Practices of Wealth Depositing in the 1st–9th Century AD Eastern Baltic

Ester Oras | 2015

Practices of Wealth Depositing in the 1st–9th Century AD Eastern Baltic

Ester Oras | 2015

ISBN: 9789088903076

Imprint: Sidestone Press Dissertations | Format: 210x280mm | 354 pp. | Language: English | 35 illus. (bw) | 160 illus. (fc) | Category: archaeology, early middle ages, iron age, votive deposition, ritual practices | download cover

This PhD thesis discusses the practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Wealth deposits are one or more valued object/s that is/are hidden deliberately as an intended separate deposition in a selected place in a specific, distinguishable manner. Wealth depositing is regarded as an important cultural practice which relates to and derives from various past social phenomena and changes respectively in spatial and temporal terms. It is emphasised that wealth deposits should be analysed as a cohesive corpus of material, regardless of specific artefact types, functional groups, production material, environment of concealment, and most importantly without any predetermined interpretation categorisations.

The dissertation presents different patterned practices of concealing valuables in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic through a detailed contextual analysis of their main material characteristics: artefacts, their assemblages and appearance, environment of concealment, chronology and location in the cultural landscape. The study demonstrates how depositional practices change in time and space, and analyses relations between specific depositional practices and developments on a wider social scale. A comparative analysis of wealth deposits and important social changes in contemporary society based on overall archaeological material is presented. The key regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic are identified. Additionally, further comparisons are drawn between depositional practices in the eastern Baltic and other parts of the Baltic Sea region, especially Scandinavia.

This thesis contributes to the discussions of concepts of value and depositional practices in a long-term and cross-regional perspective. A further aim is to look beyond the problematic ‘why?’-questions posed in the studies of wealth deposits, and move instead to more comprehensible questions of ‘how?’: how do depositional practices change in time and space, and how are these processes related to developments in a broader social context?

The book contains a catalogue of all the 1st-9th century AD Eastern Baltic deposits analysed in the dissertation with descriptions of objects, environments of concealment, find circumstances, illustrations/photos and further references.

1. Introduction

2. Defining the wealth deposit
2.1. Problems with terms and definitions
2.2. Wealth deposit
2.3. Wealth deposits and other archaeological structures

3. Theoretical standpoints
3.1. Agency and practice theory

4. Methodology
4.1. Contextual approach for studying practices of wealth depositing
4.2. Data collection
4.3. Methods of analysis

5. Iron Age wealth deposits in the Baltic Sea area
5.1. Iron Age wealth deposits in Scandinavia
5.2. Eastern Baltic Iron Age wealth deposits

6. Practices of wealth depositing in Estonia
6.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Estonia
6.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Estonia: Long-term perspective and the question of change

7. Practices of wealth depositing in Latvia
7.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Latvia
7.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Latvia: Long-term perspective and the question of change

8. Practices of wealth depositing in Lithuania
8.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Lithuania
8.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Lithuania: Long-term perspective and the question of change

9. Regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in the eastern Baltic
9.1. Geographical and chronological distribution
9.2. Regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in social context
9.3. Eastern Baltic regional comparisons
9.4. Practices of wealth depositing east and west of the Baltic Sea

10. Conclusions

Catalogue

Dr. Ester Oras

Ester Oras (1984) is a researcher at the departments of archaeology and analytical chemistry at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Her main fields of interest cover archaeochemistry with a special emphasis on biomolecular analyses and dating methods, material culture studies, archaeology of ritual and religion, hoard finds and other intentional artefact concealments in the Baltic Sea region. She graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2014 with her PhD thesis “Practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic”.

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Abstract:

This PhD thesis discusses the practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Wealth deposits are one or more valued object/s that is/are hidden deliberately as an intended separate deposition in a selected place in a specific, distinguishable manner. Wealth depositing is regarded as an important cultural practice which relates to and derives from various past social phenomena and changes respectively in spatial and temporal terms. It is emphasised that wealth deposits should be analysed as a cohesive corpus of material, regardless of specific artefact types, functional groups, production material, environment of concealment, and most importantly without any predetermined interpretation categorisations.

The dissertation presents different patterned practices of concealing valuables in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic through a detailed contextual analysis of their main material characteristics: artefacts, their assemblages and appearance, environment of concealment, chronology and location in the cultural landscape. The study demonstrates how depositional practices change in time and space, and analyses relations between specific depositional practices and developments on a wider social scale. A comparative analysis of wealth deposits and important social changes in contemporary society based on overall archaeological material is presented. The key regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic are identified. Additionally, further comparisons are drawn between depositional practices in the eastern Baltic and other parts of the Baltic Sea region, especially Scandinavia.

This thesis contributes to the discussions of concepts of value and depositional practices in a long-term and cross-regional perspective. A further aim is to look beyond the problematic ‘why?’-questions posed in the studies of wealth deposits, and move instead to more comprehensible questions of ‘how?’: how do depositional practices change in time and space, and how are these processes related to developments in a broader social context?

The book contains a catalogue of all the 1st-9th century AD Eastern Baltic deposits analysed in the dissertation with descriptions of objects, environments of concealment, find circumstances, illustrations/photos and further references.

Contents

1. Introduction

2. Defining the wealth deposit
2.1. Problems with terms and definitions
2.2. Wealth deposit
2.3. Wealth deposits and other archaeological structures

3. Theoretical standpoints
3.1. Agency and practice theory

4. Methodology
4.1. Contextual approach for studying practices of wealth depositing
4.2. Data collection
4.3. Methods of analysis

5. Iron Age wealth deposits in the Baltic Sea area
5.1. Iron Age wealth deposits in Scandinavia
5.2. Eastern Baltic Iron Age wealth deposits

6. Practices of wealth depositing in Estonia
6.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Estonia
6.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Estonia: Long-term perspective and the question of change

7. Practices of wealth depositing in Latvia
7.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Latvia
7.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Latvia: Long-term perspective and the question of change

8. Practices of wealth depositing in Lithuania
8.1. 1st-9th century AD wealth deposits in Lithuania
8.2. Practices of wealth depositing in Lithuania: Long-term perspective and the question of change

9. Regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in the eastern Baltic
9.1. Geographical and chronological distribution
9.2. Regional and cross-regional practices of wealth depositing in social context
9.3. Eastern Baltic regional comparisons
9.4. Practices of wealth depositing east and west of the Baltic Sea

10. Conclusions

Catalogue

Dr. Ester Oras

Ester Oras (1984) is a researcher at the departments of archaeology and analytical chemistry at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Her main fields of interest cover archaeochemistry with a special emphasis on biomolecular analyses and dating methods, material culture studies, archaeology of ritual and religion, hoard finds and other intentional artefact concealments in the Baltic Sea region. She graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2014 with her PhD thesis “Practices of wealth depