), in his account on travel to the west Baltic land, reports of division of the society into several categories that may be perceived as legal classes: “Eastland is very large, and there are in it many towns, and in every town is a king […] and the king and the richest men drink mare’s milk, whilst the poor and the slaves drink mead” (SRP 1861, 733). The only contemporary texts probably concerning the territory of the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture that contain data of social character are narrations on the mission and martyrdom of Bishop St Bruno, most probably somewhere at the border of Lithuania in 1009. Wipert, a member of the mission, reports (ca. 1020) of a ‘king’ and his people: “And the king [Netimer] then, seeing such a miracle, with three hundred of his men, soon came to believe in God and adopted a baptism of repentance” (MPH 1864, 230) (Fig. 1) (a range of other hagiographic depictions of this event mention only the ‘king’). Another noteworthy fact, first noted by Peter Damian ca. 1040, is the ‘king’s’ resolution to follow the missionary after baptism, abdicating his authority in favour of his son (MPH 1864, 328). The above-mentioned records shed some light on the social grouping of the Balts. At least a threesome partition of society can be observed in the story of Wulfstan (paramount ruling class, common freemen, and slaves), while in St Bruno’s hagiography, only two categories are mentioned (‘king’ and other men). The ‘king’ in both sources should be understood as a chief, warlord, or duke (most

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Fig. 1. ‘King’ Netimer’s baptism in 1009. Michelangelo Palloni, late 17th c. Fresco at Pažaislis monastery.

commonly, Lithuanian historical term kunigaikštis is applied) and is unlikely to accord with the kings of the Barbarian states. However, his manifest supremacy above the others, precedence in the decision-making, and, even more important, hereditary authority, as can be seen in the depictions of Netimer, leaves no uncertainty in the existence of some form of ruling class at least at the turn of the millennia. It is also indirectly evidenced by the well-recorded presence of a rather advanced aristocracy in Lithuania and other Baltic tribes two centuries later in the early 13th c. Similarly to all Barbarian societies, the supremacy of the elite manifested itself through military and administrative activities. Questions concerning the extent of ‘king’s’ authority in terms of both power and territory are still a matter of debate in historiography. Another group of people referred to in both sources are those below the ‘king’ in the social spectrum. They can be considered a vague free part of the society. Certain divisions must have definitely existed within it. Little is said on the issue in the narration of Wipert. Two questions are crucial here: whether the number of 300 men is realistic when speaking about Netimer’s subordinates, and whether those men were the ‘king’s’ retinue (i.e. some sort of lower military elite) or the whole free masculine part of the society. These questions are still unanswered and

are to be addressed by source criticism science rather than archaeology. What the present inquiry has to benefit from the text is confirmation of the existence of stratum of the free and possibly also that of the elite. The distance between the ‘richest’ and the ‘poor’, recorded by Wulfstan, was probably significant, and that is signalled by the fact that the former appear in the text alongside with the ‘king’, while the latter appear adjacent to the ‘slaves’. On the other hand, the inequality here is stated to be based on wealth instead of legal distinctions. There may be several models of interpretation: the ‘richest’ are some form of the elite, and the concept of the ‘poor’ encompasses all common freemen; both terms stand for freemen divided only by amounts of possessed property; the ‘richest’ (or just ‘rich’) stands for the free part of the society, and the ‘poor’ points to the half-free. In reality, all three interpretations may have a share of truth, and the subdivision of the free was obviously much more complex than simply into ‘rich’ and ‘poor’. The social image must have been a range of standings rather than a basic twofold system. Finally, the unfree or ‘slaves’ are clearly witnessed in the text of Wulfstan, although other historical sources are silent about this class. However, slavery was so common throughout the whole early medieval Europe that its absence in the Baltic 49

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region would seem a surprising exception. Slavery (unfree classes of šeimynykštis and kaimynas) is registered in Lithuania in the written sources from the 13th c. onwards, and is evidently an heirloom of a much earlier period (Nikžentaitis 1996, 16; Gudavičius 1998, 95–98). Nonetheless, the concept of ‘slave’ should not be adopted from our understanding of slavery in the ancient empires. In Barbarian communities, a slave was closer to a member of the family in respect of status, and usually was given particular economic independence, although had very limited legal rights. A slave was not a subject to law, and had no wergild, only value as a property (Halsall 1995, 42–45, 56–60; Modzelewski 2004, 173–185). This was not a closed social class. A freeman could become a slave as a war prisoner, through marriage with another slave, by punishment for a crime, for debts, or by selling oneself into slavery (Foote & Wilson 1973, 66–68; Drew 1991, 46; Gudavičius 1998, 96). On the other hand, a slave could obtain freedom. The presence or absence of the half-free or freedmen in the Baltic societies is obscure. The term ‘half-free’ (Frankish laeti, or Langobard aldii) refers to those who have been freed from slavery and become family members of the manumitter, but who still retained a certain level of subordination to him. Generally, the half-free had more in common with the unfree than with the freemen (Halsall 1995, 41– 42, 55–56; Modzelewski 2004, 186–204). Whether this class legally existed in the Iron Age east Lithuania is beyond our knowledge. There is a trend, though, to relate the Lithuanian historical term parobkas to a social category of those having limited freedom (Nikžentaitis 1996, 16). Thus on the basis of very scanty direct data, and with a far more weighty assistance of Lithuanian state-period historical records and analogies from other Barbarian societies, a hypothetical class 50

structure of the Balts, and among them Lithuanians, can be sketched out. One can assume that at least three classes existed in the Iron Age east Lithuania: military and social elite (dukes, professional warriors), common freemen, and the unfree (and probably the half-free). It is likely that intermediate statuses existed between those classes, or finer gradation could have existed within them. Only the free and unfree classes are expected to display sharper distinction. Possibly, the elite and freemen were divided into smaller categories, and some ambiguity is liable to have existed between the probable lower elite and upper freemen sub-classes. Archaeological identification of social classes The identification of class structure of bygone societies in their mortuary record, as a methodological approach, has its advantages as well as weaknesses. This research programme had been particularly advocated by pre-WWII as well as later German archaeologists (Härke 2000, 370– 373) but did not inspire intense scientific discussions elsewhere. Some researchers have adverted to challenges in such attempts (Randsborg 1984, 155; Solberg 1985, 73–74; James 1989, 31–34; Arnold 1997, 176–178; Härke 1997, 141–146), and some feel rather sceptical about the capabilities of archaeology in this field (Steuer 1989). The relevance of such models of inference certainly depends on the historical and cultural contexts or funerary customs (which might also vary chronologically). Archaeological research of the Baltic societies frequently employs clustering of burials, and this renders variant results (Vaitkunskienė 1978; Jovaiša 1997, 25–37; Radiņš 1999, 138–142; Šnē 2002, 250–273; Žulkus 2004, 154–156; Švelniūtė 2005), although they were rarely interpreted

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through a legal prism. Nonetheless, addressing the archaeological material with this topic can be promising in the east Lithuanian case. In so doing, one has to consider an array of methodological difficulties and issues in interpreting the data. The reflection of membership in a social class in burial is only a hypothesis, although highly probable. The differences in burial within one class could be vast, and probably sometimes even larger than those between marginal positions of different classes. Presumably, only very general trends can be defined, e.g. a slave is unlikely to be buried with weapons and precious metals, and a chief is unlikely to lack any grave goods. But a precise definition of class-to-burial relations is confusing. Dividing burials into groups according to richness or complexity is usually complicated. Burials commonly do not form articulate groups with clear boundaries between them. There is rather an entire consistent range of burials from the poorest to the richest ones. Legal status could be expressed through symbols that are not necessarily visible in the archaeological record, and may be incomprehensible to a modern scholar. One cannot expect a direct correlation between legal status and richness of the grave goods. On the other hand, even those distinctions that unclose mainly on the symbolic dimension are likely to be somehow visible also in material remains, i.e. symbols commonly act through things. Regular use of the concept of wergild in the law codes attests to a strong link between class and wealth. Moreover, the general relation of social status to burial is far from unquestionable. Archaeology saw a great deal of debate over the past several decades over the way social organisation is reflected in burial. A wide range of approaches can be summarised into two major trends. Processual archaeology stressed a fairly

direct relationship between social complexity and mortuary variability and focussed on the search of relevant methods for inference (e.g. Saxe 1970; Binford 1971; Tainter 1978; O’Shea 1984; Rothschild 1990). Postprocessual way of thinking pointed to ideology and the existence of symbolic meanings in funerary rituals, and the fact that the living, not the dead, encode in burial the social reality as they perceive it (e.g. Hodder 1982, 195–204; Parker Pearson 1982; 1993; Morris 1991; Barrett 1996, 394–395; Oestigaard & Goldhahn 2006). Despite of the diversity in viewpoints, the general importance of the mortuary record in the studies of social relations has never been reasonably denied. This paper applies the idea of burial as an indicator of social persona, and class within this concept. Social status is much wider than just membership in a certain class. Other identities, such as age, gender, or achieved status, also determined the manner of burial and are somehow apparent in the mortuary record. Seeking for objectivity, subadult graves are probably not to be rated as signalling social class, and should be excluded from the study. Although child burials are considered good indicators of hereditary inequality (e.g. Wason 1994, 99–100; Sofaer Derevenski 2000, 6; Baxter 2005, 103–105), the grave goods in them probably acted as different social symbols than a mirror of social class. In the region under discussion, individual age seems to have played the key role in determining the manner of a subadult’s burial (Kurila 2007, 111). Also, adult male and female graves must be examined separately for the precision of the analysis. This demands a restriction to only osteologically analysed burials. Besides, group burials are eliminated because it is not possible to accurately connect the grave goods and their richness to particular individuals. All the above-mentioned operations reduced 51

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the data set to about 16% of all excavated human burials in the east Lithuanian barrows, but relevance of the sample was given priority over the extent. Finally, the representativeness of burial sites is questionable, especially at both ends of the social spectrum. Not all classes may be represented in the same mortuary areas. Elites such as Netimer could have been buried in some elaborate manner (several unexcavated barrows of extra-large dimensions are present in east Lithuania). On the contrary, slaves could have been disposed outside the community’s cemeteries. However, in nearly two centuries of excavations and surveys in the region, no burial locations, even suppositional, other than barrow (and several flat?) cemeteries were found. This allows one to presume that the whole Iron Age population is represented in barrows. Still, one single discovery in the future may disprove this. The identification of class in burials can be built on multiform criteria. Evaluation of grave construction can theoretically be employed for this task. Generally, larger mounds or more complex grave structures are supposed to evidence higher

status and probably class. However, referring to grave construction in the analysis is not that simple as it would seem. In the east Lithuanian barrows, most of parameters (such as dimensions of the mounds or grave pits, stone constructions, etc.) are difficult to classify, and no lucid variations are observable, while other parameters (individual or group burial, and interment in a new or earlier barrow) show a strong association with age and likely kinship. Different levels of burial complexity do actually cross-cut nearly all grave richness groups. Inhumation and cremation, the latter being virtually more resourceconsuming, could theoretically be employed as a means for expression of different statuses and probably classes. In the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture, though, the distinctions between those two ways of burial are solely chronological or, in some cases, e.g. in Baliuliai barrow cemetery (Kurila & Kliaugaitė 2007, 138–139), could have been gender-related. The interpretation of some group burials as those of slaves murdered ritually to accompany their masters in the afterlife is also sometimes proposed (Randsborg 1984, 158; Stoodley 1999, 53; Arnold 2006,

Fig. 2. Richer female grave good assemblage. Baliuliai barrow cemetery, barrow 1, inhumation burial 1: 1 – sickle, 2 – pendant, 3 – un­ identified iron artefact, 4 – crossbow fibula, 5, 6 – spiral rings, 7 – bracelet, 8 – temple ornament. Drawing by Izolda Maciukaitė.


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30). Such treatment is recorded among Vikings by Ahmad ibn Fadlan in the 10th c. (Montgomery 2000, 14–20). Still, in the region under discussion, group burials display no signs of dominance, neither in grave structures nor in furnishings, of one individual over the other, which would be expected in the case of burial of a slave along the master (except of the several osteologically unconfirmed probable group cremations; see Musianowicz 1968; Iwanowska 2006, 108–111, 227–235). It thus seems that the majority of individuals, despite class distinctions, were likely to receive approximately equal funerary treatment. This leaves grave goods as a single archaeological implement for the study of class inequality in the Iron Age east Lithuania. The overall richness of grave is the factor of upmost variable. Also, prestige and luxury items (Thurston 2002, 216) or the number of weapons (Alcock 1981; Solberg 1985, 73–75; James 1989, 31; Žulkus 2004, 155) are suggested as proper class indicators. The latter course is supported by legal norms, e.g. the eloquent recount of the weapons that men of different estates must possess in the law of Lombard king Aistulf (Drew 1973, 228). Grave goods are most informative when approached quantitatively, qualitatively, and with respect to their diversity. Analyses of number of artefact types are often employed in studies of past societies (e.g. Hedeager 1992, 104–105) as well as other methods for estimation of suppositional values of grave good assemblages (e.g. Hodson 1977, 406; Jørgensen 1987, 22; Czarnecka 1990, 59; Schulting 1995, 28–29; Radiņš 1999, 140–142; Stoodley 1999, 91). However, earlier experience in researching the east Lithuanian social organisation (Kurila 2007; 2009b) has led to an awareness that, in the case of the east Lithuanian barrows in which the grave goods are mostly plain and rather standardised, the number of artefacts

displays a strong correlation with the number of artefact types. The quantity of grave goods in most cases corresponds to their suppositional values, i.e. the assemblages with more elaborate articles usually contain a larger overall number of items (Fig. 2). Attempts at classifying the grave goods according to their sort, function, or material rendered little supplementary effect. Therefore in the discussion below most attention will be paid to the number of artefacts. In isolated cases, this parameter might appear misleading, but overall, it is fairly suitable for defining the general richness of the graves. In weapon sets, too, quantity and quality are closely related. Smaller sets (Fig. 3) mostly

Fig. 3. Typical simple warrior grave good assemblage. Ažušilė barrow cemetery, barrow 8, cremation burial 1: 1, 2 – spearheads, 3 – knife, 4 – buckle. Drawing by Izolda Maciukaitė.


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Fig. 4. Typical richer warrior grave good assemblage. Peršaukštis, Kasčiukai II barrow cemetery, barrow 4, inhumation burial 3: 1, 2 – spearheads, 3 – buckle, 4 – pin, 5 – chain ring, 6 – knife, 7 – battle axe, 8 – shield-boss. Drawing by Izolda Maciukaitė.

contain common weapons (battle axes or spearheads), whereas specific combat gear (shield-bosses, battle knives, or swords) usually occur in larger assemblages (Fig. 4). Accordingly, the number of weapons is a sufficient parameter to evaluate the richness of warrior equipment. Grave goods as a mirror of the east Lithuanian class structure Out of all excavated east Lithuanian barrows, 72 inhumations and 353 cremations have been analysed osteologically (up to 2006), and the remains of at least 514 individuals identified. After elimination of group burials, subadults, and unsexed adults, 190 graves (97 of biological males and 93 of females) were directly used for the study. The data set represents almost 54

the whole range of the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture both chronologically and territorially (Fig. 5). Calculating the grave goods allows one to envisage the clustering of east Lithuanian society (Fig. 6). In male burials, five groups are observed: (1) lacking any grave goods – 26.8%; (2) 1 to 3 or 4 items – 50.5–58.8%; (3) 4 or 5 to 8 items – 10.3–18.6%; (4) 10 to 13 items – 3.1%; and (5) the richest assemblages – 1.0%. The latter group is represented by a single Taurapilis ‘duke’ burial that contained idio­syncratic assemblage of weapons and silver or gilded adornments (Werner 1977; Tautavičius 1981). Several other graves of exceptional opulence, as in Žvirbliai (Iwanowska 2006, 108–111, 227–235), Rokantiškės (Musianowicz 1968), and Sudota I (Semėnas 2000, 198), are missing osteological data and may thus be group burials, or, as in Paduobė, Šaltaliūnė III

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Fig. 5. Cemeteries from which the study uses data: 1 – Aleksandriškės, Pukštėnai, 2 – Ažušilė, 3 – Baliuliai, 4 – Diktarai, 5 – Dvyliškis, Paraisčiai, 6 – Eitulionys, 7 – Galiniai, Užpaliai, 8 – Grabijolai, Žemaitiškiai II, 9 – Gudeliai, Lenkiškės, 10 – Jakšiškis, Knitiškiai, 11 – Kaltanėnai, Degutinė, 12 – Kapitoniškės, 13 – Karmazinai, 14 – Kasčiukai, 15 – Kretuonai, 16 – Kriokšlys, 17 – Kurklių Šilas, 18 – Lauksteniai, 19 – Liūlinė III, 20 – Mėžionys, Paulinavas, 21 – Miškiškiai, Aktapolis, 22 – Moša, Naujasodai, 23 – Nemaitonys, 24 – Neravai, Grigiškės, 25 – Padūkštai, 26 – Paduobė, Šaltaliūnė III, 27 – Pakalniai I, 28 – Papiškės, 29 – Pašekščiai, 30 – Peršaukštis, Kasčiukai II, 31 – Pilviškės, 32 – Popai, Vingeliai, 33 – Purviniškiai, 34 – Rėkučiai, Pakretuonė, 35 – Rėkučiai, Pavajuonis, 36 – Rokėnai, 37 – Santaka, 38 – Skersabaliai I, 39 – Staviškės, 40 – Sudota I, IV, 41 – Tauragnai, 42 – Taurapilis, 43 – Vaišniūnai, Medžiukalnis, 44 – Varliškės, 45 – Velianka, Žingiai, 46 – Vigodka, Dūkštas I, 47 – Vigodka, Dūkštas II, 48 – Visginai, 49 – Ziboliškė III, 50 – Žvirbliai. Map by Laurynas Kurila.


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Fig. 6. Number of artefacts in male and female burials. Drawing by Laurynas Kurila.

(Steponaitis 2007) and Sudota IV (Šatavičius 1998, 47), had been looted in prehistory. A hypothetical interpretation of groups of burials can be proposed as those of (1) the unfree (and probably the half-free); (2) common freemen; (3) elite (lower stratum); (4) elite (upper stratum); and (5) the paramount ruling class (‘dukes’?). The clustering of male burials is rather sharp, with distinct boundaries between the groups. Female burials fall into four conditional groups: (1) without any grave goods – 26.9%; (2) 1 or 2 items – 40.9%; (3) 3 to 8 grave goods – 30.1%; and (4) rare richer graves – 2.2%. Only (1) the poorest and (4) the richest graves are more distinct and could be interpreted as representing the unfree (and probably the half-free) and the highest social class. But the majority of the society (2, 3; the probable free-women and the lower elite) seem to be rather indiscriminate in this respect. An analysis of the number of weapons in male burials renders slightly different proportions (Fig. 7). Unfurnished graves 56

can again be related to the unfree, and assemblages without weapons probably to common freemen. For those interred with weapons, a vague definition of the elite, with a possible finer gradation into lower and higher stratum; 1 or 2, and 3 to 5 weapons, respectively, can be suggested. Thus, referring mainly to male graves that seem to embrace generally more record of social nature, one can attempt to delineate the class structure of Iron Age east Lithuania. The unfree (and probably the half-free) could have amounted to about one fourth of the society, the common freemen to about a half or slightly more, and the social and military elite to about one fifth or one fourth (out of which merely several percent were those of the paramount standing). The picture outlined above is a schematic one. Individual cases of misinterpretation are highly likely to occur, e.g. some of the freemen could have been given no (surviving) grave goods. They, however, should not make heavy influence on aggregate results.

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Fig. 7. Clusters of male burials according to the number of weapons. Drawing by Laurynas Kurila.

Inequality in the richness of funerary deposits is certainly a result of something more than just different ascribed statuses. Even within the adult category, age and age-related achievements also had a significant impact on individual status (Kurila 2009b, 179–181). Hereditary stratification was not perhaps well-defined and precisely legislated, and gaps between the classes were not as wide. This is confirmed by numerous instances of burial of representatives of presumptively different classes in one mound. A male’s membership in a social class was more vividly expressed through funeral rites and, presumably, in real life, whereas in females, only the boundary between the unfree and the free was fairly articulate. One can assume that the proportion of the classes was not a constant value throughout almost one thousand years of

existence of the East Lithuanian Barrow Culture, and that the very substance of ‘class’ was subject to change. To approach the data chronologically, the graves were divided into three groups: 3rd/4th – 5th c. inhumations, 5th – 7th c. cremations, and 8th – 11th/12th c. cremations. In male grave good assemblages (Fig. 8), a continual increase is observed in the probably unfree population, and a decrease in the number of freemen. The segment of the probable elite diminished in the middle of the 1st millennium and since then remained almost stable. An analogous analysis of female burials (Fig. 9) reveals slightly different processes. Only an increase in the number of probable unfree and disappearance of the highest stratum are noticeable somewhere about the mid-1st millennium. The change in the ratio of common freewomen and representatives of the elite is ambiguous due to the difficulty in distinguishing those two classes in burials. The number of weapons in male burials (Fig. 10) points to a rather similar reshaping of the society as the number of artefacts does: a constant growth of probable unfree population and decline of the number of the elite. Altogether, chronological inquiry thus suggests a general growth of the probable unfree class, and concentration of power within the elite, although those processes were certainly not linear. Such progress, however, must be rated with certain precaution as it can also reflect changes in the amount of wealth possessed by the society, changes in the attitudes towards disposing it along with the dead, or changes in the status of individuals of different age. Conclusions Little of social reality is directly encoded in burials, and archaeological statements about this reality are even less warranted. The identification of the class structure of 57

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Fig. 8. Chronological change in clustering of male burials according to the number of artefacts. Drawing by Laurynas Kurila.

a past society in the fragmentary remains of its dead can hardly be more exact than judging about someone from the scattered pieces of a portrait. Therefore this study is not more than an initial attempt and a subject to further discussion.

There are two major points we can be almost certain about, i.e. that the Iron Age east Lithuanian society, just like any of its contemporary, was unequal, and that this inequality is somehow reflected in mortuary variability. But attempts to discern

Fig. 9. Chronological change in clustering of female burials according to the number of artefacts. Drawing by Laurynas Kurila.


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Fig. 10. Chronological change in clustering of male burials according to the number of weapons. Drawing by Laurynas Kurila.

tokens of hereditary class from those of achieved statuses leads us into the field of hypotheses. What we can truly observe in the burial is wealth, and not legal definitions. On the other hand, wealth, social status, and legal status are branches of the same tree. Certain legislation of wealth inequality is inevitable, and higher legal status is a prerequisite for larger wealth. The very concept of class is complex, embodying both ascribed and achieved aspects of social life. Moreover, it does not actually embrace all identities, e.g. a merchant or a priest, or may cover several parallel identities, e.g. a free farmer and a free blacksmith. All European Barbarian societies were organised into several main legal classes. Lithuanians and other Balts were not an exception, as the sparse written records suggest. The Iron Age east Lithuanian society presumably consisted of the unfree (and probably the half-free), common freemen, and the elite. Despite the methodological and interpretative difficulties, a study of the stratification of society can potentially benefit from analysis of the mortuary record. It is especially useful in

estimating the ratios of classes and their chronological change. In the society under discussion, the number of grave goods and weapons among them suggests the following class pattern: about one quarter of the population were the unfree (and probably the half-free), a half or more the freemen, and one fifth or one fourth the elite. Only between the unfree and the free a clear division was presumably manifest, whereas the free population was comprised of adjacent sub-classes ranging from the commoners to the paramount elite. Wealth and the military dimension of prestige seem to have been central in individual status construction. This explains a sharper stratification among males than among females. Finally, a general trend of an increase in the number of the unfree in burials and a decrease in that of the elite in the course of time is observed. In studying the class structure of a society with no written records, more questions are raised than answers submitted. Each step of the survey is somehow constrained. The above assertions are only preliminary and might be modified in the future. 59

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Solberg, B. 1985. Social status in the Merovingian and Viking Periods in Norway from archaeological and historical sources. – Norwegian Archaeological Review, 18: 1–2, 61–76. SRP 1861 = Scriptores rerum Prussicarum. Die Geschichtsquellen der Preussischen Vorzeit bis zum Untergange der Ordensherrschaft, 1. Eds Th. Hirsch, M. Töppen & E. Strehlke. S. Hirzel, Leipzig. Steponaitis, V. 2007. Paduobės (Šalta­ liūnės) III grupės pilkapynas. – Archeologiniai tyrinėjimai Lietuvoje 2006 metais, 132–134. Steuer, H. 1989. Archaeology and history: proposals on the social structure of the Merovingian Kingdom. – The Birth of Europe: Archaeology and Social Development in the First Millennium A.D. Ed. K. Randsborg. Bretschneider, Rome, 100–122. Stoodley, N. 1999. The Spindle and the Spear: A Critical Enquiry into the Construction and Meaning of Gender in the Early Anglo-Saxon Burial Rite. BAR British Series, 288. British Archaeological Reports, Oxford. Šatavičius, E. 1998. Sudotos archeologijos paminklų komplekso tyrinėjimai 1996–1997 metais. – Archeologiniai tyrinėjimai Lietuvoje 1996 ir 1997 metais, 45–50. Šnē, A. 2002. Sabiedrība un vara: Sociālās attiecības Austrumlatvijā aizvēstures beigās. Intelekts, Rīga. Švelniūtė, R. 2005. Socialinio gyvenimo atspindžiai V–VI a. Plinkaigalio

kapinyne. – Lietuvos archeologija, 27, 9–22. Tacitus 1999. Germania (trans. J. B. Rives). Oxford University Press, Oxford. Tainter, J. A. 1978. Mortuary practices and the study of prehistoric social systems. – Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, 1. Ed. M. B. Schiffer. Academic Press, New York, 105–141. Tautavičius, A. 1981. Taurapilio „kunigaikščio“ kapas. – Lietuvos archeologija, 2, 18–43. Thurston, T. L. 2002. Landscapes of Power, Landscapes of Conflict: State Formation in the South Scandinavian Iron Age. Kluwer, New York. Trigger, B. G. 2003. Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Vaitkunskienė, L. 1978. Socialinės nelygybės atspindžiai žemaičių laidojimo paminkluose (Žąsino kapinynas, Šilalės raj.) (X–XI a.). – Lietuvos istorijos metraštis, 1977 metai. Vilnius, 23–35. Wason, P. K. 1994. The Archaeology of Rank. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Werner J. 1977. Der Grabfund von Taurapilis, Rayon Utna (Litauen) und die Verbindung der Balten zum Reich Theoderichs. – Archäologische Beiträge zur Chronologie der Völkerwanderungszeit. Eds G. Kossack & J. Reichstein. Habelt, Bonn, 87–92. Žulkus, V. 2004. Kuršiai Baltijos jūros erd­vėje. Versus Aureus, Vilnius.


Creating the Prehistoric Past and Modern Identity Valter Lang The article discusses the role of social order (or public desire) for the ‘right’ interpretation of the past and its impact on both academic research and the creation of modern identities. Social order for the past comes from dominant societal groups and must correspond to the possibilities of scholarly interpretation of past events. Changes in general treatments of prehistory are caused by changes in social order, which in turn are caused either by changes in the social context (e.g. state formations) or new discoveries in archaeology. Key words: identity creation, archaeological writing, social order, Circum-Baltic area. Valter Lang, University of Tartu, Institute of History and Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, 2 Jakobi St., 51014 Tartu, Estonia; [email protected]

Introduction The past has always played a significant role in the creation of modern identities. Who are we? Where do we come from? These are important questions for every nation when creating historical narratives and mental bridges over centuries and millennia. This is the case nowadays, and there is no doubt that similar questions were also essential for prehistoric societies. Thus, the past is something that every society is highly interested in. But what is this past? How is the past, or rather, how are our ideas of the past created, and who is responsible for what we think was our past? Is the past stable with regard to its content and meaning, regardless of the unstable present? There are many writings in Western theoretical archaeology and history discussing the question of how the contemporary social reality of the scholars influences the picture of (pre)historic past created by them. The ideological background of

these writings goes back to the Frankfurt school of the 1920s and its critical theory, according to which all knowledge is historically determined, though it is possible to establish the truth by using the critical approach even independently of social interests (see e.g. Leone et al. 1987; Hodder 1991, 174 ff.). In archaeology such an approach was more clearly introduced by Mark Leone in the 1980s; according to him, interpretations of the past tend to become ideological as their purpose is to serve class interests. The link between the past and the present cannot be imagined in a way that the latter grows out of the former; rather, the present shapes the past (Leone 1982, 182). A series of studies followed about how state and private enterprises shape the development of archaeology through selective support of research, how archaeological interpretations and popularisation have expressed the ideologies of the dominant groups in society, how the sexist biases of archaeologists have influenced their interpretations 65

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of the past, or how even the creation of archaeological facts is connected with the background and biases of a researcher (see e.g. Hodder 1991, 176 ff.; Trigger 1989, 345 and the literature cited therein). The scholars have become aware that “archaeological interpretation must be understood in a social, political, and historical context and that archaeologists must pay attention to how societies, or groups within a society, shape the interpretation of the past for their own ends” (Trigger 1989, 345). In Estonian archaeology, Priit Ligi (1994a; 1995) has dealt with this topic. According to him, even as late as at the end of the 20th century the understanding of Estonian prehistoric society was based on the old national-romanticist history treatment, the roots of which date back to the times of national awakening in the 19th century. The same nationalromanticist understanding of history became the main component of the scholarly treatment of history between the two world wars, and, despite the pressure of orthodox Marxism, it also survived the long Soviet period. In all these periods, as Ligi pointed out, our study of history was strongly influenced by the social contexts (socio-political background) – i.e. Estonian national ideology and the Soviet Marxist treatment of history. Since the late 1990s, our historians have increasingly focused on the links between the contemporary social context and how contemporary historians depict past societies (Jansen 1997; Tamm 1999; 2003; 2007; 2008; 2009; Undusk 1997; 2000). The above-mentioned authors have been mostly concerned with the problem of what in the treatment of Estonian history, in particular, has been influenced by the social context (e.g. what kind of changes were made in our history books when the political systems changed; e.g. Kukk 2003). On the other hand, there are in-depth analyses of how the results of historical 66

research have been used for the creation of national identity and cultural memory, the so-called historical narratives. However, the questions of how and through which particular processes or mechanisms this social context (which seems to be rather passive in the direct meaning of the word) actually shapes and influences our treatment of the past have not been discussed further. In order to analyse this problem in greater detail, one can use the concept of social (or public) order (or demand), which is understood as the wishes or desires of the dominant social groups for the past (originating in the social context) that – if they harmonise with the possibilities of interpretation of the results of academic research – direct both the establishment of scholarly treatment together with the everyday research of the past and the development of national identity and cultural memory of a society (Fig. 1). How is this order established in reality, and what is the role of the scholars in it? How does this social order influence research into the past, is it possible to avoid it, or should one somehow fight against it? This article addresses these questions by analysing first the nature and formation of social order and then how a change in social order has influenced the scholarly interpretation of prehistoric past through the entire history of academic archaeology in Estonia. One cannot handle in detail another product of social order here, the formation of so-called collective or cultural memory with the help of national historical narratives and creation of identities, as this topic has been thoroughly discussed elsewhere (e.g. Tamm 2008; Kõresaar 2004; 2005; Burke 2006; for Finland see Fewster 2006, and for the discussion elsewhere see the literature referred to in Fewster 2006, 31 ff.). The two problems – creation of identity and scholarly research – are, of course, closely intertwined and exert mutual influence because

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Fig. 1. Social order for the interpretation of the past in the field of mutual influences of society and science.

they share a common ‘father’ – the social order. While the former is directed at the people or the nation, the latter is intended for the researchers but reaches the people through the prism of cultural memory and historical narratives. Social order for the interpretation of the past Although the past objectively existed in reality, our knowledge about it is steadily changing. The knowledge in archaeology (and not only in archaeology) of what happened in the past is always a question of interpretation (i.e. ‘our’ interpretation) – thus, it is both personal and subjective. Yet, this subjectivity must consider the scholarly accepted or potentially acceptable relationships between the known facts and the data (Shanks & Hodder 1995).

The consideration of this circumstance guarantees the intradisciplinary objectivity of archaeology, allowing one to regard it as an academic discipline. However, despite being as objective as one can be, archaeological interpretations often allow ample ‘wiggle room’. The history of archaeology reveals several examples of how the interpretation of the same data can alter if, for instance, one school of archaeological thought is replaced by another (see e.g. the case of megaliths, Renfrew & Bahn 1991, 428f.). As for the interpretations, we ourselves create the past here and now, and it is important to us (and not to those people who passed away long ago). How do we create this past? At first sight one possible answer could well be that the past is created through the everyday work of archaeologists and historians who discover new facts and put them together piece by piece, 67

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thus creating a broader picture of the past. When discovering new circumstances that do not suit the old paradigm, the whole interpretation (or part of it) will be changed, as Thomas Kuhn explained long ago in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Kuhn 1996 (1962)). Yet, when speaking about history and prehistory, it is simplistic and naïve to think that only archaeologists and historians are interested in the past and in creating it. The past – the contemporary past, in particular – is so important that it has never been left only for the scholars to interpret it. It is enough to refer here to the heated discussions about different interpretations of several politically sensitive events in the 20th century, which are still going on in Eastern Europe (as well as in the eastern Baltic south of the Gulf of Finland). Here one can clearly see how the dominant groups in modern society are involved in the interpretation of the past. Thanks to memory, people have always been aware of their past. And yet, in the same way as people understand different things differently, they also remember them differently. Both remembering and forgetting – both on the individual and collective level – are selective and change over time; that is, remembrances are reformative (Burke 2006). Thus, the key question is who remembers the past ‘more correctly’. Usually they are people who have more authority in society, whose voice is louder, whose arguments are more convincing, or those who have more power to impress their interpretations on others. Someone’s own interpretation – that is, rewriting of the past – creates someone’s ‘right to history’ (Undusk 1997, 722). Therefore, we as researchers have to ask who are those people in contemporary society who force us to remember the past in their way; that is, who are engaged in the interpretation of the past, and how and to what extent it is possible at all (see 68

also Burke 2006; Tamm 2009). For common people the interpretation of the past is not a question of primary importance because its consequences do not influence their everyday life. For them the need for the past is, first of all, a means to create and preserve group identities through cultural memory and national historical narratives. For the elite or dominant groups, however, the ‘right’ interpretation of the past has always been important because it is the main source of satisfaction and legitimacy of their social, political, economic, and even cultural ambitions and interests. The question is how to achieve and maintain power over contemporary society’s ideology, which to some extent determines the content and nature of our knowledge of the past as well. How dominant groups control the creation of the past is a rather complicated topic. On the top of societies there have always been, and still are, rulers who exercise direct political and economic power, such as chiefs and kings in ancient societies, party leaders in totalitarian regimes, and presidents or prime ministers in democratic societies. The degree of personal authority of rulers over the ‘right’ interpretation of the past was once decisive but has decreased to a minimum along with general democratisation. And yet, it is a serious problem in authoritarian societies. The rulers are surrounded by a wider circle of social elite or dominant groups, representing political, economic, cultural, and scholarly spheres. In addition to scholars, who occupy elitist positions in contemporary society, numerous intellectuals, opinion leaders, decision-makers in financing and publishing, ideologists of dominant parties and religious movements, politicians, etc. form part of this wider circle. Or, as Reinhard Koselleck puts it, there are ‘six Ps’ – priests, professors, PR specialists, politicians, poets, and publicists – who are responsible for the

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establishment of the so-called cultural memory (Tamm 2007, 115). Their influence on the interpretation of the past has been different in different times and regions, being much stronger with regard to the contemporary past than prehistory. Generally speaking, one can regard this influence of the dominant groups, which, as one can see later, must also correlate with modern scientific research, as the social order (or, putting it more softly, public desire) for the interpretation of the past. I will use the term ‘order’ with the purpose of stressing the active or pressing role in this phenomenon. However, one cannot take it literally but rather as an image. One could also prefer the adjective ‘social’ (or ‘public’) in order to show its wider background while the adjective ‘political’ is clearly derogatory and indicates much narrower background. Today it is rather difficult to reach the concrete proponents of this social order or desire outside the scholarly circles; that is, the social order for the interpretation of the past operates at least partly spontaneously and remains more or less anonymous. Therefore, one should not take a simplistic approach to the social order, which implies that the rulers tell us what our past was like – thanks to anonymity, this order acquires a nationwide nature and loses visible ties with the elite. And although nowadays one needs an accepted scientific methodology and mediators, i.e. scholars, for the presentation of the past, the scholarly interpretation of the past is still closely connected with contemporary social reality. Among other things it is influenced, though unconsciously, by the social order about what our past could be, or could not be like – not speaking of the direct political order or pressure that people in the eastern Baltic countries had to experience during the Soviet era. Therefore, the desire for an objective treatment of history is understandable,

and yet, it is unrealisable in practice because history is always written from the perspective of someone’s interests. Rather, the question is whether we as the readers and users of this history identify ourselves as its subscribers or not. It is important to stress that there can be several parallel social orders for the interpretation of the past in a society. In such cases one is dealing with competing parties and different ideologies. In Estonian society, for instance, there have been at least two main opposing lines or world views on history since the national awakening in the late 19th century. On the other hand, in the modern heterogeneous, pluralistic, and networking world there can be thousands of different understandings of the past. It is unthinkable that history and archaeology can meet all these applications, preserving, at the same time, its scientific nature. Therefore, it is essential to understand that a more serious social order will take shape only if the needs and possibilities of scientific research have been taken into consideration; that is, if the desire for the past is in harmony with the achievements of archaeology and history. However, the plurality of understandings of the past is reflected in the increasing number of different alternative archaeologies and histories. The authors of such alternative treatments are somehow not satisfied with ‘official’ scholarly interpretations or with the ruling social order for the interpretation of the past. And yet, they usually lack either scientific methodology or social capability to break through with their interpretations. Such heterogeneity can be also followed among the scholars studying the past because not all of them have equal access to the interpretation of the past. The directing and determining power is at the disposal of leading scholars, of course, who can be regarded as the elite among the researchers. This leading position has to be 69

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understood not only as a higher administrative position but also as a scholarly or social authority achieved by one’s own scientific research. The leading scholars differ from the rest of the social elite in that they can relatively directly ‘determine’ the content of our past. They do it at first by accumulating scientific and social capital through their own research, and later by directing the research of others – either by supervising, leading the projects, or making decisions about financing. Being members of the social elite and connected with it socially and economically, the leading scholars are of course responsible for the establishment of a particular social order for the interpretation of the past. At first sight it might seem that the latter is under the control of the researchers, and there is no problem with such an order. But the trouble is that this control is often lost. For example, one can make a reference here how the research of Karl Marx was used for directing not only the historical sciences but also the entire social life in the former Soviet Union for 70 years. Or one can reference what happened to the scholarly interpretations of Gustaf Kossinna and others when they were taken over by the Nazi leaders in Germany (see e.g. Arnold 1996). These are, of course, extreme examples; fortunately, everyday life reveals much smaller and more innocent cases. But the essence of the process is the same – the research results may start to live a life of their own, get out of the control of researchers, and sometimes can even start to direct further research. This is, however, a deviation from a normal social order for the interpretation of the past. There are also numerous examples of how the researchers themselves direct the formation of social order for the interpretation of some past events. Concrete reasons for this may vary, but, generally speaking, one is dealing here with an inner conviction of a researcher about what 70

the society needs or which past is better for it. Naturally, each conviction of this kind is usually based on the results of scientific research; and yet, the ‘wiggle room’ in the process of interpretation enables one to skew the interpretation either consciously or unconsciously in a certain direction. No matter where the first impulse comes from – either from the academic community or from society outside – a social order will develop, and it is very difficult for an individual researcher to cross its borders. On the level of ordinary researchers, the social order is mostly unnoticeable; it acts in some invisible or hidden way. This order is imposed on future researchers already at school when learning from history books, or at university at the latest when students choose relevant topics for their first independent studies. It is something that is ‘floating’ around us and directs us indirectly but firmly to follow certain paths, and there is no need to think about it all the time (cf. also Fewster 2006, 20). And therefore it might remain invisible, indeed. In totalitarian societies, however, the social order for the interpretation of the past acts in a remarkably different way. Here the active and the creative roles of researchers are forcibly assimilated, and they have to strictly follow the ideology of the predominant party (Fig. 2). Such an order might be called a state or party order. By contrast, a normal and ideal social order develops through active participation of researchers (who are certainly not free from contemporary social reality, but whose involvement guarantees modern scientific reasoning) and is met with the approval of society. To sum up, one has to draw attention to the circumstance that if modern society and its dominant groups are so powerful in the creation of the past, as claimed above, then it is obvious that societies sharing a common political history and

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Fig. 2. Establishment of the state (party) order for the interpretation of the past in totalitarian societies (e.g. Soviet Union).

common social and cultural values should have experienced rather similar processes and stages in the creation of the images of prehistoric societies, too. And vice versa, if the recent political history has been different, then also the formation of the prehistoric past may have followed different paths. And it seems to be the case in the eastern Baltic and Finland. For instance, Estonia and Latvia shared a common political history in the 19th and 20th centuries when archaeology as an academic discipline was born and developed. For this reason, the interpretation of the past societies in these countries underwent the same main stages while there have also been some remarkable differences in emphasising certain details. On the other hand, the political and social destinies of Finland and Sweden have been different. Accordingly, the development of interpretations has also been very different there, being much slower and peaceful.

However, some general developments in Western ideologies are considered to be responsible for the interpretations of the past also in these countries. One could point out the colonisation of the Wild West in America in the 19th century, worldwide peace movements in the 1960s, formation of the European Union, etc. (Vilkuna 2001; Baudou 2004, 286). It must be stressed that the political changes in the late 1960s also coincided with major shifts in archaeological theory. At that time the development of New Archaeology went unnoticed in Estonia and Latvia. Interpretations of Estonian prehistory according to different social orders Below I will give some examples how scholarly interpretations of the past in Estonia have depended on the social order 71

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Baltic-German late 19th c. – 1920s Backwardness and short roots of Estonians; advanced Goths & Indo-Germans (Kulturträger)

Pre-Estonian late 19th and early 20th c.

First Estonian 1920s–1930s

Soviet 1940s–1980s

Second Estonian 1990s – 2000s

Happy prehistoric freedom; equality; first registration of antiquities

Egalitarian democratic society; western orientation; roots becoming longer

Class strugle; stratified society; friendly relations with Slavs; East; backwardness from (Slavic & Baltic) neighbours

Stratified society; West; equality with neighbours; long roots

Fig. 3. Key words of different social orders for prehistoric past in Estonia.

for the past since the birth of archaeology in the 19th century. Five different stages can be distinguished (Fig. 3). Baltic-German and preEstonian interpretations In the 1860s, when archaeology was established as an academic discipline in Estonia, the dominant social order for the past was presented by the Baltic German upper class. According to the Baltic German treatment of history, the areas that today are Estonia and Latvia were settled by primitive (Stone-Age level) tribes of ‘Lithuanian or Ugrian’ origin until the turn of our era. In the Roman Iron Age these areas were occupied by much more advanced Goths, i.e. people of Germanic origin, who buried their dead in richly furnished tarand-graves, regarded then as ship graves. The ancestors of Estonians and Latvians reached the eastern Baltic region not before the late first millennium (Grewingk 1865; 1877; 1884). It has to be stressed that at that time the socalled Gothic theory corresponded well to known scientific facts (Tvauri 2003, 43 ff.), though even then it was not the only possible interpretation. The main author of the Gothic theory was Constantin Grewingk, a professor at the University of Tartu, who 72

represented Baltic German social values and views. He believed that Estonians and Latvians had been suppressed socially not only in the recent past but also thousands of years ago; they had been unable to build monumental stone graves and to furnish them with rich grave goods. In addition, Grewingk was working during a time of intense Russification; for this reason it was important to stress the major cultural role of the Germans in the Baltic lands already since times immemorial.1 However, Pavel A. Viskovatov, Professor of Russian Literature and Slavonic Languages, and Georg Loeschcke, Professor of Classical Archaeology from Germany (both at the University of Tartu), did not share this Baltic German social order for the interpretation of the past, and they criticised the opinion that the stone graves in question were ship graves of Gothic origin (for a more detailed discussion see Tvauri 2003, 46 ff.; Lang 2006a, 17). At the same time or slightly later, a ‘pre-Estonian’ social order for the past 1   Perhaps it is an attempt to use archaeology in the interests of the nationalist desire to create a national or ‘folk’ identity (see e.g. Baudou 2004, 142 ff.). However, in this case it was an attempt to establish a Baltic German identity on the basis of the prehistoric past and not an Estonian, Livonian, or Latvian identity.

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started to take shape during the period of national awakening. However, as at that time there were no professional historians and archaeologists of Estonian origin, no academic treatment of the prehistoric past corresponding to this order was elaborated, though the first historical narratives for the creation of national identity were then established. Their authors were different intellectuals who started their historical overviews of the Estonian nation from idealised pictures of harmonious, happy, and free late-prehistoric society, where people excelled both in ploughing the fields and in battles with their neighbours (e.g. Hurt 1879; Eisen 1913; Prants 1912).2 The choice of late prehistory as the starting point was obviously in line with the standpoints of both Baltic German archaeology and Finno-Ugrian linguistics. It was believed then that the ancestors of the Estonians had reached the eastern Baltic region not before the Late Iron Age.3 When treating earlier centuries and millennia, the interpretations of the Baltic German professors were taken word for   Actually, this fundamental thesis of Estonian national romanticism comes from the early works of some Estophiles and Lettophiles of German origin (see Jansen 1997, 39; 2000; Undusk 1997). 3   The discussion held by M. J. Eisen (1913, 5) with some extreme nationalists of those times is symptomatic of our topic. While he referred to the ‘scientifically grounded’ Gothic settlements in the Roman Iron Age, he raised serious doubts about the standpoint, which was popular among the Estonian intellectuals, that the ancestors of Estonians had settled the Estonian area since times immemorial. One can see here how the authority of science – and BalticGerman archaeology was no doubt scientific in the context of those times – wins societal dilettantism although, from the standpoint of modern archaeology, the latter was more correct. Or should one see here a hundred-yearlong discussion between the social order and science, which finally will be ‘won’? 2

word in these writings. This was even the case for Jaan Jung, a school teacher and the first Estonian amateur archaeologist. One can call these interpretations ‘preEstonian’ because ‘Estonia proper’ did not know yet what it actually wanted nor what its past was really capable of. The interpretation of the past was borrowed from the Baltic German professors and Estophiles of the period of national awakening; one’s own interpretation was absent. Nor were there any archaeologists and historians who could have offered one. However, this early, semi-amateurish pre-Estonian social order for the past finally yielded great output – the first Estonian-wide inventory and register of antiquities, which was initiated by Jung and carried out with help of numerous local correspondents (Jung 1898; 1899; 1910). It was an enormous undertaking, of which the Baltic German researchers were simply not capable. It was really a takeover of the land of one’s forefathers, covering the physical landscapes with own memory places (Kaljundi 2008). This work became later one of the foundations of Estonian professional archaeology. It is important to notice in this context how different (Baltic German and preEstonian) social orders in one geopolitical space (Estonia) produce different interpretations of the past and different outputs. The pre-Estonian social order grew out of the national-romantic atmosphere of national awakening and the dream of ancient freedom, greatness, and prosperity. It was believed that the (unwritten) history of the Estonians was reflected in their folk songs, tales, and mythology. Therefore, Jung and his correspondents regarded all kinds of groves, places of sacrifice, and places connected with folk tales as archaeological sites (see more Lang 2006a, 20). And although many of these sites were removed from the lists of prehistoric sites during the 1920s – because 73

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they did not correspond to the prevailing positivist understanding of archaeological sources at the time when professional archaeology was established – they are again included in the present-day scholarly treatment as sources of place-related cultural heritage (e.g. Valk 2006). Estonian interpretations I In the early 1920s, the social and political situation changed dramatically. The country had been politically liberated from the power of the Russians and Germans. Nevertheless, culture and science, archaeology among them, had not yet become independent from Baltic German influence. The young and developing Estonian nation state needed its own identity and history – now much more than in the period of national awakening. Therefore it is not surprising that the prehistoric times became a period of ‘ancient independence’, and the crusades of the early 13th century became ‘the ancient war for freedom’. Aarne Michaël Tallgren, the first professor of archaeology at the University of Tartu (1922; 1925), as well as Estonia’s first professional archaeologists Harri Moora, Marta Schmiedehelm, and others, played an important role in the liberation of Estonian archaeology from the framework of the Baltic German interpretations. The first battle of our archaeology was with the Gothic theory, whereas there could not be much doubt in the fate of this battle after the victorious war against the Baltic German Landeswehr in 1919 – the supposed immigration of the Goths was replaced with trade and cultural contacts between northern Estonia and the south-eastern shores of the Baltic (Schmiedehelm 1923). It is true that the existence of a few Gothic trading points (colonies) was supposed as a compromise between the old and new interpretations 74

(Tallgren 1922, 128; Moora 1932, 45). After that the roots of the Estonians in their country started to extend – first up to the turn of our era; that is, the Estonian, south Finnish and north Latvian tarandgraves were ‘conclusively’ attributed to the ancestors of Finnic peoples instead of the Goths (Tallgren 1922; Moora 1932). Some time later it was supposed that the roots of Estonians could even be found in the Middle Neolithic Combed Ware Culture (EA I 1935). It was also stated that prehistoric Estonia had always (except the Mesolithic and early Neolithic) been part of Western cultural space, and therefore its eastern border (as fixed in the Treaty of Tartu in 1920) has not been an accidental but a natural border from time immemorial (Uluots 1935). Prehistoric society was regarded as relatively egalitarian with a modest role for the social elite. The entire social structure was regarded much more democratic than the corresponding feudalized societies in Western and Eastern Europe (EA I 1935, 197 f.). This conclusion was made before the wide and systematic investigation of our hill forts in the late 1930s and was based on the relatively uniform materials of cemeteries that did not enable essentially different interpretations by using the then existing methodology. It is interesting to notice that when some remarkable shifts occurred in national ideology in the 1930s – alongside with the rise of selfconsciousness of society – with an emphasis on pride and authority rather than on the earlier abstraction of ‘humanity’, and a focus on war, warrior, and hero instead of on a farmer and martyr (Kukk 2003), then also archaeological research and interpretations started to follow these changes (see Lang 2006a, 26 ff.).4 The most important 4   One can compare this development with similar tensions in Finnish archaeology. According to Derek Fewster (2006, 24, 27), the pe-

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action was the excavation campaign of prehistoric hill forts, which was initiated by Estonian National Clubs (a national movement in the late 1930s). Already the first preliminary results of this research (MEL 1939) gave enough reason to look at late prehistoric society in a different way. It appeared that it was more complex and more stratified. This suggestion was based on the discovery that our prehistoric hill forts were far from uniform by their location, dimensions, and importance; there had been larger centres of ‘counties’ and smaller residents of local chiefs (Moora 1939). But the time for the elaboration of new proper interpretations of the past came to an end. It is important to stress here that all these new interpretations were in accordance with the current archaeological methodology and theory. However, it would still be interesting to know how our prehistory would have been interpreted in the 1920s and 1930s if the War of Independence had been lost either to (a) the Baltic German Landeswehr or (b) the Bolsheviks. One might guess that the interpretation would have been rather different. The social order of the late 1930s entailed, however, (1) negating the preceding Baltic German interpretation of the past (implying that the War of Independence was won once more, this time mentally), (2) tracing the roots of Estonians and Estonian culture in their own country back to the Middle Neolithic, (3) treating Estonian culture as an integral part of Western culture since time immemorial, and (4) interpreting prehistoric society as a stable and

riod between 1918 and 1945 can be labelled as ‘militant medievalism’ when highly militaristic interpretation was added to the national antiquity. This shift was caused by the need to unite mentally (‘White’) Finnish people once more against a new (‘Red’) enemy both domestic (the Civil War) and foreign (the Bolsheviks).

democratic organisation without distinct social stratification. For example, it is in the framework of such a social order (no. 2) that one can understand the research of the young archaeologist Artur Vassar (1938; 1943). He established a bridge of continuity between the stonecist graves of the Late Bronze and PreRoman Iron Ages and the tarand-graves of the Roman Iron Age. Soviet interpretations New dramatic changes in our interpretations of the past took place in the 1940s and 1950s. The entire research was subject to the political control of the Communist Party and its Marxist-Leninist ideology. It stopped being a normal social (public) order, which then directed the interpretations of the past; it became now the state or party order (not only for the past but also for the future), which had to be followed under the threat of repressions (Fig. 2). It would take too long to analyse this order properly; therefore only four main points will be made. First, the (pre)history of Estonia had to be in accordance with the general history of the Soviet Union because it was regarded as an integral part of the latter (Moora 1954, 6). Such a treatment of history had to justify the belonging of Estonia to the Soviet Union. From the perspective of our prehistoric society it meant that the overall historical development had to conform to that of north-western Russia. One of the consequences was the ‘establishment’ of early feudal society in Estonia in the Late Iron Age, which had to suit to feudal relations of the Old Russian State. This interpretation was based on both archaeological and written data – the existence of elder, better, and richer people in the chronicle of Henry of Livonia (while Lembitu was considered to be a 75

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remarkable early-feudal nobleman), the existence of hill forts that most likely belonged to nobles because their building and maintenance needed the exploitation of the labour of dependent people, the existence of the concept of ploughland used in the counting of land and taxes, and the existence of the vakus-institution as taxcollection territories before the GermanDanish conquest in the early 13th century (EA I, 1955, 86 ff.). Although since the late 1960s such evidence has been interpreted more reticently in terms of social stratification (see below), one has to realise today that it can still be relevant when evaluating the development of prehistoric society (e.g. Lang 2002; 2006b). Second, Estonian history had to conform to the ideas of Marx and Engels about the development of socio-economic formations. Therefore, a new periodization of prehistory was elaborated (matriarchal and patriarchal clan societies, termination of clan societies, class society, etc.; see Moora 1954; Vassar 1954). The new periodization was artificial and arbitrary because it was based on a theory of development of social relations and not on archaeological evidence, on the basis of which such a theory could have been elaborated (for a more detailed discussion see Lang 2006a, 30). However, such a treatment had to justify Socialist revolutions, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and worldwide development towards Communism. Third, the relations between ancient Estonians and Russians had to be depicted as friendly and peaceful throughout the periods when they had been neighbours, and the higher stage of social and cultural development of the latter had to be recognised. It was not possible anymore to regard Estonian areas as a part of Western cultural sphere, even before the Russians or Slavs had become their neighbours. Thanks to the capture of prehistoric Tartu 76

in 1030 (regarded as the foundation of the Russian town Yuryev), the Estonian areas were united with the Old Russian State, which in some studies was even regarded as an ancient forerunner of the Soviet Union. This circumstance, too, had to justify the incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union in 1940. And fourth, the entire earlier research – both the Baltic German and Estonian research before the Second World War – had to be critically and negatively re-evaluated, proceeding from the Marxist theory of class struggle. Naturally, there were thousands of other details where the party order had to be considered. It is important to stress in this context that here one can clearly see Orwellist re-writing of the past according to the orders and political needs of the dominant groups. The entire interpretation of the past had to follow the dictate of the party, any deviation could mean repressive action by the state. Therefore, it is noteworthy that despite the totalitarian regime, some elements of a real social order for a somewhat different past developed gradually in the late 1950s and 1960s. The ‘shapers’ of this social order were the leading scholars of this period who were well versed in the nuances of the party order and were able to discover those windows of opportunity that were left open by the dictatorship of the ‘proletariat’. Several other intellectuals joined later. This social order had twofold consequences for Estonian prehistoric society as a research subject. The research into ethnic history in the 1950s achieved a clearly positive result. The topic, which had been already explored in the 1930s, was rediscovered recently for several reasons (see more Lang 2003; 2006a, 32 f.). First, Harri Moora, the initiator of this research, had been forced to sharply criticise his own contribution of the 1930s (EA I, 1935). Moreover, the

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situation demanded the presentation of a new ‘Marxist’ conception (Moora 1949). Second, Estonia’s eastern borders had meanwhile been ‘opened up’, and there was now access to the archaeological evidence of the easternmost Finno-Ugrian peoples in Russia, which enabled a more thorough examination of this research problem. Third, the ethnic studies (i.e. research into the possibly deep-reaching roots of one’s own people) implied some hidden aspirations to provide a scientific justification to the primeval right of the Estonians to live in their own country, which was no longer so self-evident in the new political situation. In this latter sense, one can claim that contemporary ideological struggle shifted to the battlefield of science. The research results (EREA 1956) offered a firm and scientifically solid base for several decades, which in turn formed a social desire – not bounded by the party ideology – for the representation of Estonians as a native people in their own lands almost since the beginning of time.5 A large number of studies have been written afterwards in order to follow this social order. The re-evaluation of the developmental stage of late prehistoric society in Estonia appeared to be more problematic. As   It is interesting to note that the authors of this theory did not consider another standpoint about the possible ethnic history of the FinnoUgrians. As early as in 1948 Richard Indreko had published a paper in which he pointed out that the Finno-Ugrians had been the first settlers of the eastern Baltic region namely from the beginning of time (i.e. since the melting of the ice sheet) (Indreko 1948, 13). The denial of Indreko’s work published in exile was undoubtedly motivated by political reasons that developed in Estonia in the 1950s. The theory of Moora and others (EREA 1956) was untouchable and official in Soviet Estonia for almost 40 years, which was mainly due to both the scholarly and administrative authority of these leading scholars (see more Lang 2001). 5

noted, the first occurrences of class society were dated to the Middle Iron Age in the 1950s, whereas the Late Iron Age was considered a time of early feudal relations (Vassar 1954). In the 1960s, when the political situation became somewhat more liberal and enabled some limited scientific debate, Moora and the historian Herbert Ligi made a change in the existing approach, stating that in the Late Iron Age one could only speak of the rise of early feudal relations and very modest economic differentiation and not an early feudal society as such (Moora & Ligi 1970). Later other archaeologists and historians also began to share this opinion. As pointed out by Priit Ligi (1995, 189), one must see some ideological aspects behind this shift. First, there was the political background because this step helped to alter Late Iron Age society in Estonia in contrast to that of the Old Russian State and thus to contest the claim that the areas of Estonians belonged to it. Second, there was an impact of national-romanticist ideology because this change made it possible to imperceptibly revive pre-war ideas about ‘national equality’ (i.e. egalitarian society of farmers) in our treatment of prehistoric society (for a more detailed discussion see Lang 2006a, 38; Tamm 2009, 60). The result of this shift was, however, that Estonian society was considered relatively backward in comparison with its southern, western, and eastern neighbours. There are several reasons why the shift described above became widely accepted among the researchers. Perhaps the most important circumstance was that the dogmatism of Marxist-Leninist treatment of society had frightened away essential and theoretical analyses of social topics. Instead, the researchers concentrated on the study of single sites and artefact typologies, and if there was a desperate need to handle social developments, some references were made to the ‘classical’ authors 77

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of Soviet archaeology (and, of course, to Marx, Engels, and Lenin). Therefore, every fresh and not-so-Soviet interpretation was accepted quickly and without criticism, and using their own authority, they introduced it to the general public. Estonian interpretations II Keeping in mind what was said above, it is hardly surprising that after regaining independence the peak of theoretical discussions in archaeology focused on the analysis of the development of prehistoric society. On the one hand, it is obvious that no free nation can accept such an interpretation of the past that regards its ancestors as a backward and primitive people in comparison with their neighbours. Their developmental stage could be d i f f e r e n t but not primitive. A new social order for the past was therefore in the making. On the other hand, there was no new ready-made interpretation because our archaeology was also in a deep crisis at that time. Keeping this in mind, one can easily understand why our archaeologists at first focused on the interpretations of ‘old Estonian times’. Moreover, symbolically one could see here continuity in the treatment of history between the first and the new independence periods (Kivimäe 2000, 126). Kodu lugu (‘The Story of Home’), a monograph by Mart Laar, Lauri Vahtre, and Heiki Valk (1989), fulfilled that task well; yet, it turned to be clearly insufficient after some years. In the early 1990s Priit Ligi initiated a public discussion about our interpretations of the past in the popular literary journal Looming (‘Creation’). He was the first among our archaeologists who could carry out advanced studies in Sweden. After becoming acquainted with modern theoretical approaches, he presented his critique of the existing treatments of the 78

past – both the orthodox-Marxist and the ‘old Estonian’ ones (Ligi 1993; 1994a-b; 1995). His own approach was clearly individualistic and idealistic; in his view the main engine of the changes in society lay both in the social strategy of the elite and in cyclical changes of ideology where the phases of legitimacy and consolidation were continuously interchanging. The reactions to Ligi’s interpretations were at first very painful (Tõnisson 1994a-b; Selirand 1994; Kriiska & Tvauri 1996), but they died down rather quickly. However, although the possibilities for new interpretations were now opened up, they did not follow exactly the path shown by Ligi in his preliminary works (he passed away in 1994). As there are several analytical articles about the essential changes in the interpretations of the past in Estonian archaeology during the 1990s and 2000s (Konsa et al. 2003; Konsa 2006), there is no need to take up this topic again. A much more relevant question is the possible existence and nature of the social order today. Although it is argued that political pressure has disappeared (Konsa 2006, 50), this does not mean that there is no social order anymore, because this is a part of social reality anyway. Without going into details, I would like to draw attention to four directions that could be regarded as aspects of the social desire for the interpretations of the past today. First, there is a clear contrast with orthodox Marxist history treatment. Today’s society cannot accept narratives about matriarchal and patriarchal clan societies or class struggle as a guiding force of development. From the theoretical point of view, different Anglo-American postprocessual approaches have replaced the previous Marxist-Leninist methodology.6 6   As for other Baltic states witnessing the same political changes and disappearance of ortho-

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Second, there are attempts to show the social, economic, and cultural developments in Estonia as contemporary and equal to those that took place in the neighbouring countries, particularly in Scandinavia. These strivings are caused, perhaps, by the unconscious desire to get rid of the inferiority complex and ‘prehistoric pessimism’ (as described by Ligi) and to handle the prehistory of one’s own people in the same framework as that of other peoples in the Circum-Baltic area. Both new archaeological discoveries (e.g. the Bronze Age field systems and their interpretation in terms of the development of proprietorship rights; Lang 1995; 1996; 2007) and re-evaluation of old dates (e.g. Lang 1992; Mägi 1995; 1997; 2002) have enabled archaeologists to meet these wishes. Third, instead of equality, archaeologists accept a rather sharp stratification of society since the Late Bronze Age, wherein they look for the stimulator of the socioeconomic developments in social competition and struggle for power in the society. This understanding rests on the results of the analysis of Estonian stone graves, according to which only a small part of society has been buried there throughout all the periods since the Late Bronze Age. It has been regarded as evidence to consider these graves as elitist (Lang & Ligi 1991; Mägi 2002; Mandel 2003). Prehistoric hill forts are not treated anymore as fortifications erected by the whole society against a foreign enemy. Rather, archaeologists

dox Marxism, it is interesting to note that from the point of view of theoretical directions mostly processual approaches have been developed in Latvia (Sne 1999, 105 ff.) while non-theoretical empiricism and culture-historical attitude seem to prevail in Lithuania (Paberžytė & Costopoulus 2009). The future will show whether and in what circumstances the prehistories of these nations will differ from each other.

regard them as forts the building of which was organised by the leaders of social upper class in order to maintain, expand, and expose their power positions, whereas the hill fort districts formed an important part of the administrative structure of those times (Lang 2002; Mandel 2004; Valk 2008, 68 ff.). On the one hand, archaeologists have reconstructed a prehistoric society which could function also in reality (according to the previous interpretations, the society consisting mainly of free peasants was actually left without leaders). On the other hand, one can undoubtedly draw some interesting comparisons with the quickly stratifying modern Estonian society. Fourth, there is a tendency to see the roots of the Estonians in their country as reaching back to the melting waters of the ice sheet, i.e. to the Early Mesolithic. An accompanied tendency is to deny larger immigrations in later times from both the east (Combed Ware Culture) and the south (Corded Ware Culture), though all kinds of smaller movements are considered possible in all periods (Lang 1998; Kriiska 2003). Although further research into ethnic history is hindered by the theoretical problems of combining archaeological and linguistic data, it is also difficult to question the standpoint according to which we still bear at least some components of the very first settlers of our country. Against the wider background, this approach links what is now Estonia more densely with the rest of southernand western Europe. A social order for research on the topic “Estonia and Europe: historical unity from the past to the present” has been taking shape since the turn of the millennium (see Kivimäe 2000, 130). Although one can find more common trends in the interpretation of the past, these four tendencies seem to be the most important features characterising the 79

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social order today. It is difficult to imagine any scholarly study in Estonian society and archaeological circles which would contradict any of these directions. Conclusions To sum up, one may ask once again how the social order for the interpretation of the past and creation of modern identity takes shape, particularly where open democratic societies are concerned. It should be obvious that there are two equally important parts: (1) open society with its general ideology, and (2) archaeology with its scientific tools for the scholarly investigation of the past. Should one of these components change, the interpretation of the past will change as well. It should be remembered, however, that the social order provides only a general framework for the interpretation, whereas thousands of details are left for the specialists to study. One is tempted to ask why archaeology alone is not enough, why one needs society to explain the changes in the interpretations? In order to answer, one should refer to both the 1920s and the 1940s in Estonia – no remarkable archaeological discoveries were made in those decades; yet,

the whole treatment of history changed in a very noticeable way due to dramatic changes in the society only. In the 1990s, however, the socio-political changes were followed by new discoveries in archaeology, which resulted in a remarkable change in the general treatment of prehistory. Thus, the opinion that the general conception of our prehistory is a result of purely scholarly investigation is nothing but an illusion. Of course, the social order cannot be in sharp disagreement with the achievements of archaeology; yet, the archaeologists cannot disregard the ‘justifiable’ expectations of the society for its past either. The question whether scholars should fight against such a social order is therefore a relatively redundant one. Naturally, one has to fight against stupidity, but otherwise such a fight makes no sense because our prehistory does not belong to the archaeologists alone; it belongs to everyone who is interested in it. Acknowledgements This study was supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory).


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THE BALTIC BRONZE AGE IN THE LIGHT OF IDENTITY THEORY Algimantas Merkevičius In the recent few decades, archaeology, like other human and social sciences, has begun to reorient itself around the notion of identity. This article analyses the notion of archaeological identity, as well as different categories and levels of identity. According to Kristiansen, a system of regional cultural traditions or cultures was formed in Europe in the Late Bronze Age. He distinguished eight such European regional traditions. The (east) Baltic region is not included in Kristiansen’s grouping of the European Late Bronze Age. Nonetheless, the Baltic region in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age has its own specific cultural and social features, so it is distinct from the other European regions and had its own regional sociocultural identity. So, we can distinguish a further, ninth European region – the Baltic region. This region features a few smaller areas and microregions with their own identities. The features of this region comprise smaller sociocultural groups, which inhabited territories of various sizes, with their own cultural and social identity. The smallest unit was the family level; the second level was the village community, the third was the society or tribe level. The fourth level is a cultural group, which involved a few tribal societies. The fifth level includes large regional cultural traditions with a few cultural groups. The smaller the human group and the territory it occupied, the more regular interaction occurred between the people of the group, the more similar and unified material culture they produced and used; thus the higher cultural identity level can be discerned in the remains of material culture by archaeologists. Key words: Bronze Age, east Baltic region, archaeological identity, cultural identity, social identity, territories, levels of identity, categories of identity, identity model. Algimantas Merkevičius, Department of Archaeology, Vilnius University, 7 Universiteto Str., LT-01513 Vilnius, Lithuania; [email protected]

Introduction Identity is a complex notion which has recently become very popular in social and humanitarian disciplines. In the recent decades, archaeology, like other human and social sciences, has begun to reorient itself around the notion of identity. In the social sciences theoretical works on the notion of identity first appeared in the 1960s, and in archaeology such studies began in the 1980s,

approximately. During the last two decades, numerous works addressing the issue of identity in archaeology in one way or another have been published (Graves-Brown et al. 1996; Preucel & Hodder 2001; Meskell 2001; Meskell & Preucel 2004; Insoll 2007; Giles 2008). In these studies all the fields of societal activity, including warfare, trade and exchange, burial, lifestyle, societal organization, religion, ideology, etc. are analysed and grouped around the notion of 85

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identity. One can notice that there are different theoretical approaches and even regional traditions as regards the notion of identity. Different identity concepts are offered and aspects analysed. Yet, as most researchers maintain, it is still a very wide and ambiguous notion, involving a wide variety of perceptions (Meskell & Preucel 2004, 122; Čiubrinskas 2008b, 13). In view of the importance of the subject, the fourth Baltic Archaeological Seminar (BASE4) was therefore devoted to the issue of identity. Though significant theoretical works related to the concept of identity appeared only in the last few decades, archaeologists have been using certain c a t e g o r i e s o f i d e n t i t y, such as race, nationality, culture, ethnicity, and others, since as early as the 19th century. In one of her articles Melanie Giles has reviewed and analysed the use of those different categories of identity in archaeology since the 19th century and up to the present day with reference to the Celtic matter (Giles 2008). The article reveals which identity categories were of importance in one or another period of research history, and how they replaced one another. A number of recent archaeological works not only use one or another category of identity, but also examine various sets of categories and their combinations, suggest a variety of theoretical models, and discuss diverse aspects of the notion of identity. The aim of this article is to analyse some theoretical positions on the notion of archaeological identity, to distinguish different social and cultural units of lower levels with their features, and to differentiate the east Baltic region with its own specific cultural features, thus also with its own sociocultural identity, shaped in the Bronze Age. 86

Definition and construction of identity According to Clive Gamble, “The basic point about identity, power, ethnicity and nationalism is that the archaeological facts that we use to explore these concepts are some of the most theory-laden in the whole subject” (Gamble 2004, 190). So, the beginning of the article raises key questions. What is identity? How is it perceived and defined in various archaeological works? Which definition is applicable to archaeological identity? A summary of the various approaches of different authors leads to an assumption that identity can be defined as an entirety of similar features, qualities, and characteristics of individuals or groups which associate them with each other, in contrast to what differentiates them from other individuals or groups. Identity is what makes a separate individual or social group similar and what distinguishes them from other groups or individuals. Different archaeological studies give various and even differing definitions of identity. Regular differences of approaches exist due to the breadth of the concept as well as the numerous and various aspects of identity. Definitions of identity range from rather concrete and applicable ones to extremely abstract and hardly applicable, as, for instance, in the article by Giles, maintaining that, “At the heart of studies on identity lies an interest in what it means to be human, both now and in the past” (Giles 2008, 330). As stated by Vytis Čiubrinskas (2008a, 7), identity entails the manifestation of a wide range of the fundamental elements of human grouping. Many authors who explore identity highlight the concept of similarity. However, the construction of similarity and difference is a very subjective act. In an article theorising identity, Robert W. Preucel and Ian Hodder maintain that the

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important question related to the issue of identity is “How do people recognize similarity; how do they mark difference?”; furthermore, “how is ‘the Other’ created” (Preucel & Hodder 2001, 601). And the ‘Other’ is the opposite of ‘Self ’ (Preucel & Hodder 2001, 610). A similar view is expressed also by Meskell and Preucel, who described social identity as the “tension between the assumed structures of sameness and difference” (Meskell & Preucel 2004, 133). A comparable concept is used by many other archaeologists as well, so the main problem here is to answer the question, what is meant by ‘similarity’ and ‘difference’, and furthermore, what criteria should be chosen to define these concepts? The differentiation of features of distinct categories of identity, of similarity and difference, self and other, most often employs dichotomies: male – female, white – black, primitive – developed, etc. “The ‘Other’ is simply the opposite of ‘Self ’” (Preucel & Hodder 2001, 610). In their formulation of identity Meskell and Preucel claim that, “In framing identity today, archaeologists and other scholars who concern themselves with the social world investigate how individuals and collectivities are distinguished in their social relations with other individuals and collectivities” (Meskell & Preucel 2004, 121). This definition speaks about social relations, that is, social identity. Meanwhile, the definition given by Wells draws attention to another aspect of identity, describing it as the instrument of identification, as the self-ascription of an individual to a certain group of people. According to Peter Wells (2008, 357), identity is “[…] feelings of belonging and of commonality among a group of people, and of difference from members of other groups”. The various aspects of identity are summarised by Čiubrinskas. He describes those aspects as follows:

“Identity, or rather identities (identifications), can be perceived as a broad social cultural establishment, which comprises: ■ self-awareness, as self-delineation and as landmarks which others set for us; ■ personal and interpersonal or collective linkages in relation to other/ different; ■ relatively stable, continued / replicated mentalities, behaviours and sensations of commonness, of belonging to a certain group; ■ permanent process of constructing linkages and disassociations and its shapes, subject to definite changes” (Čiubrinskas 2008b, 13–14, translated by the author). In analysing such categories as sameness and differences, and self and others, the question of ‘who makes the decision?’ arises. Is it the person or the group itself who defines its identity, or is the identity defined by somebody else? As mentioned above, the quoted definitions of identity reveal that the answers to this question differ. Some define identity as self-ascription to a certain group (Wells 2008, 357), others maintain that identification can be done and is done by others. According to Meskell and Preucel, “There is also a significant difference between self-identification and the ways in which others identify and taxonomize people […]” (Meskell & Preucel 2004, 124). We can identify ourselves with one group, while others can attribute to us a quite different group identity. Furthermore, identity is not an objectively existing entity; it is always constructed and changing. In her comment on Joanna Brück’s opinion, Giles states that, “identity is not an inherited or fixed quality […]” (Giles 2008, 343). According to Rosemary A. Joyce and Laurie A. Wilkie (2008, 1485), identity is “fluid, actively constructed, and multiscalar”. 87

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The starting point for the research of identity in archaeology is the assumption that for prehistoric people, similarity and differences can be detected in examining their material culture. People created and used material objects to express their identities and their identities are formed by the material culture with which they surround themselves (Wells 2008, 357). Material culture has a symbolic role today, and we can assume that this has been the case throughout the prehistory and history of mankind in the reproduction of identity. Material objects of prehistoric people are material symbols of their identity. There are a few or several central symbols which are diagnostic for a certain cultural or social group. One can distinguish some diagnostic types of sites and artefacts, and their examination enables the reconstruction of some identity groups. Joined into one entity, these diagnostic objects provide a certain identity model. One needs not only to identify the objects, but also to reconstruct the meaning of these diagnostic objects as well as other material objects used by the individual or the group. But it is not possible to simply read identity from material records that archaeologists explore (Joyce & Wilkie 2008, 1483). Depending on the context, specific categories of identity are of different importance. One category, e.g. the religion practised by the group, is more important in one case, while another one, e.g. the association with a certain ethnic group, is central in another case, etc. Thus, an individual or a group always entails not just one, but several different categories of identity. As Gamble (2004, 206) claims, “identity […] is best conceptualised as a set of overlapping fields”. Merged into one unit, they all comprise a certain model of identity. In our construction of a subject’s identity, we use certain selected criteria, 88

features, and attributes, with the help of the comparative approach. People may identify with others or distinguish themselves from others through very different manifestations: habits of dress, religious practices, foodways, organisation of household space, and others. All these may leave material residues for archaeological investigations and interpretations (Joyce & Wilkie 2008, 1484). Categories and levels of identities in archaeology Two main levels of identity can be distinguished: individual or personal, and group or collective identity (Meskell & Preucel 2004, 125; Joyce & Wilkie 2008, 1485). For the individual level, different categories of identity or identities are distinguished: gender, sex, age, social status, rank, race, ethnicity, religion, and others. At the group level, some of the categories are the same, and some are different. The main categories are: ethnicity, race, social, cultural, religious, and others. But there is an indivisible link between individuals and groups, because all the groups, from the smallest one to the largest, are composed of individuals. Human groups are different in size, and each has a specific identity, differing from that of other groups. It is here, with regard to social and cultural groups, that identity levels are of importance. Allen W. Johnson and Timothy Earle (1987) distinguished family-level groups, local groups, and regional groups. In his analysis of the Scandinavian burial traditions in the Bronze Age, Joakim Goldhahn distinguishes three main levels of human groups and their traditions, namely: local, regional, and interregional (Goldhahn 2008, 78). In the analysis of trade and exchange in the later Bronze and Iron Age, Wells distinguishes the “[…] personal,

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family, residential community, regional community, nation, and so forth” (Wells 2008, 357). Below, we shall see how in the European Bronze Age different cultural and social groups and different levels of identity are distinguished. Kristian Kristiansen (2000 (1998), 66) categorises prehistoric people both vertically (farmers and chiefs) and horizontally (settlement groups and tribes). He also referred to the horizontal section as “[…] geographical levels of cultural identity in material culture in Bronze Age Europe” (Kristiansen 2000 (1998), fig. 28). He distinguished four geographical levels: (from the smallest to the biggest), “community/settlement cluster, local groups, regional tradition/culture, cultural complex” (ibidem). This article divides human groups in the east Baltic region into certain different social and cultural groups on the basis of their number, homogeneity in material culture, and the size of the territory they occupied. These groups also reflect a certain social organisation, from the smallest group to the largest. As indicated by the available evidence, the smallest unit of group identity was a nuclear family, which in the east Baltic Bronze Age consisted of approximately 4–5 members (Vasks 1994, 120; Lang 1996, 619; Merkevičius 2005, 49; 2007, 96). Along with the nuclear families extended families also existed. Thus, the smallest human group, which also occupied the smallest territory, was the family. During the period under discussion, especially starting with the Late Bronze Age, separate families differentiated, acquired more independence, and controlled a certain residential and economic territory. The second level of group identity was a lineage or a kindred village community, which comprised a group of kindred families (Merkevičius 2007, 96). Its territory

was already bigger, and, with reference to the investigation of some territories in western Lithuania, could cover about 1 km2 (Merkevičius 2007, 98). According to John Bintliff, farming communities might be associated with territories of up to 5-kilometre territorial radius (Bintliff 1999, 506). Several lineages or kindred communities comprise a society or tribe with their own territory, the third level of group identity (Merkevičius 2007, 96–97). Societies at that time in the Baltic region were separate, autonomous socio-political entities, which controlled a certain territory, had various common institutions, more or less constant interactions, as well as diverse interdependencies (Merkevičius 2007, 96). Several societies or tribes, which were related in terms of language, culture, and territory, formed quite closely linked societal or tribal groups. They had rather close interactions in certain fields, such as exchange of goods, gifts, marriage contacts, and religious relations. Kristiansen names territorial groups of this type “stylistic regions with localized style variations and […] metalwork” (Kristiansen 1997, 27). Such stylistic regions are called cultural groups (Merkevičius 2007, 97–99). This is the fourth level of group identity. Kristiansen claims that in Scandinavia these stylistic regions were “approximately 500–1000 km2, 20–40 km across, normally with one or a few central places” (Kristiansen 1997, 27). The fifth level of group identity is a large region with its own cultural traditions, including several cultural groups. Kristiansen has counted eight such ‘regional traditions’ in the Late Bronze Age Europe (Kristiansen 2000 (1998), 63–68; fig. 26). Thus, we can distinguish five different levels of a social and cultural identity, from the smallest family level to the 89

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largest – the regional level. The smaller a human group and the territory it occupied, the closer interaction it had between members of the group, the more similar and unified the material culture such as types of sites and artefacts, as well as lifestyle, behaviour, cognition, and other cultural features, and the higher its group identity level. The other – vertical – section is comprised of different hierarchical social groups. In the east Baltic region hierarchical layers arose in the second half of the second millennium B.C. and especially at the end of the second millennium B.C. (Lang 1996, 620; 2007, 229; Merkevičius 2005, 49–50; 2007, 102). Three hierarchical layers can be distinguished: 1) chief and elite families, 2) communal, or farmers/stock-breeders, and 3) ‘dependents’ (Merkevičius 2005, 49). Families of these layers display differences in terms of the types of burial sites, habitation, working tools, ornaments, clothes, and the like (Merkevičius 2007, 102). Thus, every cultural group includes different social groups and layers with a different identity. Different communities comprised groups of relatively similar social identity in relation to other members of the same local/regional, hierarchical society. For instance, the elite layer in one region could have more similarities with the elite layer of another region than it had with the communal layers, not to mention the people of the ‘dependent’ layer. Each layer consists of sub-layers (Merkevičius 2005, 49).

“from Atlantic to the Carpathians and from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia” (Kristiansen 2000 (1998), 73). He distinguished eight such European regional traditions, which, according to Kristiansen “...shared certain prestige goods, and through elite exchange shifting patterns of interregional (international) exchange networks were formed, keeping the system together. Within each regional tradition local groups ... developed ... defined by specific local types. Below that level small community networks of local political territories may […] be defined” (ibidem). The east Baltic region is not included in Kristiansen’s grouping of the European Late Bronze Age. Nonetheless, the Baltic region in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age had its own specific social and cultural features, so it is distinct from the other European regions and had its own regional sociocultural identity. Therefore, we can distinguish a further, ninth European region – the east Baltic (Fig. 1).

The regional identity of the east Baltic Bronze Age society According to Kristiansen, a system of regional cultural traditions or cultures was formed in Europe in the Late Bronze Age 90

Fig. 1. Late Bronze Age Baltic regional tradition. Drawing by Algimantas Merkevičius.

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This region features a few smaller areas and microregions with their own sociocultural identities.

hill forts – were constructed. This type of settlement became a social centre of the society.

The Baltic cultural tradition in the Bronze Age

Areas of the Baltic sociocultural region

The Baltic cultural tradition emerged during the Early Bronze Age and took shape around the middle and second part of the 2nd millennium B.C. (Gimbutienė 1985, 61, 62). Like other European regions, it included local cultural elements as well as foreign cultural features of the neighbouring regions, especially those of central Europe and Scandinavia. Some of the incorporated foreign features were adjusted, transformed, or even localised and became native. One of the examples is the spiral motif, which spread in Europe in 3rd and 2nd millennium B.C. It was taken over in the east Baltic region as well as in other areas of the Old World, where it was adjusted and acquired specific traits. In the middle and second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. types of specific Baltic metal artefacts appear, including spiral pins, different types of spiral temple ornaments, spiral pendants, Nortican type axes and flanged axes of the east Baltic type. Specific amber and bone pendants with human images (head, whole body, etc.) were used for religious purposes. Religious rituals associated with the human body appeared whereby the head was separated from the body and placed inside the territory of the settlement. Specific stone artefacts such as snake-headed hoes were used for agricultural rituals. The imitation of different types of metal artefacts was widespread in the Baltic region since numerous and varied imitations have been found there. Such artefacts were made of flint, stone, bone, and antler (Merkevičius 2009, 66). Small-size fortified hilltop settlements –

As mentioned before, several cultural groups, including smaller cultural units, can be distinguished within the east Baltic region as well as elsewhere in the Baltic region. In comparison to the east Baltic region as a whole, these represent a different, less broad level of sociocultural identity. There are more similarities of cultural features in these smaller cultural groups than in the whole Baltic region. Valter Lang differentiates six regions of this type based on the data of settlements, graves, cup-marked stones, and artefacts found in Estonia (Lang 2007, 83). A quite similar number of cultural areas of this type can also be distinguished in Lithuania, the southern part of the east Baltic region. Conclusion Identity is a complex notion, which is still the object of continued debates. Different categories and levels of identity are distinguished. According to Kristiansen, eight large cultural regions, displaying their own cultural identity features, took shape in Europe in the Late Bronze Age. The east Baltic region in the Late Bronze Age was one of the large cultural regions, forming a separate, culturally distinct European region with its individual specific sociocultural identity. It is distinguished as a yet another – the ninth – large European cultural region. Furthermore, four levels of social and cultural identity are distinguished in this region, from the family and community level and up to the tribe – society and 91

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cultural group level. Each of these groups has its own sociocultural features, as well as its own identity. The smaller a human group and the territory it occupied, the more interaction between members of group, the more similar and unified its material culture – types of sites and artefacts – as well as lifestyle, behaviour, cognition and other aspects, and the higher its group identity level.


Acknowledgement I would like to thank Prof. Vytis Čiubrinskas for the interesting and valuable consultations on the different aspects of the notion of identity. Also I want to thank the three anonymous referees for their valuable comments, and especially Prof. Mika Lavento, Mervi Suhonen and Arvi Haak for their patience, constructive criticisms, comments, and careful editing of the article.



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Merkevičius, A. 2009. Material culture and social memory in the east Baltic societies during the Bronze Age and the Pre-Roman Iron Age. – Memory, Society, and Material Culture. Papers from the Third Theoretical Seminar of the Baltic Archaeologists (BASE) held at the University of Latvia, October 5-6, 2007. Eds A. Šnē & A. Vasks. Interarchaeologia, 3. Rīga, Helsinki, Tartu, Vilnius, 59–69. Meskell, L. 2001. Archaeologies of identity. – Archaeological Theory Today. Ed. I. Hodder. Polity, Cambridge, 187–213. Meskell, L. & Preucel, R. W. 2004. Identities. – A Companion to Social Archae-


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ON THE IDENTITY OF PREHISTORIC LAKE DWELLERS IN LITHUANIA Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė Fortified hilltop settlements are a known phenomenon from prehistory, appearing in eastern Lithuania during the Late Bronze Age Brushed Pottery culture. Concomitant with hilltop sites, lake dwelling structures have now been identified as a new settlement type. This paper considers the role and place of the lake dwelling phenomenon among the dominant hilltop settlement type of the period. Emphasis is placed on the application of interdisciplinary scientific methods as a means to developing a discussion on the identity of prehistoric lake dwellers in Lithuania. Key words: Bronze Age, Iron Age, east Lithuania, fortified hilltop sites, lake dwellings. Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė, History Institute of Lithuania, Department of Archaeology, 5 Kražių St., LT-01108, Vilnius, Lithuania; [email protected]

Introduction The Bronze Age in Europe was marked by large changes in society (e.g. Kristiansen 2000; Harding 2000; Kristiansen & Larsson 2005). Both fortified hilltop sites and unfortified settlements are known to have existed in the Brushed Pottery culture during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in Lithuania, which embraced roughly the eastern regions of the country (Grigalavičienė 1995). This period marked an increase in economic development and an intensification of farming (Brazaitis 2005, 303). Population growth, the need for protection of property, the appearance of iron artefacts, and a variety of other factors fostered the establishment of fortified settlement sites during the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE (Merkevičius 2005, 45–50). The fortified sites were usually established on the top of a hill and were often protected by the nearby presence of streams, rivers, or lakes. They constituted “multi-functional

central places of power and wealth for the entire region, and had special functions: political-administrative, defence-related, economic (production and trade) and religious” (Merkevičius 2005, 46). It has been suggested that those fortified hilltop sites were probably inhabited by the chief and his family members (ibid.). Keeping in mind possible sampling and excavation biases, the discoveries of imported artefacts and evidence of bronze casting have only been reported from fortified hilltop sites (Grigalavičienė 1995, 102–107). Lake-dwellings are a settlement type which consists of houses built on slightly elevated structures next to or above a water body, such as lake shoals, floodplains, or river mouths. This type of settlement is known to have existed in prehistoric Europe; one of the most prevalent sets of sites have been discovered around the Alps (e.g. Ruoff 1987; Keller 2008 (1866)). In Lithuania this phenomenon has been reported from the Stone Age (Girininkas 95

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2005, 45), the later periods of the Bronze, and the first half of the Early Iron Ages (around 830–370 BCE). Such lake dwelling sites have been researched in Lithuania during the last decades (e.g. Menotti et al. 2005; Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2002). Presently, the researchers are focusing on the investigation of the Lake Luokesas I site (Baubonis et al. 2009; Pranckėnaitė et al. 2008). The remains of the site have been found underwater in Lake Luokesas, which is located in the Molėtai district of eastern Lithuania (see Fig. 1). The landscape morphology surrounding Lake Luokesas consists of undulating hills, with highlands (160–170 m height above the sea level) bulldozed by the last glacier and now covered with

forests, while the lowlands around the lake are mainly swamps (Menotti et al. 2005, 384–385). The lake has also two forest-covered islands (Baubonis et al. 2001, 229). Lake Luokesas is connected with other lakes on its eastern and western edges, joined by small creeks. The Lake Luokesas I settlement remains are situated on a morainic ribbon-shaped shoal in the northern part of the lake, which stretches from the shore to one of the islands (see Fig. 2). The settlement itself is situated about 45–55 m from the shore, in a location where the shoal forms an outward bulge into the deeper portion of the lake (see Fig. 2). As mentioned earlier, the remains of the lake dwellings are underwater at 1.10–1.90 m

Figure 1. A map of Molėtai district and the locations of fortified hilltop sites (hill symbol) in the area. Map: Zabiela 2010. The research area is located on the map of modern Lithuania. Map: The arrow indicates the location of Lake Luokesas.


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Figure 2. Lake Luokesas and the shoal of the settlement I (circled) in 2003. Photos by Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė.

in depth (Pranckėnaitė et al. 2008, 526). The cultural layer consists of acidic organic material incorporated into a basic (>7 pH) calcareous lake marl layer. In such an anaerobic environment low in bacterial activity a wide range of artefacts have been preserved, from bone and pottery to plant remains (Douterelo et al. 2009, 795). The excavations revealed vertically and horizontally distributed wooden building structures, a large quantity of Brushed Pottery type vessels and cups, birch baskets with hazel nuts, wooden spoons, a variety of wooden hammering tools, bone spearheads and harpoons, etc. (Baubonis et al. 2001; 2009; Pranckėnaitė et al. 2008). The site also contained precious bronze artefacts (Pranckėnaitė et al. 2008, 528). The main questions asked in this paper are: what is the place of lake dwellers in the Late Bronze – Early Iron Age society in Lithuania, and can we connect the lake

dwelling phenomenon with that of fortified hilltop sites? Setting the pace The identity of a group of people or an individual is often defined via their relationship or interaction with others, and by defining how ‘different’ they are from each other. In other words, identity defines what is unique about the individual and about the group (Wells 1998, 242). Cohen (1994, 145) states that interaction with the natural environment or means of subsistence defines identity. Jones (1997, 87–105) attempts to understand identity via internal and external interaction between an individual’s or group’s habitus. In order to approach answers to questions concerning the identity of Lake Dwellers in Lithuania, the author agrees with the view presented by Wells (2001, 97

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17), which claims that “one means of approaching questions of identity that involves less of our own preconceptions and categorizations is to focus on what the people we are studying actually did – an archaeology of practice – rather than concentrating on types of objects and categories of wealth in graves”. By studying the activities and subsistence strategies of lake dwellers in Lithuania and comparing them with those thought to be practised by occupants of fortified hilltop sites, we can approach the questions of lake dweller identity. The palaeoenvironmental situation, especially the past water level of Lake Luokesas, could have played a major role in the way people inhabiting lake dwellings identified themselves. The environment must have affected their dwelling building techniques, access to the settlement, and activities that were practiced at the site. Therefore, the lake dweller identity question must also been viewed via an environmental perspective. Applied methodology Information about past human activities, cultural peculiarities and behaviour lies not only in the artefacts produced by humans, but also in the context from where these artefacts have been retrieved; as Orton (2000, 148) put it, “the answer lies in the soil”. Applying a variety of scientific methods helps to strengthen our interpretations about the past and to tackle questions that usually are impossible to answer only from retrieved artefacts. The research methods listed below were applied to the Lake Luokesas I site, allowing the reconstruction of water level variation and human subsistence strategies at the site. Besides archaeological excavations, radiocarbon dating, zooarchaeological analysis, dendrochonological investigations (Menotti et al. 2005), micromorphology, 98

magnetic susceptibility, loss-on-ignition, particle size analysis, mollusc analysis, and archaeobotanical investigation of micro and macro plant remains were applied to the Luokesas I settlement by the author (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2007; 2008). Micromorphology is the study of undisturbed material in thin section. It allows features of soil/sediment horizons, their structures and boundaries, as well as the context and formation of archaeological deposits to be examined under the microscope (Goldberg & Macphail 2003; Matthews 2005). Since the bulk of soil/ sediment samples are observed in situ throughout the analysis of thin section slides, it provides archaeologists with an abundance of unique and reliable data to answer key archaeological questions about environmental changes, occupation sequences, uses of space, archaeological preservation, the nature of sediments, post-sedentary events, etc. (Matthews et al. 1997; French 2003). Soil micromorphology techniques were used in detecting Lake Luokesas palaeoenvironmental changes before, during, and after the lake dwelling occupation (MotuzaitėMatuzevičiūtė 2008, 36–45). Magnetic susceptibility reveals the level of concentration of ferromagnetic minerals within a sample (Allen & Macphail 1987). There are three main factors that can influence the level of magnetic susceptibility in a soil: parent material, pedogenic processes, and human activity (ibid.). Enhancement of the magnetic susceptibility signal may reflect sediment parent material. Magnetic susceptibility can vary with the sample type, quantity, particle size, and can correlate well with the presence of past human occupation (Thompson & Oldfield 1986; Ellwood et al. 1995). A magnetic susceptibility analysis was conducted at Lake Luokesas I site to reconstruct the sequence of fire episodes and intensification

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of human activity at the site (MotuzaitėMatuzevičiūtė 2008, 38). Loss in weight on ignition data is especially useful in conjunction with mineral magnetic values and particle results in helping to understand other readings and possible correlations among data (O’Connor & Evans 2005). The amount of water, organic material, carbon (charcoal), calcium carbonate, and silicates in the Lake Luokesas core samples, determined by loss in weight on ignition, have provided interesting results concerning the history of the lake sediment development due to natural or anthropogenic processes (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2008, 36). Particle size analysis can provide valuable data about the sedentary sequence of the core sample: changes in sediment structure, density, and the impact of low/ high energy flow (Orton 2000). Sediments that are finer grained silty clay indicate a deeper water level, whereas the sediments from the shallow side (littoral zone) are coarser (Wallace 1999). The investigations of the Lake Luokesas I cores provided information about variations in sediment particle size within the stratigraphy, indicating episodes of stratigraphy formation that varied between natural and anthropogenic in nature (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2008, 36–37). Molluscan analysis was used to detect the ecology of the Luokesas I settlement shoal (Motuzaite Matuzeviciute 2008, 37). This research was conducted together with the wet sieving of plant remains for macrobotanical investigation (MotuzaitėMatuzevičiūtė 2007, 123–136). Archaeobotany is the study of plant remains from archaeological sites (e.g. Pearsall 2000, 1–3; Renfrew 1973, 1–6). Archaeobotanical investigations are often conducted at archaeological sites with the aim of investigating past ecology and human/plant interaction (plant management and consumption) (ibid.). The

archaeobotanical investigation of macroplant remains, coupled with a pollen investigation at Lake Luokesas I site, provided implications concerning palaeoenvironmental conditions at the site and surrounding areas, wild plant food gathering, domesticated crop growing, processing stages and consumption (MotuzaitėMatuzevičiūtė 2007, 123–136). Discussion The archaeological investigation, woven together with scientific research methods presented above, enabled the construction of a narrative on past environmental conditions and human subsistence strategies at the site, as well as helping to answer the question whether the dwellers can be associated with the populations of nearby hilltop fortified settlements, or be treated as separate populations possessing their own identity. Firstly, the reconnaissance of the Lake Luokesas I site has revealed a double palisade wall established for protecting the settlement on its coastal side (Baubonis et al. 2001, 230). Possession of such a feature in common with fortified hilltop sites fits with the general assumption that, due to a variety of circumstances appearing at the end of the Bronze Age, the inhabitants had to protect themselves and their property by constructing fortifications (Merkevičius 2005, 45–50). The Lake Luokesas I settlement was occupied during the transition from the Subboreal to Subatlantic periods. These periods embrace the years of 3500/3000– 500 BCE (Subboreal) and 500 BCE – present (Subatlantic) (Gaigalas & Dvareckas 2002, 413; Seibutis & Savukynienė 1998, 52). The Subboreal period in Lithuania is known to have been dry and cold (Kabailienė et al. 2009), with increasing cold and precipitation at the end of 99

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the Subboreal (Gaigalas 2004, 243). The existence of a colder than present-day Subboreal climate has been indicated by the discovery of such plant remains as Betula nana (Dwarf birch), which probably grew in adjacent territories of the site (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2007). The micromorphological investigations of thin section slides produced from the core samples taken from the Lake Luokesas site have shown that some organic material has been replaced with iron oxides. Evidence of plant decomposition and the presence of soil mites, earthworm activity, and ash lenses of in situ burning of the organic peaty horizon have been detected. The highest abundance of fresh water mollusc species was discovered in the top and bottom layers of the core, but almost none in the anthropogenic horizons. These features serve as strong indictors about the oxygen rich conditions at different episodes of occupation, and the past exposure of the shoal surface to the open air. Having such evidence in hand, it can then be speculated that the lake dwelling inhabitants did not have to build their houses above water and live in a totally different manner as the populations on dry land, narrowing the gap of ‘difference’ between those populations. Nevertheless, a micromorphology study, as well as particle size analysis, and a presence of wetland plant species have indicated the existence of moist conditions at the site, including periodical site inundation events and human attempts to strengthen the island by bringing additional morainic rubble and sand to the site (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2008), similar, for example, to Scottish crannogs. So far a very small portion of the Lake Luokesas sediments has been analysed for plant remains; nevertheless, these analyses have revealed an important discovery connected with human diet and activities at the site. Archaeobotanical investigations of the Lake Luokesas site have identified 100

a range of edible wild and domestic plants that were probably consumed by humans, and their stock at the lake dwelling site (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2007). Up to date cereal pollen, arable weeds, emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) cereal grains, and chaff have been identified (ibid.). Taking into account the exceptional preservation conditions for plant remains at Lake Luokesas dwelling site, one can expect a much wider spectrum of edible wild and domestic plant species that remain to be identified in the future. The archaeobotanical investigations of macro plant remains as well as stable isotope analysis of human bone from the Late Bronze Age site of Turlojiškės (south Lithuania) have shown that common millet (Panicum miliaceum) was widely cultivated and consumed plant during this period (Antanaitis et al. 2000; Antanaitis & Ogrinc 2000; Antanaitis-Jacobs et al. 2001). The presence of cereal pollen at the Lake Luokesas I site implies the existence of an agricultural field adjacent to the site or/and crop processing of hulled wheat spikelets (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2007) during which the pollen grains were released (Out 2009, 189). Studies of modern pollen samples have shown that cereal-type pollen grains travel a very short distance from their host plants, in comparison to the pollen of other plants. There have been quite a few experiments performed which demonstrate that cereal pollen disperses very close to their parent plants, and that the number of cereal pollen decreases very rapidly within a short distance from agricultural areas (D’Souza 1970; Gatford et al. 2006). According to Hillman (1981), Stevens (2003), and Harvey et al. (2006), the presence of cereal parts and weeds reflects different stages of crop processing and helps to identify and separate arable ‘producers’ (who grew their own crops) from ‘consumers’ (who did not grow crops but received

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them via trade). Both threshing waste and grains of hulled wheat were found at the site, showing that crops were not only consumed but also grown and stored at the lake dwelling site and processed for their final grain-glume separation (see Fig. 3).

This material agrees well with the presence of cereal grinding tools at the site (Baubonis et al. 2001, 231). By possessing such data, it can be inferred that the Lake Luokesas I site was chosen for a variety of reasons. The first

Figure 3. Processing stages for hulled wheats. 1 – threshing, 2 – raking, 3 – winnowing: light weed seeds, some awns removed, 4 – coarse sieving: weed seed heads, unbroken ears, straw fragments removed, unbroken ears re-threshed, 5 – first fine sieving: small weed seeds and awns removed, 6 – pounding, 7 – second winnowing: paleas, lemmas, and some awns removed, 8 – sieving with medium-coarse sieve: spikelet forks and unbroken spikelets re-pounded, 9 – second fine sieving: glume bases, awns, remaining small weed seeds, tail grain, and awns removed, 10 – hand sorting: removal of grain-sized weeds by hand. After Stevens (2003, 63). Below: the waterlogged glume bases (left and middle) and charred grain (right) of emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) from Luokesas I lake dwelling site reflecting the final stages of crop processing. Photo by Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė.


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and major reason that drove people to live in this water-surrounded environment is safety. This can be clearly seen by the need for the double palisade wall for protection (Baubonis et al. 2001, 231). The other reason to live in an environment surrounded by water could have been to reduce the risk of fire hazard, which might have been a big problem when living in an area surrounded by forest where slash and burn agriculture took place (Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė 2008). A high rise in charcoal particles detected in pollen core sections dated to 1300–300 BCE suggests that fire was repeatedly used as a tool in landscape management, mainly to clear forest for agricultural practices (Gaigalas 2004, 249–250). As we can see from the Lake Luokesas I case study, the lowland territories around the lakes were advantageously exploited for pasture and agriculture, and therefore the settlement site might have been constructed on the island to economize the use of land. Living next to water provided access to fresh water food resources; the evidence of its exploitation, such as fish bones, have been found at the site (Menotti 2010). The good accessibility and waterway network also benefited trade and exchange. Exotic pottery fragments, found in a contemporaneous site across the lake (Menotti et al. 2005, 390) and bronze artefacts (Pranckėnaitė et al. 2008, 528) show the existence of long distance trading or exchange among the inhabitants of Lake Luokesas.


Conclusions Only a very small area of the Lake Luokesas I dwellings has been investigated so far, but presently we can see a close resemblance between the functions of lake dwellings and hilltop sites (food foraging, production, consumption, storage, protection, trade). Some aspects of material culture also reveal close similarities between these two settlement types (same pottery types, grinding stones, presence of bronze artefacts, etc.). Such similarities imply a close relationship between these two settlement types, or even their occupation by the same population. Therefore, the lake dwelling inhabitants cannot be separated from the other contemporaneous populations of the fortified hilltop settlements. In an approximately 15 km radius are around seven known hilltopfortified sites, some having Bronze Age occupation horizons (Zabiela 2010, fig. 1). The hill-top site dwellers together with the lake dwellers were all probably part of a fortified settlement network. Accurate seasonality studies have not been satisfactory conducted, but it can be speculated that hilltop inhabitants could have occupied the Lake Luokesas I site seasonally as a farmstead and food production site. The lake dwelling research is still under way which will bring possibilities to answer a much wider range of questions as the research unfolds.

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agricultural history of the area inhabited by the Baltic peoples, based on palynological, historical and linguistic data. – Environmental History and Quaternary Stratigraphy of Lithuania. Eds M. Kabailienė, U. Miller, D. Moe & T. Hackens. PACT, 54. Rixenart, 51–59. Stevens, C. J. 2003. An investigation of agricultural consumption and production models for prehistoric and Roman Britain. – Environmental Archaeology, 8: 1, 61–76. Thompson, R. & Oldfield, F. 1986. Environmental Magnetism. Allen & Unwin, London. Wallace, G. E. 1999. A Microscopic View of Neolithic Lakeside Villages on the Northern Rim of the European Alps. Unpublished PhD thesis. (Manuscript in the University of Cambridge, Department of Archaeology). Wells, P. 1998. Identity and material culture in the later prehistory of central Europe. – Journal of Archaeological Research, 6: 3, 239–298. Wells, P. 2001. Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe. Duckworth debates in archaeology. Gerald Duckworth & Co., London. Zabiela, G. Lietuvos Piliakalniai, http:// (visited 16.03. 2010). (visited 29.03.2010).



MY RESEARCH – MY IDENTITY CONTEXT AND HERMENEUTIC NATURE OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH Ester Oras All research is in some ways the outcome of a scholar’s contemporary context. In scientific discussions, misunderstandings, approvals, or disapprovals are sometimes the results of different personal backgrounds. The latter is also the reason why such personal circumstances cannot be ignored in scientific communication, but rather need to be elaborated on. In this self-reflecting article, aspects of contextual approach and hermeneutic theory are discussed in order to argue that every academic study depends on the background of every researcher – his/her personal context (identity). Based on previous discussions, the paper provides examples from the author’s own experience and also from the history of Estonian archaeology to show how the researcher’s context influences the processes of archaeological study and its final results. The aim is to demonstrate that acknowledging the subjectivity of archaeological research helps to understand other archaeological interpretations and evaluate our own research processes more critically. Such critical reflection enables more tolerant and fruitful discussions within archaeological discourse. Key words: contextual archaeology, hermeneutics, archaeological interpretation, identity. Ester Oras, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ, United Kingdom; University of Tartu, Institute of History and Archaeology, 2 Jakobi St., 51014 Tartu, Estonia Estonia; [email protected]

Introduction “Understanding starts first and foremost from the understanding of the field in which and against which we have been evolved.” (Bourdieu 2008, 10, my translation). The idea of personality and the influence of the researcher’s own context on academic research has been widely discussed on the pages of numerous books and articles on theoretical archaeology during recent decades (e.g. Hodder 1984; 1991a; 1991b; 1999; Pinsky & Wylie 1989; Shanks

& Tilley 1992; Johnson 1999; Jones 2002; Thomas 2004). The influence of scholars’ personal and social background has been pointed out in some Baltic archaeologists’ theoretical discussions as well (e.g. Sne 1999; Lang 2000, 10 ff; 2006; Konsa et al. 2003; Tvauri 2003; Konsa 2005; 2006, 42, 49; Paberžytė & Costopulus 2009). In brief, these scholars have shown that archaeological study is never a pure empirical and positivist objective process, but always influenced by the contemporary researcher: his/her social, political, academic, and purely personal background. Our personal record is something created 107

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during our lifetime starting from the family, childhood, and school years, and ending with academic institutions, supervisors, country of origin, politics and ideology, and so on. Some of these we cannot choose because they are things that we are born into. The others we choose, adopt, and transform through our personal preferences, interests, and dislikes, and reflect them in our archaeological research. In this paper I present a wider theoretical background for arguing that an archaeologist’s identity is encoded in research and, therefore, is something unavoidable. I present three broader categories that participate in the formation of a researcher’s identity and influence the research process: academic context, creation of archaeological data, and social context. Through these categories and the following examples I will highlight the inclusion of personality and argue that the acknowledgement of the researcher’s identity is a vital aspect in understanding how and why a specific scholar comes to his/her final results in archaeological research. Contextual archaeology Contextual archaeology is a branch of post-processual archaeology which has been mainly related to the works of Ian Hodder (1986; 1991a; 1991b; see also Preucel 1995; Trigger 2003, 348). As it has been stated, “[...] placing things in contexts is fundamental to understanding the past” (Shanks & Hodder 2005, 81). Hodder (1986, 120, 139) explains the term ‘context’ as a way to network and associate objects in different situations and as a sum of various elements that have a meaning for an object. It is generally accepted that besides pure ‘archaeological’ contexts, which have been called ‘methodological’ (Shanks & Hodder 2005, 84), that is material remains starting 108

from the artefact itself to its depositional environment, social contexts should be also considered in the process of interpretation (Hodder 1986, 121 ff, 171; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 116–134; Patrik 2000, 124; Thomas 2000, 9). This means that the social and cultural conditions of the artefact should be considered as well as the analysis of an artefact’s measurable characteristics and its situation of discovery in order to interpret and understand the material. It is evident that the concept of context in this sense is very broad and multifaceted. There are numerous ways to associate the different elements that play a role in archaeological research because artefacts are placed in various relations to other artefacts, environments, cultural circumstances, and so on (e.g. Hodder 1986, 121, 171; Thomas 2000, 9). Therefore, when using the contextual approach some kind of restriction has to be made as to which contexts should be considered. The choice of these relevant contexts depends on the specific research questions posed (Hodder 1986, 143). One of the ways of becoming aware of the variety of contexts relevant for archaeological interpretations is to frame them in broader concepts which can thereafter be narrowed according to the specific question. The latter is also used for describing the contexts of the researcher in the pages that follow. But context does not only relate to archaeological objects. Every single researcher has meaningful and influential contexts as a background of the research process (Wylie 1993, 24; Hodder 1999, 49–50; Johnsen & Olsen 2000; Tilley 2000, 425; Jones 2002, 6, 18; Trigger 2003, 484; Shanks & Hodder 2005, 84). As Leone (2005: 59) states, “[...] knowledge of another culture is always constituted through categories and methods that can never be freed from the scholar’s culture”. Each researcher is affected by his/

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her personal background, especially the political, ethnic, and ideological issues (e.g. Trigger 2003, 379 ff, Leone 2005, 61 ff; Tilley 2005). Thus, the question is: how are we to make all these different contexts work together in order to achieve our general goal – understanding and interpretation of the archaeological material? Hermeneutic circle From various possible philosophical theories hermeneutics has been probably one of the most important among post-processual archaeologists (e.g. Hodder 1991a; 1991b, 33–35; 1999; 2005; Preucel 1991, 21–23, 28; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 103–115; Preucel & Hodder 1996a, 10–11; Johnsen & Olsen 2000; Thomas 2000, 3; Shanks & Hodder 2005, 74; Whitley 2005, 13). These ideas have been also referred to in theoretical discussions in Estonian archaeology (e.g. Konsa et al. 2003; Konsa 2006, 46). The word ‘hermeneutics’ comes from a Greek verb hermeneuein ‘to announce, to translate, to interpret’ (Tool 2009, 379). According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Archaeology (Darvill 2002, 176) hermeneutics is “the art, skill, theory, and philosophy of interpretation and understanding, especially in relation to reading texts”. The roots of this approach relate mainly to the historians’ ideas of how to interpret different written sources (Tool 2009). The basis of hermeneutics is the idea of the hermeneutic circle: the standpoint that understanding of a whole is established by reference to the individual parts, and understanding of each individual part can be reached through the reference to the whole (Gadamer 1997, 183). At the same time, no interpreter can step out of his/her personal background. It is important to acknowledge these personal prejudices as part of hermeneutic interpretation (Gadamer 1997, 93–94).

Bringing these ideas of hermeneutics into archaeology, we first consider the process of interpretation. Material culture is seen as signs that are combined into ‘texts’ as a system in order to understand their meaning (Hodder 1999, 32). Determining the whole and the parts, one can talk about small details, artefacts, and features in the broader set of archaeological material (Hodder 1999, 33), or about the theory and the data that are fitted and tested against each other, continuously amended, evaluated, and fitted again (Preucel & Hodder 1996b, 307). Besides, what can be considered as a whole at one level of interpretation might be a part on another level and vice versa (Hodder 1999, 39). These wholes and parts are like various different contexts of the past object and of the current researcher. According to Hodder there are three important components of the hermeneutical approach in the archaeological interpretation. Besides the hermeneutic circle, there are pre-understandings and the historical nature of knowledge (Hodder 1999, 32–33). The latter two bring forth the role of the interpreter, that is, archaeologists, very clearly. Shanks and Tilley propose a fourfold hermeneutic nature of archaeological research in which the academic and social contexts of archaeologists are combined with past culture through an attempt to overcome a gap between past and present (Shanks & Tilley 1992, 107–108). It is now evident that the different contexts of the archaeological objects and the contemporary scholar are bound together in a hermeneutic circle which enables the explanation and interpretation of the archaeological material. Interpretation and decision-making cannot start from the blank page – we all have concepts, ideas, and generally accepted or preferred knowledge that influence our work. Pre-understandings and previous knowledge play an integral part 109

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in the process of determining the parts and the wholes, their relationships and variable levels, theories, problems, and methods to solve them (Hodder 1991b; Shanks & Hodder 2005, 74). Besides more or less data-related decisions, the archaeologist is always influenced by his/her personal social and cultural background. As Preucel and Hodder put it, “[...] different presents will always construct different pasts – indeed, the past is integrally part of the present, however much we might try to separate them” (Preucel & Hodder 1996b, 307). The researcher’s contexts within the hermeneutic circle In order to make the broad concept of a researcher’s contexts perceptible and clear, I have divided them into three general categories: academic contexts, question of data, and social contexts. The sub-categories within them are explained mainly through the examples of my own experience and through the case studies from the history of archaeology in Estonia. The following examples and sub-categories are not intended to form a comprehensive list of all the possible influential contexts of the researcher. They are rather aimed at highlighting the multifaceted characteristics of a researcher’s contexts that play a role in the process as well as in the outcome of archaeological research. Academic contexts Archaeologists mostly come from the higher educational system, which has its own preferences and sets of more or less popular ideas. What has been told to us in the lectures and seminars reflects the valid and recognised concepts in the field of a specific discipline. These include accepted 110

methodology and theory, primary data and sources, excellent and criticised examples, leading researchers, and many more. What is here named as academic contexts can actually be assembled under Kuhn’s concept of paradigm (2003). Kuhn’s paradigm covers scientific structures and achievements that provide the academic community with both problem-setting and -solving approaches, including also valid rules and theories, presumptions, methodology, and so on (Kuhn 2003). The idea of the influence of academic training on the results of the research is not new to archaeology (e.g. Wylie 1989b, 23; Olsen 1991; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 66, 263; Patrik 2000; Thomas 2004, 73–74; Gero 2007, 318). This starts with the questions chosen and problems to be considered and hypotheses to be tested, continues with deciding on research methods, and is always gathered under an umbrella of preferred theoretical standpoints in contemporary academic archaeology. For instance, even at the very beginning of research, the problems and questions we pose are inseparably related to our academic contexts. As always there are some more or less popular and influential research problems in the institution we decide to enter. Some are more focussed on theoretical, others on science-related research; some are considered as leading centres in the field, the others as provincial (Tilley 1989b, 54–55; Olsen 1991; Preucel & Hodder 1996a, 5). The preferences in research areas might also relate to scientific discoveries and innovations such as 14C-dating, DNA analyses, questions of ideology and identity, gender, and many others, but also with their acceptance and availability in the specific institute (Trigger 1986, 9). Some universities have longer traditions in laboratory research, others stress the importance of typology and chronology, yet others focus on theoretical discussions, and some

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even try to combine these different fields. Therefore, our choice of the problem for study and ideas of the answer we expect are related to the status quo in our specific academic environment. Methodology is also closely related to the academic context in which it is chosen, as that context defines generally acceptable and usable research methods for the specific archaeological study. From within a specific academic context, an archaeologist makes methodological choices in fieldwork, different dating methods, types of analysis, databases, computer programs, data separation and combinations, also visual representation of the results, and so on. Is it necessary or perhaps just a traditional idea to differentiate between barrows with stone structures and without them? Do we prefer to separate different past ethnic groups and interpret the material based on that? What kind of program is the best for radiocarbon dating calibration? These are just some examples of the methodological questions archaeologists deal with every day. The results depend on these decisions and may vary accordingly. Consideration starts also from the decision whether and to what extent it is necessary to carry out fieldwork at all. Excavation as something specific and distinctive to the field of archaeology does not necessarily need to be included in every single piece of archaeological research. It is often possible to use previous results and interpretations. Fieldwork might include only landscape surveys. Non-destructive methods are becoming more and more popular and preferred when and where possible. However, once it has been decided to use excavation as a research method, the question of specific excavation methods arises. The traditional usages of unit or context-based archaeology or layer-based archaeology are lively examples here. Which is preferable and understandable to one archaeologist does

not necessarily have to be the same to the others. The documentation and interpretation resulting from different field methods may vary. As an example of more private but still influential background to a scholar’s ideas are the subjective academic conditions forming the personal research environment and pre-knowledge (see e.g. Tilley 1989b; Potter 1991; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 251, 263). These are created through various levels of education, official higher education curricula, and also our study and research environment, supervisors, comrades, supporting staff, other students and many others. The encouragement to either explore new ideas or use the concepts of previous researchers comes to mind. Teaching methods and expectations, traditionally developed roles of supervisors, and academic and financial support might be mentioned as just a few of these affecting aspects of academic work. These and many more personal circumstances are enormously influential when starting and continuing the study of archaeology. The question of data The question of who actually creates the archaeological source material and how is a well-known issue in the theoretical and methodological discussions of archaeology (Hodder 1984, 27–28; Hanen & Kelley 1989, 17; Zubrow 1989, 47; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 65–66; Wylie 1992, 29; Patrik 2000; Lucas 2001; Gero 2007; Carver 2009). It has become more and more obvious that the archaeologist is not purely digging out objective data. He or she is actually creating the data while unearthing and documenting it (see e.g. Hodder 1997; Berggren & Hodder 2003; Thomas 2004, 244–245). This starts from the very recognition that something is to be considered as an archaeological source material at all. 111

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It also links to the preservation of material and the way archaeologist prefers to document, categorise, and define it. First is the choice of primary data. The process of investigation is bound to the available archaeological material. Of course a scholar is free to choose, but does that mean absolutely free? Many factors actually determine the sources (see e.g. Olsen 1991, 215). Frequently, at least at the beginning of an academic career, we tend to choose or perhaps are made to choose the topic that is more familiar to us or our supervisor. It is a matter of accessibility and personal preferences. The field is full of stories where the study of some material has turned out to be a dream or a failure because of the lack of specialists, supervisors, finances, or interest from specific higher education institutions. Of course these problems and situations are normal and natural parts of academic research, but from time to time it is just fruitful and refreshing to think about the reasons and impacts behind our main specialisation in archaeology. There is always a question about the level of representativeness and the wholeness of the existing data (Gero 2007, 316– 317). Key concepts that relate to this topic are the representation and fragmentation of the material, the level of preservation, and systems of storage and conservation. Every archaeologist has experience of how the research outcomes, the strength of the argument, the confidence in their assertions relates to the sum of material we have at our disposal. A badly preserved burial mound does not provide the same material as an untouched one. A small fragment of pottery might easily mislead us with the presumable dating of a new settlement site. A photograph of an artefact does not give the same analytical basis as a preserved and accessible object. Yet, every scholar has to make a decision whether and when to reject the usage of 112

specific data, when the data is determined to be sufficient or limited, and what conclusions we can draw from it. The latter is also connected to the questions of categorisation and definitions (Ucko 1990, xiii; Lucas 2001, 64–106; Gero 2007, 317–318). Having the data in hand and ready to use, the researcher is to decode both the specific material and the broader concepts of research area, for example typology, chronology, and find groups. Some of these might be straightforward and easy to find in the literature through clear definitions of specific terms. Mostly the latter are the main topics of the research as in my own example: “[...] talking about a wealth deposit I refer to one or more object(s) of value that is/are hidden deliberately” (Oras 2010, 124). But there are also a number of subconscious definitions, some of which relate to a researcher’s personal ideas and the others to the general scientific paradigm. For instance, is the concept of settlement defined by cultural strata, for instance organic-rich and dark soil with burnt stone debris, or by the find of pottery? Accordingly, when does one have enough pieces of ceramics to talk about the settlement site and not about the stray find? On which basis can we argue that we can see a distinction between seasonal ‘camps’ and (semi-)permanent settlement sites in the Stone Age? These are the decisions made by every archaeologist every day, based on the present empirical material and the general framework of interpretation. The example of changing definitions, due to newly-added data, is also something recognised by every archaeologist. For instance, when starting a study on wealth deposits, I had in mind objects made of precious metals. Later on, having new data in hand it became obvious that also iron and bronze objects ought to be included because of their similar contextual characteristics. Furthermore, if talking about

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value in prehistoric times, surely faunal and human remains should be considered too. This gives an example of the dynamic creation of data and definitions. Although the term used is the same, the definition and its meaning might be broadened or narrowed in the course of study. And last but not least, professional preknowledge, experiences, preferences, and interests (Ucko 1990, xiii; Gero 2007, 320–322) are of decisive importance to the question of data. These aspects play a role in both creating the set of empirical data and in documenting and interpreting it. The instances are easy to find. Longtime practiced specialists are of course more skilled in differentiating between hand-moulded or wheel-thrown pottery. It might be one of the hardest quests for an archaeology student to be able to distinguish cultural layers or recognise a hill fort. It takes both time and interest to school the eye. Social context Researchers may be influenced by a number of less visible, less empirical, and perhaps even less controllable contexts. These can be gathered under the broad term of social context, meaning the communication between people or groups of people at various public and private spheres. It seems that these aspects are much more difficult to acknowledge and to be aware of in the course of doing the research. They tend to be something intrinsic and natural, perhaps even inbuilt to the contemporary research process. Or to put it simply, we often just do not think about or perhaps even do not doubt in them daily, because they seem to be something that we are naturally provided with. The influence of nationalism, contemporary politics, and ideology on archaeological research and in the formation of

our interpretations has been widely debated (Leone et al. 1987; Tilley 1989a; 2005; Wylie 1989a; Gathercole & Lowenthal 1990; Ucko 1990; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 66–67, 114–115; Kohl & Fawcett 1995; Díaz-Andreu & Champion 1996; Gramsch 2000; Trigger 2003, 379 ff; Leone 2005, 61 ff; in Estonia Ligi 1993b; Mäll & Russow 2003; Tvauri 2003; Lang 2006; 2014; Lang this volume; Lang et al. 2010). It is a matter of further discussion whether archaeology ought to be, or is always, a field of national or nationality related science. Interpretation of the past can be easily taken as the public expectations which we as archaeologists answer either consciously or unconsciously because we are part of the same society, part of the nation, and cannot deny such contemporary political expectations and interests. For example, the discussions about migrations or diffusions, cultural development, and state formation have been the most intriguing ones at the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea (Ligi 1993b; Tvauri 2003). Another example which is closely related to the political and ideological contexts of contemporary research is the reception of Marxist theory or actually any kind of social theory in post-Soviet countries in the 1990s (Sne 1999; Konsa 2006, 47; Paberžytė & Costopulus 2009). The ideology which had been forced on academic archaeology for over 50 years (see e.g. Sne 1999, 96–103; Lang 2006; Lang et al. 2010, 79–85; Paberžytė & Costopulus 2009) was understandably avoided at the beginning of the 1990s after the end of the Soviet occupation. Although more and more publications mentioning post-processual thinking and theories emerged, the specific ‘M-word’ caused probably at least some reluctance and opposition due to the historical background and the emotions its very sound summoned in the early years of independence. I remember feeling a bit offended myself when my approach 113

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for a bachelor thesis was described as neo-Marxist. As part of social context we must also consider the problem of funding and public interest or support of different sciences. Society and academia too have their favoured, and therefore more financed, fields of studies (see e.g. Shanks & McGuire 1996, 83–85; Aitchison 2004). It has been shown that past-oriented research is preferred in times of national crises when an argument for existence is needed due to (re)creating different state formations and making climactic political decisions (see e.g. Arnold 1990; in the Baltic Sea area e.g. Mäll & Russow 2003; Tvauri 2003; Lang 2006; Szczepański 2009). As public interest changes, so does the economic support to branches of science perceived as becoming more or less important. The relationship between social crises and science funding is very complicated. There are examples of such periods in history of archaeology in Estonia. For instance a campaign for studying ancient hill forts was initiated in the 1930s in relation to building up the Estonian nation state and the first republic with its heroic history (Lang 2006, 27–28; Lang et al. 2010, 14–15). On the contrary, the last decade witnessed the triumph of hard sciences, technology, and engineering as a result of/companion to financial prosperity. The decrease in financing arts and social sciences constitutes a simple formula in archaeological research: less money means decrease in excavations, analyses, conferences, education, and so on – therefore, restrained development in the field of archaeology. The final example from the history of Estonian archaeology, which combines all these previously described characteristics of personal contexts and stresses also the social background of the research, was a discussion between Priit Ligi (1958– 1994) and Evald Tõnisson (1928–2001) 114

together with Jüri Selirand (1928) on the pages of the Estonian publication Looming (Ligi 1993a; 1994a–b; Tõnisson 1994a–b; Selirand 1994). In the first half of the 1990s, at the very early stage of the Estonian republic with its regained independence, Ligi proposed previously unparalleled interpretations about prehistoric society in Estonia, making some critique of previous concepts of egalitarian society (Ligi 1993a; 1994a–b). Ligi proposed a hierarchical society with its elite and clearly-controlled property relations (Ligi 1995). He also stressed that the previous interpretations of the past were clearly drawn by national-romantic and idealistic viewpoints of the nation state. Ligi’s ideas were evidently influenced by Western European theoretical archaeology which at that time was rather new for the most Estonian archaeologists whose research careers had mostly belonged to the Soviet period. Reactions against Ligi’s ideas were quite emotional and passionate (Tõnisson 1994a–b; Selirand 1994) and he was mainly accused of politicisation of prehistory as well as not valuing the work that had been done by previous scholars. This debate has since been analysed in Estonian archaeology (Konsa et al. 2003, 77; Konsa 2005, 104–108; 2006, 46–47; Lang 2014). The problems pointed out were not so much in the past archaeological material itself. It was rather a clash of personal, academic, and social worldviews. Having two different theoretical frameworks and archaeological practices, as well as different personal experiences and values, simply did not allow participants to understand the essence of what had been said. Constructive discussion was eliminated at the very beginning because new ideas were seen as offences and radical critique, not as new, interesting, and well-argued interpretation. Two sides were trying to prove the rightness or

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wrongness of one another, not to accept the multiple possibilities of interpretations (Konsa 2005, 107). Discussion Having presented different aspects and examples of personal identity related issues in archaeological research and professional communication, we are left with the questions of what can we actually gain from this knowledge and why is it important to acknowledge it as a contribution to general archaeology. The most important advantage of acknowledging a scholar’s personal influence on research is that it helps us to assess and gain better understanding of any archaeological interpretation. The lack of awareness of personal contextual influences on the process of research, and the disregard for the subjective factors in the results of the other scholars, has led to misunderstandings. Understanding a scholar’s own history might help to avoid at least some clashes of worldviews, because it opens up a broader background to what has been said. This does not mean that there is something bad about passionate discussion on different archaeological interpretations. It is rather the importance of respect, the openness to debate, and the willingness to listen as well as to try to understand what different participants have to say. The other result of accepting personal influence on the research is related to the scholar’s research process and further discussions. Accepting these different contemporary contexts forces the researcher to think more broadly and self-reflectively about the specific data and its creation, limits, and strengths. There is no pure and objective data or research. The process of creating, discovering and perhaps even inventing, documenting, analysing,

dismissing, and interpreting meaningful data and their contexts is composed and followed through the researcher. Personal identity determines the result of archaeological study through various aspects: data availability, definition and analysis methods, personal ideas, education, specific knowledge and skills, scientific paradigms, social circumstances, and cultural determinants. Acknowledgment of the latter should encourage us to question and therefore find extra arguments for our research results and interpretations. It also prepares the study and the scholar to be open for further discussions and polemics. Knowing that subjectivity in research is unavoidable, a critique of a study should not necessarily be regarded as attack against an individual, but rather as a possibility to explain the topic more thoroughly and elaborately. It is to be hoped that it makes archaeologists take the critique less painfully and prepares them for further elaborations on the material and the results. Through the latter point, I also try to position myself in the discussion of whether archaeological research has something to do with the past at all, or whether it is all just subjective self-reflection and buzzwords describing personal preferences. Although I praise the importance of acknowledging personal influence on research, I do not want to fall into the pit of stating that every research is just a matter of the contemporary world and personal preferences, and carries therefore the inescapable seal of subjectivity and relativism (e.g. Hodder 1984, 28; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 46–67; for discussion see Earle & Preucel 1987 (with comments and reply); Shanks & Tilley 1992, 243, 247ff; Wylie 1992, 18–20; Preucel 1995). Total relativity can hardly be a final goal for any researcher, because in that case the work is done only for the person him-/herself. But we are all trying to communicate inside 115

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our academic and public fields – make a contribution to archaeological research. Otherwise there would be no point in talking about archaeology as a specific discipline. The solution therefore lies in the creative mind of the researcher as well as in the ability to communicate the results of this mind (see e.g. Preucel & Hodder 1996a, 5, 11; Hodder 1999, 43; Shanks & Hodder 2005, 77). Archaeologists take into account that they want to understand the past – that is the first aim of an archaeologist. For sure, one cannot exclude filtering the material at one’s personal level, but we still remember that we are dealing with something else than just ourselves, the present contemporary subjects. We are doing research about the past and choose our theories, methods, problems and, first and foremost, the material according to our aim (Trigger 1986; Hodder 1991a, 12; Shanks & Tilley 1992, 256; Wylie 1992, 25; Shanks & McGuire 1996, 79, 81; Lucas 2001, 198–199, 212). Unfortunately we do not have any immediate access to past prejudices, assumptions, pre-knowledge, cultural and social influences, nor many other past characteristics. But we try to create them based on what we have – archaeological data. And we do it in the ways we think are most suitable to achieve that by choosing methods and theories to answer our goals. Of course, an analysis starts in the head of a researcher. Patterns he/she has in mind are based on previous knowledge as well as on knowledge gained in the research process. But this knowledge is channelled onto past societies. Through this, the meaningful and irrelevant contexts are picked out and combined in ways that seem to be informative and helpful. However, our choices are not simply results of our contemporary contexts, but based on the past material remains. The latter is something we cannot choose or 116

invent, but something that is unearthed and pre-existing regardless of what archaeologists expect and wish. It is hardly reasonable to make a clear distinction between the material object of archaeology and the academic, social, and personal contexts from which it is examined. They are rather as a thread interlaced with different fibres: contexts of a subject and an object. Perhaps the most reasonable thing to do then is to sort out what these fibres are and how they are bound into a thread as an outcome of a research about past societies. In denying the possibility and fruitfulness of that kind of approach, we would not be researching the past but the present, and to my mind that should rather be called something else than archaeology. To sum up, acknowledging a scholar’s personal identity in research helps us to understand what, how, and why something is said in archaeology. It also helps us to become more tolerant about different perspectives and interpretations of archaeology. And finally it makes researchers assess their data and interpretations more critically and look for elaborate arguments for the results as well as for choice of material in general. This is also the reason why archaeologists themselves should reflect on their personal identity when talking and writing about their research subject. Conclusion I am sure that the examples I have given of the influence of personal contexts in archaeological research are not exhaustive, but rather open to further discussion. However, the previous chapters and examples have shown clearly that research cannot be entirely separated from scholar’s personal background and identity – it is something which is embedded in the

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character of relevant contexts and the hermeneutic nature of interpretation. Some of these researcher’s contexts are defining what are the approachable problems, usable theories, as well as meaningful contexts for the specific archaeological material. Social contexts on the other hand are continuous communication between specific scholar and his/her research environment at the level of both other persons but also at broader public levels. Somewhere in between is a question of archaeological data – to what extent are we just provided with it or how much and which ways do we actually create it ourselves? As it can be seen in the previous discussion it is complicated, if not to say impossible, to distinguish between various contextual aspects of the researcher and the material. Therefore, it is necessary to explicate how these academic and social contexts, as well as notion of the archaeological material, are bound into the hermeneutic circle.

This general system of different contemporary scholar’s contexts interplaying with each other should illustrate and argue for the statement – “my research – my identity”. Acknowledgements My sincere gratitude belongs to Prof. Valter Lang (Department of Archaeology, University of Tartu) for his critical comments and constructive supervision. I appreciate all the help provided by Dr. Catherine Hills (Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge). I also thank Dr. Corinne Duhig for revising my English and two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped to improve the article considerably. This research was supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence CECT).


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WILD FOODS AND IDENTITY IN EARLY MODERN NORTHERN FINLAND Anna-Kaisa Salmi In this paper, the complex relationship between foodways and identity in early modern northern Finland will be considered. Based on zooarchaeological data and with reference to other archaeological, historical, and ethnographic sources of food culture, the differences in foodways within the towns of Oulu and Tornio will be discussed, and the temporal changes in foodways, and their connections to changing urban identities, will be considered. Special attention is paid to the changing role of wild foodstuffs, such as wild animal meat, in expressing and constructing identity. I will show that foodways were a part of the local identity, and that the social meaning of consumption of wild animal meat changed from staple food to fine dining during the early modern period. Key words: food, zooarchaeology, historical archaeology, identity. Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, P.O. Box 1000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland; [email protected]

Introduction Foodways, originally defined by folklorist Jay Anderson, mean “the whole interrelated system of food conceptualization, procurement, distribution, preservation, preparation, and consumption shared by all members of a particular group” (Deetz 1996, 73). Many archaeological strains of research, such as pottery analysis, faunal analysis, macrofossil analysis and the study of nutritional markers on human skeletons are linked to foodways. The study of food culture can also be useful in investigating social interactions and power relationships that are played out in foodways. Identity construction is one aspect of social interaction that can be accessed by studying foodways. Food culture and scientific studies of food and nutrition have received some attention in archaeological literature lately

(e.g. Parker Pearson 2003; Woolgar et al. 2006). Some economic and subsistencerelated aspects of food culture have also been investigated archaeologically in an urban early modern northern Finnish context (Puputti 2006; Pääkkönen 2006). In addition, in 2011, my post-doctoral project entitled ‘Food and identity in medieval and early modern urban communities’, funded by the Academy of Finland, was launched at the University of Oulu. It is the first project focused especially on food culture in Finnish historical archaeology. The subject of this paper is the connection between food and identity. The case study discusses the matter in the towns of early modern northern Finland, Oulu and Tornio, respectively. The aim of this paper is to examine the role of wild foodstuffs in the foodways of early modern northern Finnish urban people and discuss the 123

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many ways in which the consumption of wild foodstuffs was connected to identity. I will argue that wild foods were a part of the local identity, although their social meaning varied in time and space. Previous approaches to food and identity The research of food has had a roughly similar research history in history, anthropology, sociology, and archaeology (Scholliers 2001, 10‒12; Parker Pearson 2003). Early studies of foodways and diet, published in the early 20th century, concentrated mainly on diet as a part of livelihood and economy. Subsistence patterns and production processes of food were the focal points of research and food was often considered in terms of per capita consumption of calories (Scholliers 2001, 10; Parker Pearson 2003). During the 1960s and 1970s, much under the influence of structuralist approaches of Mary Douglas (1966; 1975) and Claude LéviStrauss (1970; 1978), researchers began to study food as a system of symbolic meanings. Instead of calories and economy, the meaning of different foods and the grammar of food in different cultures emerged as focal points of food-related studies. During the late 20th century, gender studies, identity, and embodiment emerged as popular themes of archaeological and anthropological studies (e.g. Gilchrist 1999; Meskell & Preucel 2007; Joyce 2005), and these themes became pertinent also in food studies (e.g. Counihan & van Esterik 1997; Counihan 1999). It came to be acknowledged that food and eating are used in identity construction and manifestation in many complicated ways and that eating is linked to social status, wealth, ethnicity, gender, memory, and body image, among other things (e.g. Brumberg 1997; Hollimon 2000; Stokes 124

2000; Jones & Richards 2003). Food is also central to many occasions of human interaction. Food and eating are domains where people create and maintain social relationships, boundaries, memories, and identities (e.g. Willmott 2005; Knuuttila 2007). In archaeology, approaches to food have often been scientific in character and the focus has often been in detailed analysis of animal bones, macrofossils, pollen, food residues, or stable isotope ratios in human skeletons and palaeopathology (e.g. Ambrose & Katzenberg 2000; Parker Pearson 2003; Woolgar et al. 2006), in other words, on what people were eating and how much. However, from the late 20th century onwards the interest towards identities has also affected the way archaeologists look at food. The focus has partly switched from calorie counting and nutrition to food as a culturally constructed domain (e.g. Isaksson 2010). Especially the link between food and ethnic identity on the one hand and food and social status on the other has received considerable attention in archaeology (e.g. Ijzereef 1989; Stokes 2000; Isaksson 2000; Parker Pearson 2003; Sykes 2006). It is clear that in the past, high social status and affluence have often been manifested in different food consumption patterns, and ethnic boundaries have also been maintained partly by food choices (e.g. Ijzereef 1989; Stokes 2000; Sykes 2006). However, the relationship between food and identity is complex and, for a number of reasons, it is not always selfevident and straightforward to pin down those foodstuffs that were important for identity construction. The cultural importance of a food is not always self-evident and the valued foods in past cultures may be strange or unappealing to us. Moreover, the cultural importance of a certain food does not necessarily mean that it was actually eaten in quantities. In early medieval Sweden, for instance, meat was highly

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valued and meat eating was culturally emphasised, while isotope analyses of human skeletal remains indicate that people actually consumed mostly vegetable foods (Isaksson 2000). It has proved challenging to study urban identity construction and manifestation in early modern northern towns. Socioeconomic status and wealth are aspects of identity that have received the most attention, and displaying ethnicity has also been explored (Puputti 2006; 2010; Nurmi 2009). As no apparent connection between material culture and status, wealth, or ethnicity has been found, it has been suggested that manifesting status was not meaningful in the small towns of northern Finland and Sweden, and was not necessary where everyone knew each other (Nurmi 2004; Herva & Ylimaunu 2005; Puputti 2006; 2010; Ylimaunu 2007). The availability of certain foods and materials and the general characteristics of the market system may very well have affected the food choices and archaeological animal bone assemblages far more than the need to express social distinctiveness through food preferences (Puputti 2010). The manifestation and display of different aspects of identity in material culture are often discussed, and those ‘showy’ aspects of identity are central also in archaeological food studies. However, in general, material culture is not only used in manifesting and displaying identity, but is also interwoven in constructing one’s identity and experience of the world (Meskell 2000). It is also important to acknowledge that food is not used solely to show off one’s affluence or ethnicity, but is embedded in the very making of one’s identity in mind and body alike (Counihan 1999). Thus, the choice of food may be an important part of one’s identity and one’s sense of self in relation to others, although there may not necessarily be a need to manifest it in any apparent way to other people.

Foodways in early modern northern Finland For my case study, I will turn to archaeology of food and identity in early modern northern Finland, especially in towns of Oulu and Tornio. Oulu and Tornio were founded in 1605 and 1621 respectively, due to the Swedish Crown’s policy to control the northern trade by centring it on towns (Ranta 1981, 52‒58). Both towns are situated on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, Oulu some 150 kilometres south of Tornio (Fig. 1). Despite their relative proximity, there were also differences in the population and economy of the towns. The population of Oulu was drawn together mostly of local farmers, while especially the wealthiest merchants were of foreign origin, mostly Germans (Enbuske 2005, 31). In Tornio, on the contrary, the initial urban population consisted of local farmer-tradesmen (birkarlar) with strong contacts to the north of Finland,

Figure 1. Map of northern Finland. Drawing by A.-K. Salmi.


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and some merchants from other parts of the Swedish kingdom (Mäntylä 1971, 33‒36). The people of northern Finland were living in an agrarian and wildernessbased economy during the early modern period, although some foreign foodstuffs such as coffee, wine, spices, and fruit were also imported (Mäntylä 1971, 510‒511). Quantities of grain were also imported from the more southward parts of Finland (Virrankoski 1973, 414). Historians have concluded that the early modern northern Finnish diet was based on bread, salted fish, and dairy (Mäntylä 1971, 206; Virrankoski 1973, 243) and indeed, one farmer’s wife Kaisa Eskontytär Mäki from Kärsämäki described the farmer’s diet as follows, “You know the farmer’s diet: butter, bread and milk” (Virrankoski 1973, 243). Also the animal bone material discovered from the towns of early modern northern Finland testifies of the importance of dairy in the diet (Puputti 2007a; 2007b; 2010). The actual diet, however, seems to have been richer than these simplifications indicate. First of all, the animal bone material from the towns shows that the meat of a variety of animals was eaten (Puputti 2005; 2007a; 2007b; 2010). Second, hunting was far more prevalent in northern Finnish towns than the historical records indicate, and wild foods such as waterfowl and wild gallinaceous birds contributed considerably to the diet, especially during the 17th century (Puputti 2010). Vegetable foods were also consumed. Macrofossil samples from early modern Oulu indicate that different wild berries grew and were probably eaten in towns, and peas and fig seeds have been discovered from the soil samples in Oulu (Lempiäinen 2004a; 2004b; 2007a; 2007b; Tranberg 2005). In 18th century Tornio, people started to have their own vegetable gardens where they grew for instance potatoes, 126

lettuce, beetroots, parsnips, and cucumbers (Mäntylä 1971, 412). There is not much detailed information on early modern urban food culture in northern Finland. Most data of the 16th and 17th century food culture concerns the major manors in southern Finland and the foodways of the uppermost class of the society (e.g. de la Chapelle 1993). A few cookbooks were written in Sweden already in the mid-18th century (e.g. Warg 1969 (1755)). The early cookbooks were aimed at the upper classes of society and their recipes were much influenced by the French cuisine (Tamminen & Morelius 2009, 90–91). However, books were rare and expensive and not many people possessed them in 18th century northern Finland (Mäntylä 1971, 198) and thus the recipes in the early cookbooks were not necessarily available in early modern Oulu and Tornio. Diaries and written recipe collections did not become common until the late 18th century. It is likely that people in early modern northern Finland relied on recipes and skills they learned in practice and heard from their parents and other members of their community. Most of the data concerning specific menus and food courses in the 18th and 19th century northern Finland comes from traveller’s accounts (e.g. Regnard 1982) and the memories of Sara Wacklin (1924 (1844)). According to Syrjänen (2001), in an early 19th century merchant family in Oulu, people ate three times a day. Breakfast was eaten 6–7 o’clock in the morning and was usually porridge, bread, and milk. Festive breakfasts served to guests were more elaborate and could include salmon, roasted pig and reindeer, sour whole milk, sausages, beer, tea, coffee, and waffles. Lunch was usually eaten around midday. The main course was a soup of fish or meat and dessert was berries or porridge. Dinner was eaten in the evening and it consisted of soup

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and casseroles of meat or fish. Dessert was again sweet porridges, gruels, or berry soups. Festive dinners were more elaborate and they often included many courses. There could be salads, jellied fish and meat, and salted and smoked fish. The main course could include a soup, of fish or meat, and roast meat, for instance veal or ham. It was served with casseroles and pots made of vegetables such as peas, spinach, or tubers. Dessert could be puddings or jellies, ice cream, pies, berry soups or jams, roasted almonds, or sugared berries. Wild foods and identity in northern Finland In my case study, I examine the role of wild foods, especially wild animal meat, in the diet in early modern northern Finland. The archaeological animal bone assemblages derive from early modern Oulu and Tornio. There have been several rescue excavations in both towns in the past two decades due to building activities. Animal bone analyses have not been routinely conducted, but some assemblages have nevertheless been analysed. I analysed the animal bone finds from 17th and 18th century Tornio for my PhD (Puputti 2010). The material comes from the Keskikatu, Westring, Välikatu, Aho & Purra, and Aspio & Viippola excavations (Puputti 2010). The animal bone assemblages from Oulu discussed in this study are from various rescue excavations conducted in different parts of the town, analysed by me (Puputti 2005; 2007a; 2007b) and by Eira Ducey (2009). The excavation sites are Kajaaninkatu, Byströmin talo (Puputti 2005), Pikisaari (Puputti 2007a), Lyseo (Puputti 2007b), and Virastotalo (Ducey 2009). The archaeological material clearly indicates that people hunted and ate

considerable amounts of meat of wild animals. During the 17th century, hunting was a common means of livelihood in northern Finland, and the numbers of wild animal bones are considerable in especially Tornio but also in Oulu (Table 1). Arctic hares and gallinaceous birds were the most common among the wild animals identified in the animal bone assemblage, but also ducks and geese were hunted, especially in early 17th century Tornio (Table 1). The exact proportion of meat of wild animals in the diet is difficult to estimate, due to a number of factors. First, the soil had not been sieved in most urban archaeological excavations in northern Finland, which may have caused loss in finds of bones of small wild species. Second, the fragmentation of skeletons of wild animals may be different from that of domestic animals. In Tornio, especially the bones of large and middlesized domestic animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs were often broken during slaughter and food preparation, whereas the bones of small wild species were often found whole (Puputti 2010, 11‒12). This easily leads to the overrepresentation of domestic animals when the proportions are calculated as number of identified specimens (NISP). Figure 2 exemplifies well the problems in estimating the relative importance on wild animal meat in the diet. Estimated as number of identified specimens, the proportion of bones of wild animals in the early 17th century assemblages from the Tornio Keskikatu excavation area 1 is ca. 37%. The minimum number of individuals (MNI) can be used to overcome the problem arising from differential fragmentation of skeletons, but on the other hand, the MNI tends to produce a relative overestimation for species of which there are only a few specimens in the assemblage (Uerpman 1973). When the minimum number of individuals is used, 127

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  Common name Cattle Sheep/goat Pig Reindeer Horse Domestic chicken Cat Dog Rat Seal Red fox Ermine Brown bear Arctic hare Red squirrel Black grouse Wood grouse Willow grouse/rock ptarmigan Hazelhen Duck Goose Merganser Scaup Long-tailed duck Whooper swan Total % wild animal bones

17th to early 18th century

  Oulu Scientific name   Bos taurus 235 Ovis aries/Capra hircus 62 Sus scrofa domesticus 30 Rangifer tarandus Equus caballus Gallus domesticus 2 Felis catus Canis familiaris 11 Rattus sp. 1 Phocidae 9 Vulpes vulpes 9 Mustela erminea 3 Ursus arctos Lepus timidus 21 Sciurus vulgaris Tetrao tetrix 2 Tetrao urogallus 7 Lagopus sp. 2 Bonasa bonasia Anas sp. 1 Anser sp. Mergus sp. Aythya sp. Clangula hyemalis Cygnus cygnus   395   14


Tornio 1525 675 253 59 7 10 6 7 88 16 10 213 3 66 284 119 7 54 28 13 4 1 29 3477 27

18th to early 19th century


Oulu 991 376 188 121 5 5 1 1 2 30


Tornio 284 48 15 24 1 2 3



74 149 52 26 8 8 2

1 19

1 2064 17

1 1

407 14

Table 1. Animal bone fragments identified to species or genus and the percentages of wild animal bones in Oulu and Tornio. Data from Puputti (2005; 2007a; 2007b; 2010) and Ducey (2009).

the proportion is more than 70% (Fig. 2). Moreover, most of the wild species in the assemblage are quite small in comparison with domesticated animals. Because of this, the proportion of bones of wild animals in the assemblage does not straightforwardly represent the relative importance of these animals in the diet. The dietary importance of animals of different size may be estimated more reliably by calculating the estimated amount of meat yielded from each species (MNI × estimated meat weight or 0.5 × mean body weight; 128

Reitz & Wing 2004, 222‒225). Of course, as such estimations are based on the MNI, it is also assumed that the animals are represented by complete skeletons (Reitz & Wing 2004, 222), which seems to be the case at least in Tornio where the matter has been investigated in detail (Puputti 2010). Estimated as meat weight, the proportion is also ca. 70% (Fig. 2). One has to remember, though, that the meat weight is estimated using the MNI as basis and the problems associated with the MNI are present in all meat weight calculations.

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Figure 2. The proportions of bones of wild animals in the early 17th century assemblages from the Tornio Keskikatu excavation area 1 (data from Puputti 2010) estimated as numbers of identified specimens (NISP), minimum numbers of individuals (MNI), and meat weight.

Within-town variation in wild animal meat in the diet    

There are differences in the proportion of bones of wild animals (counted as NISP) between excavated locations in Tornio and Oulu (Fig. 3). In Oulu, the proportions varied between 6% and 19%. The association between the percentage of wild animal bones and identity of the inhabitants of each location is not clear. Kajaaninkatu, with ca. 15% wild animal bones, is situated in the Pokkitörmä area, which was the home of the wealthiest merchants in Oulu during the early 17th century (Virkkunen 1953, 127). However, roughly similar percentages of wild animal bones were observed in the Lyseo and Pikisaari assemblages. These areas were inhabited by lesser merchants and craftsmen (Halila 1953, 157–166; Puputti 2007a). And, to make things even less clear, the percentages of

wild animal bones differ considerably between Lyseo (ca. 15%) and Byströmin talo (ca. 6%), although the assemblages both date to the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the inhabitants were mostly merchants and craftsmen in these areas of the town at that time (Halila 1953, 157–166). The species were mostly the same in all assemblages, namely, arctic hares and wild gallinaceous birds. The only exception is the Kajaaninkatu assemblage, in which the bones of red fox and ermine were encountered (Puputti 2005). The remains of these species are related to fur trade rather than to food culture. Also in Tornio, there are differences in the proportion of wild animal bones between excavated plots (Fig. 3). The matter is discussed in detail in Puputti (2010). The percentages varied between 3% and 38% in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, the interpretation of the differences is highly problematic because we have even less information on the social status of the plot locations than we have in Oulu. In Tornio, the most appreciated and expensive plots were located along Rantakatu Street (Mäntylä 1971, 243‒244), whereas most of the excavated plots are located on Keskikatu Street and one on Välikatu Street. It is unclear whether there are marked differences in the social status of the plots along Keskikatu Street, or between Keskikatu and Välikatu Streets. Moreover, when other differences in animal bone materials from different plots were compared in detail, it became clear that the differences could not unequivocally be linked to any social group, status, or ethnicity (Puputti 2010, 37–38). The between-plot variation in percentages of wild animal bones in Oulu and Tornio could not be straightforwardly linked to any specific group of people and their identity. The variation seems to be more or less independent of any social 129

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Figure 3. The proportions of bones of wild animals in different excavation areas as NISP in Oulu and Tornio. Data from Puputti (2005; 2007a; 2007b; 2010) and Ducey (2009).

groups in the towns. It may be a matter of resolution: the dates of the archaeological remains and contexts are not very precise and they span a few decades at the least. Several families of different statuses or other identity markers may have lived in each location during the studied period, and each family probably had members of different social statuses and identities. Moreover, the local food cultural traditions and availability of foodstuffs may have been more important factors than the manifestation of social difference in determining the diet. The underlying reason for the variation between plots is thus likely to be linked to the formation processes of archaeological deposits, the complexity of the relationship between material culture and identity construction, the variety of social groups inhabiting each plot, or a combination of these (Puputti 2010, 37–38). Changes in time The social meaning of wild foods and their role in identity construction changed over time. In Tornio, the fact that bones 130

of wild animals were relatively common in all excavated plots, at least during the 17th century, indicates that they were more something like a staple in the diet than a luxury or an emergency food. Moreover, there is reason to believe that wild and domestic environments were not necessarily conceptually differentiated in 17th century Tornio (Puputti 2010, 40–41) and it may thus be that no special meanings were attached to wild foods as a group at this point. The role of hunting in the subsistence economy of Tornio changed in the 18th century, as hunting became less common and the diversity of the wild species decreased in the animal bone assemblage (Puputti 2010, 15–17; 41–42). Also the social meaning of hunting and wild food may have changed at this point. Wild foods apparently became somewhat fancier foods in the 19th century, as evidenced by written documents on culinary culture. During this period, wild foods and reindeer are often mentioned in descriptions of feast foods and meals offered to guests (Wacklin 1924 (1844), 105; Mäntylä 1971, 511). Kajsa Warg’s kokbok (Warg 1969 (1755)), a Swedish cookbook from the

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mid-18th century and aimed at upper or middle class ladies, includes several recipes of wild meats, such as wild boar, hazel hen, and small birds. Interestingly, the bill from a feast organised in 1751 in Tornio after a city court session did not include any dishes of wild animal meat, whereas a similar bill from 1800 included roasted black grouse and hazel hen (Mäntylä 1971, 511). Although any definite conclusions cannot be made based on such fragmentary evidence, it may be that wild animal meat, a more and more infrequent foodstuff, gained some kind of luxury status in the latter part of this century. This idea is further supported by the fact that in a late 19th century cookbook by Anna Friberg (2007 (1893)) and titled Kansan keittokirja (The cookbook of the people), aimed to enlighten and educate ordinary people in household keeping and economic cooking, there were no recipes of wild meat dishes, although some wild berries such as lingonberries were used in some recipes. On the other hand, wild foods were a staple in the finest dinners during the late 19th century in Oulu and southern Finland (Grönholm 2001; Kovalainen & Kotila 2002, 105). It can thus be said that in 19th century northern Finland, foodstuffs that were relatively rarely consumed were in fact very important in manifesting status, wealth, and sophistication (cf. Isaksson 2000). Wild foods and local identity The prominent role of hunting in early modern northern Finland, especially in 17th century Tornio, as well as the wide variety of hunted species, is a rather unique phenomenon among the archaeologically studied early modern towns in Finland and Sweden. The proportion of bones of wild animals is generally merely

one or two percent in early modern southern Finland and central Sweden, and the bones mostly belong to a few species of small mammals and waterfowl (e.g. Vretemark 2003; Tourunen 2008). Even in Pietarsaari, which is located a few hundred kilometres south of Tornio on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, the proportion of bones of wild animals is less than 10% and the majority of the wild animal bones belong to arctic hares and gallinaceous birds (Puputti 2009). This may be linked to overall economic focus in each; the economy of Tornio was clearly focused on trade of wild products from northern Finland whereas more southward towns relied economically more on agricultural products, especially dairy (Mäntylä 1971, 70‒71; Virrankoski 1973, 235‒243). However, besides economic factors, also the construction and playing out of local identities was probably linked to the relatively large role of wild foodstuffs in the diet in the towns of early modern northern Finland, especially in Tornio. Consuming meat of wild animals was a part of the local food culture and played a role in constructing a local identity. Serving meat of wild animals in fine dinners and to guests was a part of playing out this aspect of identity. Conclusions The archaeological case study, i.e. the investigation of the role of wild foods in identity construction in early modern northern Finland, shows that foodways were linked to identity in complex and changing ways. No apparent connection was found between the consumption of wild animal meat and social group, for instance class, occupation, or ethnicity, which implies that wild foods were a part of the local food culture, shared to some extent by all social groups. Wild foods 131

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were clearly an important part of the local food culture and local identity in the north. Northern identity was also shown by serving wild foods to guests and at dinner parties. During the 19th century, wild foods were consumed less and less, while at the same time, they gained luxury status and were used to show status, wealth, and sophistication at the dinner table. The relationship between material culture, inclusive of foodways, is complex and ever changing. The social meanings of foods vary in time and space. The culturally emphasised foods are not always consumed in quantities, which makes their detection challenging for archaeologists.


The resolution of archaeological excavations, for instance dating issues and excavation techniques, can also hinder the detection of associations between material culture and identity. Nevertheless, archaeological investigations of foodways can reveal new information about importance and manifestation of identity issues in everyday life. The archaeology of food can be more than a detailed list of consumed foodstuffs and nutritional status of individuals in a given culture; it can tell us about the many roles food has had in societies in the past and reveal us new information on identity construction and social interaction in the past.


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Tranberg, A. 2005. Hyönteisfossiileja Oulun kaupungintalon tontilta. – Historiaa kaupungin alla. Kaupunkiarkeologisia tutkimuksia Oulussa. Eds T. Kallio & S.  Lipponen. Pohjois-Pohjanmaan museo, Oulu, 113‒120. Uerpmann, H. 1973. Animal bone finds and economic archaeology: a critical study of ‘osteo-archaeological’ method. – World Archaeology, 4: 3, 307‒322. Virkkunen, A. H. 1953. Oulun kaupungin historia I. Kaupungin alkuajoilta isonvihan loppuun, 1610–1721. Oulun kaupunki, Oulu. Virrankoski, P. 1973. Pohjois-Pohjanmaan ja Lapin historia III. Pohjois-Pohjanmaa ja Lappi 1600-luvulla. Oulu. Vretemark, M. 2003. Om livsmedelsförsörjning och sophantering. – I Tyskebacken: Hus, människor och industri i stormaktstidens Norrköping. Eds. P. Karlsson & G. Tagesson. Arkeologiska undersökningar, Skrifter 47. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Stockholm, 84‒97. Wacklin, S. 1924 (1844). Satanen muistelmia Pohjanmaalta ynnä Saara Wacklinin kuoltua julkaistuja pohjalaisia kaskuja. Ed. H. Westermarck. Gummerus, Jyväskylä. Warg, K. 1969 (1755). Kajsa Wargs KokBok. Hjälpreda i hushållningen för unga fruentimmer. IBA, Uddevalla. Willmott, H. 2005. Tudor dining: object and image at the table. ‒ Consuming Passions. Dining from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century. Eds M. Carroll, D. M. Hadley & H. Willmott. Tempus, Stroud, 121‒142. Woolgar, C. M., Serjeantson, D. & Waldron, T. (eds) 2006. Food in Medieval England. Diet and Nutrition. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Ylimaunu, T. 2007. Aittakylästä kaupungiksi. Arkeologinen tutkimus Tornion kaupungistumisesta 18. vuosisadan loppuun mennessä. Pohjois-Suomen historiallinen yhdistys, Rovaniemi. 135

faith, Society and Identity: Religious and social identity in Latvia on the eve and early stage of the Crusades Andris Šnē The article looks at the social and religious organisation in Latvia during later prehistory and early stage of the crusades (12th – early 13th centuries). The study is based on both archaeological and written sources that allow the biases and shortcomings of the first written texts in the eastern Baltic to be recognised. It is assumed that the Christian missions of the 11th and 12th centuries did not succeed in converting the local people and that they therefore remained pagan even after the crusades. Also, the social organisation of local societies is considered stable and strong enough to meet the challenges of the crusades and new agents arriving in the eastern Baltic. It is supposed that societies were organised according to collective and egalitarian principles that prevented the chiefs’ power to be extended, which helped to maintain the organisation of local communities throughout the Middle Ages. The religious and social elements originating in later prehistory formed the cornerstones for the identity of the local people in medieval Livonia. Key words: Late Iron Age, crusades, Latvia, conversion, identity, archaeology, social organisation, religiosity. Andris Šnē, Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Latvia, 5 Aspazijas Boulevard, LV1050 Rīga, Latvia; [email protected]

Introduction Archaeology researches material evidence that often (and always in prehistoric archaeology) remains anonymous; thus, the issue about identity is very challenging and controversial for archaeological studies. Archaeology does not have at its disposal written evidence incorporating selfexpressions and definitions of both individual and collective identities. But some insights into identity issues are obtained from housing remains, grave patterns, and artefacts and their styles and decorations. As Peter S. Wells (1998, 239–240) stated more than a decade ago: “By focusing on the issue of identity and asking how the

peoples of late prehistoric Europe used their material culture to structure and express their identities, we examine essentially the same archaeological evidence as earlier studies, but from a different perspective. This approach does not conflict with the economic and social ones, but complements them.” Studies on identity were made by numerous sociologists, cultural anthropologists, and historians from Max Weber to Fredrik Barth (not to mention so many others) and the approaches of these studies were applied in archaeological research that covered different regions and chronological periods from the Neolithic up to Modern Era (see, for example, Shennan 137

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1989; Olsen & Kobylinski 1991; GravesBrown et al. 1996; Emberling 1997; Jones 1997; Wallerström 1997; Wells 1998; 2001). Archaeological studies traditionally have dealt with cultural or ethnic identity. The principal studies in this respect were done already by culture-historical archaeology that put archaeological culture and ethnic/linguistic group at the centre of the research. The revival of studies on cultural identity, which is probably the most discussed identity issue in archaeology, took place during the 1990s when it was actualised and conceptualised. The recent decade has shown growing interest in various aspects of identity stressing multiple forms of personal (individual) and group (collective) identity. Currently there is little doubt that there are many forms and dimensions of identity. These forms and dimensions have to be recognised while maintaining awareness of the fact that identity is a construction; even more, it is our construction. So in the overviews about the development of archaeological reasoning on identity, several kinds of identity are usually distinguished including ethnic/cultural (of course!), age and sex, gender, class, social status, power, religion, national, political, individuality/personality (Meskell 2001; Thurston 2009). Wells (1998) has argued that also in prehistory we may search for individual identity that represents the uniqueness of every person. Such an approach is based on very contemporary understandings of human will and personal wishes and rights to express him-/herself (while according to the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt (1990 [1860]), individuality was discovered as late as in the Renaissance…). We do suppose that prehistoric identities were group identities that included multiple layers and kinds that would change according to the actual situation. Therefore, identity identifies and manifests itself only in the relations between 138

social groups (like ‘we’ and ‘they’), and it is not stable and fixed forever but rather it is flexible, plural, and multi-layered. It should be emphasised that identity is relational; it may occur and exist in different relations among individuals or groups. The issues about identities may become increasingly important in the transitional periods when whole communities as well as any individual are subjected to the need to find out who they are. The Age of the Crusades is one among the crucial transitional periods in history of the eastern Baltic. The very end of the 12th century marked the beginnings of a new historical period on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea for since then the interactions between the local late prehistoric societies and western and central Europe developed with increasing intensity. Although the first crusading activities against the northern European heathens took place in 1147 as a part of the Second Crusade, thus significantly extending the area of this military-religious achievement (Fonnesberg Schmidt 2005, 243– 244; Phillips 2007, 228–243), the crusades against the Baltic (ethnocultural groups of Latgallians, Semigallians, Couronians, Selonians) and Finno-Ugrian (Estonians and Livs) heathens started at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries. Therefore, the whole 13th century might be named as the ‘Age of the Crusades’ that lasted until 1290 when the last heathen Semigallians under the heavy pressure of the Teutonic knights decided to leave their forts and migrate to lands of Lithuania. The area of the eastern Baltic in the 13th century turned into the frontier of Western (or Latin) Christendom (for the detailed accounts see, for example, Bartlett 1993; Murray 2001; 2009) where military confrontations with the local societies and their eastern neighbours, Slavic principalities, went alongside missionary, trading, and diplomatic activities.

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Since the early crusades the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea became known as Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) where several crusader states emerged (Riga Archbishopric, the Order of the Swordbrothers that was succeeded by the branch of the Teutonic Order in Livonia, commonly known nowadays as the Livonian Order, and several smaller bishoprics as well as the Danish ruled lands of northern Estonia). The crusaders brought to Livonia many new features and forms of political, social, religious, cultural, etc. life including Christianity, literary culture, feudalism, towns, stone architecture, etc. But the import of new ideas and forms of life did not result in the formation of a united society with commonly shared values, forms of life, and culture; it rather was quite the opposite as dual social, religious, and cultural societies emerged (Šnē 2007). In this article we will look at the social and religious organisation and its influence on the some aspects of the identities of people in Latvia in the later prehistory and early Age of the Crusades evaluating both archaeological and written sources. Literacy and the written sources appeared in the eastern Baltic only in the course of the crusades, and the first documents and recorded narratives in the region were made by persons connected to the crusaders. Therefore it is the archaeological material that gives us the main information about the local people, while the written sources serve to confirm or refute the evidence from material culture. Among the written sources the principal role is taken by Heinrici Chronicon (The Chronicle of Henry, HC 1993, further referred according to the chapters and paragraphs) that was written in Latin in 1225–1227 and describes the first but very important decades of the crusades. The rich and detailed informative material of the chronicle had attracted the attention of researchers for more than a century

(notable studies about the chronicle and its ideology and content are, for example, Hildebrand 1865; Arbusow 1926– 1927; 1931; Bilkins 1928; Biļķins 1931; Švābe 1940a; Mugurēvičs 1993a; 1993b; Matuzova & Nazarova 2002; Lehtonen & Jensen 2005; Tamm et al. 2011). This narrative takes the Christian point of view and turns into propaganda of the Crusading ideology but still contains much information (but less than we today would like to have) about the local societies and their forms of life (Šnē 2009a). Christians or heathens: religions in late prehistoric Latvia The century of the crusades was a period when the local cultures met, co-existed, and confronted the imported Catholic faith on the eastern Baltic frontier. There is not much information available about the religious representations and religious organisation of the prehistoric local people that have not left any written records. It might be assumed that sacral and profane forms and spheres of life were not separated but both ritual and everyday life strongly overlapped and/or existed alongside each other (see Bradley 2005); thus, it is not an easy task to strictly distinguish features of either ritual activities or everyday life. The archaeological evidence does not contain information about the gods and goddesses of the Baltic people (and folklore evidence relates rather to the Modern Age) but we may differentiate some particular ritual activities, mostly connected to sacrifices, burial rites, and death, as well as the religious meaning of some symbols, for example, pendants that in some occasions might have had the function of amulets. The sacrificing ritual is mentioned also in the Chronicle of Henry describing in 139

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1212 the Livs of Thoreyda who sacrificed dogs and billy-goats (HC XVI, 4). Dogs also are found as part of the burials of the Livs and in other regions (Šnē 2002, 242–243; Zemītis 2004), while the horns of billy-goats were discovered in the basements of 13th century buildings in Riga (Caune 1979). Horse burials in Latvia are very rare while sometimes it is the skull of a horse that was sacrificed and laid under buildings or put into graves. The earliest evidence about the animal offerings placed under the houses comes from the late prehistoric layers in Talsi and Daugmale hill forts and settlements at the lower reaches of Daugava (Šnē 2002, 243; Zemītis 2004). The archaeological research in the medieval cemeteries showed that local burial traditions were maintained in many places all over Latvia, especially during the 13th and 14th centuries. In several occasions the late prehistoric cemeteries were also used during the medieval period, which reflects the strength of the prehistoric traditions and probably also religious views within the local communities (see, e.g., Radiņš 1999; Muižnieks 2003; Berga 2007). The written sources of the 13th century contain very scarce information about the religious organisation of the native societies in Latvia. But as in the ecclesiastical narrative, religious characteristics are very important in the Chronicle of Henry. The favourite word of the chronicler Henry in speaking about the local inhabitants is pagani, which is negative in most cases and usually characterised by perfidia (Kala 2001, 16). The author of the chronicle forms his view on different persons and peoples on the basis of their religious beliefs, but also pays some attention to the religious activities of the heathens, such as the sacrifice of cattle to the gods (HC XV, 3), divination by means of various signs, especially before battle (HC XIV, 3), cremation of the dead among one of heathen peoples, the Couronians 140

(HC XIV, 5), etc. A priest or rather a diviner of the local community is mentioned in the Chronicle of Henry (Latin ariolus) only when describing the Livs of Thoreyda (HC I, 10). In archaeological research it is very difficult, even almost impossible to work out criteria for distinguishing the burials of pagan priests. So, for example, within the widely excavated cemeteries of the Late Iron Age Latgallians (present-day eastern Latvia) only two burials up to now have been identified as representing local cultic servants in Kivti and Nukšas cemeteries (Šnore 1987, 32). Therefore, it seems that no particular group of people dealing exceptionally with the religious matters in the local societies of the eastern Baltic ever emerged. But at the same time the lands of the eastern Baltic have numerous cultic sites including hills, stones, trees, springs, etc. (see, for example, Urtāns 1990; 1993; 2007; 2008; Vaitkevičius 1998). These sites do not have much evidence to be used for dating them; probably most of them go back to the Middle and Modern Ages being in use until the 19th century in some regions. Since the community cannot develop without any ritual organisation, we may suppose that religious rituals were performed by the representatives or leaders of communities alongside their other duties, like elders of the kin or chiefs of the societies. The crusades introduced Catholic Christianity in the eastern Baltic but this territory, although heathen, was not isolated from Latin and Orthodox Christendom in the previous centuries. The researchers have usually asserted that there were three waves in the course of which the inhabitants of what is today Latvia became acquainted with Christianity, but not converted yet. The spread of Christianity started with the Scandinavian activities in the western part of Latvia since the late 11th century which partly overlap with

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the increasing influence of the Slavic principalities in the eastern part of Latvia during the 12th century. The final and third attempt of conversion was done mainly by the northern Germans and led to the beginning of the crusades (see Arbusow 1933, 39–46; Mugurēvičs 1987; 1998). New ecclesiastical centres emerged in northern Europe after the official Christianisation of Scandinavia, and since the 12th century the central role there was played by Archbishopric of Lund. According to the records of Adam of Bremen (written in the 1170s), a merchant following the initiative of the Danish king had established the church in Couronia (western Latvia) in the second half of the 11th century (Andersons 1990a). It could be interpreted that the merchant had built the church (facta est ecclesia) and might had used it for both trading (storage) and ecclesiastical purposes but this short remark does not contain any indications that there would be an attempt to convert the local people. The site of this church, which was most likely a wooden structure, is still not localised despite several attempts to identify it, for example, somewhere in the southern part of the Couronian lands (Andersons 1990a, 41) or, as eminent Lithuanian archaeologist Vladas Žulkus did (Žulkus 2004, 189–190), in the vicinity of late prehistoric centre Palanga (present-day Lithuania), while the most of Latvian archaeologists have located this very hypothetical church in the region of the northern Kurzeme (north-west Latvia; see, e.g., Mugurēvičs 1987, 12–13; 1998, 81; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, 364; Zemītis 2004, 135). Latvian historian Edgars Andersons (1990b, 16–19) involved several other documents, which are preserved only in the copies from the 15th and 16th centuries, into the discussion about the early Danish attempts for the Baltic conversion. Among them is also the so-called “List

of the Couronian bishops” that names bishops since 1161. But this document must be evaluated critically and is likely a fake that was produced later for some unknown reason (Kursis 1998, 95; Šnē 2009c, 31–32). It may be mentioned that Scandinavians became increasingly interested in the Estonian lands during the 12th century, too. Alongside the military raids in the second half of the century, a Christian mission was sent to Estonia in 1171 or 1172 (Andersons 1990b, 22–24; Christiansen 1980, 23). The missionary was a Cistercian monk, Fulco, who was appointed to lead the bishopric of Estonia; he was accompanied by another monk, Nicholas from Norway. The sources do not mention whether this mission had ever reached Estonia (for the details, see Blomkvist 2009). Although previous studies attempted to recognise the influence of the Scandinavian missions in the archaeological evidence of northern Kurzeme, we may assert that this assumption has not found support. The findings of cruciform pendants from the region under discussion, as well the transition from cremation to inhumation burial practices during the 11th – 12th centuries in the area (see, for example, Mugurēvičs 1987), might be explained in several ways. Therefore, they are not direct traces of successful conversion of the local heathens but may rather be interpreted to show that the Baltic people had some knowledge about Christianity. Also, it indirectly points to the interests of the Scandinavians, especially Danes, in the eastern Baltic before the 13th century; these interests came to their culmination in the Danish military and political expansion within the framework of the crusades in the 1220s. So the military and religious (if we trust Adam of Bremen) activities of the Scandinavians in the 11th and 12th centuries towards the eastern Baltic lands did not successfully change 141

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the religious views of the local people. The very few remnants of evidence about them gives rather an impression of area reconnaissance for further activities. It is widely supposed that, in addition to the Scandinavians, the Orthodox Christian Russian principalities (like Pskov, Novgorod, Polotsk) maintained their religious and political interests in the eastern Baltic. The Slavic influences are distinguished in the eastern regions of Latvia (inhabited by the Latgallians and the Livs) as well as in Estonia. Christianity established itself in the principalities of Rus very late, and it took around century after the official conversion of the state for it to be accepted commonly around late 11th century. From the 11th century onwards more than 300 crosses and cruciform pendants arrived in what is today Latvia (Mugurēvičs 1974; Vilcāne 2004, 75). The chronologically earliest items of the cruciform pendants of the 11th – early 12th centuries were imported from the Slavic lands while beginning in the 12th century they were manufactured locally. The earliest crosses and cruciform pendants occur in the hill forts but later they are usually found among the grave goods of female burials and child burials, often in the burials with rich grave goods. It has been suggested that inhumation burials with the crossed arms could belong to the converted inhabitants (Mugurēvičs 1987, 15; Radiņš 1999, 125–130). Such burial praxis appeared in the Latgallian lands on the eve of the 10th and 11th centuries but they form a small proportion of the population. For example, in the widely excavated Nukši Cemetery of the 9th – 12th centuries Latgallians, such burials constitute about 10% of female graves and 22% of males (Shnore 1957). According to the distribution of finds of the cruciform pendants, the main route of their import was the River Daugava waterway around which the most of the items 142

are found. Also the hill forts Jersika and Koknese where the Chronicle of Henry mentions the orthodoxy centres were situated on the banks of the River Daugava. According to this chronicle, there were church buildings in Jersika and the site was inhabited also by the Russians (HC X, 9; XIII, 4). None of these arguments of the chronicler have found support in the archaeological excavations of the hill fort carried out so far (Vilcāne 2004). During the archaeological excavations at Koknese hill fort, remains of the stone building from the second half of the 12th century were found; while in previous studies these were usually connected with the Orthodox church (Mugurēvičs 1987, 17), we may doubt the dating of this cultural layer (Šnē 2009c, 35). In this respect we shall take into account that a direct connection between cruciform pendants found in the burials and converted heathens is far too simplified. One of the grave goods cannot be distinguished as the only or main indicator for the identification of the religious beliefs of the dead, especially in the case when other burial traditions at the same grave were performed according the traditional rites (as it is in late prehistoric Latvia). The crosses and cruciform pendants rather served as jewellery; maybe it was some kind of rather decorative than political or religious fashion to wear Orthodox crosses. There is neither written nor archaeological evidence about any Orthodox mission to the eastern Baltic but it is worth noting that the Old Russian sources mentioned regular military raids organised by the Russian princes in the 12th century. We do not agree with the statements of these chronicles that are also often repeated in the historiography about the tributes paid by the Baltic and Finno-Ugrian people to Russian princes of Novgorod, Polotsk, and Pskov (see, for example, Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, 375). Also the Chronicle of

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Henry tends to view local and Slavic relations as subordinated, as the first bishop Meinhard, before he started preaching to the local Livs, had got the permission from Vladimir, prince of Polotsk. There is no room to discuss this issue in detail here, but there is no archaeological evidence about permanent or temporary foreign rulership in the Baltic during later prehistory, and the information of the Chronicle of Henry looks to be incorrect, too (see Matuzova & Nazarova 2002, 59). Of course, we are not going to exclude the military confrontations among the local communities of the Baltic and the Slavic territories, but these conflicts did not lead to the conquest of the Baltic and they went alongside trading and cultural interactions. So there were many possibilities for the local people to obtain the religious symbols of the Orthodox Church without being converted. Thus we shall conclude that burial customs or building remains of late prehistoric eastern Baltic do not show any important changes that could be caused by the influence of Christianity. So it can be assumed that the conversion of local heathens was not successful while, of course, we have to accept some probable exceptions but these were not the common rule. The archaeological sources in combination with a critical reading of the written sources do not indicate the religious influence of the Scandinavians and the Slavs; rather, it looks that these were trading and power interests that led both the Scandinavians and the Slavs to pay attention to the eastern Baltic. But on the eve of the crusades when the Latin Christian mission by Meinhard arrived in the lower reaches of the River Daugava, the local communities were still pagan, and as it was shown in earlier studies (Šnē 2007; 2009b; 2009c) they managed to maintain their religious rites for several centuries despite new political structures.

Collective vs individual: egalitarian society and ambitious chiefs The first written sources produced in the eastern Baltic are widely used in the discussions about the social organisation in the late prehistoric Baltic area (to name only a few, e.g. Mugurēvičs 1993a; 1993b; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001; Radiņš 1999; for critical review see Šnē 2005). These texts, especially narrative chronicles, and principally the Chronicle of Henry, mention also some native individuals and their positions. But the author of the Chronicle of Henry never presents a clear account of the social and political organisation of local societies. Nevertheless, the terminology used in the chronicle, for example, although quite contradictory, allows us to trace the chronicler’s views of the local communities. The author of chronicle pictures these communities as hierarchical societies, and while the common people are left anonymous, several members of the upper social stratum are named and characterised. The author also differentiates between the leaders, referring to them by particular terms. The most common term for members of the elite used in the Chronicle of Henry is seniores (elders). This term is used to refer to Russinus de castro Sotecle, Waridote de Autine, Talibaldus de Beverin and certain others (for example, HC XII, 6). Sometimes the term is applied to those members of society who provided hostages to the crusaders while sometimes they also arranged collective meetings to resolve questions such as the attitude to take towards the first Christian missionaries (HC II, 10). So these were probably the leaders, the chiefs of the local communities, who made the most important decisions relating to the whole community. Sometimes these elders are also characterised by other terms. Thus, Aco, according to the chronicle, is prince and 143

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elder (princeps ac senior, HC X, 8) among the Livs, but it seems that his power was limited to a village, not a region, since he is mentioned only in connection with the uprising of Livs who had already been converted (he was actually the rebel leader), and this revolt was his opportunity to distinguish himself. Both native and crusader leaders are referred to by the title dux, so it is unclear whether this term has any particular meaning in the chronicle. It is actually the context of the events described (for example, HC X, 10; IX, 3; XIII, 4) which indicates that dux was rather a leader of military forces than a noble duke. The author of chronicle very carefully uses the term rex, king. Thus, the great kings, rex magnus, include the rulers of Kyev, Novgorod, and Polotsk, while the ruler of Pskov, who was subordinate to Novgorod, is called simply a king, rex. The only political leader of the local societies characterised as a king, rex, in the chronicle is Vissewalde. He is rex de Gercike (Latvian Jersika; localised as Jersika hill fort), he has his own kingdom (regnum), his wife is queen (regina, HC XIII, 4), he rules over his kin and people (gens and populus) and resides in his castle (castrum Gercike, HC XVIII, 4). He is also the leader of his military forces, dux exercitus (HC XIII, 4). At the same time, there seem to be several persons of the same or at least similar social and political position in the societies, who are not, however, referred to as kings. Thus, Viesthardus, leader of the Semigallians, is a man of highborn status (major natu, HC IX, 2) and prince (princeps, HC X, 10; XXIX, 4), while in the other chronicle, the Rhymed Chronicle of Livonia (Livländische Reimchronik, compiled about 1290; LR 1998, further referred according to the lines of text), he is called a king (Vester den konic; LR line 1700). The same goes for the ruler of Kokenhusen, Vietsceke – in the Chronicle 144

of Henry he is a king and a minor king (rex, regulus, HC XI, 9), while the Rhymed Chronicle of Livonia attributes to him the title king (konic, LR line 653). The leader of Tolowa, which included the northern regions of the Latgallians, lying close to the Estonian lands, was Talibaldus, also Thalibaldi. He was also the elder of his castle Beverin (senior de Beverin) and of his province Trikata. In Tolowa, several districts were ruled by his sons (HC XVIII, 3), so Talibaldus might have inherited his status, and this region was under the control of his kin. Actually, some confusion might arise on the question of whether power positions were inherited or whether they had to be achieved through personal skills and character. The Chronicle of Henry gives some evidence of inherited power when describing the attack of the crusaders against Gercike in 1209 (HC XIII, 4). Looking at the town of Gercike, which had been set alight by the crusaders, the king of Gercike, Vissewalde, expresses his emotions, crying about the fate of his property, and the author describes him as saying that he had inherited Gercike from his fathers and that his people had lived there. Thus, according to chronicler and also to other, later written sources, local societies on the eve of the crusades were organised like states with strong centralised power, with the exception of some regions where only hierarchical rule is mentioned. But this is the picture shown to us by the author of the chronicle; it was his intention to present the reader of his chronicle with such an image. No text is self-sufficient and complete; a text is rather a mediator between the author and the supposed reader. The author of the chronicle and his reader were connected in a common network of views and concepts, norms and values accepted in their own society and shared within it. This implicit knowledge is the basis for developing a story and also

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helps the reader to understand the messages intended by the author. Thus, every text, including the Chronicle of Henry, is written for a reader in such a way that the reader might understand its meaning. Accordingly, we should now turn briefly to evidence not connected with the author of the chronicle and not connected with his world, that is, to the evidence left by the indigenous communities. Since there are no written records from the Age of the Crusades made by the natives, we have only archaeological evidence, permitting us to obtain some impression of the social organisation of the local communities. According to current archaeological studies (for a more detailed account of social interpretations of the archaeological evidence see Šnē 2002; 2005), the construction of social space at both the regional level and the level of the dwelling site, and social manifestations in burials, the societies before the crusades and also during the century of the crusades (since strict dating is very seldom possible) were largely organised on egalitarian principles. Some differences might be recognised in social and wealth positions, demonstrated by certain features such as the type of burial and the use of prestige artefacts. Individuals had to compete intensively for status positions and work hard to keep them, since these positions were not inherited. Status and power were personal attributes; they could be obtained as well as lost in competition. And neither ethnic nor individual social identity was of the highest importance in these societies; people belonged to a particular family/kin, and this was the cornerstone of the identity of any person, on which he or she could rely. But such small and quite egalitarian societies are also open to socio-political changes, which depend on both objective circumstances and subjective individual agents, who aim to obtain authority and power in different ways.

The local societies that might be labelled as chiefdoms seem to have been sufficiently stable and socially strong enough to function, and there were probably only certain individuals, agents, attempting but unsuccessfully to overcome the traditional limitations and framework of society in order to obtain new political positions of increasing power. This mode of social and political organisation is quite different from the picture presented by the author of the Chronicle of Henry. In order to understand these differences we might take a closer look at a quite controversial personality of the early Age of the Crusades, namely Caupo, whose life story is fragmentarily described in the Chronicle of Henry. Caupo (as a military leader) also appears in Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Libri octo miraculorum of about 1245, and later he is shortly mentioned in the late 13th century Older Rhymed Chronicle of Livonia. Caupo was the leader of one of the communities of the Livs of Thoreyda, living near the River Gauja. The author of the chronicle considers these Livs, the Thoreydians, to be the worst of the heathen Livs. In the Chronicle of Henry, Caupo is termed a quasi-king and elder, quasi rex et senior (HC VII, 3), and this single reference has given rise to various interpretations among historians, who generally tend to regard Caupo as having held a social and political status similar to that of a king (Mugurēvičs 1993b) or an elder (Šterns 1998). It seems that in this case the author of the chronicle was at a loss to find an adequate term for describing the political power of Caupo, since his position was probably flexible and unstable within the structure of chiefdoms and was not similar, either, to those power structures known to the author and the intended readers of the chronicle. But the author had to use terms and concepts comprehensible to his readers. Therefore, 145

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he had to apply various terms he knew to the situations that were essentially different. This would also be the reason why author uses different terms to refer to the same situations in different contexts. Thus, Caupo is also referred to as an elder of the land, senior terrae, and as a military leader, dux exercitus (HC IV, 4; X, 10). The very interesting term quasi rex might also be explained at least partly in terms of the early conversion of Caupo, the circumstances of which are unknown, but which is held by some researchers as possibly having taken place already around 1200 (Švābe 1940b). It is supposed that Caupo was among the first natives converted to Christianity, and he later made a pilgrimage to Rome, which also included a visit to Pope Innocent III in 1203. This visit by an unknown chief from the northern frontiers to the main leader of Christendom was probably politically motivated and arranged by Albert, Bishop of Riga, but it would be an exaggeration to consider Caupo as an instrument of the bishop (see Zemītis 1995). It rather appears that both sides were mutually interested in cooperation and attempted to exploit each other in their own strategies, at the same time underestimating each other’s means and aims. But this does not mean at all that Caupo became a perfect Christian, for religion was considered rather as a political tool that would help establish a new alliance, furthering the local chief ’s political ambitions. As a rule, the natives in the medieval Baltic chose Christianity as a matter of politics, rather than as the result of emotional or intellectual conversion (of course, we cannot exclude the latter option). Thus, in the middle of the 13th century, the main Lithuanian chief Mindaugas acknowledged the new power strategies and cooperated with the Livonian Order, subordinating religion to his own political aims (Kiaupa et al. 2000, 51–68). Despite 146

his intentions, Caupo did not have any success in converting his people, and after several attempts to establish his personal rule he had to leave his lands and to flee to the crusaders. So Caupo had to compete and fight for power; it was not his inherited power that allowed him to rule, despite of the status of quasi rex attributed to him by the chronicler. Caupo spent the following years, until his death in 1217, in the camp of the crusaders; he even returned to his previous lands together with the crusaders and attacked the settlement that had previously been his own (HC X, 10), but it seems that he had already lost the fidelity of the Livs and that they did not accept him anymore. It also appears that the bishop and the crusaders lost their interest in Caupo when he lost his power, his lands, and his people. The political strategy of the bishop did not suggest any role for an individual from the natives, as any individual was identified and valued in relation to his social group. Thus, the bishop did not need a native individual without a social group, whereas Caupo as a converted local chief might have been valuable to the bishop as evidence of the successes of the Christian mission in Livonia. At the same time this story shows the strength and importance of the collective identity based on the egalitarian ideology – these were the representatives of Caupo’s community who did not allow him to realise his ambitions to extend his power over traditional frameworks. This was just an example from the Chronicle of Henry illustrating the author’s attempts to present and understand one society with the help of terms from the other society and culture. Chronicler constructed the world of local societies according to his reasoning and interests but it hardly corresponds to the archaeological sources. The comparison of archaeological and textual sources does not

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give a single and simple picture but rather shows great differences when it concerns the social organisation of local communities. The biases of the texts are recognised, thereby leading us to favour archaeological sources and their indications about the egalitarian and collectively ruled societies whose members’ social identity was related to his/her community. Conclusions The heathen and egalitarian societies of present-day Latvia (and also Estonia) were incorporated into the world of Latin Christendom in the course of the crusades during the 13th century. There is no reason to consider the eastern Baltic as a target for the Catholic missionaries before the late 12th century. But by becoming the eastern frontier of Medieval Latin Christendom, the region was subjected to social, political, and cultural changes due to the contact of different cultures. Livonia, in contrast to Prussia, a neighbouring crusading region, escaped the Germanic agrarian colonisation, the newly established Christian society did not much transform the life of the native people for next centuries (Kala 2001; Šnē 2007). Of course, medieval Livonia saw attempts at ideological transformation of their religious and social organisation through the conversion of the native people. The key evidence there was a network of churches and parishes while it

was reflected also in the transformations of the local burial customs. It is true that the majority of the medieval burials are organised according to the Christian traditions while some third of burials during Livonia period still reflects old beliefs and traditions. The latter more commonly is the case of village cemeteries (a similar situation is observed in Estonian cemeteries, too; see Valk 2001). The very living pagan traditions are reflected also in the ancient and heathen cult sites, which in some cases probably originated in the Iron Age, that were still in use during the medieval period. Both written sources and archaeological evidence suggest the existence of two main cultural, religious, and social groups in Livonia, namely the locals and newcomers (crusaders and their descendants). These groups experienced different environments and maintained different identities that were based on different customs including social organisation and religious views. The heathen traditions of the local communities of medieval Livonia had at least partly survived the crusades and attempts of Christianisation, transforming into one of the main characteristics of the local people. Those locals managed to adapt their egalitarian social organisation to the new political situation and were not directly bounded to the sites of new central power, thereby preserving their inherited culture and landscape for some centuries (even until the Early Modern Age in some regions).


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Burckhardt, J. 1990 (1860). The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. New York. Caune, A. 1979. Celtņu ziedojumi Rīgā 12.–16. gs. – Zinātniskās atskaites sesijas materiāli par arheologu un etnogrāfu 1978. gada pētījumu rezultātiem. Rīga, 19–22. Christiansen, E. 1980. The Northern Crusades: The Baltic and the Catholic Frontier, 1100–1525. Macmillan, London. Emberling, G. 1997. Ethnicity in complex societies: archaeological perspectives. – Journal of Archaeological Research, 5: 4, 295–344. Fonnesberg Schmidt, I. 2005. Pope Alexander III (1159–1181) and the Baltic Crusades. – Medieval History Writing and Crusading Ideology. Eds T. M. S. Lehtonen & K. V. Jensen. Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki, 242–256. Graves-Brown, P., Jones, S. & Gamble, C. (eds.) 1996. Cultural Identity and Archaeology: The Construction of European Communities. Routledge, London. Hildebrand, H. 1865. Die Chronik Heinrichs von Lettland. Ein Beitrag zur Livlands Historiographie und Geschichte. E. S. Mittler, Berlin. HC 1993 = Heinrici Chronicon. Indriķa hronika. Ed. Ē. Mugurēvičs. Zinātne, Rīga. Jones, S. 1997. The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Constructing Identities in the Past and Present. Routledge, London. Kala, T. 2001. The incorporation of the northern Baltic lands into the western Christian world. – Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150–1500. Ed. A. V. Murray. Ashgate, Aldershot, 3–20. Kiaupa, Z., Kiaupiene, J. & Kuncevičius, A. 2000. The History of Lithuania before 1795. Arlila, Vilnius. Kursis, A. 1998. Mīti un īstenība. Ziemeļnieku sāgas par seno Latviju un latviešiem. Stokholma.



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Lehtonen, T. M. S. & Jensen, K. V. (eds.) 2005. Medieval History Writing and Crusading Ideology. Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki. LR 1998 = Livländische Reimchronik. Atskaņu hronika (text in High German and Latvian). Ed. Ē. Mugurēvičs. Zinātne, Rīga. Matuzova, V. I. & Nazarova, E. L. 2002 = Матузова В. И. & Назарова Е. Л. 2002. Крестоносцы и Русь, конец XII в. – 1270 г.: тексты, перевод, коммент. Индрик, Москва. Meskell, L. 2001. Archaeologies of identity. – Archaeological Theory Today. Ed. I. Hodder. Polity Press, Cambridge, 187–213. Mugurēvičs, Ē. 1974. Krustiņveida piekariņi Latvijā laikā no 11. līdz 15. gs. – Arheoloģija un etnogrāfija, XI, 220–238. Mugurēvičs, Ē. 1987. Kristīgās ticības izplatība Latvijas teritorijā 11.–12. gs. un katoļu baznīcas ekspansijas sākums. – Latvijas PSR Zinātņu Akadēmijas Vēstis, 5, 10–27. Mugurēvičs, Ē. 1993a. Priekšvārds. – Heinrici Chronicon. Indriķa hronika. Ed. Ē. Mugurēvičs. Zinātne, Rīga, 7–32. Mugurēvičs, Ē. 1993b. Komentāri. – Heinrici Chronicon. Indriķa hronika. Ed. Ē. Mugurēvičs. Zinātne, Rīga, 333–416. Mugurēvičs, Ē. 1998. Die Verbreitung des Christentums in Lettland vom 11. Jahrhundert bis zum Anfang des 13. Jahrhunderts. – Rom und Byzanz im Norden. Mission und Glaubenswechsel im Ostseeraum während des 8.–14. Jahrhunderts. Ed. M. Müller-Wille. Bd. II. Steiner, Stuttgart, 81–96. Mugurēvičs, Ē. & Vasks, A. (eds) 2001. Latvijas senākā vēsture. 9. g. t. pr. Kr.–12. gs. Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds, Rīga. Muižnieks, V. 2003. Arheoloģiskie pētījumi Puzes Lejaskroga kapsētā un viduslaiku apbedīšanas tradīcijas Ziemeļkurzemē. – Ventspils Muzeja Raksti, III, 94–112.

Murray, A. V. (ed.) 2001. Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150–1500. Ashgate, Aldershot. Murray, A. V. (ed.) 2009. The Clash of Cultures on the Medieval Baltic Frontier. Ashgate, Aldershot. Olsen, B. & Kobylinski, Z. 1991. Ethnicity in anthropological and archaeological research: A Norwegian-Polish perspective. – Archaeologia Polona, 29, 5–27. Phillips, J. 2007. The Second Crusade: Extending the Frontiers of Christendom. Yale University Press, New Haven & London. Radiņš, A. 1999. 10.–13. gadsimta senkapi latgaļu apdzīvotajā teritorijā un Austrumlatvijas etniskās, sociālās un politiskās vēstures jautājumi. N.I.M.S., Rīga. Shennan, S. (ed.) 1989. Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. Unwin Hyman, London. Shnore, E. D. 1957 = Шноре Э. Д. 1957. Нукшинский могильник. Издательство Академии Наук Латвийской ССР, Рига. Šnē, A. 2002. Sabiedrība un vara: sociālās atttiecības Austrumlatvijā aizvēstures beigās. Intelekts, Rīga. Šnē, A. 2005. Understanding power: On the study of late prehistoric social and political structures in Latvia. – Culture and Material Culture. Papers from the First Theoretical Seminar of the Baltic Archaeologists (BASE) held at the University of Tartu, Estonia, October 17th – 19th, 2003. Ed. V. Lang. Interarchaeologia, 1. Tartu; Riga; Vilnius, 53–70. Šnē, A. 2007. Multicoloured culture: Coexistence of the local and the Western in the territory of Latvia during the Middle Ages. – Colours of Archaeology. Material Culture and Society. Papers from the Second Theoretical Seminar of the Baltic Archaeologists (BASE) held at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania, October 21-22, 2005. Ed. A. Merkevičius. 149

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Interarchaeologia, 2. Vilnius; Helsinki; Riga; Tartu, 139–154. Šnē, A. 2009a. The image of the other or the own: Representation of local societies in Heinrici Chronicon. – The Medieval Chronicle, VI, 247–260. Šnē, A. 2009b. Society, identity and memory: Memories of the past in the archaeological remains. – Memory, Society, and Material Culture. Papers from the Third Theoretical Seminar of the Baltic Archaeologists (BASE) held at the University of Latvia, October 5-6, 2007. Eds A. Šnē & A. Vasks. Interarchaeologia, 3. Rīga; Helsinki; Tartu; Vilnius, 17–28. Šnē, A. 2009c. Ticība, vara un tirdzniecība: kristietības loma vietējo iedzīvotāju sabiedrībās Latvijas teritorijā 11.–13. gadsimtā. – Zeme, vara un reliģija viduslaikos un jaunajos laikos Baltijas jūras reģionā. Ed. A. Šnē. Latvijas Universitātes Raksti, 725: Vēsture. Rīga, 29–44. Šnore, E. 1987. Kivtu kapulauks. Zinātne, Rīga. Šterns, I. 1998. Kaupo – Senlatvijas trimdinieks. – Latvijas Zinātņu Akadēmijas Vēstis, 3, 12–13. Švābe, A. 1940a. Latviešu Indriķis un viņa chronika. – A. Švābe. Straumes un avoti, II. Gulbis, Rīga. 121–220. Švābe, A. 1940b. Krievu mesli. – A. Švābe. Straumes un avoti, II. Gulbis, Rīga, 312–402. Tamm, M., Kaljundi, L. & Jensen, C. S. (eds) 2011. Crusading and Chronicle Writing on the Medieval Baltic Frontier. A Companion to the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. Ashgate, Aldershot. Thurston, T. 2009. Unity and diversity in the European Iron Age: out of the mists, some clarity? – Journal of Archaeological Research, 17, 347–423.


Urtāns, J. 1990. Pēdakmeņi, robežakmeņi, muldakmeņi. Avots, Rīga. Urtāns, J. 1993. Latvijas senās svētnīcas. Latvijas enciklopēdija, Rīga. Urtāns, J. 2007. Daugavas kultūrvēsturiskie akmeņi. Nordik, Rīga. Urtāns, J. 2008. Ancient Cult Sites of Semigallia. Zemgales senās kulta vietas. Nordik, Rīga. Vaitkevičius, V. 1998. Senosios Lietuvos šventvietes:  Žemaitija. Diemedžio Leidykla, Vilnius. Valk, H. 2001. Rural Cemeteries of Southern Estonia 1225–1800 AD. CCC papers, 3. 2nd edition. Gotland University College, Centre for Baltic Studies, Visby; Tartu. Vilcāne, A. 2004. Senā Jersika. Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds, Rīga. Wallerström, T. 1997. On ethnicity as a methodological problem in historical archaeology. A northern Fennoscandinavian perspective. – Visions of the Past. Trends and Traditions in Swedish Medieval Archaeology. Eds H. Andersson, P. Carelli & L. Ersgård. Riksantikvarieämbetet, Stockholm & Lund, 299–352. Wells, P. S. 1998. Identity and material culture in the later prehistory of central Europe. – Journal of Archaeological Research, 6: 3, 239–298. Wells, P. S. 2001. Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: Archaeology and Identity in Iron Age Europe. Duckworth, London. Zemītis, G. 1995. Kaupo – nodevējs vai laikmeta pretrunu upuris? – Latvijas Zinātņu Akadēmijas Vēstis, 11/12, 27–33. Zemītis, G. 2004. Ornaments un simbols Latvijas aizvēsturē. Latvijas Vēstures Institūta Apgāds, Rīga. Žulkus, V. 2004. Kuršiai Baltijos juros erdveje. Versus Aureus, Vilnius.

Identity-creating landscapes. Who owns archaeological sites? Martti Veldi The paper concentrates on different perceptions of archaeological landscapes based on various aspects of identity and heritage. Both physical and mental strata of landscapes are discussed, with a focus on contesting understandings of archaeological sites and the past. The article addresses conflicts between different stakeholders or interest groups who are somehow related to the archaeological record on the landscape. The interest groups discussed include: 1) archaeologists, 2) landowners, 3) the local community, 4) landscape developers, 5) amateur archaeologists and treasure hunters using metal detectors, 6) the National Heritage Board, and 7) the general public and tourists. All these interest groups have their own understanding of the landscapes, archaeological sites, and cultural values. Finally, a question of possession is posed: Who owns archaeological sites? Key words: landscape, identity, heritage, stakeholders / interest groups. Martti Veldi, Estonian National Heritage Board; 18 Uus St., 10111 Tallinn, Estonia; martti.veldi@; University of Tartu, Institute of History and Archaeology, 2 Jakobi St., 51014 Tartu, Estonia

Introduction It is of no surprise that the world is constructed in a way that most fundamental human conflicts are over land. The reason for this is actually extremely simple: there is as much land as there is; the Earth is neither shrinking nor expanding, at least not in a tempo we could feel in our everyday lives. Thus, land is the most valuable material feature there can be. Discussion over land’s material value in relation with human resources can be considered as one of the main driving forces for development and power (Trigger 2006, 340–347). Landscape is constantly being created by people’s understandings and engagements with the world around them (Bender 2002, 103). This makes landscapes very dynamic and temporal. It has even been said (Groenewoudt 2012, 125)

that dynamics is the most important character to describe landscape as a whole. At the same time this ever changing and temporal landscape in its essence is the basis for identity, which very much depends on time, and people living the landscape. Landscape represents the past, the present, and the future. Landscapes have often been seen as palimpsests of time (Hoskins 1955; Johnson 2007; Bailey 2007), where some of the features and objects vanish or are deleted, and then replaced by others. The comparison with palimpsests is apposite because the vanished or deleted objects always leave behind something to remember them by. We as archaeologists study the remains of these forgotten sites, and attempt to see the world behind them. Sometimes we 151

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just tend to forget that there is much more to it than the site we are interested in. Archaeologists and historians through their interpretations give meaning to the past and past landscapes, which is very often contested by other groups with different views based on their interests in the present. The perception of landscape (in this case archaeological landscape) is very individual but still part of a certain group identity. The aim of the article is not to concentrate on different ethnic or archaeological identities, but more on identities of interest groups, which are all affected by the same landscapes. The article discusses concepts of land, landscape, identity, and heritage focusing on some of the conflicts between stakeholders who are somehow related to the archaeological record on the landscape. The stakeholders addressed include: 1) archaeologists, 2) landowners, 3) the local community, 4) landscape developers, 5) amateur archaeologists and treasure hunters using metal detectors, 6) the National Heritage Board, and 7) the general public and tourists. There are certainly several more interest groups who have their own ideas on the archaeological record, but these chosen seven groups are the most prominent. Working as a heritage inspector I have encountered very different approaches to the past, and all these interest groups have their own understanding of the landscapes, archaeological sites, and cultural values. At the same time they are all candidates for the ownership of the sites, both on physical and mental stages. Finally, a question of possession is posed: who owns archaeological sites? Concepts As it is common practice, before discussing the conflicts between above mentioned 152

interest groups and creation or development of identities, it is vital to define some of the terms. In this case I have chosen three main concept groups that need to be unravelled – land and landscape, identity and interest group, and finally heritage. Land and landscape Hundreds of scientific texts have been written on the subject ‘what is landscape?’, and still thousands are to be written. The concepts of land and landscape are difficult ones. Although both terms, at first hand, seem quite similar, there is a significant difference between land and landscape. The linguistic etymology tells us that the word ‘land’ is related to the Old Irish word land meaning ‘open space’, the Middle French lande meaning heath, and the Middle English launde, an open, usually grassy area among trees, which is the root of lawn (Merriam-Webster 1995; Olwig 2006, 27). Etymologic evidence and the traces of Gothic language indicate that in its original sense the word ‘land’ was used to refer to ‘a definite portion of the earth’s surface owned by an individual or home of a nation.’ The latter is now mostly understood as ‘country’ (Online Etymology Dictionary 2010). In this light both ‘openness’, and ‘ownership’ are the most important features of land. ‘No man’s land’ is generally known as something strange and dangerous or is ‘under dispute between parties that will not occupy it because of fear or uncertainty’, as defined in Wikipedia (2010). The term can be traced back to the 1320s when it was originally introduced to ‘describe a disputed territory or one over which there was legal disagreement’ (OED 1999). The term ‘landscape’ was originally introduced by Dutch artists at the end of


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the 16th century to signify paintings of rural sceneries that conveyed references to changing conditions of the country side and life in general. For a long time the word ‘landscape’ focused prominently on visible aspects, and was mainly used to depict the surrounding scenery as the context of dwelling and inhabitation (David & Thomas 2008, 27). That kind of historicalgeographical perception of the landscape lasted as a dominating paradigm through the first two-thirds of the 20th century. It was only in the 1970s when the ideas on the meanings, representations, and mental significance of landscapes started to evolve (Johnson 2007). The discussion over the essence and ambiguity of the term ‘landscape’ achieved its climax during the 1980s and 90s, when abstract aspects of landscape were introduced to a wider audience. In 1988 two distinguished proponents of the ‘new cultural geography’ – Denis Cosgrove and Stephen Daniels – published a compilation of articles under the title The Iconography of Landscape (Cosgrove & Daniels 1988) that very straightforwardly set out to discuss the emotional, religious, and artistic values of landscapes. Landscape was not a physical concept any­more, but a mostly mental and abstract one, something that everybody perceived and understood differently, something very dynamic that was in a state of continuous change. As the renowned Greek philosopher Heraclitus put it already in the 5th century BC: Panta rei – everything is constantly flowing, you can never step into the same river twice. In this notion landscape can be considered as a physical abstraction – while it is something felt with all the senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste), the final picture is constructed in our minds, comprising all the things we have ever known and experienced. Thus, the perception of landscape is very complicated, utterly

individual, and most importantly, it is a figment of our imagination. The abstract perception of landscape was a solid foundation for post-processual landscape archaeology that set out to interpret landscapes and past environments through the methods of phenomenology. The phenomenological school of landscape archaeology (e.g. Tilley 1994; 2004; Cummings & Whittle 2004; Bender 2002) claimed that the only possible solution to understand past societies was to feel the surroundings with all one’s senses in a way that the researcher’s body would become a medium of engagement enabling to encounter the real meaning of the archaeological record. Landscape was handled as a cognitive entity – “a visionscape but also a soundscape, a touchscape, even a smellscape, a multi-sensory experience” (Tilley talking to Bender in Bender 1998, 82). The phenomenologists even accused ‘traditional’ landscape archaeologists of superficiality, of not understanding the real world, and consequently in producing ‘paper landscapes’ behind their office desks without proper fieldwork (Tilley 2004, 27). Over the recent years the works on landscape phenomenology have been thoroughly revised and criticised (Fleming 1999; 2005; 2006), which has even been called the crisis of British landscape archaeology (Barrett & Ko 2009). Andrew Fleming deflated the whole concept in a very pragmatic manner: it was “difficult to look students in the eye, keep a straight face, and explain, on site, how the ideas of Tilley are supposed to work” (Fleming 2005, 930). In the terms of cultural geography, land and landscape are in a similar relationship to place and space. Land and place are both very concrete, physical, and touchable by the hand; while landscape and space can be conceived through abstract perceptions that are very difficult to put 153

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in words. Kenneth Olwig describes the creation of landscapes through actions in places as follows: “Through movement in and out of places develops a ‘sense of place’ capable of being reflected in the texts and representations of artists. It is thus not just movement in, out, and between places that landscape is generated as a field of practice. This movement creates the basis for the process of reflection that allows landscape, as an assemblage of places, to be represented in speech, text and image” (Olwig 2006, 26). The concept of defining landscape as a result of practice was actually introduced by Tim Ingold at the beginning of the 1990s who presented the idea as ‘taskscape’ – pattern of dwelling activities (Ingold 1993, 153). Constructing the framework for taskscape, Ingold welded together two vital elements – time and landscape – ending up with the term ‘dwelling perspective’ (Ingold 1993, 152), which gave landscape the most needed human aspect. David Lowenthal also stresses the human aspect, especially the collective and individual experiences that make up the landscape, and are the bases for a person’s fundamental heritage (Lowenthal 2007, 635). People who live the landscape are its creators and perceivers; they generate the notion of landscape, which without them would be just land, special features in empty land make up landscape. Finally, it is important to mention the definition of landscape proposed by European Landscape Convention (Florence 2000): “Landscape means an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/ or human factors.” 154

As we can see the definition offered by the European Landscape convention, in its brevity, comprises of all the abovementioned elements: physical place (land), perception (sense of place), interaction of natural and/or human factors (dwelling perspective). It focuses both on physical and mental aspects of landscape, and therefore is quite accurate and universal. Identity and interest groups Depending on the context, the term ‘identity’ can have several sides to it. Most generally identity can be understood as “the sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances; the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else; individuality, personality” (OED 1999). To put it in other words: a person defines oneself through one’s identity – identity should tell us and others what we are like, and where we belong. Similar personal identities based on similar affections can create a group identity. The problem with identity is that the concept itself is very multileveled: one person has many simultaneous identities, which sometimes can be overwhelmingly conflicting. A word often used in the same phrase with identity is ‘crisis’, meaning that a person’s real identity can be very difficult to figure out, especially for the person him/herself. This is one of the aspects of identity that most successfully can be studied by observers, since they are not involved with the process. One problem with the observers is that they might interpret the identities of other people through their own personal view based on their own identity, and end up creating a whole new world that does not correspond to reality. The ‘identity crisis’ can be a real threat while studying past or archaeological identities, since they can only be generated through the study of material remains.

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In the archaeological sense, the study of identity is used to define and understand the status of individuals and groups in the past based for example on their gender, rank, status, or place within society. At the same time the results of archaeological research are used to promote, support, and even propagate specific agendas generated in the present to consolidate local, regional, or national identity (Darvill 2008, 205). In this perspective archaeology can be used and also abused as a powerful tool for political and ideological purposes. Group identity is very often defined by ‘others’, especially in opposition to the ‘others’. Thus, the notion of identity always involves the danger of losing the specific marker which makes an individual part of the group. It can be even stated that the feeling of losing this specific marker or fear of becoming a social outcast is one basis of group identity. Therefore, while discussing group identity, someone is always on the position of ‘defence’, and someone is always on the position of ‘offense’. This leads us from group identity to the idea of interest group identity, which specifies the concept considerably. Britannica Online Encyclopedia (2010) gives a general definition for interest group as follows: “…any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their cause. It could be a policy that exclusively benefits group members or one segment of society (e.g., government subsidies for farmers) or a policy that advances a broader public purpose (e.g., improving air quality). Interest groups are a natural outgrowth of the communities of interests that exist in all societies.”

To put it very simply – the interest group’s identity is based on common interest, and the group is working for the same cause. In the long run the group’s goal might be political in nature, and if organized they can alter the whole society. Heritage On a large scale, everything that is valued in the past can be considered as heritage, but still someone has to make the choices and indicate which part of the common past should be valued more, and which left aside. Therefore the fundamental questions in heritage studies are how the process of selection of objects to become heritage operates, and why some specific features are considered as heritage but others are not (Pearce 1998, 86). It is also important to note that the values and value systems are in constant change, and due to that the concept of heritage needs to be occasionally revised and freshly defined. Heritage has also been handled as a kind of buffer zone between science and society, where archaeological discoveries are interpreted and presented to the public by professionals, while at the same time archaeology is kept clean from pseudoscientists (Kolen 2009, 210). From the perspective of heritage protection archaeology as a scientific discipline is very controversial – destruction is the prerequisite of knowledge. Therefore, archaeological excavations stand for both the construction and deconstruction of values (Kolen 2009, 212). The same image of archaeologists is projected to the public by the contemporary film industry (Indiana Jones, National Treasure) – every great discovery is followed by explosions and ruins. One of the bases of heritage is values: “…heritage is what the present values in the past, and the value of the past lies in 155

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the contribution to contemporary senses of worth and identity. The debate about heritage is about values” (Shanks 2005, 222). The only problem with these values is that traditional heritage management is a rather closed circle with only a few inaugurated ‘insiders’ who are in the position of deciding which parts of the past are more valuable than the others (Kolen 2009, 220). This leads us to the point that heritage, being part of the cultural tradition, represents the values of the ruling political ideology. In the case of archaeology, the ideological aspects of the heritage are not so sharp, although archaeological material has been brought to bear on questions of ethnicity during every political order. Although heritage values are defined and legitimized in laws by the ruling authorities, these values are constantly questioned and contested by different interest groups. Even at the moment the amendment of the Estonian Heritage Law is in progress, for over the past decade the understanding and meaning of the term ‘cultural value’ has changed considerably. In general, and very approximately, we can say that heritage is a number of different objects, places, and also ideas that are considered valuable for one’s identity. I would specifically stress the aspect of identity, which is formed by socially accepted values. These values are very often dictated by the ruling political order or the majority of the society. The reassessment of values becomes especially distinctive during the times of revolution or political upheaval when old value systems are demolished and new ones created. Cultural monuments are the manifestations of ruling power, and with every revolution some of the old monuments are destroyed, and others are revalued. After the revolution the revaluation of heritage goes hand in hand with the general stabilisation of the society. 156

The idea of heritage and heritage management is commonly thought to be administrative and bureaucratic in its nature. Heritage management is usually a statefunded ministry department; in the case of Estonia, the National Heritage Board is assigned to carry out and supervise heritage policy. However, ‘heritage’ is foremost a social, not a political concept, making it much more ambiguous than law protecting material culture, which is carried out by a government department. It must be taken to account that actually only a small part of what we call ‘heritage’ is regulated and protected by the law. How heritage is constituted is one of the focal research problems in heritage studies (Sørensen & Carman 2009, 17). Therefore the whole understanding of heritage must be based on a larger social context, where unwritten laws have a significant role to play. The recognition of heritage as a value is also a part of the general development of the society. Interest groups and archaeological record There have always been opposing understandings of archaeological sites, their interpretations, and cultural values. As was stressed before, heritage is mostly about values, and these values are the basis for one’s identity. Similar values generate common affections that represent conflicting interest groups. While discussing the archaeological record, we can say that heritage values reflect the interest groups’ identities – different values make the interest groups distinctive. In this case I have chosen the six most distinctive interest groups who all have their own viewpoints on archaeological landscapes and their management. At the same time all of these groups define their claims to the ownership of archaeological sites on different levels based on their values.

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1. Archaeologists constitute the professional interest group concerned with the scientific developments of archaeology as a discipline. They have the legitimate right to study and excavate archaeological sites with whatever methods and means they consider appropriate. Therefore most archaeologists are socially accepted as specialists on their field, and their methods and results are generally not questioned by others. At one point this gives archaeologists the notion that they are the only ones who have something to say about archaeological record, which gives them the right to deal with it as they please. In some cases this might result in possessive feelings for the archaeological heritage: e.g. while excavating a stone grave, the leading archaeologist might feel that everything in that grave belongs to him, not personally but scientifically. He has the right to study, to interpret, and to publish the material he has discovered. This means that archaeologists identify themselves with the sites and landscapes on a scientific level. They do not own the sites physically, but mentally. They own archaeology on the landscape, and identify themselves through archaeology. This may result in a conflict with the actual landowner, who has legal rights and also obligations towards his property. At the same time professional archaeologists produce the narrative of the past using scientific methods, approaches, and theoretical frameworks. In this sense, through books, journals, school and university study programs they give birth to the canonized version of a country’s past, which is very often defined by one nation and its identity. They create the canonized archaeological identity for the whole nation, though they very often tend to dispute it, and identify themselves in quite a different

manner through professional circles. As a result, public is deceived twice: archaeological material is interpreted to consolidate common identity, but archaeologists do not identify themselves with it. 2. Landowners very often know nothing about archaeology, and do not always understand the scientific value (or scientific heritage) of the site, although I have seen very good examples. In this framework their value system is based more on property ownership than the above-mentioned archaeological identity. They tend to relate to archaeological sites as landmarks on their property, and do not always consider the sites as valuable heritage from the past needing to be protected for future generations. As property owners they are more interested in the agricultural and economic value of the land, and in their mind on their own land no one should be able to tell them what to do or how to do it. They own the land, and as an interest group, they identify themselves mainly through private property. On the whole, there are very few landowners who identify themselves as owners of archaeological sites. This is very much based on prevalent value systems; with the overall development of society, the approach towards archaeological heritage will hopefully improve. 3. Local community values depend very much on individual landowners. If they have strong feelings for their land and local traditions, the individual landowners may identify themselves through the local community and local landscapes. In this case archaeological sites may have an important place in the community’s life, although they usually have quite a different understanding of the sites than do professional archaeologists, which 157

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tends to be based on everyday folklore that has nothing to do with reality or archaeological interpretations. The point here is that local identity is formed by local landscapes with all of its features, not by individual professional interpretations published in scientific journals. Archaeologists may have a small impact on local community values but only through the so-called canonised version of the archaeological past they very often do not believe themselves. 4. Landscape developers or spatial planners usually act according to certain economic interests, and archaeological sites for them are just obstacles that consume time and money. Although spatial planning is supervised by government authorities, usually nothing goes exactly as written or drawn on paper. Another problem is that spatial planners very often lack in local knowledge, and thus might not be aware of which sites are valued by the locals. As an interest group, landscape developers act on the notions of money and time, and their primary interests are definitely not concerned with heritage. Without enough knowledge, developers can be most harmful to the heritage. However, it should be pointed out that the situation in Estonia has improved considerably in recent years, and archaeologists are more frequently consulted and incorporated into larger landscape planning projects. But still, compared to Western European countries like Denmark or the UK, we have a long way to go. 5. Amateur archaeologists and treasure hunters who generally use metal detectors or other similar survey devices to locate archaeological sites in order to search for antiquities to sell them illegally on the black market to private collectors. These practices result in a 158

considerable amount of scientific data getting lost, with objects of cultural value ending up in private collections unreachable by the public. During the last decade metal detecting as a leisure time activity has significantly increased in popularity all over the world. Even in Estonia the number of ‘black archaeologists’ has been estimated in the thousands (Kangert 2009), though the exact number remains unknown. ‘Black archaeologists’ represent a considerable threat to archaeological landscapes, and have all the implications of becoming an organised interest group who might even have social ambitions concerning archaeological heritage. So far through the means of printed press and the Internet ‘black archaeologists’ have propagated their hobby with significant success, projecting to the public an image that they are merely doing the job the archaeologists do not find time or interest to do. At the moment many professional archaeologists find themselves at a crossroad: either to ignore the problem by banning all kind of detectorism or to figure out solutions by regulations and positive engagement1. 6. The National Heritage Board is a ministry department that regulates and channels heritage management as much as the law allows. The interest group identity of the National Heritage Board should be based on current heritage 1   The situation changed with the amendments of the Conservation Act in 2011, when §30–33 were added to regulate the use of metal detectors. Now, in order to use a metal detector for hobby purposes it is compulsory to complete a special training course, apply for a permit, and every object of cultural value has to be reported to the National Heritage Board. Since 2011, several cases have demonstrated that positive engagement of metal detector clubs can be successful in archaeological research.

Martti Veldi

values, but in reality, most of the decisions are affected by the choices of ruling political parties. In this way all the mentioned interest groups can influence the construction of heritage. 7. The general public and tourists are an important part of heritage management. Heritage as a whole is meant for the general public and every member of society should have access to heritage values, including archaeological heritage. The problem here is that excessive tourism can pose a considerable threat to vulnerable sites – very often the landscape must be adapted to ‘host’ the tourists, meaning that actually authentic archaeological landscapes are altered or even destroyed. The paradox is that these characters are all parts of quite similar groups who have overlapping identities with very different strategies: one can be simultaneously a part of all the above-mentioned groups. In this case the conflict could become overwhelming, and one could end up in an identity crisis. Conclusion − who owns archaeological sites?

People identify themselves with different interest groups, which are based on different heritage values. These values are very much influenced by our understanding of the surrounding landscapes we are set to live in. The experiences and practices in those taskscapes formulate the bases for our identity. Landscape in its very diversity is every person’s fundamental heritage, but because they are extremely dynamic, landscape situations can never precisely reoccur. In this sense, landscape in its essence is foremost an abstraction that therefore belongs to everyone, but

is owned by no one. Land, on the other hand, must have a real owner. Identity is also based on society’s common knowledge and memory. This common memory is offered to the public in a popular mixture of different interpretations, which most archaeologists would rather watch from a distance. More or less, archaeological heritage is a very vital part of everyone’s identity, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Thus, in order to value our archaeological past, it should belong to everyone. The preservation of cultural heritage or values for the future generations is the main aim of heritage policies. This is also why the ‘black archaeology’ trend needs proper regulation by the law to prevent further damage to our heritage. The problem arises with the ownership of property, which actually belongs to someone and is utterly private. At the same time archaeological sites can be treated as cultural property owned by archaeologists themselves. Even in the context of research, archaeologists tend to divide the regions, the sites, and the finds between themselves as if they were the rightful owners. On the other hand, every member of the society or general public should have access to the archaeological heritage as a tourist. In this sense archaeological research should always bear in mind that we as archaeologists are studying our common past, and foremost should give back something to society. The question posed in the introduction was: who owns archaeological sites? It is extremely difficult to give one direct answer to the question or one universal solution. It would be idealistic to say that archaeological sites belong to everyone, because always one of the abovementioned interest groups has leverage over the others, and there are few cases in which all of these groups are satisfied. Still, at least it can be said that every 159

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member of the society has a choice to value archaeology as part of one’s identity and heritage. Therefore one of the future tasks of heritage management is to convince and support people in making

that choice. The only real solution is to value our common heritage through knowledge so that in the end we would be proud to say without embarrassment that we all own the sites.



Martti Veldi

References Bailey, G. 2007. Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time. – Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 26: 2, 198–223. Barrett, J. C. & Ko, I. 2009. A phenomenology of landscape: a crisis in British landscape archaeology? – Journal of Social Archaeology, 9: 3, 275–294. Bender, B. 1998. Stonehenge: Making Space. Berg, Oxford. Bender, B. 2002. Time and landscape. − Current Anthropology, 43: S4, S103–S112. Britannica 2010 = Britannica Online Encyclopedia (visited 01.03.2010). Cosgrove, D. E. & Daniels, S. (eds) 1988. The Iconography of Landscape: Essays on the Symbolic Representation, Design, and Use of Past Environments. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Cummings, V. & Whittle, A. W. R. 2004. Places of Special Virtue: Megaliths in the Neolithic Landscapes of Wales. Oxbow, Oxford. Darvill, T. 2008. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology. Oxford University Press, Oxford. David, B. & Thomas, J. (eds) 2008. Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek. Fleming, A. 1999. Phenomenology and the megaliths of Wales: a dreaming too far? – Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 18: 2, 119–125. Fleming, A. 2005. Megaliths and postmodernism: the case of Wales. – Antiquity, 79 (306), 921–932. Fleming, A. 2006. Post-processual landscape archaeology: a critique. – Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 16: 3, 267–280. Florence 2000 = European Landscape Convention.

Groenewoudt, B. 2012 History continuous: Drowning and desertification. Linking past and future in the Dutch landscape. – Quaternary International, 251, 125–135. Hoskins, W. G. 1955. The Making of the English Landscape. Hodder & Stoughton, London. Ingold, T. 1993. The temporality of the landscape. – World Archaeology, 25: 2, 152–174. Johnson, M. 2007. Ideas of Landscape. Blackwell, Malden; Oxford. Kangert, N. 2009. Metallidetektorid ja arheoloogiapärandi kaitse Eestis: arengud ja hetkeseis. Bakalaureusetöö. (Unpublished BA thesis in the Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu.) Kolen, J. 2009. The ‘anthropologization’ of archaeological heritage. – Archaeological Dialogues, 16: 2, 209–225. Lowenthal, D. 2007. Living with and looking at landscape. – Landscape Research, 32: 5, 635–656. Merriam-Webster 1995 = MerriamWebster’s Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster. OED 1999 = Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Olwig, K. R. 2006. Place contra space in a morally just landscape. – Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift. Norwegian Journal of Geography, 60: 1, 24–31. Online Etymology Dictionary 2010. www. (visited 01.03.2010). Pearce, S. M. 1998. The construction of heritage: the domestic context and its implications. – International Journal of Heritage Studies, 4: 2, 86−102. Shanks, M. 2005. Archaeology/Museology/Conservation/Heritage. – The Key Concepts in Archaeology. Eds C. Renfrew & P. Bahn. Routledge, London, 219−224. Sørensen, M. L. S. & Carman, J. 2009. Heritage Studies: Methods and Approaches. Routledge, London. 161

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Tilley, C. Y. 1994. A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, Paths, and Monuments. Berg, Oxford. Tilley, C. Y. 2004. The Materiality of Stone: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology. Berg, Oxford.


Trigger, B. G. 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Wikipedia 2010 = Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. http://www.wikipedia. org (visited 01.03.2010).

BASE 5: Archaeology today: Things to be changed

flat burials in the area of barrow cemeteries of the Roman Iron Age in Latvia and Lithuania: burial practices in the reconstructions of the past Elīna Guščika One of the under-researched topics in Baltic archaeology are the Roman Iron Age (1st – 4th centuries AD) flat graves in the territory where chronologically contemporaneous barrows with stone circles were dominant (the so-called ‘barrow area’ of southern Latvia and northern Lithuania). In the archaeological literature, a total of 28 places are noted as Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries from this region. The majority of them are identified through isolated Roman Iron Age finds, and only a few undisturbed (or partly disturbed) graves have been found. In spite of this, since the early 20th century these graves have served as quite an important evidence in discussions about the Baltic Roman Iron Age, including ethnicity, social relations, symbolism, etc. However, a detailed analysis of archaeological evidence and historiography shows much confusion both in identification and interpretation of these flat cemeteries, which brings forth a question about the influence of various modern historical entities (identity and collective consciousness of the modern society, a role of historiographical tradition, etc.) on the interpretation of archaeological evidence. This, in turn, leads to questions of whether all these Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ could merely be historically constructed entities as well. Key words: Roman Iron Age, flat graves, barrow cemeteries, ethnicity, nationality, historiographical tradition, theoretical approach, south Latvia, north Lithuania. Elīna Guščika, University of Latvia, Institute of Latvian history, 4 Kalpaka Boulevard, LV-1050 Rīga, Latvia; [email protected]

Introduction Burial practices have long served as important research material for reconstructing the past. Contrary to much other archaeological evidence, burials can be looked on as a clearly visible reflection of different levels of human consciousness – from habitual to strategic. Because of its symbolic nature, burial practice is a sustainable phenomenon, while the social aspect has made them flexible in responding to actual conditions (e.g. Parker Pearson 1999; Nilsson Stutz 2003, 18–159,

and references therein). Therefore, burials are used as one of the basic materials to describe prehistoric society – its social formations, economy, religious life, etc. Baltic archaeology is not an exception. In Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology, the Roman Iron Age (1st – 4th centuries AD) society is studied, among other data, also through its flat burials in the area of barrow cemeteries. Barrows with stone circles dating from the 1st to the 6th – 7th centuries have been identified as the dominant burial practice in a large part of the territory of modern 165

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Latvia and Lithuania, covering Semigallia, southern Vidzeme, Selonia, the eastern part of Latgale, northern Lithuania, and Zhemaitia (e.g. Michelbertas 1986, 54–68; Bīrons et al. 1974, 103–106). In Baltic historiography this area is referred to as the ‘Roman Iron Age barrow cemetery area’ of southern Latvia and northern Lithuania, or simply ‘barrow area’. Their constructions are as follows: the dead were laid on the subsoil inside a circle made of stones then covered with sand. In total, about 340 cemeteries of that kind have been discovered, and it is also one of the most extensively excavated and discussed groups of archaeological monuments in Baltic Roman Iron Age archaeology (Guščika 2011, and references therein). However, according to the archaeological literature, this is not the only Roman Iron Age burial practice in this area. Flat cemeteries from this period have been identified there as well. In contrast to the extensive research on the barrows, analysis of the flat cemeteries has not yet been carried out, and description of this burial practice has been mainly based on one or two case studies (e.g. Bīrons et al. 1974, 105; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, 221). Nevertheless, the fact that flat graves and barrows coexisted in one area (in some cases even in the same cemetery) has been the basis for several interpretations both in the Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology. The Latvian and Lithuanian archaeological historiography demonstrates a great deal of confusion and inconsistency in both the identification and interpretation of these Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries within the ‘barrow area’. The main aim of the article is to point out how different circumstances have affected the view on archaeological evidence and its role in prehistory. In the first section, an overview of the archaeological material mentioned as evidence of Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries in the ‘barrow area’ will be provided. In 166

the second section, their interpretations in historiography will be summarised. The discussion will be devoted to the contextual analysis of both the archaeological evidence and its interpretation, trying to highlight the main problems and factors which could cause the inconsistency in identification and interpretation of the Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries in the ‘barrow area’. Archaeological evidence In Latvian archaeology, Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ are clearly identified as a separate group of archaeological monuments. The earliest information comes from the second part of the 19th century, when, based on the isolated finds discovered in flat areas without visual signs of the barrows, Skare and Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi were noted as flat cemeteries dating from the end of the 1st to the 4th century (Bielenstein 1884; Rafael 1912; Sb. Kurl. 1884, 402; Grewingk 1884, 126). Much more specific information was gathered in the 1920s and 1930s, when several Roman Iron Age inhumations identified as flat graves were found. In 1926, one such disturbed burial dating from the 3rd century (grave no. 10) was uncovered by Eduards Šturms at Oši cemetery (Šturms 1926; Šnore 1929, 173). (In this and all other cases dating is based on a typological study of the grave goods.) In 1932, a similar burial (grave no. 20) was investigated also by Valdemārs Ģinters at Stūri cemetery (Fig. 1) (Ģinters 1932). Lastly, in 1938, one such burial (grave no. 6) from the 2nd century was uncovered by Pēteris Stepiņš at Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery (Fig. 2) (Stepiņš 1939, 48). Besides, the grave from Rūsīši-Debeši, unlike the above-mentioned cases, was quite well preserved. The deceased was discovered 25–50 cm

Elīna Guščika

Fig. 1. Stūri cemetery, grave no. 20 and its grave goods (Ģinters 1932); artefacts from collection of Stūri stored at the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia, Inv. no. 10726: 1–4. Photo of artefacts by E. Guščika.

Fig. 2. Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery, grave no. 6 and its grave goods (Stepiņš 1940); artefacts from Rūsīši-Debeši collection stored at the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia, Inv. no. 10078: 1–3. Photo of artefacts by E. Guščika.


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below the surface of the ground in an extended supine position with stones placed near the head and waist. These three still remain the only Roman Iron Age flat graves known in the ‘barrow area’ in what is today Latvia. More recently, based on isolated finds from 2nd to 4th centuries discovered in the areas without any signs of the barrows, Auce and DreņģeriČunkāni cemeteries have been identified as possible locations of Roman Iron Age flat graves as well (Ruša 1992, 92; Atgāzis 1994, 29). In all these cases, evidence of Roman Iron Age flat graves was gathered during excavations from widely used flat cemeteries dated mostly with later periods – the Middle and Late Iron Age (5th–12th century AD), as well as the Middle Ages and Early Modern period (13th–17th century AD). At the Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery, alongside flat graves there were also the Roman Iron Age barrows. In the archaeological literature, in total, seven places of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the barrow cemetery area in Latvia are mentioned. However, not all of them are consistently identified as flat graves. Until the very end of the 1930s, the question of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ was looked at cautiously. For example, in 1926, Harri Moora did not mention them at all (Balodis 1926, 37–52) (though it should be noted that no undisturbed or partly disturbed graves of the Roman Iron Age had been found yet in the discussed area), but in 1938 he listed, with some doubt, Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi and Skare as Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries (Moora 1938b, 45–47). However, in 1936, Rauls Šnore described Skare and Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi as well as Oši and Stūri as unclearly identified objects (Šnore, R. 1936, 26). The situation changed after excavations at the Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery. Soon after the investigation, P. Stepiņš, in his short report addressed to the Board 168

of Monuments of Latvia, mentioned that grave no. 6 from the 2nd century could be the remains of a destroyed barrow as well (Stepiņš 1938), but this assumption remained only in this unpublished report. After the publication of the Rūsīši-Debeši archaeological material in 1939 (Stepiņš 1939), single flat graves in Latvian archaeology became an integral part of the ‘barrow area’ in the Roman Iron Age (e.g. Balodis & Tentelis 1938, 106; Moora 1952, 71–72; Bīrons et al. 1974, 105; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, 219). Nonetheless, the confusion and inconsistency in their identification remained. For example, in the 1970s, Jānis Graudonis listed only Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi, Rūsīši-Debeši, Skare, and Stūri as Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries in the described territory (Bīrons et al. 1974, fig. 37). Such an assumption can be seen also in much more recent research (Griciuvienė 2005, 8). The other above-mentioned places in these cases are interpreted as remains of a flattened barrow or as unclearly identified objects. The criteria for such attribution are not defined. Similar evidence of the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ has been identified in the territory of present-day Lithuania as well, but even more inconsistencies can be observed there. It is also hard to draw a line between the barrow area and neighbouring regions of other burial practices. The extensively researched Paprūdžiai, Upytė, and Vaitiekūnai flat cemeteries from the Roman Iron Age will not be analysed here. They are located on the boundary of the ‘barrow area’ and the so-called central Lithuanian flat cemetery area, and the numerous Roman Iron Age flat graves at these cemeteries can be (and mostly are) attributed to this central Lithuanian Roman Iron Age burial area (Alseikaitė-Gimbutienė 1946, 118; Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 534; Michelbertas 1986, 44–54). There are also some other

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similar places near this boundary where Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries are identified through isolated finds (Beržai, Gabulai, Griniūnai, Grūžų miškas, Naujasis Obelynas, Piktagalis, Šarkai, Vėžlaukis). The earliest data about Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ were collected at end of the 19th century. In the later historiographical works, based on isolated finds collected in this period, Gilvyčiai, Juodsodė, Kaniūkai, Padvarininkai, Rainiai, Šakarniai, and Tolišiai have been identified as Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries (in some cases as possible flat cemeteries) (Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 531–534; Zabiela 2007, 55; information about research history: Rimantienė 1977, 27, 40, 48, 50, 76, 95, 109, 114). Starting from the 1920s and 1930s, 14 other sites are mentioned as such objects (in some cases, some doubt is also expressed) – Degučiai, Diržiai, Gerkantai, Gibaičiai, Grūžiai, Junkilai, Linkaičiai, Linksmėnai-Kurmaičiai, Padubysys, Pašiliai, Račiai, Rūdiškiai, Sauginiai, and Užventis (Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 532– 534, fig. 97; Zabiela 2007, 55; Merkevičius 1974, 62–63; Tebelškis 1996, 132–133; Griciuvienė 2005, 8). The vast majority of these are identified through Roman Iron Age isolated finds in areas without barrows, and only some preserved graves were discovered. The most complete evidence of Roman Iron Age flat graves comes from Gibaičiai cemetery. In 1932, Balys Tarvydas investigated there four well-preserved and disturbed flat graves with the grave goods from the 3rd to 4th century (Tarvydas 1933, 8, 12–14; Puzinas 1938, 50–51). The deceased were discovered at the depth of 25–60 cm. They were laid in an extended position on the back, some stones mostly near the head and feet were placed. In addition to Gibaičiai, there is information about some quite well-preserved

flat graves from the 3rd to 4th century at Linkaičiai cemetery, also discovered by B. Tarvydas in 1932 (Tarvydas 1933, 2–4; Rimantienė 1977, 64). More recently, only one preserved Roman Iron Age flat grave in the ‘barrow area’ of modern Lithuania has been found. In the 1950s, such a burial with grave goods from the 3rd to 4th century was uncovered by Ona NavickaitėKuncienė in Diržiai cemetery (Navickaitė 1959, 152–153, fig. 5). All these above-mentioned cases of archaeological evidence also in Lithuania come from flat cemeteries widely used in the later periods. Besides, only in half of the cases (Diržiai, Gibaičiai, Gilvyčiai, Juodsodė, Kaniūkai, Linkaičiai, Linksmėnai-Kurmaičiai, Padvarininkai, Pašiliai, Račiai, and Sauginiai) they were discovered during excavations. In Lithuanian archaeological literature 21 places in total with Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ are mentioned. However, again it must be stressed that not all of them are consistently identified as such type of monuments. Moreover, in Lithuanian archaeology, these variations are much more conspicuous than in Latvian archaeology. For example, in the middle of the 20th century, Marija Gimbutienė mentioned only Kaniūkai and Rainiai as Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries in the ‘barrow area’ of present-day Lithuania (AlseikaitėGimbutienė 1946, 18–19, 177–185). In 1961, Pranas Kulikauskas listed four clearly identified (Diržiai, Juodsodė, Kaniūkai, Linksmėnai-Kurmaičiai) and 11 possible Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries there (Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 531–534). In 1977, in an atlas of Lithuania’s prehistoric burial grounds, there is no place mentioned as a definite Roman Iron Age flat cemetery in the barrow area (Rimantienė 1977, 11–12, map 1). However, in one of the latest overviews of Lithuanian archaeology, Rasa Banytė-Rowell mentioned 169

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two places as belonging to this type of monuments – Padubysys and Pašiliai (Zabiela 2007, 55). Archaeological material discovered at the other above-mentioned monuments is predominately interpreted as it is in Latvian archaeology: as possible remains of destroyed Roman Iron Age barrows, or alternately as burials of unclear form.

Overall, 28 places of Roman Iron Age flat graves are noted in Latvian and Lithuanian archaeological literature (Fig. 3). Disregarding the indeterminate identification of this burial practice, these finds have served as sufficient argument in the interpretation of barrows and in discussions about the Roman Iron Age on the whole for a considerable period.

Fig. 3. Distribution of the mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves (Michelbertas 2004b; with addition by E. Guščika of the places where possible evidence of flat graves are found). 1 – Auce, 2 – Beržai, 3 – Degučiai, 4 – Diržiai, 5 – Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi, 6 – Dreņģeri-Čunkāni, 7 – Gabulai, 8 – Gerkantai, 9 – Gibaičiai, 10 – Gilvyčiai, 11 – Griniūnai, 12 – Grūžiai, 13 – Grūžų miškas, 14 – Junkilai, 15 – Juodsodė, 16 – Kaniukai, 17 – Lieporai, 18 – Linkaičiai, 19 – LinksmėnaiKurmaičiai, 20 – Linkuva, 21 – Naujasis Obelynas, 22 – Oši, 23 – Padubysys, 24 – Padvarininkai, 25 – Paprūdžiai, 26 – Pašiliai, 27 – Piktagalis, 28 – Račiai, 29 –Rainiai, 30 – Rūdiškiai, 31 – RūsīšiDebeši, 32 – Sauginiai, 33 – Skare, 34 – Stačiūnai, 35 – Stūri, 36 – Šakarniai, 37 – Šarkai, 38 – Tolišiai, 39 – Upytė, 40 – Užventis, 41 – Vaidatoniai, 42 – Vėžlaukis, 43 – Vaitiekūnai, 44 – Zastaučiai.


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Earlier interpretations The Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ have been used in reconstructions of the past in several ways. Both in Latvian and Lithuanian archaeological writings, these grave types are most frequently used as an argument in ethnic reconstructions, where coexistence of two different burial traditions is seen as an indicator of multiethnic interaction. In Latvian archaeology, Francis Balodis in the 1930s, and later P. Stepiņš, H. Moora and many others, explained these flat graves as evidence of Curonians’ (or Proto-Curonians’) migration in the territory inhabited by Semigallians, Selonians, and Latgallians (Balodis & Tentelis 1938, 106; Moora 1938b, 45-47; Atgāzis 1980, 93; Vilka 1994, 68, Radiņš 1999, 156). As the main argument for such an assumption, the similarities between the above-mentioned burials and the graves discovered in the coastal area of the Baltic Sea (in the cemeteries of the so-called culture of flat graves with stone circles) are mentioned. The parallels are seen not only in the burial form, but also in other elements – in the laying of the deceased, grave arrangement, etc. However, contrary to Latvian archaeology, in Lithuanian archaeological historiography, only a few authors consider these flat graves as monuments belonging to the Proto-Curonian culture. For example, M. Gimbutienė listed just one of the above-mentioned flat graves identified in Lithuania – Rainiai – as a monument typical to the coastal area (AlseikaitėGimbutienė 1946, 35, 178). The prevailing opinion, assumed by Jonas Puzinas, P. Kulikauskas, and others, is about their attribution to the so-called Flat Grave Culture of Central Lithuania identified with Proto-Aukstaitians or ProtoSamogitians (Alseikaitė-Gimbutienė 1946, 18–179; Puzinas 1938, 45–53, 60;

Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 171, 173–175). The similarities of the burial forms and grave arrangement are given as evidence for the main argument also here. In the matter of the origin of the abovementioned flat graves, there is one more aspect of the Roman Iron Age discussed. In the middle of the 20th century, H. Moora noticed that these burials in the territory of western Semigallia could be explained with the reminiscence of Bronze and Pre-Roman Iron Age (1500 BC – 1 AD) flat cemeteries found in the basin of the River Lielupe (Moora 1952, 72–73). No ethnic attribution was given there, but thus the question of the Iron Age cultural continuity in Latvian archaeology was accented. In a similar way, Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ serve as a proof that flat cemeteries of the Middle Iron Age, which replaced the barrows, at least to some degree, can be considered as an evidence of local cultural continuity from the Roman Iron Age (Moora 1938b, 34–36; Vasks 1998, 10–11). From the middle of the 20th century, Roman Iron Age flat graves in the barrow area were also implicated in the interpretation of the social structure of Roman Iron Age society. Up to the end of the 20th century, this interpretation was still tightly connected with the dimension of ethnicity. Based on the Latvian archaeological material, H. Moora claimed that differences in burial form show not only different ethnic groups, but also inequality at their socio-economical level (Moora 1952, 70, 71–72, 78). If the barrow cemeteries were regarded as burial places of an extended Semigallian, Selonian, or Latgalian patriarchal community, where each barrow was the burial place for members of a single family, the flat cemeteries were considered as evidence of the Proto-Curonians’ movement to the class society. Later, both in the Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology, this assumption 171

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was developed by majority of the authors, for example, Elvīra Šnore, J. Graudonis, P. Kulikauskas, and others (e.g., Drīzulis 1953, 21–27; Bīrons et al. 1974, 127; Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 262), and the socio-economical explanation in connection with the ethnic attribution for a long time became the dominant interpretation of the Roman Iron Age flat graves. Only in the last two decades the social interpretation changed substantially. In the 1990s, Valter Lang and Andrejs Vasks, using mathematical methods, came to the conclusion that Roman Iron Age barrow cemeteries cannot be viewed as the burial places of the whole community (Lang 1995, 107–109; 2005, 18–22; Vasks 2000, 47). Thus, the question of Roman Iron Age flat graves as an alternative burial practice to barrows emerged, which is related to the social stratification and symbolic aspects from the 1st to 4th century. However, on this matter, the question of flat graves is not discussed in detail any further. In Lithuanian archaeology this discussion is not current at all. The main assumption remains that the barrows are burial places for all members of the society, which is highlighted by the predominant researcher of the Roman Iron Age barrows Mykolas Michelbertas (e.g. Michelbertas 2006, 49–50). Thus, there is no perceived need to look for an alternative burial practice. An exception is the opinion of Andra SimniškytėStrimaitienė, who pointed out that the barrows could primarily be symbolic objects (Simniškytė-Strimaitienė 2004, 10–11). However, in this case also a discussion of possible alternative burial practice, including Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’, is not evolved. These variations in the interpretations as well as in the previously mentioned identification of the discussed flat graves call for a detailed analysis of the above-described archaeological evidence and even 172

for a re-evaluation of the question of the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ on the whole. Discussion As was argued above, the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ can be seen as a great example how varied the identification and attribution as well as interpretation of similar archaeological evidence can be. Consequently, this brings forth a question about different modern historical entities and their influence on the interpretation of archaeological material. Firstly, the analysis of collected archaeological material of above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves (including circumstances in which they were found, etc.) will be done. Secondly, different factors which may have caused these variations will be analyzed.  

Problems of identification The biggest problem in strictly identifying Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ is the fragmentary nature of the archaeological evidence and, in most cases, also the lack of detailed information about them. The most controversial information comes from investigations conducted in the 19th century. In this period, no preserved Roman Iron Age flat graves were discovered. Also in the cases where Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries are identified by isolated finds (even if they were discovered during excavations), descriptions of the archaeological context are very incomplete or are missing. Also the fragmentary or missing notes on methods of fieldwork do not allow them to be seen as reliable evidence of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ either.


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For example, there is an account of eyewitnesses of excavations at Skare in 1911, gathered by E. Šnore in 1936, which shows that even some ploughmen were invited to take part in the excavation, and that some of the artefacts were uncovered by ploughing (Šnore, E. 1936, 5). Also in later reports on the evidence of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the barrow area, some gaps can be seen. There are no preserved detailed descriptions even of well-preserved graves mentioned above (Stūri, Gibaičiai and Linkaičiai). However, in spite of this incomplete information, some main features of above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves in the barrow area can be summarised and also evaluated in the context of contemporaneous burial practices. All of the above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves in the barrow area were inhumations. The deceased were laid in an extended position on the back, together with different types of grave-goods. An important element of the grave arrangement were also stones. In the majority of cases only single stones were put near the head, waist, or legs of the deceased, but in some cases even stone constructions were discovered. For example, in the report of the excavation in Skare, written by August Bielenstein in 1865, and in the description of Dīcmaņi-Pilsiņķi, given by Constantin Grewingk in 1884, beside the artefacts from Roman Iron Age discovered in an area with no signs of the barrows, there is also unclear data about some circles and squares made of stones (Bielenstein 1884, 71–73; Grewingk 1884, 126). In the Oši and Linkaičiai cemeteries a row of larger stones near the above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves were discovered as well (Šturms 1926; Tarvydas 1933,  2). In the case of Linkaičiai, places where graves were sifted with white sand have been mentioned, and also some evidence of fire-places near graves was observed (Tarvydas 1933, 4–5).

All these elements basically correspond to both of the neighbouring areas of flat graves – to the flat graves with stone circles in the coastal area and to the so-called central Lithuanian flat graves (Michelbertas 1986, 28–41, 44–54). However, in the context of the discussed territory, a much more significant point is that all these elements are identical to those discovered in Roman Iron Age barrows (e.g. Michelbertas 1986, 54–68; Bīrons et al. 1974, 103–106; Šnore 1993). In addition, like in the case of barrows with stone circles, no clearly identifiable grave-pits have been noted in the above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves. B. Tarvydas has mentioned that in the Gibaičiai cemetery, mixed soil near one well-preserved deceased was observed, but the chronology of this grave is not clear (Tarvydas 1933, 8). Also in the photo of the Roman Iron Age grave from Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery, darker soil around the deceased can be seen (Stepiņš 1940). However, P. Stepiņš did not mention such a fact in his description, neither is it shown in the drawing of the grave. It cannot be excluded that this might be attributed to the one more characteristic feature of the barrows. Also below the barrows, a layer of darker soil as well as remains of fire-places are common (e.g. Michelbertas 1986, 56–57; Šnore 1993). Direct similarities between the abovementioned Roman Iron Age flat graves and the Roman Iron Age barrow graves can be seen also in the sort, number, and typological forms of grave goods. For example, in Rūsīši-Debeši the Roman Iron Age flat grave contained a bronze eye fibula, a bracelet with a round cross-section, and an iron awl (Fig. 2). In the Roman Iron Age grave in Stūri cemetery, a bronze neck-ring with conic-shaped ends, two bracelets with a band-like cross-section and contracted ends, and a decorative pin with the wheel-shaped head (Fig. 1) 173

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was found. However, the grave from Oši contained only one bronze neck-ring with conic-shaped ends. In above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves from Diržiai, Gibaičiai, and Linkaičiai, beside the above-mentioned types of ornaments and tools, also a bronze crossbow fibula with ring decorations, decorative pins with a profiled head, ring-headed pins, etc. have been found. Almost all of these tools and forms of ornaments are seen, for example, at Gailīši barrow cemetery (Moora 1931; 1938a; Šnore 1938). Thus, also the chronology of the discussed flat graves covers the same period as that of the barrows – they are dated from the 2nd century (Rūsīši-Debeši) to 3rd or 4th century (e.g., Diržiai). Even more problematic attribution is in the above-mentioned cases where Roman Iron Age flat graves or flat cemeteries are identified based on isolated finds. Both in the territory of Latvia and Lithuania, there are many more similar places of Roman Iron Age isolated finds without any signs of barrows; additionally, many of these are located in the eastern part of the ‘barrow area’ as well (Moora 1929, 32–173; Rimantienė 1977, 21, 28–29, 31, 33, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49–51, 64–65, 68, 70, 80, 82, 93, 105, 109, 111, 113, 115, 120–122, 126–129; Griciuvienė 2005, 8; 2007, 8, 259–274). Nevertheless, these have never been identified as places of Roman Iron Age flat graves, but only as remains of a destroyed barrow or unclearly identified objects. According to previous analyses, the lack of a mound is the only element which distinguishes the above-mentioned Roman Iron Age flat graves from burials discovered in the barrows. However, the lack of a visible mound cannot always be taken as a defining argument of a flat cemetery. Several instances of field research have shown that intense agriculture or other activities in the later periods can make barrows unobservable from the landscape. 174

Such an example was seen at the Priedīši cemetery near River Vadakste where Jānis Asaris, in 1985, discovered one partly destroyed barrow which was not observable before the excavations (Asaris 1994). It was noticed only by a stratigraphic observation during excavation. Also in Lejasbitēni cemetery on the right bank of the River Daugava, where apart from the Roman Iron Age isolated finds, in 1961, Vladislavs Urtāns uncovered an undisturbed burial from the 4th century (grave no. 62) for which the visible evidence of the mound was not observed (Urtāns 1961). Its attribution to the barrow graves was determined only by the placement of surrounding graves from later periods, which together with grave no. 62 were mutually placed in the circle (Urtāns 1961; 1962, 15). As it was already mentioned, in the case of discussed Roman Iron Age flat graves, such detailed evidence has not always been recorded. On this matter, it is also important to keep in mind that all these examples of flat burials – isolated finds as well as undisturbed graves – were discovered in the burial places used for a longer period or in the cemeteries which were reused in the later periods. For example, in the Rūsīši-Debeši cemetery where the flat grave from the 2nd century was found, seven Roman Iron Age barrows, and flat graves from the Middle and Late Iron Age as well as Early Modern Ages, were also discovered (Stepiņš 1939; 1940; Vilka 1994). Thus, in such cemeteries, many disturbances of the older burials have been observed. Besides, in each case, there are only some isolated finds or single instance of Roman Iron Age flat graves found. Thus, also the find circumstances and partial preservation of the discussed Roman Iron Age flat graves does not exclude the possibility that these actually originate from partially destroyed barrows. As it was noticed by


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M.  Michelbertas, the study of progression of the damage to the barrow cemeteries may also lead to considering such a possibility (Michelbertas 2006, 50). For example, at Pajuostis cemetery, in 1925, about 35 barrows were counted, but by the 1970s only 21 barrows remained preserved (Rimantienė 1977, 77; Michelbertas 2004a, fig. 1). Additionally, from the 19th century there are records about Roman Iron Age cemeteries with 100 and even more barrows, which are no longer preserved (Michelbertas 1986, 55). In conclusion, based on the collected archaeological material, it is not possible to prove beyond doubt the existence of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’. However, it still remains unclear why some archaeologicial traces have been identified as Roman Iron Age flat graves, but other similar traces are not. Therefore, a detailed analysis of the historiographical interpretations of Roman Iron Age flat graves is needed. Problems of interpretation In Baltic archaeology, as in all of Europe, the so-called culture-historical school of archaeology emerged at the end of the 19th century. In the case of the discussed Roman Iron Age flat graves, the tendency to identify different types of monuments with different monolithic cultural groups can be clearly seen in the historiographical tradition. Additionally, these cultural groups were retrospectively attributed to the distinct ethnic units known from medieval written records or ethnography. It is not surprising that in Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology, this attribution was clearly on the foreground in the 1920s and 1930s. This approach fully corresponded not only to common theoretical tendencies, but also to the historical conditions and political aims of that

time. Like in many countries worldwide (Kohl & Fawcett 1995b, and references therein), also in the Baltic States, archaeology played a critical role in the creation of the national identity and the national state. According to the primordial explanation of nationality characteristic for most nation-states, nation was shown as a natural unit based on the community created from the shared culture (Hillerdal 2009, 31–32). Thus, the identification of ethnographic units in the most ancient times became a crucial element in the construction of nationality. Consequently, archaeological remains became a main proof to justify the national state, but archaeological interpretations were meant to constitute a specific form of narrative to announce this primordial origin of the nation (Kohl & Fawcett 1995a, 3, 10). In Latvia, for example, there was also an official demand of the state to write a history from the national perspective (Bērziņš 2003, 758–761). According to this linear retrospective approach both in Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology, direct parallels of ethnographic cultures were traced down even to the Roman Iron Age, and assumptions about ethnic attribution of different Roman Iron Age burial types were created (e.g. Bīrons et al. 1974, 128–130; Kulikauskas et al. 1961, 267; Michelbertas 1986, 237–241). In the region discussed, the Roman Iron Age barrows with stone circles were attributed to Semigallian, Selonian, Latgalian, and sometimes also Samogitian units. Moreover, in Latvian archaeology, based on some specific features of grave goods, the barrows were divided into two groups identified with clearly separate units of Semigallians and Selonians (sometimes also with Latgalians or an undivided Selonian-Latgalian unit). Nearby flat cemeteries known in the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea were identified with the Curonian unit, but in 175

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central Lithuania – with Aukstaitians or Samogitians. These ethnic attributions became an unquestionable tradition in Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology for a long time. On the matter of discussed Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’, it seemed logical that Curonians, Aukstaitians, or Samogitians, as a result of migration, could reach the territory inhabited by neighbouring ethnic groups and thus, ‘their’ flat graves could also be seen at the frontier region of the ‘barrow area’. In Latvian archaeology, there was an objective reason to identify these flat graves with the Curonians. The coastal area is the only region in Latvia where Roman Iron Age flat graves are known. In Lithuania, two distinct areas of Roman Iron Age flat graves close to the ‘barrow area’ are identified. Thus, also with two distinct ethnic units these above-mentioned flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ could be identified. This approach and these criteria of attribution created ambiguities not only in the interpretation of the discussed Roman Iron Age flat graves, but also in their identification. As it was already mentioned, there are more instances of similar archaeological data from the eastern part of the ‘barrow area’. However, this data has never been interpreted as an indication of Roman Iron Age flat burials. Considering the already described retrospective approach, it would be hard to explain, for example, a group of Curonian burials in the eastern region of Latvia. Presumably, the linear retrospective approach and the attribution of such burials to the peripheral monuments of neighbouring cultural areas (with the attribution of the ethnic, social, and economical parameters to those supposed peripheral groups) also means that no general overview and analysis of these Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ has ever been developed in Latvian, nor in Lithuanian archaeology. 176

Thus, the case of these flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ shows the problems of using the cultural-historical retrospective approach for interpreting the Roman Iron Age material in this region. It is also evidenced by the recent division of some new regions with specific types of Roman Iron Age archaeological monuments. In the 1990s, A. Vasks identified the so-called Roman Iron Age late striated ceramic area in the south-eastern part of Latvia, where archaeologically definable burial practice is not known; only some settlement sites and hillforts have been discovered (Vasks 1998, 11–13). In the same decade, Jānis Ciglis and Arnis Radiņš distinguished the Roman Iron Age barrow area without stone circles in the eastern part of Latvia (Bitner-Wróblewska et al. 2005, 218–221; Ciglis 2007). It is impossible to attribute these groups of monuments to any ethnographically known unit. Furthermore, there are no convincing features to discuss the two separate groups of the Roman Iron Age barrows with stone circles (Guščika 2014). Quantitative differences of some types of grave goods between the ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ barrow cemeteries (a basic criterion mentioned in the historiography) mostly are chronologically and not territorially determined, or these are specific features of much wider regions than some part of the ‘barrow area’. Finally, there are difficulties in identifying a single area of coastal flat graves, which could be attributed to the ethnographically known Curonians. As it is pointed out by R. Banytė-Rowell in her recent works, there are no arguments that flat graves without stone circles found in coastal Latvia are a specific peripheral feature of the area of flat graves with stone circles known in coastal Lithuania (Zabiela 2007, 44). Instead, she separates two distinct areas with different burial practices. Thus, it is impossible to prove also the assumption about the Roman

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Iron Age flat graves in the barrow area as evidence of migration and coexistence of monolithic ethnic groups in the neighbouring territory. On the matter of the retrospective approach and cultural continuity, it should be admitted that the concept of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ as a reminiscence of Bronze and Pre-Roman Iron Age flat burials, noticed by H. Moora, is also inconsistent. In the area of Roman Iron Age barrows with stone circles, flat graves from the Early Metal Period are known only in the basin of River Lielupe and sporadically on the left bank of River Daugava, covering only a small part of the ‘barrow area’ in the territory of presentday Latvia (Grigalavičienė 1995, fig. 3; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, fig. 83). In Latvian archaeology, that could also be one of the reasons why the Roman Iron Age flat cemeteries are identified only in the western part of the ‘barrow area’. In Baltic archaeology, it has already been pointed out by V. Lang that ‘archaeological culture’ in general is an artificially constructed concept made by the archaeologists for the classification and systematisation of the archaeological material (Lang 2005). These above-discussed interpretations of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ are an appropriate example of this. Much ethnographic and anthropological research proves that burial practices cannot be seen only as a static reflection of human activities, but as an ‘active participant’ of social life (e.g. Gennep 1965; Parker Pearson 1999, and references therein). The differences in burial practices presumably were caused by many factors. The burial type or external grave structure, in conjunction with the energy expended on mortuary activities, is considered as an indicator of vertical social stratification (Carr 1995, 157, 165, 167). However, rituals do not only manifest the social order, at the same

time they also take part in constructing it (Shanks & Tilley 1982, 133). In the case of burial practices, for example, the social status of the deceased could determine the social and symbolic meanings of their burial places. Accordingly, the specific burial type over a longer period of time could become a widespread symbol and part of a broader communication system. The latest interpretations, where Roman Iron Age burial practices are discussed in the context of social stratification and symbolism, seem to correspond much more to the multifaceted characteristics of the burial practices and also to the situation of the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ in general. In the territory discussed, the changes in the pattern of settlement at the beginning of the Roman Iron Age, including decentralisation, settling previously sparsely inhabited areas, etc. (Grigalavičienė 1995, fig. 3; Mugurēvičs & Vasks 2001, 190–197, fig. 83), concede the possibility that barrows were primarily made to manifest the collective identity and land ownership legitimised by the socio-symbolic nature of burials (Vasks 2000, 47; SimniškytėStrimaitienė 2004, 11). As it was already mentioned, based on this evidence and the small number of barrow burials, the assumption that barrows were not used as a burial place for all members of society (Vasks 2000, 47) is becoming more common in Latvian archaeology. Thus, the flat cemeteries could be alternative burial places that are only fragmentarily known. These socio-symbolic aspects could also explain the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the eastern part of the ‘barrow area’. The lack of such a discussion in Lithuanian archaeology may be due to the fact that, starting from the 1960s, research on the Lithuanian Roman Iron Age barrow area is predominately linked to M. Michelbertas and his also well explained assumption that barrows were used as a 177

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burial place for all members of the community. The small number of burials in the barrows is, according to him, the result of the wide scale of damage (Michelbertas 2006, 49–50). On the whole, the problematic identification of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ and their unconvincing interpretations show that they could merely be a historically constructed entity. However, the latest discussions on barrows show that the question of alternative burial practices in the barrow area is still relevant. In this regard, the question of some archaeologically unidentified burial practices or no burial practice as such emerged (Lang 2011), giving a wide range of options for further discussions in Roman Iron Age archaeology. Conclusions In total, there have been up to 28 places of Roman Iron Age flat graves identified in the area of the contemporaneous barrows with stone circles. Interpretations of them show a wide range of concepts regarding the question of the coexistence of two different burial practices. These flat graves are used as an argument for tracing migration, patterns of the social structure, ethnicity, and the beliefs of society from the 1st to 4th century AD. However, in the historiography of Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’, there are many


inconsistencies, both in their identification and interpretation. Reconsideration of archaeological evidence and assumptions about these Roman Iron Age flat graves shows that question about their coexistence in the barrow area itself is still unclear. An analysis of circumstances in which these graves were discovered (incomplete field methodology, wide scale of damages caused by secondary burials, etc.), fragmentation of evidence, and also their characteristic features (lack of grave-pits, direct similarities to the graves found in the barrows, etc.) raised the question of whether it is possible to discuss the Roman Iron Age flat burials in this area at all. There are many facts that suggest considering this archaeological evidence as the remains of disturbed barrows. Also, the analysis of interpretations of Roman Iron Age flat graves shows that the majority of these interpretations were caused by collective identity and consciousness of the modern society, the role of the researcher, and similar factors. On the whole, the historiography of Roman Iron Age flat burials in the ‘barrow area’ reflects not only the varied aspects of the past, but also of modern history. Furthermore, the Roman Iron Age flat graves in the ‘barrow area’ itself can be considered as historically constructed entities and as part of the historiographical tradition of Latvian and Lithuanian archaeology.


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Michelbertas, M. 2004a. Pajuosčio pilkapynas. Vilniaus universiteto leidykla, Vilnius. Michelbertas, M. 2004b = Михельбертас М. 2004. Заселение территории культуры курганов Жемайтии Северной Литвы и Южной Латвии в римский период. – Pētījumi zemgaļu senatnē. Ed. R. Ritums. Latvijas Vēstures Muzeja Raksti, 10. Rīga, 67–75. Michelbertas, M. 2006 = Михельбертас М. 2006. Погребальный обряд селов по данным исследований курганных могильников северовосточной Литвы. – Pētījumi sēļu senatnē. Ed. I.  Melne. Latvijas Nacionālā vēstures muzeja raksti, 11. Rīga, 41–52. Moora, H. 1929. Die Eisenzeit in Lettland bis etwa 500 n. Chr. 1. Teil: die Funde. Tartu-Dorpat. Moora, H. 1931. Ein Hügelgrab der römischen Eisenzeit in Īle, Kreis Jelgava, Lettland. – Congressus secundus archaeologorum Balticorum Rigae, 19.–23. VIII 1930. Latvijas Universitātes Raksti. Filoloģijas un filozofijas fakultātes sērija, 1. sēj. Rīga, 437–460. Moora, H. 1938a. Das II. Hügelgrab von Gailīši, Gemeinde Īle, Kreis Jelgava. – Senatne un Māksla, 2. Rīga, 64–73. Moora, H. 1938b. Die Eisenzeit in Lettland bis etwa 500 n. Chr. II Teil: Analyse. Tartu. Moora, H. 1952. Pirmatnējā kopienas iekārta un agrā feodālā sabiedrība Latvijas PSR teritorijā. Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, Rīga. Mugurēvičs, Ē. & Vasks, A. (eds) 2001. Latvijas senākā vēsture. 9. g. t. pr. Kr. – 1200. g. Latvijas vēstures institūta apgāds, Rīga. Navickaitė, O. 1959. Diržių kapinynas. – Iš Lietuvių kultūros istorijos, II. Ed. J. Žiugžda. Valstybinė politinės ir mokslinės literatūros leidykla, Vilnius, 151–158. Nilsson Stutz, L. 2003. Embodied Rituals & Ritualized Bodies. Tracing Ritual




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Practices in Late Mesolithic Burials. Acta Archaeologica Lundensia, ser. 80, 46. Lund. Parker Pearson, M. 1999. The Archaeology of Death and Burial. Stroud, Sutton. Puzinas, J. 1938. Naujasių proistorinių tyrinėjimų duomenys. Varpas, Kaunas. Radiņš, A. 1999. 10.–13. gadsimta senkapi latgaļu apdzīvotajā teritorijā un Austrumlatvijas etniskās, sociālās un politiskās vēstures jautājumi. Latvijas vēstures muzeja raksti, 5. Rīga. Rafael, A. 1912. Ueber einen archäologischen Fund aus dem Beihofe Skarre (Elisenhof) bei Groß-Autz. – Sitzungberichte der Kurländischen Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst 1911. Mitau, 55–78. Rimantienė, R. (ed.) 1977. Lietuvos TSR archeologijos atlasas. [Kn.] III. I– XII a. pilkapynai ir senkapiai. Mokslas, Vilnius. Ruša, M. 1992. Izrakumi Dobeles rajonā. – Zinātniskās atskaites sesijas materiāli par arheologu 1990. un 1991. gada pētījumu rezultātiem. Ed. E.  Mugurēvičs. Rīga, 86–93. Sb. Kurl. 1884 = Sitzungs-Berichte der kurländischen Gesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst aus den Jahren 1864 bis 1871. Neuer Abdruck. J. F. Steffenhagen und Sohn, Mitau. Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. 1982. Ideology, symbolic power and ritual communication: a reinterpretation of Neolithic mortuary practices. – Symbolic and Structural Archaeology. Ed. I. Hodder. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 129–154. Simniškytė-Strimaitienė, A. 2004. Cultural Dynamics in the Selonia Region (1st – 13th c. AD). Summary of doctoral dissertation. Humanities, History (05 H). Vilnius. Stepiņš, P. 1938. Ziņojuma par archaioloģiskiem izrakumiem Rubas Debešu senkapos. (Unpublished excavation report

in the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia, with the report of the excavation in 1940.) Stepiņš, P. 1939. Senkapi ,,Liepu kalnā” Rubas pag. Rūsīšos-Debešos, Jelgavas apr. – Senatne un Māksla, 1, 48–63. Stepiņš, P. 1940. Pārskats par izrakumiem Rubas pag. Rūsīšos-Debešos 1940. gadā. (Unpublished excavation report in the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia.) Šnore, E. 1936. Ziņas par atradumiem Skares kapulaukā. (Unpublished report in the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia, in the shared file of the Skare (Zeltiņi) cemetery.) Šnore, E. 1993. Agrā dzelzs laikmeta uzkalniņi Latvijas austrumu daļā. Zinātne, Rīga. Šnore, R. 1929. Izrakumi Dobeles pagasta Ošu senkapos 1926. gadā. – Rīgas Latviešu Biedrības Zinību komisijas rakstu krājums, 19. Rīga, 169–179. Šnore, R. 1936. Latvijas aizvēstures kartes. 1. Agrais un vidējais dzelzs laikmets (1.–8. gs. pēc Kr.). – Congressus secundus archaeologorum Balticorum Rigae, 19.–23. VIII 1930. Latvijas Universitātes Raksti. Filoloģijas un filozofijas fakultātes sērija, 1. sēj., papild. Rīga. Šnore, R. 1938. Trešais kapu uzkalniņš 2.– 6. gs. kapu laukā Īles Gailīšos. – Senatne un Māksla, 3, 59–78. Šturms, E. 1926. Pārskats par izrakumiem Dobeles Ošu kapulaukā 1926. gadā. (Unpublished excavation report in the Department of Archaeology of the National History Museum of Latvia.) Tarvydas, B. 1933. Šiaulių Kraštotyros Djos archeologiniai tyrinejimai 1932. m. – Šiaulių metraštis, 4. Šiauliai, 1–17. Tebelškis, P. 1996. Degučių kapinyno 1995 m. žvalgomieji archeologiniai tyrimai. – Archeologiniai tyrinėjimai Lietuvoje 1994 ir 1995 metais, 132–134. 181

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Understanding past actions – changing attitudes towards ritual, religion and everyday life Sonja Hukantaival In earlier studies religion and everyday life have often been seen as the opposites of each other. The strict dichotomy between sacred and profane has been widely accepted in anthropology, history of religion, and archaeology. This approach has since been changing, first in the other mentioned disciplines and then also among archaeologists. Nevertheless, many outdated attitudes towards ritual and religion still linger among us, perhaps unconsciously. This paper discusses briefly the changing attitudes towards ritual, religion, and everyday life in archaeology and how this development contributes towards a wider understanding of past action. It is proposed here that the crux of the definitional problems of religion and ritual lies within how categories are always simplifications of reality. When we do not divide action into strict categories and do not force sharp dichotomies on the societies we study, we get a more comprehensive insight into past life. Key words: ritual, religion, magic, categories, semantics, sacred and profane, building concealments/deposits. Sonja Hukantaival, University of Turku, Archaeology, 2 Henrikinkatu St., FI-20014 Turun yliopisto, Finland; [email protected]

Introduction Ritual is problematic. It can be simplified as action that has been distinguished from ordinary actions through different means (see e.g. Bell 1997, 91–169). However, it is quite descriptive that when the proceedings of a symposium on religious rites held in Turku, Finland in 1991 were published, the publication was titled The Problem of Ritual (Ahlbäck 1993). Also many of the other references listed in the bibliography below reveal this same trend. In this article I review approaches towards questions of ritual from the point of view of archaeologists; how it was gradually realised that there is a problem and what kind of solutions have been suggested. The reason why

ritual is problematic will also be discussed. The core of the problem is actually very simple – it is all about semantics – but still there are no easy solutions. The problem of ritual is part of a bigger problem: the problem of religion. Timothy Insoll (2004b, 1–2) puts forward that one of the reasons why religion has been neglected in archaeology is that the term is so difficult to define. Instead, ritual has been preferred as a descriptive device1, and apparently has often been used without closer inspection of the term (Insoll 2004b, 2–3). In fact, ritual is just as dif1   This has not only happened in archaeology, but also in anthropology (see e.g. Douglas 1984 (1966), 66).


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ficult to define as religion, as has been noticed over and over again (e.g. Goody 1961; Sørensen 1993; Bell 1997, 138–170; Brück 1999). A simple explanation for why archaeologists have preferred the term ‘ritual’ over ‘religion’ is that since rituals are actions, they sometimes leave observable traces in the archaeological record, while religion is thought to be more abstract (Fogelin 2007, 56). Rituals are also not only religious actions, so it may seem safer for an archaeologist of a secular world to study rituals, and just leave the uncomfortable questions of religion and belief outside the discussion (see e.g. Insoll 2004b; Whitley 2008). But, as Insoll (2004b, 3) points out, ritual has often been treated as the descriptor for religion itself in archaeological discussions. It should be remembered that ritual is a part of a wider whole, Insoll continues (Insoll 2004b, 3). Basically, religion includes beliefs, actions, and institutions which assume the existence of ‘supernatural’ agencies (see Bruce 1995, ix). The notion of ‘supernatural’ makes this otherwise simple definition debatable: it carries the below discussed dichotomy of sacred–profane in the form natural–supernatural. Lars Fogelin (2007, 56) points out that archaeologists generally agree that ritual is a form of action or behaviour, but there are significant differences in how they see the relationship between ritual and religion. Archaeologists who are structure-oriented see religion as primary, with ritual enacting underlying religious beliefs. Those who are practice-oriented see ritual as primary, and the religious beliefs conform to the actions. As remarked above, rituals do not necessarily need to be religious, but most archaeologists seem to have been either interested in religious ritual or have questioned the usefulness of the concepts of religion and ritual altogether (see e.g. Brück 1999; Herva & Ylimaunu 2009). 184

The aim of this paper is not to solve the problems of ritual and religion. Ultimately, it is up to every researcher to weigh the different approaches against each other and to decide which one is best suited to the material and questions at hand. Therefore this paper is more a journey towards finding the approaches that help understanding the phenomenon of ritual building concealments during historical times in Finland, which is the research material of the author. These building concealments are objects that have been deliberately hidden in the constructs of a building, which, according to Finnish 19th-century folklore, has often been done as a part of magic protection of the building and its inhabitants (see e.g. Hukantaival 2007; 2009; 2011). Still, the discussion should not be uninteresting to readers with different kinds of materials and questions before them. Ritual vs. functional One of the earliest questions asked by archaeologists who study ritual, or religion more broadly, was how to identify it in archaeological contexts (Fogelin 2007, 59). The term ’ritual’ was long used to refer to a cultural practice that did not seem to have any functional value or was simply bizarre. So actions could be divided into functional, rational acts and ritual, irrational acts. At the same time this was a very colonialist view, dividing people into rational Europeans and irrational, primitive ‘others’ (see Brück 1999, 318–319). This way of thinking has its roots in the European history of secularisation and can be found in the oldest academic definitions of religion. Émile Durkheim’s (1964 (1915)) definition of religion contains two elements. Firstly, religion consists of beliefs and practices relative to sacred and distinct from profane things. The

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second criterion was introduced to distinguish between religion and magic: religion is public while magic is private (Durkheim (1964 (1915)), 23–47; about critique of this definition see e.g. Goody 1961, 145– 157). This dichotomy of sacred and profane has since been widely discussed, and in addition to researchers of other disciplines many archaeologists have criticised it on well-established grounds (e.g. Brück 1999; Bradley 2003; 2005). I will return to this critique below. Archaeologists are not alone in having interpreted religion and ritual by failing to recognise the rational means–end relationship of an observed action (see Goody 1961, 156). Indeed, we can ask whether it really is truthful to write about this in past tense. Contemporary archaeologists who are familiar with the theoretical discussion about the primal questions of the archaeology of religion are most likely sure to avoid making too strict distinctions between the spheres of ritual and rational action. But, at least from the very narrow view of the current author, it seems that many archaeologists who are responsible for unearthing the material remains of ritual (namely fieldwork professionals) still use a kind of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ type of deduction ruling out any functional explanation before giving in to a religion/ ritual-related interpretation of a find. This could be a very local phenomenon, but as has also been noted by James Morris (2008, 93), archaeological theorists and practitioners are not always on the same wavelength regarding the interpretation of finds. If it is so in a British environment where discussions about the challenges of the archaeology of religion have been frequent, it is not surprising to find it in a setting where such discussion has been rare. The Finnish archaeology of religion is still quite sporadic with little domestic discussion about the subject. All in all, there still seems to be a fear of being labelled as an

irrational enthusiast who over-interprets finds, so a ‘safe’ functional interpretation is easily preferred (compare with Insoll 2004b and Whitley 2008).2 A question might arise of whether there is any reason why it should be a problem if (some) fieldwork professionals interpret ritual in this way. To answer this we will have to return to the critique aimed at the sacred–profane dichotomy. The main point is that even though this dichotomy has been presented as a universal feature of culture, it has been noticed that in reality the case is more complex (see e.g. Goody 1961, 145–157). Dividing things into sacred and profane is not universal; on the contrary it seems to be more common in different cultures not to have such strict extremes. In the case of archaeology, fixating on these divisions may lead to confusion when interpreting finds where traces of ritual activity are observed in a ‘surprising’ context, for example in a domestic setting (Bradley 2003; 2005, 10– 28). This division may seriously stand in the way of understanding prehistoric life, as Joanna Brück (1999) has pointed out. From the point of view of traces of historical ‘folk religion’3, to which category the building concealments are connected, there are similar consequences as well. If archaeologists only point out the odd, otherwise completely unexplainable finds as traces of ritual and religion, what will this do to our understanding of historical practices and life? It can lead to overlooking the ordinary rituals that were a part of   This is based on the current author’s personal experiences and some ‘coffee-table’ discussions, and should not be taken as an established fact. 3   Another term not easily defined and not without problems (see e.g. Yoder 1974). In this case the concept means laypeople’s interpretations of religion which also include elements not approved by the official religious authorities. 2


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people’s everyday lives. For a slightly provocative example, it can lead to a view in which people of the past were very careless with their coins, especially losing them while going to church and while building foundations. Coins can of course easily be lost, but if we always resort to a ‘safe’ explanation, when will we notice a pattern? In the case of historical archaeology, there is a huge body of other sources (such as folklore and court records) that document ordinary rites, involving for example the coins mentioned here. I will present some of this material in my upcoming thesis (see also Hukantaival 2011; about coins in Finnish churches Jokipii 2002, 37–38). Another question might be if any interpretations about ritual at all should be made during the fieldwork. In practice, interpretations are necessarily made in the field all the time, and they influence greatly how observations are documented. When interpreting possible ritual action the contexts of finds are of crucial importance. A good example is my own study topic of deliberate concealments in Finnish buildings. Before the increase in awareness of this phenomenon, possible building concealments were not recognised and the finds were documented by the accuracy of square or stratigraphic unit only, thus leaving the critical exact find context undocumented. This same problem may affect other, still undiscussed, ritual actions as well. The fieldwork situation is where our research material is ‘born’, and the choices made there will definitely affect the way interpretations can be done later, since lost information may be impossible to retrieve afterwards. Before looking more closely at how the interpretations of ritual and religion have changed in connection to the above-mentioned critique, I will take a short detour to look at another dichotomy. The dichotomy of religion and magic is connected to the sacred–profane dichotomy, not only as 186

it belongs to the same time in the history of theory but also as it carries a similar attitude. Religion vs. magic As mentioned above, in addition to distinguishing between religion and rational behaviour there has been a need to distinguish between religion and magic (see also Hammond 1970). In Durkheim’s definition of religion he argued that while religion is public and binds people together, magic is private and lacks community (Durkheim (1964 (1915)), 42–47). Even after he remarked that religion and magic are very similar, he still felt a strong need to make a distinction between the two. Earlier scholars have also suggested an evolutionary relationship between magic and religion, with primitive magic evolving into sophisticated religion (Frazer 1922, 54–55). Generally, magic as action can be simply defined as goal-directed techniques (rites) that use a specific understanding of causality. There seems to be a shared suspicion towards magic among many of the classic scholars of religion (e.g. Mauss (2006 (1902)), 28–30; Durkheim (1964 (1915)), 42–47; Frazer 1992 (1922), 48–60). This is easily understood when looking into the history of ‘superstition’ in Europe. Magic is prominently connected with superstition, a term that has been used for any kind of ‘wrong’ religiosity (see Cameron 2010, 4–6). Theologians made efforts to draw a line between magic and ‘true’ religion already in medieval times. Before the Reformation, theologians did not agree on any other boundaries of superstition than a shared disapproval of ‘demonic’ magic (Cameron 2010, 139). After the Reformation the dangerous aspects of magic became emphasised even more. Magic was not only misguided and ignorant, it was dangerous since it was

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agreed by analysts of magic that a pact with a demon was always present in magical acts, whether this was deliberate or purely unintentional (Cameron 2010, 191–195). Following in the footsteps of historical superstition treatises (see Cameron 2010, 192), Durkheim stated that magic is a “mockery of religion”, as it takes a “professional pleasure in profaning holy things” (Durkheim (1964 (1915)), 43). He tried hard to distinguish this suspicious action from religion, but when he stumbled on the phenomenon of private cult, he did not notice that his explanation for why private cults actually are a part of religion could just as well be used in regards to magic (Durkheim (1964 (1915)), 42–47). Similarly Frazer (1922, 52–54) had to note that religion and magic were sometimes mixed in his attempt to make the distinction by attributing respect and submission to religion while magic was supposedly based only on a misguided law of mechanical cause and effect. Basically, it seems that the concealed main issue in condemning magic by the theologians in the past was a question of power and authority. The real danger of magic was that it was practiced by ordinary people and thus threatened the privileged position of the clergy. The concern about fraternisation with demons may well have been real, but the true source of the discomfort seems to have been related to status and power (see also e.g. Lewis-Williams 2008, 37–38). In my mind, this appears to have been the fundamental reason to condemn magic and the motivation to distinguish between (true) religion and magic, a need that was still felt by later researchers who perhaps did not see the connection. In this light, there is no actual reason to separate magic from religion (see also Hammond 1970); at least not outside theologies discussing true and false religion. This point has since been acknowledged by many scholars (e.g. Koski 2011, 82),

but still the old division surfaces at times (e.g. Carlie 2004, 25–27, 194–196). Just as in the cases of ‘religion’ and ‘ritual’, ‘magic’ is not a straightforward term with a fixed meaning (see e.g. Kieckhefer 1994), but its use is quite suitable when handled skilfully (see e.g. Gilchrist 2008). Rational ritual As a critique towards seeing ritual as irrational and non-functional, some researchers have pointed out that there is a specific rationality in ritual activity. As Jørgen Podemann Sørensen points out, rituals are actually designed to work (Sørensen 1993, 18). This insight to ritual has its roots with early fieldwork-oriented anthropologists, such as Bronisław Malinowski. He made a strong case for the rationality of ‘primitive man’ and the many functions of religion and, in particular, magic (Malinowski 1954 (1948), 17–92). Malinowski was still observing these practices ‘from far and above’ (Malinowski 1954 (1948), 90), but the ideas were part of a cultural relativist approach, where the meanings to the actors themselves were important (see e.g. Marcus & Fischer 1986, 19–25). In the fields of history and archaeology the idea of the rationality of ritual became visible during the 1990s. Richard Kieckhefer (1994, 814) argued that Euro­ pean medieval magic was to the users of it neither irrational nor nonrational, but essentially rational: it was believed to actually work and its workings were governed by specific principles. Magic fits well into this argument for rational ritual, since it is usually understood as a means to an end (see e.g. Malinowski 1954 (1948); Jarvie & Agassi 1967; Kieckhefer 1994). In the field of prehistoric archaeology, for example Joanna Brück (1999, 320–322, 325–328) has discussed the rationality of ritual action in its cultural context. 187

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Since the historical practice of building concealments have, in the light of 19thcentury folklore, been a part of different magical acts, the relative rationality of these rituals is easily recognised (see also Hukantaival 2007, 70–71). In the folklore describing concealing objects in buildings a very specific purpose for the action is often given. For example, many of the concealments made in connection to the threshold of an animal-shelter have been done to protect the animals from witchcraft. In a context where witchcraft is seen as a real threat and tradition offers some well-known counter-measures against it, it is only very rational to use these countermeasures to protect the valuable livestock. One example of the folklore translates as follows: “A thunderbolt will prevent all of witches’ fiery arrows. Often when the cattle are thriving someone might envy the cattleluck. If one is not careful, the cattle will start to suffer and not be well. Old people used to put a thunderbolt under the threshold of the cowshed, since malicious powers could not enter over it.” (SKMT IV, 1, I 302§: translation from Finnish by the current author). Ritual and everyday life Another important point (touched upon above) to the study of building concealments is the notion that ritual and religion do not need to be distinct from everyday life. In the field of prehistoric archaeology, Richard Bradley (2003; 2005) has been discussing the importance of recognising ritual in domestic settings, but I will not go further into his material at this point. Instead, I will discuss this aspect of ritual as it is shown in Finnish folk religion of historical times, as it is a part of my own interests. 188

Based on the material from my research on building concealments it is clear that many everyday objects have been chosen for the rituals (see Hukantaival 2007, 67– 68; 2011, 45–49), a point that has also been noticed by other researchers (e.g. Falk 2008, 111–130). Objects such as knives, axes, scythes and sickles, nails and needles, and coins are recurring in the folklore material (see also SKMT IV, 1 and e.g. Talve 1997, 228–230). In the archaeological material whetstones are also present (Hukantaival 2011, 49; Falk 2008, 115). Not only can the concealed objects be everyday tools, but naturally also the context of the rituals is an everyday one, namely the domestic sphere. The concerns of the rituals are very ordinary as well, being connected to livelihood, health, and simply ensuring good luck in all endeavours. However, the question of ritual and everyday life is more complex than just noticing that they are often connected. Perhaps the first reaction to the critique against dividing the world into sacred and profane was a fear that if sacred and profane cannot be clearly distinguished it leads to a situation where everything is sacred and consequently nothing is sacred (see e.g. Malinowski 1954 (1948), 24). Malinowski (1954 (1948), 17–92) discussed this problem from the perspective of the Melanesian natives among whom he made his fieldwork in the early 20th century. He noticed that even though ritual and practical work were intimately connected, clear-cut distinctions were made in cases where solutions were sought from ‘mundane’ means of action as opposed to magical ones. The Melanesian natives used skills ‘guided by knowledge and reason’ to control conditions that were manageable in this manner. But the experiences of the natives also taught them that in spite of all efforts there were forces that could not be controlled in the same way. These forces could one year grant favourable weather and good

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crops and another year cause trouble and famine. Malinowski (1954 (1948), 27–30) noted that the natives employed magic to control these influences (and these only). So magic was basically a way to ‘control the uncontrollable’ aspects in life. It is particularly interesting that a very similar conclusion as the one reached by Malinowski (1954 (1948)) has recently been put forward by psychologists studying modern ‘superstition’ (e.g. Lindeman & Aarnio 2006). The confusing aspect that modern psychologists have encountered is that perfectly rational (modern, European, civilised4) people may simultaneously have irrational beliefs. These beliefs are connected to uncontrollable aspects in life and employ an intuitive mode of reasoning as opposed to an analytical one. This tendency to rely on intuitive thinking varies both between individuals and during the life of one individual (Lindeman & Aarnio 2006). Malinowski (1954 (1948), 29–30) argued that the difference between those skills based on what the psychologists call analytical thinking and those based on magic was quite clear to the natives and no confusion existed regarding this point. This was highly likely something that varied between individuals, but perhaps some kind of a shared understanding about this really was present. This point leads to the question of whether a similar difference was present in the minds of the people making concealments in buildings in my study area. In the light of the data collected so far (744 folklore cases and 88 actual finds of concealments in buildings) it seems likely that the act of concealing was seen as special and in some way different from   See the discussion above. Unfortunately, these psychological studies are loaded with prejudiced attitudes towards their research subjects. 4

more mundane actions. In the same time it was a part of everyday concerns: building work, health, caring for livestock, etc. At this point in my research, building concealments seem like a way of managing the otherwise uncontrollable aspects in life similar to the one Malinowski (1954 (1948)) observed in his studies. One folklore example illustrating the special features of the action translates as following: “One must take an egg of a favourite hen and with it circle one’s horses three times, and then catch a small pike and dig a trough under the threshold of the stable; put the egg into the mouth of the pike and the pike into the trough, and nail it shut with three alder nails. Then the horses will thrive in the stable” (SKMT IV, 1, I 132§: translation from Finnish by the current author). The ritual circling and repetitive use of the number three combined with other carefully selected elements (for example the use of alder wood, which is often used in Finnish folk magic; see also Hukantaival 2009, 353) shows that the action described in this example is deliberately made different from other types of action. Thus, the close connection between ritual and practical work in everyday life does not lead to a situation where everything and nothing is sacred (see also Koski 2011, 77–84 about the sacred in Finnish folk belief). This connection is complex and most likely dynamic, which makes discussing it all the more interesting for scholars. Same substance, new package? – Avoiding problematic terms Because of critiques pointed at definitional problems of terms and the negative connotations they have picked up during their 189

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use, suggestions have arisen to abandon the problematic terms altogether (see e.g. Douglas 1984 (1966), 66; Radcliffe-Brown 1952, for an anthropological discussion of the subject). Probably the best known archaeological example of this is Joanna Brück’s (1999) very relevant discussion about ritual. Brück argues that the whole concept of ritual and practical functions is fundamentally flawed since all action in prehistory is “likely to have been based on a logic for action and a model for the world very different to our own” (Brück 1999, 337). In Finland this idea has been approached from the point of view of relational ontology by Vesa-Pekka Herva and Timo Ylimaunu (2009) in their studies on the town of Tornio in the 17th century. They argue that folk beliefs are not to be combined with religious thinking and, in fact, they are not beliefs in the usual way the word is understood: “Rather, folk beliefs were inextricably embedded in the local mode of perceiving and engaging with the material world in everyday life” (Herva & Ylimaunu 2009, 234). It is easy to agree that folk beliefs are an integral part of overall understanding of the world and this understanding may be based on a logic that differ from the way the world is perceived in the present. However, to make discussion understandable about the things traditionally assigned to religion, Herva and Ylimaunu (2009, 235) use the term ‘special properties’ when discussing these elements. When inspecting the term ‘special’ one can easily understand that it must refer to something set apart from the ‘non-special’ or ‘normal’. As a matter of fact, as Goody (1961, 149) points out, the dichotomy of profane and sacred has often been equated with ‘normal’ and ‘things set apart from it’ (see also Anttonen 1996; 2000 about ‘sacred’ as a border category). Hence, in an attempt to use a more neutral term, what 190

easily happens is that the dichotomy that the writers are trying to avoid is still carried with the new term, but perhaps in a more masked form. As Mary Douglas (1984 (1966), 66) noted when discussing Radcliffe-Brown’s (originally published in 1939; here used 1952, 139) similar attempt to replace the term ‘sacred’ with ‘ritual’: “So RadcliffeBrown removed with one hand the barrier between sacred and secular, but put it back with the other.” Herva and Ylimaunu (2009, 235) emphasise that the term is meant only to make the discussion intelligible and is not intended to describe how people actually perceived and understood the world around them. On the other hand this same argument could have been made in regards to the terms ‘religion’ or ‘ritual’ just as well. The matter being discussed here is connected with the debate whether we should use etic or emic categories in our studies. These terms are used in anthropology and social sciences to distinguish between the categories of the outsider researcher (etic) and those of the insider researched (emic) (see Headland et al. 1990). Ultimately, Brück’s (1999) critique is aimed at the etic use of ‘ritual’ when discussing action in the past. On the one hand, since we always look at the past from an outsider view, it is natural for archaeologists to use etic terms and categories in our studies; on the other hand, we then force our own views on past societies in a colonialist manner. But this same violence is done if we claim that the society under study did not distinguish between the sacred and profane without any strong evidence for the case. Archaeologists cannot reach the emic view quite in the same way as anthropologists studying living societies might. Still, we should always remember that we are outsiders, and the people we study might not have been able to recognise themselves from our texts if they ever had any chance to read them.

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Naturally, the above-mentioned researchers are not alone in trying to avoid the problems of terms by using more neutral expressions. Some choose to use terms that completely erase any connection to religion or ritual. One example of this is the term ‘associated bone group’ (ABG) used for depositions of animals (e.g. Morris 2008). This is a good starting point, but quickly becomes useless when further interpretations about the meanings of the depositions are needed. An example where the change of terms has been fruitful is connected to my own study-interest of ritual building concealments. Anne Carlie (2004, 17–18) in her book on prehistoric building concealments in southern Scandinavia, discusses how the traditional term for building concealments have in many languages involved the term offering or sacrifice. Since these are terms that usually refer to a quite specific act of giving a gift to a ‘supernatural’ being (see e.g. van Baaren 1964), and nothing indicates that all the concealments are always such gifts, it has been suitable to adopt terms with broader meanings. Avoiding terms can be very justifiable (for instance avoiding the old use of terms like ‘savage’ or ‘primitive’ when discussing indigenous peoples), but the need is not quite as pressing to invite new terms for religion, ritual, and magic. And the invention of new terms was certainly not what Brück had in mind when she suggested jettisoning ritual, as a careful reading of her paper shows (Brück 1999). Nevertheless, in reality it still appears too difficult to discuss different aspects of past life without using some (etic) descriptive terms (see also Bell 2007), as the above example by Herva and Ylimaunu (2009) illustrates. It also seems that the motivation for avoiding terms like ‘religion’ and ‘ritual’ in discussions about the past might sometimes be connected to the common notion that archaeologists of a secularised world feel

uncomfortable to discuss religious matters (see e.g. Insoll 2004b; Whitley 2008). In my opinion, it is far more important to both understand what we mean when we use the terms and to be able to communicate this meaning further to our readers than to try to use euphemisms for every problematic term. The challenge – dynamic categories “The real problem with the term ‘ritual’ is that as an abstract idea it has proved to be very difficult to define, although many have tried” (Morris 2008, 93). The quote above is a very accurate observation of the crux of the problem that scholars encounter when discussing both ritual and religion more broadly. Basically, the problem lies within language and semantics. Language represents reality through symbols and can never include the whole complexity of it, and as has been pointed out: “We are all mistaken in our common belief that any word has an ‘exact meaning’” (Whorf 1952, 179). Yet, language is the only tool we have in this case, so the problem is not likely to disappear unless we learn to look at terms and categories in another way. I will return to this challenge shortly. If we accept the above-mentioned observations by psychologists that humans use both analytical and intuitive thinking, and matters of religion are connected to the intuitive part, another point can be seen in the problem. In science and academia analytical thinking is dominating and thus we must use this type of reasoning also when discussing matters of an intuitive nature. This is why it may seem that something is always missing from our understanding of the phenomena in question (see e.g. Insoll 2004a, 19–20, 150). 191

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This notion of analytical and intuitive thinking leads us back to the dichotomy of sacred and profane. It should be remarked here that the studies by the psychologists in question (Lindeman & Aarnio 2006) were made among modern western people. It may well be that a similar division of thinking is not found in every culture. The notice of a comparable division among the natives in Malinowski’s (1954 (1948)) studies may also be influenced by the cultural context of Malinowski himself. Nevertheless, a possibility that the separation of thinking does exist outside modern western culture is still not to be excluded. As noted, there is insufficient evidence to establish a universal conception of the two clearly distinguishable domains of sacred and profane (e.g. Goody 1961, 151). However, as Goody (1961, 151) also points out: “It does not necessarily destroy the utility of these categories as analytical tools if it proves possible to isolate objective criteria for their use.” Observations of history of thought suggest that people in general seem to have a tendency to move from one extreme to another. This can of course be a simplification made by the historians to emphasise main trends, but still it is founded in reality. Thus, it may be that the critique aimed at the claimed universality of the distinction has led to dispose of it even in situations where it could have been justified. Another point of the critique against the concepts of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ can be seen as aimed at the sharpness of the distinction. Malinowski’s (1954 (1948), 27– 30) point was that in the culture he studied the sacred was intertwined with the profane, but was still considered a separate thing. This point is closely connected to the nature of categories in general. For example, the folklorist Kaarina Koski (2011, 110–115) has adopted a prototype theory of categories (launched by Eleanor Rosch in the 1970s) in her studies about elements 192

of Finnish folk belief. Unlike a classic model of categories, where the borders of the category is set by a collection of criteria that a member of the category must include, the prototype theory allows for dynamic categories without strict borders (Koski 2011, 110–112; referring e.g. to Rosch 1977). The prototype theory is based on the notion that humans naturally categorise on the basis of analogies. An object is recognised as a member of a category based on its similarity to a prototype of the category rather than by checking a list of criteria (Rosch 1977, 20–26). This allows for the borders of the categories to be blurry and negotiable (Koski 2011, 110–112; and references). It can feel uncomfortable for scholars to accept terms and categories that are dynamic, but this kind of undistinguished view correlates with reality more closely than classical abstract categories with strict sets of criteria (Koski 2011, 112). I believe that this could be a good strategy for archaeologists who deal with definitional problems of terms, to see if it can be useful for us as well. In practice, this kind of categorisation may well be unconsciously used by many of us already, since it is natural for human cognition. However, the problem arises when this unconscious process is tried to fit into strict abstract frames in academic discussion. In any case, we should not be paralysed by the definitional problems of terms. As Catherine Bell (2007, 283) reminds us: “No field ever moves forward because a good number of people agree on the definition of some central concept that then allows them to get down to work.” Conclusions: the problem of dividing the world Even though the order of the titles in this paper roughly follow a chronological order of the development of attitudes

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towards religion and ritual and their relation to everyday life, this development has in reality not followed any particular timeline. The ideas about how religion should be perceived are developed in other disciplines (anthropology, social sciences, etc.) and the influences are usually not adopted in archaeology at the same speed. Archaeologists are also not always able to follow the intense discussion and critique conducted within these other disciplines and therefore some outdated ideas may linger long within our interpretations. One interesting example of this can be found in the USA, where a colonialist attitude has been very strong. According to Christopher C. Fennell there has been a tendency to interpret all buildings where ritual building concealments have been found as the houses of people of non-European (mainly African) origin. Traces of magic and other ritual activity have been seen as ‘ethnic markers’. Only very recently has it been pointed out that similar practices have been well-known in Europe as well (Fennell 2000, 281, 304). This shows that the attitude of rational Europeans and irrational ‘others’ still has a foothold in academic thought. The discussion about the possible negative connotations carried with our key terms is thus very relevant indeed. Some negative connotations may also be the reason why religion still is a marginalised research topic despite its obvious influence on human behaviour (see e.g. Whitley &

Hays-Gilpin 2008; Whitley 2008). Archae­ ology is always reflecting broader trends in society, but the attitudes of archaeologists are not only influenced by this wider context of the observer (see e.g. Insoll 2004b, 4–5) but naturally also by individual preferences and autobiography. It has been argued here that the main problem of the concepts ‘religion’ and ‘ritual’ are actually connected to the restrictions of language and definitions made by classic strict categorisation. Thus, instead of a need to abandon problematic terms I would suggest a different, more dynamic, approach to the definitions of them. This view seems to be best suited for my particular research interest, at least. Goody (1961, 143) points out that the process of defining adequate categories has caused enormous polemical problems in all branches of comparative social science. Discussions have arisen about the nature of terms like ‘family’, or of legal, political, and economic institutions, and about how the connotations of these concepts affect the interpretations of researchers. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it seems to me like such extensive discussions have not been made in other fields of archaeology except in connection to questions of religious nature. In any case, archaeologists of religion and ritual should not be discouraged by the problematisation of the key terms, but should rather be pleased that such discussion exists, and terms and concepts are not taken as given without questioning.


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References Ahlbäck, T. (ed.) 1993. The Problem of Ritual. Åbo Akademi, Turku. Anttonen, V. 1996. Ihmisen ja maan rajat. ‘Pyhä’ kulttuurisena kategoriana. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki. Anttonen, V. 2000. Toward a cognitive theory of the sacred: an ethnographic approach. – Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, 14, 41–48. http://www. pdf (12.12.2012) Baaren, Th. P. van 1964. Theoretical speculations on sacrifice. – Numen, 11: 1, 1–12. Bell, C. 1997. Ritual. Perspectives and Dimensions. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Bell, C. 2007. Response: defining the need for a definition. – The Archaeology of Ritual. Ed. E. Kyriakidis. Cotsen Advanced Seminars, 3. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Los Angeles, 277–288. Bradley, R. 2003. A life less ordinary: the ritualization of the domestic sphere in Later Prehistoric Europe. – Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 13: 1, 5–23. Bradley, R. 2005. Ritual and Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe. Routledge, London. Bruce, S. 1995. Religion in Modern Britain. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Brück, J. 1999. Ritual and rationality: some problems of interpretation in European archaeology. – European Journal of Archaeology, 2: 3, 313–343. Cameron, E. 2010. Enchanted Europe. Superstition, Reason & Religion 1250– 1750. Oxford University Press, New York. Carlie, A. 2004. Forntida byggnadskult. Tradition och regionalitet i södra Skandinavien. Arkeologiska undersökningar, Skrifter, 57. Riksantikvarieämbetets förlag, Stockholm. 194

Douglas, M. 1984 (11966). Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. ARK Paperbacks, London; New York. Durkheim, É. 1964 (11915). The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Translated from French by J. W. Swain. Allen & Unwin, London. Falk, A.-B. 2008. En grundläggande handling. Byggnadsoffer och dagligt liv i medeltid. Vägar till Midgård, 12. Nordic Academic Press, Lund. Fennell, C. C. 2000. Conjuring boundaries: inferring past identities from religious artifacts. – International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 4: 4, 281–314. Fogelin, L. 2007. The archaeology of religious ritual. – Annual Review of Anthropology, 36, 55–71. Frazer, J. G. 1992 (11922). The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion. Abridged edition. Macmillan, London. Gilchrist, R. 2008. Magic for the dead? The archaeology of magic in later medieval burials. – Medieval Archaeology, 52, 119–158. Goody, J. 1961. Religion and ritual: The definitional problem. – The British Journal of Sociology, 12: 2, 142–164. Hammond, D. 1970. Magic: a problem in semantics. – American Anthropologist, 72: 6, 1349–1356. Headland, T. N., Pike, K. L. & Harris M. (eds) 1990. Emics and Etics: The Insider/Outsider Debate. Frontiers of Anthropology, 7. Sage, Newbury Park. Herva, V.-P. & Ylimaunu, T. 2009. Folk beliefs, special deposits, and engagement with the environment in early modern northern Finland. – Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 28, 234–243. Hukantaival, S. 2007. Hare’s feet in a hearth – discussing ‘ritual’ deposits in buildings. – Hortus novus. Fresh




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Approaches to Medieval Archaeology in Finland. Eds V. Immonen, M. Lempiäinen & U. Rosendahl. Archaeologia Medii Aevi Finlandiae, XIV. Suomen Keskiajan Arkeologian Seura, Turku, 66–75. Hukantaival, S. 2009. Horse skulls and ‘Alder-Horse’: The horse as a depositional sacrifice in buildings. – Archaeologia Baltica, 11, 350–356. Hukantaival, S. 2011. En hästskalle i murgrunden. Arkeologiska och folkloristiska exempel på byggnadsoffer i Finland under historisk tid. – Fornvännen, 106, 43–53. Insoll, T. 2004a. Archaeology, Ritual, Religion. Routledge, London. Insoll, T. 2004b. Are archaeologists afraid of gods? Some thoughts on archaeology and religion. – Belief in the Past. The Proceedings of the 2002 Manchester Conference on Archaeology and Religion. Ed. T. Insoll. BAR International Series, 1212. Archaeopress, Oxford, 1–6. Jarvie, I. C. & Agassi, J. 1967. The problem of the rationality of magic. – British Journal of Sociology, 18, 55–74. Jokipii, M. 2002. Suomen ns. uhrikirkkojen taustaa, historiaa ja tarinaperinnettä. – Suomen kirkkohistoriallisen seuran vuosikirja, 89–91, 31–76. Kieckhefer, R. 1994. The specific rationality of medieval magic. – The American Historical Review, 99: 3, 813–836. Koski, K. 2011. Kuoleman voimat. Kirkonväki suomalaisessa uskomusperinteessä. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki. Lewis-Williams, J. D. 2008. Religion and archaeology: An analytical, materialist account. – Belief in the Past. Theoretical Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion. Eds D. S. Whitley & K. HaysGilpin. Left Coast Press, California, 23–42. Lindeman, M. & Aarnio, K. 2006. Superstitious, magical, and paranormal beliefs: an integrative model. – Jour­-

nal of Research in Personality, 41, 731–744. Malinowski, B. 1954 (11948). Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays. Anchor Books, New York. Marcus, G. E. & Fischer, M. M. J. 1986. Anthropology as Cultural Critique. An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. Mauss, M. 2006 (11902). A General Theory of Magic. Translated by Robert Brain 1972. Routledge, London. Morris, J. 2008. Associated bone groups; one archaeologist’s rubbish is another’s ritual deposition. – Changing Perspectives on the First Millennium BC. Eds O. Davis, N. Sharples & K. Waddington. Proceedings of the Iron Age Research Student Seminar 2006. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 83–98. Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. 1952. Taboo. Frazer lecture 1939. – Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. Structure and Function in Primitive Society. Essays and Addresses. Free Press, Illinois, 133–152. Rosch, E. 1977. Human categorization. – Studies in Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1. Ed. N. Warren. Academic Press, London, 1–72. SKMT = Suomen kansan muinaisia taikoja IV, 1. Karjataikoja. Ed. A. V. Rantasalo. 1933. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki. Sørensen, J. P. 1993. Ritualistics: a new discipline in the history of religions. – The Problem of Ritual. Ed. T. Ahlbäck. Åbo Akademi, Turku, 9–25. Talve, I. 1997. Finnish Folk Culture. Studia Fennica Ethnologica, 4. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki. Whitley, D. S. 2008. Cognition, emotion, and belief: first steps in an archaeology of religion. – Belief in the Past. Theoretical Approaches to the Archaeology of Religion. Eds D. S. Whitley & K. HaysGilpin. Left Coast Press, California, 85–103. 195

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Whorf, B. L. 1952. Language, mind, and reality. – Etc., A Review of General Semantics, 9: 3, 167–188. Yoder, D. 1974. Toward a definition of folk religion. – Western Folklore, 33: 1. Symposium on Folk Religion, 2–15.

PRAGMATICISM – THE NEW POSSIBILITY OF A SCIENTIFIC ARCHAEOLOGY AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF THE HISTORY OF ARCHAEOLOGY Marko Marila The article reviews the concept of scientific archaeology from the standpoint of the history of archaeology. Drawing from pragmaticist philosophy of science the article reintroduces the scientific in archaeology not so much as a methodology but as an attitude. The most obvious upshot of such methodological fragmentation will be that archaeology as an inquiry will attain a more multifaceted character. The result of adopting a scientific attitude will be a more open-ended archaeology with less emphasis on methodological purism and more insight into the complex and speculative nature of archaeological questions. Key words: archaeological theory, epistemology, history of archaeology, philosophy, pragmaticism, realism, science, semiotics, speculation. Marko Marila, Doctoral student, Archaeology, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, P. O. Box 59, FI-00014, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; marko.marila@

Introduction Modern archaeology is a science that, with its methods and theories, keeps constantly vacillating between natural sciences and humanities. Archaeology, it can be argued, still has not found its niche in the sciences. Archaeology has been seeking for its scientific justification from the natural sciences, especially geology and physics, and from the humanities, anthropology, literature studies, linguistics, and sociology for example. The topic has been dealt with extensively in archaeology but the problem persists, especially when examining the relationship between scientific archaeology and alternative ways of experiencing the past. In this article, I will, on the one hand, draw a brief history of archaeology and discuss the ways archaeology has been

striving to become scientific. I will be concentrating on an era when archaeology has already been established as a modern science, not just a bunch of methods borrowed from other fields of science. My goal on the one hand is to evaluate the relationship between archaeology and other sciences as whole disciplines (namely semiotics and natural sciences in general), not so much the dialogue between particular scholars, although I will also refer to such cases. I will discuss the history of archaeology by concentrating mainly on its aspirations of becoming a science during the last 30 years or so. The brief history I provide is by no means a complete one. It is not my intention to provide a complete history of archaeology as there are many textbooks where one can be found (see, e.g., Daniel 1975; Johnson 1999; Trigger 2006; Lucas 2012). My intention is 197

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to provide a background with which the ideas of a new scientific archaeology provided toward the end of the article can be contrasted. That having been said, I will also be concentrating on (1) identifying the reasons archaeology suffered a loss of credibility as a science, (2) how and why philosophy of science became an important question again during the last ten years or so as a result of the so-called speculative turn in continental philosophy (Bryant et al. 2011) and the revived interest in pragmatist semiotics, and (3) what the future of scientific archaeology might look like and what are some of the key tenets of a scientific attitude in archaeology. In this respect I will be referring to the pragmaticist philosophy of science as formulated by the American semiotician and philosopher Charles Peirce (1839–1914) during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Archaeology as a modern phenomenon and a natural science Scientific archaeology is a modern phenomenon that can be seen to have born in a modern social and philosophical atmosphere (Thomas 2004a; 2004b, 17; Lucas 2004, 109; Holtorf 2010, 10). Modernism, on the other hand, is characterised by an increase in land use caused by industrialisation, which in turn caused an increase in archaeological finds; the wealthy land owning segment of the population started to collect antiquities and archaeology became a typologising science (Crawford 1932 in Daniel 1975, 53). Archaeology as a science can be seen to have gotten its inspiration on the one hand from natural sciences starting as early as the latter part of the 19th century when the history of mankind was, using 198

the methodology borrowed from geology, proven to be much longer than that depicted in the Bible (e.g. Renfrew & Bahn 2004, 26; Gamble & Kruszynski 2009). In addition to this, modern archaeology can be seen to have born as a result of C. J. Thomsen’s three-period system and Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. The three-period system and typology in particular can be seen to reside at the heart of scientific archaeology, assuming a science will always need its own scientific method. Typology and the three-period system became the scientific method of a scientific archaeology (Rodden 1981, 51). The new scientific archaeology differed from antiquarianism, ‘pre-archaeology’ as mere collecting of antiquities, in that its objective was to make inferences about the past by studying the artefacts. Whereas antiquarians treated the objects simply as collectibles, archaeology believed in the ability of the material to give information about the past – it just needed to be studied systematically (Schnapp 2008, 396; Thomas 2004a, 3, 157). Leo Klejn (1973, 695–696, 700) has noted that the modern condition of archaeology is particularly manifested in systems thinking and the ability of natural sciences to give allencompassing explanations. According to Klejn, traits of systems thinking could already be seen in early cultural history, where style, type, and archaeological culture can be seen as early modes of systems. Systems thinking then later became popular in processual archaeology. The systematic approach is one of the very modern traits of archaeology. Systematic thinking is also an integral part of modern philosophy which in turn has affected archaeological thinking greatly. The father of modern philosophy, René Descartes, aimed to create a method of systematic skepticism, in which all sensory data is to be doubted. The only certainty to be found was in the thinking subject.

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Isaac Newton, on the other hand, was working on his mechanistic view of the world that would be based on a systematic view of the functions of the cosmos. In addition to this, another important trait of modernist philosophy is the tendency to postulate a final state of affairs (Thomas 2004a, 3) – how things are and how they could ultimately be (for utopias and dystopias in archaeology, see also Shanks et al. 2004, 75–76). Modernism is therefore also characterised by the clear rationalist idea of the separation between theory and data – a recurring theme also in archaeology. It is therefore no coincidence that the ideal of scientific archaeology has always based on the natural sciences and positivism. When the archaeology that was inspired by geology and biology was strengthened by the discovery of radiocarbon dating, archaeologists turned to the natural sciences and physics in particular for new possibilities of objectifying the past as a neutral object of study. Natural science became a way of avoiding the kind of unreasonable acts that were made in the name of an archaeology that was inspired by nationalistic, political, and propagandist agendas. The era of questioning archaeology as a science Starting at the beginning of the 1960s, German archaeologists were no longer able to keep up with the theoretical and methodological discussion that emerged in the United States. The so-called ‘New Archaeology’, born in the USA, had reached Europe via Great Britain (Härke 1991, 191). In this historical context, one interesting question deals with the relationship between Finnish and German archaeology. The Finnish school system was, excluding the most recent 50 years, inspired by the German school system.

The Holocaust was also in this sense a great separator that led to the spreading of American culture, including American science, to Europe. The Holocaust is often said to have ended the modern period and started the postmodern era (Eaglestone 2001, 7 in Thomas 2004a, 50), which is in turn characterised by the disappearance of the borders between science and popular culture and art, and scientists and laymen. The postmodern condition manifests for example in the topics of books about the history and theory of archaeology. Before postmodernism, archaeology can be said to have one history (the history of archaeology), whereas during the new multivocal period, scholars wanted to stress the many approaches to history and the past and the subjective nature of knowledge and experience. ‘The’ history of archaeology became ‘a’ history of archaeology or ‘histories’ of archaeology. One of the goals was probably also to diminish the expert cult that was seen to hinder communication between science and popular culture. This is when popular archaeology emerged and the ability of archaeology to gain knowledge about one real past was questioned. Everyone became an archaeologist. One practical example of an attempt to lose the gap between scientific archaeology and alternative approaches to the past is the recent change that the American Anthropological Society (AAA) made to their long term plan. The word ‘science’ was dropped from the agenda. Their objective earlier was “to advance anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects.” Now their goal is to “advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects.” (see Normark 2010 for a take on the subject). The binary thinking characteristic of modern thinking is obvious here. The change is also characteristic of relativist 199

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and multivocal postmodernism. There is an epistemological problem between scientific and interpretative archaeology. There has been a hermeneutic shift in archaeology from science as an apparatus of providing explanations about the past, to science as a means of understanding the past individual. The time of this shift to contextual archaeology can be pinpointed to the 1980s. Ian Hodder’s (1987) article The contextual analysis of symbolic meanings started the so-called contextual archaeology. The objective of archaeology went from explaining past processes as part of a natural system to understanding past people as individuals with unique motivations and intentions. Archaeology became hermeneutic and the individual was now seen as an agent and an author of text. By the same token material culture was now treated as text (more on this below). The post-processual archaeology that emerged in the 1980s is a very postmodern phenomenon. It is characterised by a fragmentary field of science and the plentitude of theories and methods. Post-processual archaeology has been called relativistic ‘anything goes’ archaeology (Oestigaard 2004, 35) that is plagued by atheoretical thinking. Robert Dunnell (1992, 85–86) has identified two reasons for archaeology’s failure to become scientific. The first reason was the adoption of physics as the leading ideal of science in processual archaeology. The other reason was a certain commonsensism that, according to Dunnell, was also introduced to archaeology by processualism. Archaeology has undergone 150 years of ‘scientification’, but not once have the term ‘science’ and the conditions of science been adequately described (Dunnell 1992, 75). According to Dunnell (1992, 86), the use of common sense does not advance science. He maintains that archaeology needs a theory of its own, something that has not been found 200

yet. Dunnell really believes it is possible to find one such theory. I must disagree. But Dunnell is correct in stating that a scientific archaeology would be based on falsificationism (the idea that knowledge must be based on small hypotheses that are easy to falsify when they are found to be incorrect). Dunnell identifies common sense as being based on big hypotheses such as the idea of cultural evolution. When the idea about cultural evolution is falsified, it will break down the entire system of archaeological knowledge that is fundamentally based on the false rationalist idea of cultural evolution as somehow separate from natural evolution. Physics, according to Dunnell (1992, 88) is also not pertinent as a leading idea of science of archaeology since archaeology is history, not natural science. This view is backed up by Glyn Daniel (1975, 310–311) when he writes that archaeology and anthropology cannot be called a natural science more than natural sciences can be called history. Even though archaeology has its roots in geology, archaeology is a humanist science the object of which is mankind and culture, not nature. Daniel thereby falls victim of the same kind of false demarcation between culture and nature as Dunnell. Because of its humanist nature, archaeology was fitted with a variety of approaches from the humanities during and after the 1980s. Particularly influential were literary studies and semiotics (more on this below). According to Bruce Trigger (2008, 365), Glyn Daniel’s historiography of archaeology favoured cultural history as an approach instead of being a cultural evolutionist. Trigger writes that, according to Daniel, without cultural history archaeology would have become object-oriented antiquarianism. It is therefore ironic that some scholars, such as Johan Normark (e.g. 2010), are taking archaeology to a more object-oriented direction. Their

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goal is to pick up archaeology where the so-called symmetrical discourse left it and even more aggressively debunk some of the binaries that have been plaguing archaeological theory. These include for example such pairs as natural/cultural and material/immaterial or tangible/intangible (a notion used extensively in cultural heritage theory). Normark calls his approach posthumanocentric and neomaterialist archaeology and draws his inspiration from the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Manuel DeLanda. He sees no objection for combining humanities and natural sciences. Actually he does not want to make such distinctions in the first place. It is true that the historiography of archaeology has sometimes fallen victim of using too great distinctions. Labeling the use of natural scientific methods as impertinent will not help in making archaeology a science. Normark’s approach is therefore a good example of an aspiration to make archaeology a science again. This approach in turn is based on realising that knowledge about the past should and must be made using various methods liberally. Let us not make the mistake of dividing science into cultures as identified by Charles Percy Snow (1998, vii– viii) who wrote already in the 1960s about the sciences having been divided into two cultures, ‘the literary intellectuals’ and the natural scientists. There exist two cultures also in archaeology. There are on the one hand those who believe in the natural sciences as the true scientific method, and on the other hand those who see archaeology as humanism; or processualists and post-processualists in paradigmatic terms. Both cultures share what Snow (1998, viii) called “a profound mutual suspicion and incomprehension”. This is where archaeology is now. There has, however, been much discussion of what is going to be the next scientific ‘paradigm’ of archaeology.

The possibility of a new scientific archaeology – archaeology after text It is not necessary to categorically distinguish between the scientific methods of the natural sciences and the non-scientific methods borrowed from humanities, but it is necessary to explicitly announce that archaeology, like any science, has an object of study. Without an object, no science would be possible. The object of study in archaeology is material culture, i.e. material objects created or left behind by man as a sign of his action during the various time periods, but also natural ‘artefacts’ that were present during that time. During the last decade or so, there has been a revived interest in anthropology toward material culture. Robert Preucel (2006, 14) has noted that this trend is one of the most interesting advances in recent anthropology1. Even though archaeology has always been characterised as the study of material culture, there is a change to be identified that holds in it a shift in the philosophical outlook and different type of ontological and epistemological questions. Even though the many meanings of material culture have been at the heart of archaeological study for the last thirty years, during the most recent ten years scholars have started to approach them from another ontological viewpoint – one that is not based on a clear distinction between the cultural human and the material world surrounding him. Several causes underlie this change. One of the most influential philosophical traditions to ever affect archaeology, namely continental philosophy and phenomenology, experienced what has been called the speculative turn (Bryant et al. 2011). The speculative turn, 1   Preucel’s background is in American anthropological archaeology. That is one reason he refers to anthropology.


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as a counter term for the linguistic turn, refers to a change in continental philosophy that includes the emergence of neorealism and neomaterialism. There has been a revived interest in questions of materiality in continental philosophy, which during the 20th century was more or less saturated with the ideas of existentialism and the idea of man as an authentic individual. Neomaterialists do not want to make a clear distinction between mind and matter. The linguistic turn meant taking language as a starting point for all perception and therefore knowledge. Neomaterialists do not want to make such a priori assumptions about the fundamental role of language as a structure. This means that the past and its material culture has now been more or less objectified as something real and independent of the individual mind. This change in turn has led to a revived importance of ontological and epistemological questions in the study of material culture. Such archaeologists as Johan Normark (see his Archaeological Haecceities blog), Bjørnar Olsen (2010; 2012), Matt Edgeworth (2012), and Christopher Witmore (2012) have been influenced by speculative realism and object-oriented philosophy in particular. Witmore’s conception of objects is mostly based on the writings of such philosophers as Graham Harman and Levi Bryant. The core tenet of object-oriented philosophy is that what ultimately exists is objects. Objects can be said to share various relationships with each other. Levi Bryant (2011, 26) for example does not follow the modernist schema of relationism in which objects are thought to be defined by their relations with each other. He follows Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy and maintains that objects are always withdrawn from relations (Bryant 2011, 26), i.e. “that objects have no direct access to one another and that each object translates other objects with which it 202

enters into non-relational relations”. Nor are all objects thought to be in relation (or non-relational relation) with each other (Bryant 2011, 68). Not everything that happens affects all objects. In this sense Bryant (2011, 68) makes a distinction between objects and their relations and maintains that the universe is not a closed system where everything affects everything. In fact, he points out that if this were the case, if objects were only constituted by their relations with each other, everything would be frozen, and nothing would move (Bryant 2011, 68). Bryant (2011, 69) then goes on to explicate his philosophy of objects by stating that “we must not say that an object has its qualities or that qualities inhere in an object, nor above all that objects are their qualities, but [...] we must say that qualities are something an object does”. This is an essentially pragmatistic view of objects and one of the many points of connection that speculative realism has with classical American pragmatism. The pragmatic maxim tells us to “[c]onsider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object” (CP 5.402)2. 2   Abbreviations used in this article refer to the following edited volumes of Peirce’s writings as follows: CP 1–8 followed by the number of paragraph: Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, 8 volumes, volumes 1–6 eds C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss; volumes 7–8 ed. A. W. Burks. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1931–1958. EP 1 followed by page number: Houser & Kloesel 1992. EP 2 followed by page number: Peirce Edition Project 1998. NEM 1–4 followed by page number: The New Elements of Mathematics 1–4. Four volumes in five books. Ed. C. Eisele 1976. Hague: Mouton Publishers. SS followed by page number: Semiotic and Significs: The Correspondence Between Charles S.

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In addition to being shared by both speculative realists and pragmatists, the idea of an object being defined by its potential effects can also be seen in the writings of some current archaeologists. Bjørnar Olsen (2012, 212), for example, writes that a thing cannot be substituted by any other thing since things have their unique competence or affordances. Olsen seems to be supporting the view that the meaning of an object is in the possible effects it is capable of producing. This is an essentially realist definition for a thing: things, as far as they are active by their virtue of being able to act, are general. In order for us to study the possible meanings of things in the past, a certain degree of generality is needed. Particular things of the past become general by their similar affordances, or the habits of acting they involve, to use a more pragmatistic vocabulary. Certain slow-changing and all-encompassing habits, like the laws of physics, provide a common ground also for the study of the past (Marila 2014). In addition to the object-oriented attitude, another reason archaeology may have a chance to become scientific again is the adoption of another kind of semiotics as a method of study of material culture meanings. During the last 40 years or so, archaeological semiotics has usually meant studying the archaeological record from a semiological starting point that is based on the structural semiotics of Ferdinand de Saussure. His semiotics, or semiology, holds in it the idea of language as a structure according to which all knowledge is structured. That is why the treatment of material culture as text was very popular during the 1980s and the 1990s. When post-processual archaeology hit a dead end, all semiotic approaches Peirce and Victoria Lady Welby. Ed. C. S. Hardwick & J. Cook 1977. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

were labelled anthropocentric and impertinent to the study of material culture. Preucel and Bauer (2001, 87) point out that it is not semiotics where the problem lies but the use of Saussurean semiology. Saussure’s semiology was very systematic (its main goal was to create a systematic method for linguistic studies) and that is one reason it was also found fruitful for a systematic scientific archaeology. There is, however, no reason to abandon all semiotic methods as limited. Preucel and Bauer (2001, 87) suggest that a semiotics based on the philosophy of Charles Peirce should be taken as a substitute. Peirce’s semiotics is not based on a dyadic relationship between the signified (object) and the signifier (sign), but on a triadic understanding of the sign as a relation between an object, a sign and the interpretant (a sign created in the process of interpreting the triadic relation). This kind of semiotics is not based on structural signification but on the idea of material objects as dynamic sources of meaning. For Saussure, the signified was a psychological object. Saussure’s semiology is therefore somewhat limited and may have worked for a science that treated material culture as a structural text. The pragmatic Peircean model, however, is more suitable for an archaeology that does not take human rationale as the sole foundation for meaning. In his influential book, Archaeological Semiotics, Robert Preucel (2006, 247) wrote that “it is possible to show that archaeology is a pragmatic discourse constituted by meaning-making practices in the present that systematically articulate with the past meaningmaking practices.” In addition to Robert Preucel, such authors as Webmoor and Witmore (2008) have provided a take on social archaeology and thing-human relations that combines elements of continental philosophy and pragmatism. Furthermore, 203

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Timothy Webmoor (e.g. 2007) has written extensively on pragmatism and archaeology. In his 2007 article he argues for a pragmatic (Jamesian) epistemology of archaeology in hope for a ‘mediating archaeology’. Thus Webmoor astutely identifies the possibilities of a pragmatic approach in rendering archaeology a unifying enterprise between the sciences and the humanities, as well as between archaeologists and non-archaeologists. Christopher Witmore (2012) provides an example of a somewhat pragmatist approach with his notion of pragmatology, the idea that things, events, and circumstances are real and have real effects on each other and as such provide the starting point as well as the grounds for speculation for what possible course action could take, what could happen at any given instance, or what possible relevance a thing could have on another thing. He does not, however, explicitly refer to any particular pragmatist philosopher. In fact the notion of pragmatology was born out of the discussion revolving around symmetrical archaeology. Witmore’s pragmatology nonetheless adopts the speculative attitude that is vital for any realist archaeology. For a pragmatic approach to material agency, see Watts (2008). The above is by no means a complete listing of pragmatic approaches in archaeology, but a collection of some writings where a pragmatic approach has been adopted in regard to studying the nature of things after the so-called material turn in archaeology. Structure of the new scientific archaeology One of the key concepts used in this article is pragmatism, or pragmaticism as Peirce himself referred to the kind of pragmatism he advocated. Peirce wanted 204

to distinguish his realist approach from the more constructivist and individuallyoriented pragmatism of his contemporaries, namely William James, John Dewey, Josiah Royce, and F. C. S. Schiller: “[My] word ‘pragmatism’ has gained general recognition in a generalized sense that seems to argue power of growth and vitality. The famed psychologist, James, first took it up, seeing that his ‘radical empiricism’ substantially answered to the writer’s definition of pragmatism, albeit with a certain difference in the point of view. Next, the admirably clear and brilliant thinker, Mr. Ferdinand C. S. Schiller, casting about for a more attractive name for the ‘anthropomorphism’ of his Riddle of the Sphinx, lit, in that most remarkable paper of his on Axioms as Postulates, upon the same designation ‘pragmatism,’ which in its original sense was in generic agreement with his own doctrine, for which he has since found the more appropriate specification ‘humanism,’ while he still retains ‘pragmatism’ in a somewhat wider sense. So far all went happily. But at present, the word begins to be met with occasionally in the literary journals, where it gets abused in the merciless way that words have to expect when they fall into literary clutches. Sometimes the manners of the British have effloresced in scolding at the word as ill-chosen – ill-chosen, that is, to express some meaning that it was rather designed to exclude. So then, the writer, finding his bantling ‘pragmatism’ so promoted, feels that it is time to kiss his child good-by and relinquish it to its higher destiny; while to serve the precise purpose of expressing the original definition, he begs to announce the birth of the word ‘pragmaticism,’ which is ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers.” (CP 5.414.)


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And: “the word ‘pragmatism’ should hereafter be used somewhat loosely to signify affiliation with Schiller, James, Dewey, Royce, and the rest of us, while the particular doctrine which I invented the word to denote, which is your first kind of pragmatism, should be called ‘pragmaticism.’ The extra syllable will indicate the narrower meaning.” (CP 8.205.) The word ‘pragmaticism’ is therefore a neologism that is used to refer to Peirce’s pragmatism particularly. When it comes to formulating a scientific archaeology according to the maxims of pragmatism, it is my view that a distinction between pragmatism and pragmaticism is a vital one and I have therefore adopted the term ‘pragmaticism’.3 Whereas both of the aforementioned parties take the importance of signs as paramount in forming all knowledge, a pragmatist would emphasise the role of an individual thinker in interpreting a sign. For a pragmatist the sign is more connected with the individual mind. A pragmaticist, on the other hand, would stress the mind-independent nature of reality as a source of interpretation. For scientific archaeology, the reality of the past is of utmost importance. But the most important distinction, however, is to be made between pragmaticists and 3   It is important to make the distinction between pragmatism and pragmaticism due to the many forms pragmatism has taken over the years of its existence. On the one hand, in archaeology, disregarding the term ‘pragmatism’ avoids the tedious distinction between theoretical and pragmatic archaeology. On the other hand the difference relates to that between constructivism and realism. Constructivism tends to approach certain concepts as only culturally meaningful whereas pragmaticism emphasises concepts as historically meaningful habits of acting (see, e.g., Marila 2014).

rationalists. Pragmaticism is a method of thinking that presupposes the existence of a reality that would serve as a ‘common ground’ for experience, knowledge, and communication. I hope to have made clear by now what types of problems a rationalist archaeology has and what kind of trouble it would lead to. Dunnell criticised archaeology for adopting a commonsensist attitude. It is therefore ironic that Peirce calls his pragmaticism, including the scientific method, critical commonsensism. Even though Dunnell criticised archaeology for adopting a commonsensist attitude toward studying the past, his idea of science does not differ much from that of Peirce. Dunnell was after a coherent theory of archaeology that would be based on small hypotheses. Finding a coherent theory, however, may be impossible and even uncalled for. A more realistic approach would be to look for a coherent method for conducting scientific inquiry. Even more important than his semiotics is Peirce’s idea of the scientific method. In The Fixation of Belief, Peirce distinguishes between four methods of forming beliefs. All inquiry starts with the feeling of doubt and the object of all inquiry is the settlement of opinion (EP 1, 114–115). Once science reaches its goal of settled opinions, all doubt disappears. Beliefs thus, at the end of the hypothetical day, become fixed. The object of all inquiry is the truth which in turn is based on reaching true propositions (“if there be any such thing”, NEM 3, 773), about reality. The real in this sense becomes the object of truth. Once a group of scientists dedicated to a field of study reach a settled opinion (when doubt no longer arises), the truth has been reached. Or as Peirce himself more acutely puts it, “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real” (CP 5.406–407). 205

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The fixation of belief (the search for truth) starts on the individual level. An individual’s fixed beliefs quickly become shaken by the realization of another person’s opinions having the virtue of being equal to his (EP 1, 116–117). History has shown, however, that even the most tenacious (Peirce refers to this method as the method of ‘tenacity’, EP 1, 116) of individuals have ultimately had to alter their opinions once regarded as true. This is why a method of finding out the truth will not be based on individual research, but on that of a community (EP 1, 117). Such a method, the method of ‘authority’ (EP 1, 117), however, even though it has throughout the history been one of the most influential methods of upholding correct political doctrines for instance and led to great achievements, would ultimately lead to horrible atrocities. The method of authority will lead to a very slow change in beliefs and make the individual beliefs seem as fixed. It is a doctrine fit for masses (EP 1, 116–118). A slow change rate would not, however, keep the most astute of individuals from figuring out that some men have, perhaps in a distant past, had ideas that differ very much from those of his. This will give rise to doubt in their mind. This method could be called the a priori method of reason (EP 1, 119). The a priori method, however, is nothing but a form of the authoritative method based on individual beliefs that have no real and mind-independent basis, just as the method of authority is based on ideas originating from within a community of thinkers. We hereby arrive at the fourth method that Peirce calls the scientific method (EP 1, 121). The scientific method is based on the idea of a mind-independent reality that similarly affects all individuals’ thinking. For any belief to be true, it must rest on some ‘external permanency’, something our thinking has no effect upon (EP 206

1, 120). Again, Peirce (CP 5.384) puts it very eloquently: “There are Real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those Reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as are our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really and truly are; and any man, if he have sufficient experience and he reason enough about it, will be led to the one True conclusion.” And in referring to the mind-independent universe as ‘common ground’ Peirce (CP 3.621) writes that: “The universe must be well known and mutually known to be known and agreed to exist, in some sense, between speaker and hearer, between the mind as appealing to its own further consideration and the mind as so appealed to, or there can be no communication, or ‘common ground,’ at all. The universe is, thus, not a mere concept, but is the most real of experiences.” Such are the methods of fixing beliefs. The scientific method, then, as the only of the four “which presents any distinction of a right and a wrong way” (EP 1, 121), is worth taking a closer look at. Before I go into this in any more detail, I have to point out one more thing. Peirce (CP 6.428) notes that the scientific method is not science itself but an outcome of science: “That which constitutes science [...] is not so much correct conclusions, as it is a correct method. But the method of science is itself a scientific result. It did not spring out of the brain of a beginner: it was a historic attainment and a

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scientific achievement. So that not even this method ought to be regarded as essential to the beginnings of science. That which is essential, however, is the scientific spirit, which is determined not to rest satisfied with existing opinions, but to press on to the real truth of nature.” According to Peirce, “all human knowledge, up to the highest flights of science, is but the development of our inborn animal instincts” (CP 2.754). Because the processes of thought and nature are alike (CP 3.422), “the human mind is akin to the truth” (CP 7.220). The role of instinct and guessing has not often been taken seriously in science. This hypothesis, however, seems very natural once we abandon the false idea of man being somehow independent of nature and its laws. Like Peirce stated above, what constitutes science is not the correct conclusions it may ultimately arrive at but a correct method. On occasion, however, Peirce (e.g. CP 1.43– 45) refers to pragmaticism as an attitude, not as a method. It is therefore customary to see pragmaticism, as formulated by Peirce, not as a scientific method but as a scientific attitude even today. It is now perhaps time to present the basic tenets of a scientific archaeology according to this scientific attitude. These key concepts are what I think constitute a scientific approach most suitable for a realist approach to archaeology. These themes have been to some extent discussed above but I will now support them by citing Peirce’s exact words more. 1. Fallibilism and meliorism “All positive reasoning is of the nature of judging the proportion of something in a whole collection by the proportion found in a sample. Accordingly, there

are three things to which we can never hope to attain by reasoning, namely, absolute certainty, absolute exactitude, absolute universality. We cannot be absolutely certain that our conclusions are even approximately true; for the sample may be utterly unlike the unsampled part of the collection. We cannot pretend to be even probably exact; because the sample consists of but a finite number of instances and only admits special values of the proportion sought.” (CP 1.141.) By positive reasoning, Peirce refers to the idea that our knowledge has a positive relationship with what is real. Again, I refer to Peirce’s idea of a common ground that makes all scientific inquiry and communication relevant. Regardless of the assumption that philosophy and archaeology are positive sciences, we as scientists must “not block the way of inquiry” (CP 1.135) by tenaciously clinging to strands of knowledge we may regard as true. Nor is it reasonable to expect all knowledge to be false. That would lead to rationalism and skepticism which are unintelligible outlooks. It is just beneficial not to build knowledge upon a priori facts (although scientists should avoid dogmatism) but by the same token it would be foolish to categorically doubt all of our senses. People do err, but, since, according to what has been discussed above about our ability to guess correctly (and learn), we are probably right more often than not.4 4   It is worth noticing that Peirce’s idea of fallibilism predates Karl Poppers works on falsificationism, which I will leave out of this paper for economical reasons. It is clear that Popper did study Peirce’s philosophy and shared for example Peirce’s ideas about indeterminacy and chance (Popper 1979, 215). In his essay Of Clouds and Clocks, Popper (1979, 212–213) speaks highly of Peirce, calling him one of the greatest philosophers of all time.


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“[F]allibilism is the doctrine that our knowledge is never absolute but always swims, as it were, in a continuum of uncertainty and of indeterminacy. Now the doctrine of continuity is that all things so swim in continua.” (CP 1.171.) “Evolution means nothing but growth in the widest sense of that word. Reproduction, of course, is merely one of the incidents of growth. And what is growth? Not mere increase. [...] But think what an astonishing idea this of diversification is! Is there such thing in nature as increase of variety? Were things simpler, was variety less in the original nebula from which the solar system is supposed to have grown than it is now when the land and sea swarms with animal and vegetable forms with their intricate anatomies and still more wonderful economies? It would seem as if there were an increase in variety, would it not?” (CP 1.174.) “Once you have embraced the principle of continuity no kind of explanation of things will satisfy you except that they grew. The infallibilist naturally thinks that everything always was substantially as it is now. Laws at any rate being absolute could not grow. They either always were, or they sprang instantaneously into being by a sudden fiat like the drill of a company of soldiers. This makes the laws of nature absolutely blind and inexplicable. Their why and wherefore can’t be asked. This absolutely blocks the road of inquiry. The fallibilist won’t do this. He asks may these forces of nature not be somehow amenable to reason? May they not have naturally grown up? After all, there is no reason to think they are absolute. If all things are continuous, the universe must be undergoing a continuous growth from non-existence to existence. There is no difficulty in 208

conceiving existence as a matter of degree. The reality of things consists in their persistent forcing themselves upon our recognition. If a thing has no such persistence, it is a mere dream. Reality, then, is persistence, is regularity. In the original chaos, where there was no regularity, there was no existence. It was all a confused dream. This we may suppose was in the infinitely distant past. But as things are getting more regular, more persistent, they are getting less dreamy and more real.” (CP 1.175.) Because of their ability to form positive knowledge, people are able to evolve and gain more knowledge, in a sense get better at doing things. This is an important argument also for the ability of scientific archaeology to know more about the past than the alternative approaches to studying the past. Success, however, is only possible if we work to achieve it. Such outlook has been referred to as ‘meliorism’. It can be described as an idea about the world that does not take it as the best nor the worst possible, but that it certainly is capable of improvement. Although Peirce does not use the term ‘meliorism’ often, it can be linked to his ideas about ethics; the question of what end is possible. Science therefore should be ethical in its attempt to work toward the most ‘admirable end’: “Ethics, or the science of right and wrong, must appeal to Esthetics for aid in determining the summum bonum. It is the theory of self-controlled, or deliberate, conduct.” (CP 1.191.) 2. The structure of scientific inquiry The following ideas have also been explicated to some degree above but they deserve more attention. The structure of scientific inquiry follows the basic rules of

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scientific attitude, for example that sham reasoning is to be avoided (CP 1.57), as presented above. Some ideas, however, are very important. These include the processes of inference, for example. In addition to the traditional forms of inference (induction and deduction), Peirce formulated a third kind of inference, one he called abduction. Abductive reasoning is the basis for all processes of forming archaeological knowledge and it is often connected to cases where a surprising fact requires an explanation (EP 2, 287). In archaeology, abduction can often be characterised as inference to the best explanation, i.e. what explanation serves as the best one for a given set of observed facts. The relevance of abductive reasoning in crime scene investigation or Sherlock Holmes-type detective work has often been stressed in philosophical texts (e.g. Eco & Sebeok 1983). Abductive inference is therefore very important also in archaeology which has been said to resemble the aforementioned sciences very closely (e.g. Klejn 2001, 31, 38–41, 128). The role of abductive reasoning in archaeology has nevertheless been studied very little. Some of the rare exceptions include Leo Klejn’s (2001, 128) view of the abductive nature of archaeological knowledge, Cameron Shelley’s writings about visual abduction in archaeology (e.g. Shelley 1996), and some rare references to abduction as inference to the best explanation that were carried out as part of the processual discourse (Hanen & Kelley 1995 (1989)).5 All science is, or should ultimately be, based on similar processes of reasoning. According to the later writings of Charles Peirce, abduction, a weak mode of inference, can be characterised as a guessing instinct for finding good hypotheses similar to that of the animals’ instinct for 5   For a more recent take on abduction in archaeology, see Marila 2013.

doing things that are beneficial or necessary for their survival that has developed during hundreds of thousands of years of evolution (Paavola 2005, 131–132). To back this up, Peirce argues that it would have been virtually impossible for humans to have developed and reached the current state of knowledge if reasoning was based on mere guessing. In this sense the human mind is, as I already stated above, “akin to the truth” (CP 7.220). Abduction is the first phase of inquiry with which ideas and hypotheses are generated. Induction (together with abduction, of course, and to some degree also deduction) are then used to test new ideas and hypotheses (CP 6.526–536). When the basis of knowledge is understood in this fashion, there is little room for arguing in favour of a theory of semantic logic as the grounds and boundaries of knowledge as has been the case traditionally in processual archaeology with its fixation with covering law models and the hypothetic-deductive model. According to Peirce’s own words, abduction “consists in examining a mass of facts and in allowing these facts to suggest a theory. In this way we gain new ideas; but there is no force in the reasoning. [...] [I]nduction is, as Aristotle says, the inference of the truth of the major premiss of a syllogism of which the minor premiss is made to be true and the conclusion is found to be true, while abduction is the inference of the truth of the minor premiss of a syllogism of which the major premiss is selected as known already to be true while the conclusion is found to be true. Abduction furnishes all our ideas concerning real things, beyond what are given in perception, but is mere conjecture, without probative force.” (CP 8.209.) 209

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“Abduction is the process of forming an explanatory hypothesis. It is the only logical operation which introduces any new idea; for induction does nothing but determine a value, and deduction merely evolves the necessary consequences of a pure hypothesis. Deduction proves that something must be; Induction shows that something actually is operative; Abduction merely suggests that something may be. Its only justification is that from its suggestion deduction can draw a prediction which can be tested by induction, and that, if we are ever to learn anything or to understand phenomena at all, it must be by abduction that this is to be brought about. No reason whatsoever can be given for it, as far as I can discover; and it needs no reason, since it merely offers suggestions.” (CP 5.171.) Such is the case with much of archaeological knowledge which is often based on very fragmentary, although massive, evidence of past action. Archaeological hypotheses, or sometimes more like guesses, something Peirce (CP 6.526) calls ‘abductory inductions’, that are formed on the basis of that fragmentary record can then be tested with induction (testing of hypotheses by means of prediction), i.e. whether future occurrences of similar facts in the archaeological record fit in the picture. In effect, integrating abduction in the process of archaeological inquiry as the third (or fundamental) and explanatory element of inference renders archaeology an explanatory science rather than a descriptive activity.6 6   See Bradley 2009 for a take on pragmaticism as an explanatorist enterprise.


3. The final opinion and the long run The accumulation of knowledge is based on an understanding of interpretation as a mediative sign creation process. Peirce’s view of sign is based on a tripartite structure of relations between three sign components. A sign is composed of the sign-vehicle (or representamen), object, and the interpretant.7 All genuine signs are composed of these three inseparable parts. The process of interpreting a sign will create another sign which in turn becomes interpreted, thus creating another sign in the process. This chain of sign creation Peirce called semiosis (EP 2, 411). The accumulation of knowledge can be widely understood as semiosis or sign activity and would continue as long as any sign becomes interpreted. It is therefore important to understand that interpretation (and all archaeological inquiry) is a diachronic process that ultimately transcends the individual. Here is what Peirce writes about the sign and the process of interpretation: “A Sign is a Cognizable that, on the one hand, is so determined (i.e., specialized, bestimmt) by something other than itself, called its Object [...], while, on the other hand, it so determines some actual or potential Mind, the determination whereof I term the Interpretant created by the Sign, that that Interpreting Mind is therein determined mediately by the Object.” (EP 2, 492.) “A sign, or representamen, is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. That 7   See Preucel 2006 for a concise summary of Peircean semiotics in archaeology.

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sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign. The sign stands for something, its object. It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground of the representamen. ‘Idea’ is here to be understood in a sort of Platonic sense, very familiar in everyday talk [...].” (CP 2.228.)

“suppose I awake in the morning before my wife, and that afterwards she wakes up and inquires, ‘What sort of a day is it?’ This is a sign, whose Object, as expressed, is the weather at that time, but whose Dynamical Object is the impression which I have presumably derived from peeping between the window-curtains. Whose Interpretant, as expressed, is the quality of the weather, but whose Dynamical Interpretant, is my answering her question. But beyond that, there is a third Interpretant. The Immediate Interpretant is what the Question expresses, all that it immediately expresses, which I have imperfectly restated above. The Dynamical Interpretant is the actual effect that it has upon me, its interpreter. But the Significance of it, the Ultimate, or Final, Interpretant is her purpose in asking it, what effect its answer will have as to her plans for the ensuing day. I reply, let us suppose: ‘It is a stormy day.’ Here is another sign. Its Immediate Object is the notion of the present weather so far as this is common to her mind and mine – not the character of it, but the identity of it. The Dynamical Object is the identity of the actual or Real meteorological conditions at the moment. The Immediate Interpretant is the schema in her imagination, i.e. the vague Image or what there is in common to the different Images of a stormy day. The Dynamical Interpretant is the disappointment or whatever actual effect it at once has upon her. The Final

Interpretant is the sum of the Lessons of the reply, Moral, Scientific, etc. Now it is easy to see that my attempt to draw this three-way, ‘trivialis’ distinction, relates to a real and important three-way distinction, and yet that it is quite hazy and needs a vast deal of study before it is rendered perfect.” (CP 8.314.) “We must also note that there is certainly a third kind of Interpretant, which I call the Final Interpretant, because it is that which would finally be decided to be the true interpretation if consideration of the matter were carried so far that an ultimate opinion were reached.” (EP 2, 496.) Since there is a real world around us, we can, as a scientific community, reach agreement as to its nature. As I have already stated above, the object of scientific inquiry is the truth. It is worthy of more attention what Peirce has to say about it: “I call ‘truth’ the predestinate opinion, by which I ought to have meant that which would ultimately prevail if investigation were carried sufficiently far in that particular direction.” (EP 2, 457.) “Truth is a character which attaches to an abstract proposition, such as a person might utter.” (CP 5.565–566.) “To say that a proposition is true is to say that every interpretation of it is true.” (CP 5.569.) The propositional truth8, then, as more or less synonymous to the final opinion, 8   It should be noted that with the pragmaticistic notion of truth as something that would be arrived at if inquiry were pursued indefinitely, we are reintroducing the idea of truth in philosophy of science also on a more common


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should be distinguished from reality as real, which, again, is the object of truth: “That which is such that something true about it is either true independently of the thought of any definite mind or minds or is at least true independently of what any person or any definite individual group of persons think about that truth, is real.” (SS 117.) If scientific inquiry (a conduct according to the tenets of a scientific attitude) were pursued long enough, the truth would be reached. Such an opinion would be the final one; it would lead to the disappearance of a desire caused by the need to find out the truth. All doubt, and ultimately all movement of the mind, would cease. One of the malaises of (post) modern science is the tendency to reduce truth to the individual level. A solipsist easily arrives at the assumption that her knowledge is the only interpretation of reality. This idea has led to a more or less general acceptance of the post-processual proverb that the past cannot be reached and known to any degree of certainty. The idea of truth as something that can be reached in the long run should not level. For Kuhn (1964), for example, the idea of truth was not that important. This has been the case also in post-processual archaeology in general, where, instead of searching for the past as it once happened, many archaeologists were more interested in reconstructing the past according to the multitude of interpretations of it. Today, the idea of truth is also evident in current continental philosophy and metaphysics for example in the works of Alain Badiou (2003), for whom truth can be reached by adopting a mathematical methodology. Mathematics for Badiou has to replace the structuralist or analytical notion of philosophy as language. In fact mathematics, according to Badiou (2003, 183) as the only rational way of dealing with infinity, has to replace metaphysics as it is known today in general.


be taken as a confirmation of an inevitable arrival at true propositions but as the p o s s i b i l i t y to find answers to questions. For if it were not for our faith in finding out the truth, why should we ever doubt anything in the first place? The conduct of any scientific inquiry is, however, painfully slow and hard. We may never know for example what a particular material object may have meant to past people (some information will probably inevitably remain ‘buried secrets’), but we must keep doing our best to do so. Matthew Johnson (1999, 114) puts it well: “[A]rchaeology is very difficult.” Archaeologists must therefore be patient. Forming archaeological knowledge takes a long time, longer than that of an individual thinker’s lifespan. Synthesis In this article, I have suggested that archaeologists, in place of methodological rigorism, adopt a scientific ‘attitude’. Three main tenets inspired by pragmaticist philosophy of science remain at the heart of such scientific archaeology: 1. Archaeologists, like all scientists, are fallible and often wrong. Our interpretations and explanations regarding the archaeological material record are unlikely absolutely correct, but at least, more often than not. 2. Our hypotheses seem to be the best explanations, given that we are well acquainted with the material and follow some basic guidelines of ethical scientific conduct. 3. As there is a line of reasoning running throughout all of the history of archaeology, it would appear that archaeologists really do get better at forming hypotheses. This in turn would suggest that knowledge is accumulative. But then again, archaeologists, like all

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scientist, are fallible. This takes us back to number one on my list. In this article, I am not suggesting the emergence of a new scientific paradigm. Because I do not believe there has ever been a true paradigmatic shift in archaeology in the Kuhnian (1964) sense, the new pragmaticistic archaeology should be understood as a synthesis between processual archaeology and post-processual archaeology – a new scientific attitude and the new possibility of a scientific archaeology. I may even be suggesting something that has always been taken for granted, or been obvious, in archaeology, but I hope to have shifted the focus to a ‘common ground’ between all approaches in the history of scientific archaeology. In retrospect it can be noted about archaeology in general that it has always admirably used different approaches and methods from different sciences. They have not always been the most pertinent and often even outdated (Bintliff 1991, 2). According to Preucel and Mrozowski (2010, 33), who also strive for a pragmatistic archaeology, studying the past is based on a science that is diverse in methods, as well as epistemology. When it comes to theories and methodology, the disunity of science need be seen as its strength, not as its weakness. Pragmaticistic archaeology will seek answers to the same questions that have always been the moving force in the conduct of all archaeological inquiry. Its approach may just differ from some of the preceding discourses, particularly from those most liberal and multivocal in their philosophies. Pragmaticistic archaeology is a combination of certain methods from the systematic natural sciences as well as humanities, mainly Peircean semiotics (Preucel & Mrozowski 2010, 32). It is courage to propose small questions, and courage to occasionally err and still have faith in science.

It is motivated by the melioristic idea of the accumulation of knowledge, however painfully slow it may seem. This is to imply that pragmaticism is a work in process. It is an attitude, not a scientific method. In addition to the two cultures, natural science and humanities, as proposed by Snow, semiotics as a whole can be seen as a third culture that seeks to bridge the gap between the two discourses. In fact, a semiotician would not make that distinction in the first place. Pragmaticism is the kind of philosophy that all science should start from. One of the reasons the two cultures emerged in the first place is that for hundreds of years philosophy was based on a rationalist approach that only took any rational (mind-dependent) proposition as relevant. The empirical world did not matter. Semiotics, as described by Peirce, is based on the idea of a mind-independent real world. A philosophy that denies the importance of experience and perception is a philosophy that does not deal with the real and knowable world. A pragmaticistic semiotics, however, is an e m p i r i c a l l y s e n s i t i v e philosophy. One reason is probably the fact that many of the first real pragmatists were scientists. William James was a physician and a psychologist, Peirce was a chemist and a geodesist. By the same token, if a philosopher should not disregard the achievements of other sciences, nor should any scientist remain unaware of the advances in philosophy. The research problems of two seemingly different sciences often seem to be divided by such a vast territory that it makes them seem unrelated. A closer inspection and a mature investigation usually proves that this is not the case: “In the Roman schools, grammar, logic, and rhetoric were felt to be akin and to make up a rounded whole called the trivium. This feeling was just; for the three essential branches of semeiotics, 213

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of which the first, called speculative grammar by Duns Scotus, studies the ways in which an object can be a sign; the second, the leading part of logic, best termed speculative critic, studies the ways in which a sign can be related to the object independent of it that it represents; while the third is the speculative rhetoric.” (EP 2, 326–327.) “The point of view just explained enables us to perceive that a particular branch of science, such as Physical Chemistry or Mediterranean Archeology, is no mere word, manufactured by the arbitrary definition of some academic pedant, but is a real object, being the very concrete life of a social group constituted by real facts of inter-relation, – as real an object as a human carcase, which is made one by the inter-relations of its millions of cells.” (CP 7.52.) Mark Pearce (2011) has pointed out that archaeology is not heading toward another paradigmatic shift, but archaeologists are realising that good science is flexible and does not let theoretical standpoints to hinder its advancement. That is why theory, according to Pearce (2011, 87) in archaeology has become bricolage, a more pragmatic and more open archaeology that mixes methods according to the research question at hand. Pearce is correct in stating this, but he does not take into account some of the profound philosophical presuppositions between certain archaeological paradigms. In fact, he states that theoretical positions are not necessarily as different as they may appear. What Pearce fails to


notice, however, is that a relativist or a structuralist archaeology and a positivist, naturalistically oriented archaeology for instance rest on totally different, and incompatible, philosophies. A poststructuralist archaeologist may base his archaeology on the idea of meaning as something internal to the mind, whereas a naturalist or a pragmaticist archaeologist has to necessarily take meaning as something that is not restricted to the mere rational operations of an individual mind but is the result of sensible interaction between objects. Pearce is therefore not correct in his statement that archaeologists could adopt a pragmatic (not a reference to philosophical pragmatism) attitude toward studying the past from any theoretical vantage point they see as the most suitable, regardless of the level of interpretation. There are some profound philosophical issues that have to be taken into account when doing science. Not all methods are equal in this sense, and archaeology may not be able to adopt the eclectic attitude that Pearce suggests. A basic scientific philosophical attitude, however, has to be taken as a starting point for doing scientific archaeology. As an attitude of doing science, pragmaticism aims at overcoming the divisions that have been made in archaeology in regard to theory and methodology. Pragmaticism is therefore a third culture (in addition, or rather replacing the two identified by Snow) that aims at unifying science and the humanities by realising that there are certain processes of knowledge formation that are common to all sciences, and all inquiry in general, regardless of the applied methodology.

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References Badiou, A. 2003. Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy. Translated and edited by O. Feltham & J. Clemens. Continuum, London. Bintliff, J. 1991. The contribution of an Annaliste/structural history approach to archaeology. – The Annales School and Archaeology. Ed. J. Bintliff. Leicester University Press, Leicester, 1–33. Bradley, J. 2009. Beyond hermeneutics: Peirce’s semiology as a trinitarian metaphysics of communication. – Analecta Hermeneutica, 1, 56–72. Bryant, L. 2011. The Democracy of Objects. Open Humanities Press, Ann Arbor. Bryant, L., Srnicek, N. & Harman, G. 2011. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism., Melbourne. Burks, A. W. (ed.) 1958a. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Volume 7, Science and Philosophy. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Burks, A. W. (ed.) 1958b. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Volume 8, Reviews, Correspondence and Bibliography. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Crawford, O. G. S. 1932. The dialectical process in the history of science. – The Sociological Review, 24, 165–173. Daniel, G. 1975. A Hundred and Fifty Years of Archaeology. Duckworth, London. Dunnell, R. C. 1992. Is a scientific archaeology possible? – Metaarchaeology: Reflections by Archaeologists and Philosophers. Ed. L. E. Embree. Kluwer, Dordrecht, 75–97. Eaglestone, R. 2001. Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial. Icon Books, Cambridge. Eco, U. & Sebeok, T. (eds) 1983. The Sign of Three. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

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Trigger, B. 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Trigger, B. 2008. Historiography. – Histories of Archaeology. A Reader in the History of Archaeology. Eds T. Murray & C. Evans. Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York, 360–377. Watts, C. M. 2008. On mediation and material agency in the Peircean semeiotic. – Material Agency: Towards a Non-Anthropocentric Approach. Eds C. Knappett & L. Malafouris. Springer, New York, 187–207. Webmoor, T. 2007. The dilemma of contact: Archaeology’s ethics-epistemology crisis and the recovery of the pragmatic sensibility. – Stanford Journal of Archaeology, 5, 224–246. Webmoor, T. & Witmore, C. 2008. Things are us! A commentary on human/things relations under the banner of a ‘social’ archaeology. – Norwegian Archaeological Review, 41: 1, 53–70. Witmore, C. 2012. The realities of the past: Archaeology, object-orientations, pragmatology. – Modern Materials: The Proceedings of CHAT Oxford, 2009. Eds B. R. Fortenberry & L.  McAtackney. BAR International Series, 2363. Archaeopress, Oxford, 25–36.


ARCHAEOLOGY OF LATE PREHISTORIC RELIGION IN LITHUANIA: NEW RECONSTRUCTION POSSIBILITIES Algimantas Merkevičius The article reviews the status of archaeological research on late prehistoric religion in Lithuania. It is stated that religion in late prehistory had formed naturally through hundreds or even thousands of years and penetrated almost all different spheres of human life. It was a basic element, the essence of late prehistoric societies in the Baltic region. Religious beliefs and actions were inseparable from other societal activities and structured most of societal life. Despite much progress in recording religion-related sites – the so-called sacred places in Lithuania during the two recent decades – the empirical, descriptive character of research prevails in Lithuanian archaeology of prehistoric religion. The majority of Lithuanian archaeologists still pay insufficient attention to prehistoric religion. The rare interpretations of some aspects of religion were mostly speculative, divorced from data and very naïve. This is reflected in the existing archaeological literature. Many publications or textbooks do not include studies of religion. It is only during the recent years that archaeological excavations in Lithuania have provided a substantial amount of religion-related evidence. A few examples of new data are provided in this article. The culture-historical paradigm, which is still dominant in Lithuanian archaeology, is not adequate for the archaeological research of prehistoric religion. Post-processual and cognitive archaeologies would be better foundations for the general theory and methodology for studying spirituality and religion. A specific theory and methodology for the archaeological research of religion has been established on the basis of these mentioned archaeological schools. The main idea of the article is to urge for radical fundamental changes in the archaeological study of prehistoric religion in Lithuania. A new theoretical approach and research methodology must be employed. Key words: religion, ritual, religious beliefs, Lithuania, late prehistory, Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, theory, methodology. Algimantas Merkevičius, Department of Archaeology, University of Vilnius, 7 Universiteto Str., LT-01513 Vilnius, Lithuania;: [email protected]

Introduction “For archaeologists, especially prehistoric archaeologists, religion has been a problem. All cultures have a religion, but few archaeologists have known what to do analytically with this fact” (Whitley 2009, 547).

A few decades ago, Lithuanian archaeologists joked that if the function of a prehistoric artefact was unknown, it could be attributed to the sphere of religion. The situation in Scandinavia was pretty much the same. According to Kristina Jennbert, “In the beginning of the 1970s students of archaeology laughed at everything that 219

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was called ‘cultic’, a term that could be used when one had no suggestions for any other interpretation. Ritual and religion were subjects of low scientific value on the archaeological agenda” (Jennbert 2000, 127). More surprisingly, a similar situation existed not only in the Baltic Sea area, but also in more archaeologically advanced European regions (Dark 2002, 144–145). Renfrew and Bahn, who used the term ‘cult’ instead of the term ‘religion’, stressed that “The first task of the archaeologists is to recognize the evidence of cult for what it is, and not make the old mistake of classifying as religious activity every action in the past that we do not understand” (Renfrew & Bahn 2012, 404). Why is it that a few decades ago the archaeology of prehistoric religion was in such a state that religious studies were so neglected? A few factors could be pointed out. Firstly, ever since the Enlightenment, religion has been ignored by all of the sciences (Whitley 2009, 550). At the end of the 19th century and especially in the 20th century, partly due to the influence of Marxism, religion was taken to be a false idea and with nothing in common with science. Secondly, archaeologists have assumed that religion, as associated with spirituality and belief, is impossible to study using archaeological data, because material culture is contradictory or even diametrically opposed to religious life associated with spirituality (Droogan 2013, 21). “Commonly the spiritual and the material have been treated as being the antithesis of one another...” (Droogan 2013, 23). So, the materiality of archaeology was one of the main factors to neglect religion. As noticed by Mary Ann Owoc, “[…] matters of spirituality, belief, and ideation were generally perceived as inaccessible, and, moreover, separated from the more mundane, physical or technological elements of society […]” (Owoc 2008, 1922). 220

Many archaeologists in different regions, including Lithuanian archaeologists, have assumed that prehistoric religion leaves no traces in the archaeological material or, as noted by David S. Whitley (2009, 550), “[…]prehistoric religion is […] archaeologically invisible”. As metaphorically stated by Eric S. Higgs and M. Jarman (1975, 1), “The soul leaves no skeleton”. One can partly understand the situation with the archaeological research of prehistoric religion three or more decades ago. The culture-historical, Marxist, and even early processual theory and methodologies, dominant at that time, were not able to pinpoint religion within the study area of archaeology (Jennbert 2000, 128; Insoll 2004; Droogan 2013). These schools of thought were not concentrated on spiritual and religious issues, but rather on other aspects of prehistoric societies, including artefacts, chronology, typology, economy, burial rituals, ecology and others. The situation in archaeology changed radically during the last three decades with the appearance of post-processual archaeology. This archaeological school has had an enormous positive impact and opened up new possibilities for archaeology. It became clear that material culture is active and has different meanings. Attention was paid to the symbolic meanings of material culture and the importance of context in understanding the meaning of objects and other different aspects of archaeology. At the end of the 20th century cognitive archaeology appeared (Renfew & Zubrow 1994) and after that a general theory and research methodology was created, which was suited for studies of spiritual life, religion, and ideology of prehistoric societies. Despite the new possibilities, even at the very end of the 20th century archaeological studies on prehistoric religion were still neglected (Insoll 2004; Droogan 2013). The situation has changed rapidly in the

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last two decades, especially in AngloAmerican and Scandinavian archaeology. New, modern, and influential publications came to light (Jennbert 2000; Insoll 2004; Kristiansen & Larsson 2005; Hodder 2010; Insoll 2011; Droogan 2013), which helped firmly establish theoretical and methodological tools for archaeological research on prehistoric religion at the beginning of the 21st century. The aim of the article is to outline the current state of archaeological research of the late prehistoric religion in Lithuania and provide some examples on the subject. An outline of the archaeological study of late prehistoric religion in Lithuania Despite a new and promising situation within archaeological research of prehistoric religion in general, in Lithuania this important topic is on the whole still disregarded. As Tõnno Jonuks describes it, “Throughout the twentieth century, religious studies in the Baltic countries have been mostly empirical, presenting the results of excavations, describing, classifying and cataloguing, and at the same time interpretations have been seldom made and theoretical standpoints little considered” (Jonuks 2011, 881). In this chapter I will briefly outline the most important research topics within the archaeology of religion undertaken in Lithuania. At the very beginning of the 20th century a systematic survey of archaeological sites, including sites associated with religion, was carried out by Petras Tarasenka. In the 1920s he started publishing a series of articles and some books in which archaeological stones, sacred places, and other sites were described (Tarasenka 1923; 1924; 1926; 1928). He continued the research even after World

War II and published some data about archaeological stones (Tarasenka 1958). After World War II, the ideological and archaeological situation was not favourable for archaeological studies of religion. The situation within archaeological research on religion started improving only in the 1970s. Vytautas Urbonavičius started a large research project in 1970 which focused on archaeological excavations near mythological, cup-marked and other type of ritual-related stones, as well as mythological hills and other types of ritual sites. In 1970–1971 he excavated some trenches in the vicinity of ca. 30 stones. He found pits near some of them, a few with stone constructions inside, as well as pieces of charcoal and pottery. He continued his archaeological excavations and published the collected data also in the 1970s and 1980s. This work allowed him to propose some interpretations about sacred places and rituals in these sites, which he dated mostly to 14th – 17th centuries (Urbonavičius 1972; 1974). The biggest advance in archaeological studies of religion, which reached beyond the Baltic area, appeared in 1980s and 1990s and is attributed to Marija Gimbutas (Gimbutienė). She formulated a new theoretical approach, named archaeomythology, which was based on the use of archaeological, mythological, folkloristic and linguistic data to analyse and reconstruct the Baltic and European prehistoric religion (Gimbutienė 1985; Gimbutas 1991). This multidisciplinary approach has had a large theoretical and methodological influence not only in the Baltic countries but in other European regions as well. In the last two decades, from the 1990s on, substantial progress was made in recording, summarising, and publishing about religion-related archaeological sites (Vaitkevičius 1998; 2006). In these decades a few conferences were organised 221

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(Usočiovaitė 2002; Vaitkevičienė & Vaitkevičius, 2011) and a study about ritual or sacred places in Lithuania was published (Vaitkevičius 2003). As of 2011, nearly 2500 so-called ancient sacred places have been recorded in Lithuania (Vaitkevičius 2011, 45). According to Vaitkevičius, these sites were established in different environment types and consist of hills, meadows, arable fields, groves, trees, springs, rivers, lakes, wetlands, stones, hollows, and caves (Vaitkevičius 2011, 45). In the 1990s, some studies regarding ancient sacred places were conducted by Vytautas Daugudis (1992). Summing up, one can state that despite some progress in recording and publishing data about religion-related ritual sites, we still know very little about late prehistoric religion in Lithuania. The majority of archaeologists still pay no or only minimal attention to prehistoric religion. Some publications dealing with late prehistoric period in Lithuania contain not a single word about religion (Brazaitis 2005). In other publications (e.g. Grigalavičienė 1995, 196–202), one can only find a few pages devoted to the topic. These publications are dominantly of a descriptive character in their depictions of some ritual sites and/or artefacts. The interpretations of some aspects of prehistoric religion were mostly speculative, divorced from the data, and very naïve. Religion and ritual. Terminology and definitions The term ‘religion’ is rarely used in archaeological publications. This is the case not only in Lithuania, but in other regions as well. Some archaeologists avoid this term and use the terms ‘ritual’, ‘belief ’, or ‘cult’ instead (Grigalavičienė 1995, 196– 202; Owoc 2008, 1923; see Droogan 2013, 109). 222

Prehistoric religion, just like modern religion, is very complex, and still differently understood and defined. This is reflected in a myriad of different definitions from very simple to very complex. Whitehouse (2004, 2) defines religion as “any shared set of beliefs and actions appealing to supernatural agency”. Another definition can be found in Durrans’ publication. He defined religion as “a system of collective, public actions which conform to rules (‘ritual’) and usually express ‘beliefs’ in the sense of a mixture of ideas and predispositions” (Durrans 2000, 59). Despite the definition used, one can agree with Insoll’s statement (2004, 7), “that religion also includes the intangible, the irrational, and the indefinable”. It is also a system constructed by a long tradition. Religion is not only very complex, but also multidimensional. One can distinguish three associated and overlapping dimensions: spiritual or cognitive, behavioural, and material. The spiritual dimension consists of beliefs, ideas, thoughts, concepts, feelings, and other spiritual matters. This dimension has left no material traces, but has affected other dimensions and can be reconstructed by using material evidence. The behavioural dimension consists of actions and practices, such as rituals and sacrifices which may leave material traces that could be examined by archaeologists. The material dimension consist of material residuals: artefacts, signs, structures, features, sites and landscapes, examination of which reveals different features of religion. ‘Ritual’ is the term most frequently used instead of the term ‘religion’. Much has been written about definitions, attributes, types and other aspects of rituals (Jennbert 2000, 131–134; Insoll 2004, 10– 12; Verhoeven 2011, 115–132). However, ritual is only a part of religion. As stressed by Insoll (2004, 12), “[…] ritual should not be thought of as equating with religion

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in terms of parity. It is an element thereof, but often it is treated as the descriptor for religion itself in archaeological parlance” . The definition of ritual as a part, an ‘element’ of religion, associated with symbolic behaviour and communication, was proposed by some other archaeologists as well (Owoc 2008, 1923; Droogan 2013). Marc Verhoeven has elaborated on six basic categories of ritual action, put forward by C. Bell. These “[…] are: (1) rites of passage; (2) calendrical and commemorative rites; (3) rites of exchange and communication; (4) rites of affliction; (5) rites of feasting, fasting and festivals; and (6) political rituals” (Verhoeven 2011, 118). Some of these categories of rituals could be identified in the Lithuanian archaeological material. In this respect one can stress that, as noticed in the previous chapter, much of the Lithuanian archaeology of religion dealt with ritual sites or so-called sacred places. However, it constitutes only one part of religion – the behavioural dimension or sphere and a part of the material dimension. Landscape, ritual places, and religion Special places were selected to perform rituals. How can one distinguish ritual places and sites from the others considered (mostly) secular? To answer the question, one can shift the attention to sites and the whole landscape controlled by the East Baltic society in late prehistory. During the last three decades, archaeologists have increasingly examined ancient landscapes and deepened the understanding of some relationships between the environment and religion (Droogan 2013, 109). Landscape archaeology has radically broadened the possibilities for the archaeological examination of past religions (Droogan 2013, 150). Landscape

archaeology recognises that landscapes have different dimensions: physical, cognitive, social, and symbolic. Specific types of places were selected for specific purposes and received specific meanings. According to David Fontijn, “[…] different types of places became imbued with different ideas and values through time” (Fontijn 2008, 87). In some studies of landscape archaeology and archaeology of religion, the supposition was put forward that people in prehistory divided the space into sacred and profane (Tilley 1994; Fontijn 2008, 86–88; for critique see Droogan 2013). According to this assumption, human behaviour was dichotomised into ritual and mundane. In one of the first and very influential studies on landscape archaeology, A Phenomenology of the Landscape, Tilley (1994) divided prehistoric landscapes into religious and non-religious space, and landscape into sacred and profane. Tilley’s ideas on the dichotomisation of landscape have influenced many later writings on religion and landscape. In Lithuania, a more detailed examination of landscape has only started recently. In 2008–2010 the research project “The Development of Landscape according to the data of Archaeology and Natural Sciences” (ARCHAEOLANDSCAPE) was carried out. One of the project’s aims was to explore relationships between different types of archaeological sites and to reconstruct the lifestyle models and religious as well as ideological features of the communities. The Kurmaičiai micro-region, located in the western part of Lithuania, was selected as the study area. After three years of research the obtained archaeological data made it possible to work out the spatial model of the distribution of prehistoric communities in the microregion under examination. Three concentrations of late prehistoric archaeological sites were noticed near the Akmena 223

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River. The hypothesis was put forward that three communities inhabited the micro-region and occupied the territory around the Akmena River, on its left and right banks (Merkevičius & Remeikaitė 2012). Unfortified and fortified settlement sites and fossil fields are located on the left bank of the river, while burial and ritual sites were found on the right bank. The available data makes it obvious that the Akmena separated the residentialeconomic, or profane, and the burial-ritual, or sacred, zones (Merkevičius 2009, 61–62; Merkevičius & Remeikaitė 2012). This research revealed that different sites were established not accidentally, but in line with a system, the examination of which revealed some features of the religious worldview of the southern part of the east Baltic societies (Merkevičius & Remeikaitė 2012). Another focus of research was to examine the visual relationships between different natural objects and monuments. It was noticed that an oblong hill, called Church Hill, a presumed ritual site of the late prehistoric period, dominated the landscape of the area. In this case, the dominant location of the ritual site indicates the importance of religion for the society. According to evidence collected in Lithuania and information obtained from other European regions, key rituals were performed in special natural places. One can distinguish hills dominating the landscape (e.g., Church Hill in Kurmaičiai, and many other hills distributed all over Lithuania), some specific stones, and wetlands such as lakes, rivers, and swamps as ritual sites. These sites were usually located outside the habitation sites and economic zones of the society. Depositions of bronze, amber, and other kinds of artefacts as well as evidence of human sacrifice have usually been found in Lithuanian wetlands. Hoards of bronze artefacts and single finds, such as axes, spearheads, 224

arm rings, pins and others, retrieved from peat bogs, rivers, and lakes serve as special evidence for ritual deposition (Merkevičius 2011). However, the biggest hoard, dated to the very end of the Stone Age and beginning of the Bronze Age, was found in Juodkrantė Amber Bay in western Lithuania (Klebs 1882). That hoard consists of pendants, human and animal figurines, buttons and other artefacts, mostly used as amulets. These amber artefacts were likely thrown into the water at a particular place sacred to the society (Merkevičius 2009, 65). Human sacrifice Sacrifice could be defined as ritual killing of people and animals to venerate supernatural beings. Artefacts and food are also included into the category of sacrificed items (Insoll 2011, 151–165). Human sacrifice was practiced in different regions and at different time periods. Huge amounts of human bodies dated mostly to the Bronze and Pre-Roman Iron Age and the very beginning of Roman Iron Age have been found in northern and western European wetlands (Glob 1969; Joy 2011, 410).

Fig. 1. The skull from Turlojiškės archaeological site found in 1949. According to Jankauskas 1995, fig. 1.

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In Lithuania, during archaeological excavations at a peat bog site of Turlojiškės in 1998, two well-preserved human skeletons were found (Merkevičius 2000, 44– 45). A close examination of the site material revealed that two more skeletons were accidentally found in the site before World War II, in 1930, and after World War II, in 1949. Paleoanthropological analyses of the skeleton found in 1949 revealed that it belonged to a 25–30-year-old male (Česnys 2001, 4–6). There were three impressed fractures on his skull vault left by a blunt, hard instrument (Fig. 1). Moreover, these blows could have been the cause of death (Jankauskas 1995, 12, 15).

Palaeoanthropological analyses of skeletons found in 1998 during archaeological excavations revealed that one of the individuals had three fractures made by three blows with a blunt object, just like the one found in 1949 (Jankauskas & Urbanavičius 2000, 600). Found near one of the individuals were a Lunula-type copper pendant, two wooden ritual sticks, and a black-coloured stone (Fig. 2). One of the sticks had three notches. The other one resembled a human body and had burnt ends. Close to the second individual, a flint arrowhead was found (Merkevičius 2000, 44–45). All the aforementioned human remains were found at peat bogs suggesting that they

Fig. 2. Sacrificed individual from Turlojiškės site found in 1998.


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were thrown into water during the Bronze Age. Individuals found in peat bogs in different parts of Europe were referred to as sacrificed ‘bog people’. All the four mentioned human skeletons were interpreted as human sacrifices, because during the Bronze Age people in Lithuania, as well as the whole Baltic region, were buried in burial mounds or flat cemeteries but not in water bodies (Grigalavičienė 1995, 64–95). Domestic and economic zones and religion Most recently, more consideration has been given to the examination of the occupation zones within settlements, in buildings or close to them, as well as to the ritual zones close to sites of economic activity generally considered as ‘profane’. For instance, a frequent find retrieved near fossil fields in west Lithuania are cupmarked stones or stones with one bowl. Cup-marked stones are usually interpreted as ritual objects related to agriculture (Tvauri 1997). The same meaning can be attributed to later period stones with one big bowl. This leads to an assumption that specific rituals related to agricultural activities could have been performed close to ancient fields (Merkevičius 2009, 61). According to this evidence, economic activity was ritualised. Some archaeologists have examined unusual deposits in and close to settlements and structures. Such deposits include human remains, animal parts, broken vessels, and some metal artefacts, which have provided evidence of ritualisation of the domestic realm of human life (Brück 1999; Owoc 2008, 1931). Evidence about ritual activity has recently been revealed in some Lithuanian settlements dated to the Bronze and Early Iron Age. At Benaičiai settlement in west Lithuania, excavated in 2000, a pit about 0.6 m in 226

diameter with an inner stone pavement of around 0.5 m in diameter was found, containing a quite large quantity of animal bones. Some big bones were lying under the stone pavement in a specific arrangement (Merkevičius 2002, 14–16). Such a construction could be associated with animal sacrifice and ritual placement of animal parts under stone pavements. It can be mentioned that stone pavements were usually arranged in human graves at that time. In this case, some animal parts could be distributed and used in feasting rituals. Another structure, which could be associated with festivity ritual, was found inside Zubriai settlement, in the southern part of Lithuania, excavated in 2007 (Nemickienė & Merkevičius 2008, 96–98). Here a pit as big as 1.3 × 1.2 m was found inside the settlement site, which is located in a natural environment between the Kirsna River and a big oblong hill. Inside the pit six or more ceramic vessels, some of them deliberately broken, were found. Fire was an important element in prehistoric religion and was used in multiple ways. The big problem is to distinguish a fireplace used for religious purposes from another used for other, non-religious, mundane intent. In my opinion, hearths found outside buildings rather than inside serve as specific evidence. The context and content of a hearth could serve to solve the problem. One of the fireplaces, which could serve for ritual purposes, was found in 2008 at Meškučiai settlement site, in south Lithuania. It was outside the buildings, close to a former small river or spring. The form of the hearth was not oval as usually found inside buildings, but rectangular, with a stone construction inside. According to this data, rituals were performed at the edge of the settlement site, near a small water body (Merkevičius, Kanarskas 2009, 49–51). Another special find, recovered inside some Lithuanian settlements dating from

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the Bronze and Early Iron Age, comprises human skulls, or some parts of them, separated from bodies and deposited in the territory of settlements or even inside houses. Removal of the head and its placement inside settlement sites is a ritual act, the meaning of which is still not very clear. The manipulation of human bodies is widely known in different regions of the world (Hodder 2010). It could be associated with the cult of ancestors (Merkevičius in press). Conclusions Archaeological research on prehistoric religion in Lithuania started in the 1920s with field surveys and publications of ritual-related stones and some other ritual sites conducted by Tarasenka. The next and more advanced stage of research began in 1970s with the work of Urbanavičius, who began numerous excavations of similar archeological sites, mostly near mythological, cup-marked and other type of stones in Lithuania. The biggest advance in the study of prehistoric Baltic religion was accomplished by Gimbutas (Gimbutienė) with a new approach named archaeomythology. The latest stage of research started in the 1990s with the work of Vaitkevičius, who recorded and published data from a huge amount (about 2500) of religionrelated ritual sites from Lithuania. Despite much progress in recording religion-related sites, this field of research is unfortunately still neglected in Lithuania and the majority of Lithuanian archaeologists still pay no or minimum attention to prehistoric religion. The archaeological research of religion remains narrow, and is orientated exclusively to ritual places. Nevertheless, in the last two decades archaeological studies of some sites and

micro-regions have disclosed new data associated with prehistoric religion. Places of human and animal sacrifice, as well as votive wetland finds or hoards have been revealed. During the most recent decade some attention has been paid to the religious activities in economic and domestic zones of the community. Cup-marked stones and stones with big conical or flat‐bottomed bowls recovered near fossil fields in west Lithuania were interpreted as findings associated with ritual activities related to agriculture. In some settlement sites, traces of domestic ritual activity have been found. Animal bones in stone constructions can be interpreted as animal sacrifice, and pits with ceramic vessels inside settlements could be associated with festivity rituals. The main idea of the article is an urgent need of radical changes in the archaeological research of prehistoric religion in Lithuania. A new theoretical approach and research methodology must be urgently employed. A close examination of other archaeological material, both new and old, will reveal more religion-related data, which would allow to reconstruct more religious features of prehistoric periods in Lithuania. In summary, one can conclude that religion in the late prehistoric period in Lithuania had formed naturally through ages and penetrated various spheres of human life. Acknowledgement I would like to thank anonymous referees for their valuable comments, language editor Mara Woods and especially Arvi Haak for their patience, constructive criticisms, comments, and careful editing of the article.


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Securing the Timeline of Our Past: Concerns and Perspectives of Radiocarbon Dating in the East Baltic Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė One of the first things archaeologists try to define when dealing with an artefact or site is its age. Radiocarbon dating of organic material is the most common method used in modern archaeology to determine the age of an object. However, the selection of which organic material should be used for dating an object is not always very straightforward, since the received dates from radiocarbon dating can be skewed significantly by sample contamination, reservoir effects, old wood effects, and other factors. Large uncertainties in the reported radiocarbon age, and/or wide gaps between multiple dates from the same site, are indicators of problems in sample selection for dating. The present chronology of east Baltic prehistory is mainly built on such problematic dates. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to such potential problems, and discuss the challenges involved in the determination of a more precise chronology for our past. Key words: 14C, AMS dating, reservoir effect, old wood effect. Giedrė Motuzaitė-Matuzevičiūtė, History Institute of Lithuania, Department of Archaeology, 5 Kražių St., LT-01108, Vilnius, Lithuania; [email protected]

Introduction A secure chronological understanding of an archaeological site or object is usually one of the primary aims of every archaeologist. The understanding of a precise chronology influences how we make our later interpretations of the sites and objects we study, and then draw conclusions about their importance, meaning, origins, and affiliations. Therefore, an accurate determination of an archaeological object’s age is of crucial importance. Radiocarbon dating techniques have advanced significantly since Willard Libby first announced his discovery of the method. The precision of radiocarbon dating has improved, while simultaneously the sample size required to establish a date has decreased. Today it is up to every archaeologist to

take advantage of 14C dating and to apply the technique to materials from their sites. However, like in any science, no matter how advanced the technology, mistakes are inevitable if the wrong combination of samples has been selected. In this paper I am not going to go into the details on how the 14C dating methods work, but rather draw attention to some common mistakes archaeologists make while selecting samples for radiocarbon dating. I will present some general observations on radiocarbon dates from the archaeological literature of the east Baltic which have blurred various chronologies, and discuss how to make such chronologies more accurate and reliable. I will aim to outline very briefly which materials we should avoid and which materials are best suited for radiocarbon dating. 231

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Concerns for the present east Baltic chronology While examining the radiocarbon dates that have shaped the present chronology of the east Baltic prehistory, large gaps in the chronology of the published dates have been revealed; for example, in many cases dated materials from the upper layers of a site have generated older dates than materials from the layers below (e.g. Timofeev et al. 1997; 2004; Stančikaitė et al. 2009). Sometime chosen samples from a single occupation site have generated ages over a thousand years apart in span, with standard deviation values of over ±200 years (e.g. Rimantienė & Ostrauskas 1998; Timofeev et al. 2004). The types of dated material also vary widely. So far I have been able to find the following dated material in the literature: sapropel, peat, wood (species usually unidentified), oak wood, charcoal, pottery sherds, organic material on pottery walls, terrestrial animal bone, marine animal bones, fish bones, human bones, mollusc shells, organic layers in stratigraphy, organic matter gathered from the barrows, silty gyttja, and gyttja with charcoal. Very often the dated material is not indicated in the publication, and in most cases only one date per archaeological context has been obtained and reported. It is not surprising that the chronology derived from such dates from one or multiple sites often simply does not make any sense. These are the main reasons why: Firstly, most of the dates that formed the east Baltic chronology have been obtained using conventional 14C dating methods. Laboratories using older 14 C dating methods require much more material for dating than do Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (hereafter referred as AMS) laboratories, and in addition the most common procedure often used 232

when dating in conventional laboratories is the averaging of many individual dates obtained from molluscs, charcoal, or bone fractions into one average date, resulting in a higher range of possible error. Very often archaeologists choose conventional laboratories such as Kiev Radiocarbon Laboratory and Radiocarbon Laboratory in Saint Petersburg, which offer lowpriced radiocarbon dating services that apply such methods. Secondly, some dates from the east Baltic are obtained from dating pottery and mollusc shells from kitchen midden sites, organic residue on pottery (potentially consisting of marine/fresh water organisms), animals whose diet mainly consists of eating marine or fresh water organisms (such as fish or molluscs), or those organisms themselves. A series of problems connected with the radiocarbon dating of pottery which results in incorrectly older dates has been outlined by Bonsall et al. (2002). In the latter paper, the authors note that dated pottery will result in an older 14C date if: 1) The clay of the pot contains carbon of geological age; 2) Dated potsherds contain a crushed mollusc shell temper, which will result in an older reservoir age in the case of marine molluscs or a ‘hard water effect’ for terrestrial snail species; 3) Peat or ‘old wood’ was used as a fuel to fire pots or to cook food, which was then absorbed into the vessel; 4) Dated organic residue on pottery walls is that of terrestrial/marine fish, shellfish, or molluscs. Difficulties arise in dating these organisms because molluscs, living in a calcareous environment, incorporate through photosynthesis a substantial amount of dissolved geological-age carbon from the ground or river water, especially where flow takes place through areas of chalky or limestone bedrock (Aitken 2001).

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Absorbed C ions are synthesized into CaCO3 during mollusc growth, causing a so-called ‘hard water effect’, making the apparent age of the dated material much older than reality. An experimental study has shown that, when dating marine shells, 405±40 years must be subtracted from the radiocarbon age to remove the bias resulting from the reservoir effect (Harkness 1983). However, this effect varies throughout various landscapes, where some generate a much more prominent hard-water effect on animals than others do (Reimer 2012). Some regions of the east Baltic, such as southern Lithuania, are rather calcareous in nature and contain chalk and limestone outcrops in their geology. Therefore, research into developing a calibration process for mollusc and fish radiocarbon dates needs to be conducted by dating living molluscs and correlating their ‘hard water’ error with their archaeological age. Therefore, all radiocarbon dates from molluscs and pottery with a mollusc shell-based temper will remain older than actual. Recently, however, the Kiev Radiocarbon Laboratory and Radiocarbon Laboratory in Saint Petersburg have developed a new methodology for eliminating any mollusc components from a pottery temper prior to dating its organic content, which allows for correlation of the reservoir effect on dated material (Zaitseva et al. 2009). As mentioned above, geological carbon will also affect the fish species that live in the calcareous environment and therefore humans who eat the fish. The dating bias resulting from the hard water effect probably can be inferred from the fact that some of the earliest dates from the Mesolithic period of eastern Baltic are ones obtained from the dating of humans, such as those from the site at Spigino horn (Butrimas 1989; Rimantienė 1996) who probably were relying heavily on fresh fish resources. As recent research has

demonstrated the dating of humans from the Upper Palaeolithic – Chalcolithic periods in Ukraine are strongly distorted in radiocarbon age by the reservoir effect, resulting in a much older apparent age (Lillie et al. 2009). Stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen ratios have shown that those humans were highly reliant on fresh-water fish as a food source (Lillie 1996; 1998; 2001; Lillie & Richards 2000; Lillie & Jacobs 2006; Lillie et al. 2003; 2009). The dates of a fish bone pendant in a human grave were 400 years older than dates from the human remains, and 700 years older than a deer pendant in the same grave. Those dates permitted the correlation of the offset for the reservoir effect in human collagen. The carbon and nitrogen stable isotope values from Neolithic–Bronze Age humans in Lithuania and Latvia indicate a high consumption of fish (Antanaitis & Ogrinc 2000; Antanaitis-Jacobs et al. 2009; Eriksson et al. 2003); however, whatever potential reservoir effect this might impose on the radiocarbon ages from these human remains has not yet been estimated. Similar situations could be found in all the radiocarbon dates obtained from dating the fishconsuming humans across the Baltics of the Mesolithic–Neolithic (e.g. Lõugas et al. 2007, Kriiska et al. 2007, Rosentau et al. 2011). Thirdly, hardly any dates from the east Baltic region come from dating charred seeds, the age of which reflect a single growing season and therefore provide the most accurate material for dating. Fourthly, dates received from wood charcoal are not accompanied by wood species identification, allowing the possibility of an ‘old wood effect’ that can influence the resulting date. The ‘old wood effect’ is inevitable if the material dated is a long-lived tree species and the original location of dated portion within the cross section of the tree trunk is unknown. The 233

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central rings of a long-lived tree can differ by thousands of years from the outer ones. One of the commonly used species for radiocarbon dating is the oak, which the reader should note is a long-lived tree species. Finally, dating gyttja, sapropel, or peat is a bad idea, especially if there is other material available from the archaeological site for dating. Material of unknown geological processes can result in older or younger dates than the actual age of the dated horizon, especially if the site from where the 14C samples are taken is situated within a fluctuating water level zone. Changes in the water table can bring older peat material from bottom layers of a site to the top and vice versa, resulting in mixing of the stratigraphy. Also soil leaching and eluviation processes often move organic-rich top soil to lower horizons (O’Connor & Evans 2005). Summing up on things to know while selecting samples for 14C dating It is not too late to revise the east Baltic chronology as long as all archaeologists strive to understand the importance of choosing the right material for dating. Dates that have been received from dubious material have to be discarded as invalid. Here is a brief protocol that one must keep in mind while selecting dates for 14C dating: 1) Ideally – at a minimum 3 samples per layer/archaeological context have to be chosen for dating, in order to provide a trustworthy understanding of the object age; 2) Perennial plant seeds are the best material to date as they will give the best age estimate for the object; 3) Wood charcoal can also be dated as long as the wood species are first 234

identified. For the long-lived species, material from the outer rings should be selected. If the species is not known, choose twigs or small branches for dating; 4) Terrestrial herbivores such as deer/ cattle or cattle are preferred for dating. When dating omnivores, such as human bones, a stable isotope analysis should be made first to evaluate the contribution of fish in the diet. Also, the reservoir effect in humans can be corrected by dating terrestrial animal bones from the same context (for example, deer pendants); 5) Alkalinity is the driving force behind the magnitude of the freshwater reservoir offset (Reimer 2012). Therefore, every archaeologist should test the bedrock of an area and consequent alkalinity of the river or lake water to find out whether or not there is the potential for a reservoir effect on samples from the area. Avoid dating The following materials should be avoided for selection in dating: 1) Material such as long-lived tree species, especially samples from the internal rings; 2) Fish and molluscs or other fresh or saline water animals should not be dated unless also correlating for the reservoir effect in humans; 3) Dating animals that eat fresh water or marine organisms, such as humans, pigs, dogs, should be avoided. If human or other omnivore bone has been chosen for dating, 14C dating results should be compared to the δ13C values of the sample to infer fish consumption (especially if marine fish was consumed). However, δ13C values are only relevant if dated material is bone collagen. δ13C values will have very different implications if they are derived from dating hydroxylapatite in cremated bones;

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4) Dating organic residue on pottery can also be tricky as it may contain fish/ mollusc remains; 5) Humus/gyttja geological samples with unknown formation processes must be avoided and the macro-remains from pollen core sample have to be selected for dating; 6) The last thing to remember when sending samples to radiocarbon laboratories is to find out whether those samples have been pre-treated chemically after their discovery or not. The pre-treatment usually involves soaking samples in chemicals or using bone glue to keep broken artefacts together. Any chemical contacts should be noted on the sample submission form. The samples sent for dating should

be stored in aluminium foil or glass tubes, avoiding plastic containers. Conclusion To sum up, there are some simple rules to obtain a reliable radiocarbon dating: Material for dating has to be chosen carefully. Dating materials the nature of what is not precisely known, should be avoided: ‘dark organic earth’, ash, soil, peat, longlived trees or food residues on pottery are not suitable for dating. Best materials to AMS date are twigs, grain, terrestrial herbivore bone, or outermost tree ring.


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References Aitken, M. J. 2001. Science-Based Dating in Archaeology. Longman, London. Antanaitis, I. & Ogrinc, N. 2000. Chemical analysis of bone: stable isotope evidence of the diet of Neolithic and Bronze Age people in Lithuania. – Istorija, 45, 3–12. Antanaitis-Jacobs, I., Richards, M., Daugnora, L., Jankauskas, R. & Ogrinc, N. 2009. Diet in early Lithuanian prehistory and the new stable isotope evidence. – Archaeologia Baltica, 12, 12–30. Bonsall, C., Cook, G., Manson, J. L. & Sanderson, D. 2002. Direct dating of Neolithic pottery: progress and prospects. – Documenta Praehistorica, 29, 47–58. Butrimas, A. 1989. Mesolithic graves from Spiginas, Lithuania. – Mesolithic Miscellany, 10: 2, 10–11. Eriksson, G., Lõugas, L. & Zagorska, I. 2003. Stone Age hunter-fisher-gatherers at Zvejnieki, northern Latvia: radiocarbon, stable isotope and archaeozoology data. – Before Farming, 1, 1–25. Harkness, D. D. 1983. The extent of natural 14C deficiency in the coastal environment of the United Kingdom. – Proceedings of the First International Symposium 14C and Archaeology, Groningen, 1981. Eds W. G. Mook & H. T. Waterbolk. PACT, 8. Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 351–364. Kriiska, A., Lõugas, L., Lõhmus, M., Mannermaa, K. & Johanson, K. 2007. New AMS dates from Estonian Stone Age burial sites. – Estonian Journal of Archaeology, 11: 2, 83–121. Lillie, M. C. 1996. Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of Ukraine: indications of diet from dental pathology. – Current Anthropology, 37: 1, 135–142. Lillie, M. C. 1998. The Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Ukraine: New 236

radiocarbon determinations for the cemeteries of the Dnieper Rapids region. – Antiquity, 72, (275), 184–188. Lillie, M. C. 2001. Mesolithic cultures of Ukraine: observations on cultural development in the light of new radiocarbon determinations from the Dnieper Rapids cemeteries. – Ethnoarchaeology and Hunter-Gatherers: Pictures at an Exhibition. Eds M. Zvelebil & K. Fewster. BAR International Series, 255. Archaeopress, Oxford, 53–63. Lillie, M., Budd, C., Potekhina, I. & Hedges, R. 2009. The radiocarbon reservoir effect: new evidence from the cemeteries of the Middle and Lower Dnieper Basin, Ukraine. – Journal of Archaeological Science, 36: 2, 256–264. Lillie, M. & Jacobs, K. 2006. Stable isotope analysis of 14 individuals from the Mesolithic cemetery of Vasilyevka II, Dnieper Rapids region, Ukraine. – Journal of Archaeological Science, 33: 6, 880–886. Lillie, M. C. & Richards, M. 2000. Stable isotope analysis and dental evidence of diet at the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Ukraine. – Journal of Archaeological Science, 27: 10, 965–972. Lillie, M., Richards, M. P. & Jacobs, K. 2003. Stable isotope analysis of 21 individuals from the Epipalaeolithic cemetery of Vasilyevka III, Dnieper Rapids region, Ukraine. – Journal of Archaeological Science, 30: 6, 743–752. Lõugas, L., Kriiska, A. & Maldre, L. 2007. New dates for the Late Neolithic Corded Ware Culture burials and early husbandry in the east Baltic region. – Archaeofauna, 16, 21–31. O’Connor, T. & Evans, J. G. 2005. Environmental Archaeology. Principles and Methods. Sutton Publishing, Stroud. Reimer, P. 2012. Understanding the Variability in Freshwater Radiocarbon

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Reservoir Offsets: A Cautionary Tale. – Journal of Archaeological Science, 39: 5, 1306–1316. Rimantienė, R. 1996. Akmens amžius Lietuvoje. Žiburio leidykla, Vilnius. Rimantienė, R. & Ostrauskas, T. 1998. Dem Trzciniec gleichzeitige Siedlungen in Litauen. – ‘Trzciniec’ – system kulturowy czy interkulturowy proces? Eds A. Kośko & J. Czebreszuk. Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań, 203–215. Rosentau, A., Veski, S., Kriiska, A., Aunap, R., Vassiljev, J., Saarse, L., Hang, T., Heinsalu, A. & Oja, T. 2011. Palaeogeographic model for the SW Estonian coastal zone of the Baltic Sea. – The Baltic Sea Basin. Central and Eastern European Development Studies (CEEDES). Eds J. Harff, S. Björck & P. Hoth. Springer, Heidelberg et al., 165–188. Stančikaitė, M., Daugnora, L., Hjelle, K. & Hufthammer, A. K. 2009. The environment of the Neolithic archaeological sites in Šventoji, western Lithuania. –

Quaternary International, 207: 1, 117–129. Timofeev, V. I. & Zaitseva, G. I. 1997 = Тимофеев В. И. & Зайцева Г. И. 1997. К проблеме радиоуглеродной хронологии неолита степной и юга лесной зоны Европейской части России и Сибири (обзор источников) – Радиоуглерод и археология, 2. Ежегодник радиоуглеродной лаборатории ИИМК РАН. Eds Г. И. Зайцева, В. А. Дергачев, В. М. Массон. СанктПетербург. 98–108. Timofeev, V. I., Zaitseva, G. I., Dolu­ khanov, P. M. & Shukurov, A. M. 2004 = Тимофеев В. И., Зайцева Г. И., Долуханов П. М. & Шукуров А. М. 2004. Радиоуглеродная хронология неолита Северной Евразии. Теза, Санкт-Петербург. Zaitseva, G., Skripkin, V. V., Kovalyukh, N. N., Possnert, G., Dolukhanov, P. M. & Vybornov, A. A. 2009. Radiocarbon dating of Neolithic pottery. – Radiocarbon, 51: 2, 795–801.


(Re)examining the Children: Case Studies from the Middle and Late Iron Age Burials in Latvia Aija Vilka Despite the fact that children were present at every prehistoric society and their burials are found in Latvian cemeteries of Middle and Late Iron Age (5th – 12th centuries), only in recent years have archaeologists begun to focus on the lives and societal roles of children. This paper discusses some aspects of the archaeological parameters that are used to identify children. Since these parameters have been used too uncritically and could affect child burial and mortuary treatment studies, a reconsideration of the anthropological and archaeological material could be useful for a more precise understanding of prehistoric children. Key words: archaeology of children, child burials, identification of burials, Middle and Late Iron Age, Latvia. Aija Vilka, PhD student (History), Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Latvia, 5 Aspazijas bulvāris, LV-1050 Rīga, Latvia; [email protected]

Introduction In the recent decades archaeology has demonstrated increased interest in the different social aspects of society, focusing especially on the aspects that have been neglected in previous archaeological research, such as the life and role of subadults in past societies. Ever since the first publication that paid special attention to the youngest members of society (Lillehammer 1989), numerous papers have been dedicated to different aspects of subadult lives, roles, status, and societal attention, forming a new branch of archaeology – the archaeology of children and childhood. The archaeology of children is a new, but quite fast growing branch of archaeological studies, which investigates children in prehistoric and historical societies.

The archaeology of children in the Latvian context is still in its initial stages, although in past years some research papers have been written which refer to the life and status in society of children either among other social aspects (Radiņš 1999; Šnē 2002; Bandare 2002; 2007) or focus directly on these issues (Vilka 2012; 2013a; 2013b; 2014; Zariņa & Zariņa 2012). Despite the fact that child burials discovered at cemeteries and their grave goods or burial orientation are described in archaeological reports as well as in numerous research papers and monographs, most archaeologists emphasise only the adults, forgetting about children that were also members of the society. The aim of this paper is not to analyse the life and status of children during the Middle and Late Iron Age (5th – 12th centuries); rather it is to analyse how the deceased are identified 239

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and defined as a child or an adult by archaeologists. What are the criteria that are used to define child burials, and do we need to change them and re-examine the individuals defined as children more critically? Why is it so important to define the age group of the deceased and do we need to change the way how we are looking for the children within the mortuary population? These are the main questions that will be discussed in this paper, and some reflections about issues that must be reexamined among children in archaeology will also be provided. Who is a child? One of the most important questions that is asked by every researcher who studies the youngest members of the society is: what do I mean by the word 'child'?1 This is an issue that every study about children should start with, and yet it is the hardest and the most difficult question to answer. The problem lies within the concept of age. We can distinguish at least three ‘types’ of age: 1) Physiological or biological age (including skeletal and dental age), which is estimated from the person’s biological development, growth, and ageing. 2) Chronological or calendar age – the time since birth.

  The author of this paper is well aware that the term ‘child’ could be imprecise and controversial, because of the various age concepts within different branches of science or in different studies, and terms as ‘infant’, ‘infant II’, ‘adolescent’, etc. are more precise and define more precise age borders, but in this paper terms ‘child’ or ‘children’ are used as label of the social group – those who are not adults, including all previously mentioned terms. Anthropological terms ‘subadult’ and ‘non-adult’ in this paper are used as synonyms to ‘child’. 1


3) Social age – culturally constructed norms of behaviour and status of individuals within an age category (Halcrow & Tayles 2008, 192). There can be differences within these concepts of age, e.g. body and skeleton can develop faster or slower than average for the chronological age. More considerable distinctions could be observed between physiological and social age, when the individual is recognised as a member of one group, e.g. adult, but physiologically still is a member of another group, e.g. child. In archaeological terms these two concepts of age correspond to the physical remains and material culture, respectively. The connection between them was discussed by Sofaer Derevenski by using two terms: ‘child data’ and ‘data child’. The term ‘child data’ can be regarded as the physiological information that is generated through the study of the child as an artefact. In contrast, the term ‘data child’ is the recognition of the physical and social corporeality of the child derived from the construction of the grave and mortuary treatment in association with the child (Sofaer Derevenski 2000, 10). Studying children only through ‘child data’ (biological child) may lead us to an artificial image of the social structure, based only on the anthropological concept; from the other side – accepting only ‘data child’ (social child), we lose biological aspects that affect the development of a society and its structure. Therefore to get more information about past children both aspects must be studied and compared. If the age limit for a ‘biological child’ can sometimes be a subject of variation (however, the age of 17–19 is frequently used by anthropologists and archaeologists), then there is no ‘universal social/ cultural child’, because social age limits vary enormously between different cultures. For example, in 7th century AngloSaxon society, children were considered

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as adults from the age of ten; later, in the 10th century, adulthood began at the age of twelve (Crawford 1991, 17); in the Byzantine Empire, legal codes defined that the age at which an individual could marry was around 13–15 years, thereby establishing a cultural transition to adulthood (Perry 2005); in Iceland during the 18th century, children around 6–7 years took important roles in the household (Lillehammer 1989, 93). If one compares these thresholds with those of modern society, where adulthood mostly starts at the age of 18, it can be seen how different the understandings about children and adulthood between societies are. Unfortunately there are no written sources or legal codes that could tell us about society’s attitude towards these aspects in Latvia from the 5th to 12th century, therefore only archaeological and anthropological material could give details about prehistoric children. Some aspects of identifying burials from the Middle and Late Iron Age

Expected juvenile mortality for nonindustrial populations is about 40–50% (see Crawford 1993; Buckberry 2000); however, in numerous investigated cemeteries across Europe, the proportion of juvenile individuals is much lower (for example, only 10–15% of children are represented in Anglo-Saxon inhumation mortuary population (Crawford 2011)). Middle and Late Iron Age cemeteries in Latvia (33 excavated cemeteries were analysed) also show a similar proportion of child burials; however, it must be noted that these quantities are mostly based on archaeological material analysis; due to the poorly preserved anthropological material, it was possible to make correlations of anthropological and archaeological

data only in some cases. For example, at the Lejasbitēni cemetery (3rd/5th – 10th c.), excavations showed that barrow burials were created in the early phase of cemetery use; however, these were destroyed and anthropological and archaeological data were preserved only from later flat burials (from 5th c. onwards) and 18.5% were identified as child burials (Urtāns 1961; 1962a; 1963; 1964); at the Čunkāni-Dreņģeri cemetery (8th – 11th c.) – 15% (Bebre 1982; 1983; Atgāzis & Bebre 1984; Atgāzis 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991; 1994; Lūsēns 2009; 2010) [it must be noted that burials in this cemetery were very disturbed or robbed, which affected their identification]; at the Nukšas cemetery (9th – 11th c.) – 18% (Šnore & Zeids 1957); at the Kivti cemetry (7th – 12th c.) – 25% (Šnore 1987); at the Kristapiņi cemetery (8th – 12th c.) – 16% (Kuniga 2000); at the Kalnieši II cemetery (6th – 9th c.) – 9% (Urtāns 1962b), etc. Some cemeteries of the Livs show greater proportions: at the Vampenieši I cemetery (the end of the 10th c. – 12th c.) child burials form 41% of all investigated burials (Šnore 1969; 1971; 1972; 1974); at the Laukskola (10th – 13th c.) cemetery – 29% (Zariņa 2006). Unfortunately only two of these cemeteries (the Lejasbitēni and the Laukskola cemeteries) were totally excavated, therefore data from other cemeteries could change in the future. It is important to note that there are just a very few cases of infant (up to one year of age) burials within analysed cemeteries that could be confirmed with anthropological material, e.g. at the Laukskola cemetery, burial no. 241 (Vilka 2012) or burial no. 47 at the Gaideļi-Viduči cemetery (Zemītis 2005). Archaeologically, the infant burial from the Laukskola cemetery was identified as a girl’s burial on archaeological grounds, as two spiral bracelets, an iron knife, a blue glass bead, a fragment 241

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of smoothed ceramics, and a flint blade were found from the grave (Zariņa 2006, 79), but anthropological material showed that it was an infant under one year of age (Vilka 2012). The infant from the GaideļiViduči cemetery was buried together with a 20-year-old female and was placed at the legs of the latter. It seems that both deceased were covered with a woollen shawl, so it is likely that they both were buried at the same time (Zemītis 2005). However, the information known about the infants from the Mežotne cemetery (Atgāzis 1970), and the Bāļi-Šķērstaiņi cemetery (Atgāzis 1979) unfortunately cannot be confirmed with anthropological data. It is likely that the proportion of child burials was affected by all the causes discussed below; however, it is also possible that some part of the children (probably young children) were buried in a different place and/or manner during this period, because this underrepresentation can be observed more during the Middle and Late Iron Age than in any other period of prehistory (for detailed analyses see Vilka 2012; 2014). The problems of the underrepresentation of child burials within cemeteries is discussed in numerous papers (see e.g. Vilka 2012; 2014; Turek 2000; Gerhards 2002; Baxter 2005; Wileman 2005; Lewis 2007). Different factors could affect the proportion of discovered child burials. For example, limitations in archaeological research or methods, such as only a partial excavation of the cemetery, leaves unexplored areas that could reveal new, completely different data. Additionally, poor preservation of the archaeological material, e.g., shallow burials, agriculture, adverse soil, or of the anthropological material, e.g., fragile bones, complicates the identification of the dead. The quantity of child burials could also be affected by other direct or indirect causes, e.g. specific burial traditions, 242

i.e. children can be buried in different areas or in a way that does not leave archaeological traces (see Bäcklund-Blank & Fahlander 2006; Turek 2000; Kamp 2001; Baxter 2005, 158; Wileman 2005, 87); or special circumstances that influenced mortality (e.g. diseases, military conflicts, etc.). As is well known, archaeological excavations are a destructive research method and archaeological reports and basic documentation are the main sources about an excavated site. Therefore, information that is captured in this documentation is highly important for future researchers. The identification of the burials that is given in the archaeological reports plays one of the most important roles in the analysis of the organisation of the cemetery, in the studies of the burials and mortuary treatment and, of course, in the reconstruction of the social structure. The majority of the analysed archaeological reports about the Middle and Late Iron Age cemeteries in Latvia were made during the Soviet period. A large number of excavations were performed during that time and the reports were quite standardised. They included basic information about the cemetery site and burial descriptions with such parameters as grave-pit measurements, burial orientation, localisation, type, mortuary treatment, anthropological material presence, deceased’s identification (child / adult; boy / girl; male / female, etc.) as well as photographs, drawings, etc. Usually anthropological analyses were not attached to the archaeological reports, although sometimes some information about the age and sex of the deceased that was based on anthropological data were included in the descriptions of the burials (see e.g. Atgāzis 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989). During the analysis of the archaeological reports about Middle and Late Iron Age cemeteries, several archaeological

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parameters emerged that were used for identification of the deceased in these reports. These included measurements of the grave-pit, the burial’s orientation, the size of the jewellery correlated to anatomical measurements (e.g., bracelets, rings, neck rings to wrists, fingers, and necks), and some specific grave goods that could indicate the social status, age, and gender of the deceased. Regarding the topic of the current paper, it is important to look at the parameters that were used to identify child burials: short grave pits (approx. 150 cm and less), small rings, bracelets, and neck rings. The gender of the children was determined by using burial orientation (especially in the Latgallians cemeteries, where males were buried with their heads towards the east, females – to the west) and gendered mortuary treatment set (weapons/tools, ‘gendered’ ornaments, etc.). It is believed that some specific grave goods (head ornament – headbands in the Latgallians’ female burials, and chain ornaments, usually with tortoise fibulas or pins, in the Livs’ female burials (Radiņš 1999; Zariņa 1999; Šnē 2002) could be associated with a social adult, therefore these findings in burials are usually uncritically received as an identifier for an adult burial. Sometimes, as it was mentioned before, descriptions of burials were supplemented with anthropological data; therefore, in some cases the identification of child burials was based not only on archaeological material. Unfortunately anthropological and archaeological data correlation was not performed as often as it should have been, or at least it was not included in the archaeological reports, and the subsequent sections of the present paper will show that archaeological material, when used separately from the anthropological material, could lead to fallacious conclusions about the identity of the deceased.

Some reflections about identifying child burials Length of the grave-pit Measurements of the grave-pit are associated with the deceased’s anatomical parameters; therefore, they are often used to identify the individual’s age group. Unless the burial includes markers identifying it as belonging to a child, the individual is identified as an adult. In other words, individuals in burials without well-preserved anthropological and archaeological material, or with only ambiguous or generic materials that cannot provide data about deceased, or found in long grave-pits (160 to 180 cm and more) are frequently identified as an adult. On the other hand, if the burial has the same conditions, with a short grave-pit, the deceased is identified as a child. However, after analysing and comparing grave-pit measurements and the biological age of the deceased, it could be concluded that the length of the children’s and adults’ grave-pits often vary in the similar range – i.e., graves with child burials can be as long as adult ones, and there could also be exceptional cases when adult grave-pits have been determined as very short. For example, burial no. 225 at the Lejasbitēni cemetery, which contained only a small fragment of a bronze chain, was identified as a girl’s burial by the archaeologist Vladislavs Urtāns (1963). Since the gravepit was only 115 cm long, it is likely that this parameter was used to determine the deceased as a child. However, after analysis of the anthropological material, it was established that the deceased was biologically an adult female and probably the measurements of grave-pit were determined incorrectly. Since the measurements of grave-pits can be affected by different factors, such as 243

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difficult soil conditions that do not allow distinguishing the borders of a grave-pit properly, burial disturbance, or extension of grave-pits, these measurements must be carefully examined. In particular, the grave-pit measurements of the cemeteries of the Livs must be approached very critically because the intentional extension of the grave-pit was often practised in their mortuary rituals. Sometimes the grave-pits were extended even by one metre more than the height of the deceased (Zariņa 2006, 20). This extension was connected with mortuary treatment (e.g. food or animal offerings), which was placed at the deceased’s legs. Therefore, for example, the length of subadult burials in the Laukskola cemetery varies in the range from 70 to 230 cm while adult burials in some cases were just 150 to 170 cm long, perhaps due to being poorly marked (Zariņa 2006). The same critical examination must be used when analysing burials which were disturbed or robbed, because the measurements of these marked grave-pits can be fallacious if the human remains or any elements used in the burial process have been displaced from their original location. Good examples include the Semigallian cemetery Čunkāni-Dreņģeri, where a large share of the burials was disturbed. There, the length of child graves varies in the range from 85 to 298 cm, whereas in some cases adult graves were 130 to 150 cm in length (Atgāzis 1985; 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991; 1994). Summarising all previously mentioned instances, it can be concluded that if a clearly marked, undisturbed, short burial with uncharacteristic or age-neutral grave goods such as spirals, beads, fragments of metal objects is established, in most cases it can be assumed that it is a child burial; on the contrary, if a long grave-pit with the same grave goods is established, one cannot unequivocally assume that it is an 244

adult burial. A precise ‘formula’ or range of measurements of grave-pits cannot be established which could definitively mark the burial as adult or subadult. As was shown above, cases where grave-pits are not made accordingly to the dead’s body apparent physiological age, or where the decomposition of organic materials within disturbed burials, can generate inaccurate grave-pits measurements. Therefore it is important to realise that no unequivocal coherence, wherein subadults are only in short graves and adults are only in long ones (usually 160 to 180 and more), is possible.2 Anthropological material would definitely provide greater clarity and anthropological analysis must be used when identifying burials; if the skeletal material is absent or poorly preserved, the burial must be identified as ‘indefinable’. Maybe it is better to be cautious than make unjustified assumptions. ‘Transition objects’ Another type of age marker that must be used more critically is ornaments associated with social maturation, such as head ornaments like the headbands in Latgallian female burials or the chain ornaments in the Livs female burials. The traditional female dress of the Livs was a sleeveless wrap-around skirt that was fastened at the shoulders by a chain ornament. Archaeologist Anna Zariņa (1999, 118; 2006, 258) suggested that Livs’ girls 2   It must be noted that some archaeologists also use the term ‘adolescent’ when dealing with identification of burials (see Kuniga 2000, Šnore 1987). An important topic to discuss is whether it is appropriate to use so specific social construction terms and can we dissociate ourselves from the contemporary comprehension about adolescence and if there were one at prehistoric societies at all. However, this discussion falls outside the scope of this paper.

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began to wear a sleeveless wrap-around dress at the time when they reached social adulthood, so chain ornaments are found at adult female burials only. There are different interpretations about Latgallians’ head ornaments: Zariņa (1999, 66) concludes that headbands were worn by females of all ages, including girls and 50–60-year-old women. Radiņš (1999, 56) shares a similar opinion; he suggests that both married and unmarried females were adorned with a headband. On the other hand, Šnē (2002, 192), researching within the field of social archaeology, writes that while headbands can be perceived as a distinguishing feature of girls’ and women’s burials because these are found at almost every adult female burial, there are in fact virtually no headbands at the girls’ burials. However, after analysing archaeological reports it was concluded that sometimes these head ornaments are used too uncritically as age markers and archaeologists interpreted concrete burials as women’s burials only because there were headbands. For example, at Lejasbitēni cemetery headbands can be found only in adult female burials (Urtāns 1961; 1962a; 1963; 1964); however, after correlating archaeological data with anthropological analyses, it was concluded that three of these ‘archaeological women’ were biologically 8–12-year-old girls (burials nos. 241, 326, 394). There were no other specific mortuary treatment parameters that could indicate the social age group of the deceased since other artefacts were common for both girls and women: spiral bracelets, spiral rings, and glass beads. The lengths of the grave-pits were 170 cm (no. 394), 210 cm (no. 326), and the gravepit of the burial no. 241 was not marked. So only burial no. 326 showed another marker of an adult burial – a long gravepit (although, as it was mentioned before, measurements of the grave-pits cannot be perceived as an unambiguous indicator).

So it seems that these burials were identified as woman burials mostly because of the findings of headbands, but were these females really already social adults within their society or has the association of head ornaments with social maturation been perceived too uncritically? A similar situation can be observed with the chain ornaments – although they are perceived as adult female jewellery, in some cases they are discovered also in subadult burials (e.g. in the Laukskola cemetery, where chain ornaments were found in wealthy girls’ burials (9–12-yearolds), like burials no. 98, 497). However, it must be noted that the Livs’ chain ornaments, especially with tortoise fibulas, are considered to be an expensive ornament, and therefore these could symbolise high social status instead of social age group. Of course, the possibility of an early maturation in these specific cases (since other burials in this age group within both cemeteries did not show any evidence that girls are considered as social adults) or the possibility that these girls had specific status within society and family (family’s high status within society or first born in their families) should also be considered. It cannot be denied that head and chain ornaments can be considered as a part of the adult female ornament set because they are quite traditional findings in Latgallian and Livs’ women burials. But there is always a question of how often a burial is identified as an adult female burial only because of these ornaments, without any other reasonable evidence. Unfortunately in many cases we do not have anthropological material for comparison, therefore we must rely on the archaeological information alone. However, I believe that the issue of the association of head and chain ornaments with social maturation must remain open for discussion and I hope that future excavations will reveal more useful information, because finding one 245

clear ‘transition object’ that marks the individual as an adult could be a turning point within children status studies. The end of the childhood and the beginning of the adulthood As was noted above, the transition between childhood and adulthood is the most important and the most difficult question within the archaeology of children. Precise age borders for the beginning of the adulthood would very much help researchers understand and explain archaeological material, because it could be possible to determine physiological age and ascertain if the deceased was a nonadult or an adult. Since there are no written sources available from the Middle and Late Iron Age, the archaeological and anthropological material still is the only evidence that could give an idea about children, childhood, and social maturation in prehistory. In recent years Latvian archaeology has demonstrated an increasing interest in the social archaeology of prehistoric and historical societies. However, because the notion of children and social age groups still remains a poorly researched subject, the transition between childhood and adulthood is as a very controversial and unclear question. In the academic literature, questions about the beginning of the social adulthood in prehistory is not broadly discussed. Anthropologist Raisa Deņisova, in analysing the Ķivutkalns cemetery, argues that 14- to 15-year-old boys were considered adult men in the Bronze Age society (Deņisova et al. 1985, 156). Elvīra Šnore, analysing the Latgallian cemetery Nukšas, also assumes that individuals after the age of 14–15 years are considered as adults (Šnore & Zeids 1957, 41). Unfortunately anthropological material from the Nukšas cemetery is very poorly preserved and now 246

it is almost impossible to compare it with the archaeological material. Vija Bandare, after summarising archaeological and anthropological data from the Livs’ cemetery Laukskola, argued that 14–15 years was the age when Livs’ girls were considered as adult females and 11–12 years was the age for boys’ social maturation (Bandare 2002; 2007). Anthropologist Gunita Zariņa and archaeologist Anna Zariņa argued that we can look for social maturation within Livs’ 10th – 13th-century society at a younger point, probably even at the age of 8–10 years (Zariņa & Zariņa 2012). The author of this article agrees with the last assumption that changes in the social status of the children in the Middle and Late Iron Age occurred earlier than the age of 14–15 years. Preliminary data shows that some relevant changes in the mortuary treatment of the non-adult burials could be traced after the age of 9–12 years (Vilka 2012; 2013a; 2013b; 2014). For now it is too soon to declare that a 9–12-year-old child was considered as an adult in the prehistoric society, but it can be said that some changes in their social status occurred after this age. However this is very complicated aspect in the structure of the society, therefore it is still open for discussion and deserves further extensive studies. But why is it so important to discuss the beginning of adulthood? This is the main problem within the studies of the prehistoric children and within an interpretation of the archaeological material and identification of the burials. In cases where we cannot be sure about social age group borders, the interpretation of the anthropological and archaeological material can construct several different concepts about children (expanding on the previously mentioned Sofaer Derevenski’s ‘data child’ and ‘child data’): 1. ‘Anthropological child’, which is based only on the physiological age and,

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unavoidably, is influenced by current criteria about maturation; 2. ‘Archaeological child’, when only the archaeological material is used without correlation with anthropological material. As it was argued before, some archaeological material criteria are used too uncritically, therefore it could make the researcher draw artificial and fallacious conclusions about children, childhood, and adulthood. Burial identification must be done more critically and be well-grounded, because it forms the foundation of the study of the society’s structure. 3. ‘Archaeological and anthropological child’, when all available data are correlated, compared, and analysed. In this case, the most accurate concepts possible about children and social age groups should arise. And yet – there is always the fourth concept – the ‘real’ status and mortuary behaviour towards children in the prehistoric society, which probably was very different from the interpretations. This concept is definitely influenced by biological and socio-cultural aspects, and could also appear within the burials’ material, perhaps differently than we are accustomed to thinking about it. It is worthwhile to recall the very simple truth that the dead do not bury themselves, but are treated and disposed by living society (Parker Pearson 2000); therefore burials combine aspects of the deceased’s identity and the ideology of their relatives and society. Studies of the society through burials become more difficult when analysing child burials; if adults may be given the opportunity to make decisions about their legacy as reflected in burials furnishing, it is likely that these decisions were made for the children, most probably by adults. So studies of the mortuary behaviour may be considered as a reflection of the adults’ remembrance of children and their concepts of childhood (Baxter 2005, 94–96). So

maybe we need to comprehend the child burials not as the representation of the child’s actual status in the society, but as the desirable status in the ‘afterlife society’ after all. This reflection is more relevant to the research within cognitive archaeology, but it must be kept in mind when studying children in prehistory as well. Epilogue Archaeology is a dynamic and fast-growing science, which changes over time by developing new theories, using different methods, and applying various ideas. The development of new methods and theories allows us to reconsider previous research, re-evaluate archaeological material, and notice previously unnoticed aspects of prehistoric and historical societies. In the past few decades a great deal of archaeological material has been collected in Latvian archaeology; therefore, we can use new methods to (re)analyse it and give some new reflections about Latvian prehistory. Information about burials can currently be found in the archaeological reports (it must be noted that only a part of the archaeological research is summarised and published; the biggest part still remains unpublished and is analysed incompletely); therefore, interpretations that are included into these reports must be evaluated carefully and critically. The main aim of this paper is to draw attention to some aspects in Latvian archaeology that must be considered more carefully when analysing archaeological material, especially when studying children in prehistory. Since the archaeology of children and childhood is a new branch of archaeological science, there are many unclear and controversial aspects that need to be researched in extended studies. It cannot be denied that children were a part of every community; they were the 247

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future of the society, and therefore they simply cannot be neglected in the archaeological research. And yet one must admit that looking for the children and identifying them in the archaeological material is much harder than looking for the adults, because archaeological material is analysed from the adult’s point of view. In the studies of burials, the category ‘child’ is defined in relationship to the category ‘adult’, which results in comparing adults to

children; consequently, the reconstruction of social structure relies on the researcher’s definitions of the social categories. Adults are considered as the normative category, and therefore the distinctive child burials’ mortuary treatment is seen as divergence (Baxter 2005, 94–96). We need to remember that children were not just small, ‘incomplete’ adults, they formed a social group with a social structure within it and should be studied as carefully as adults.




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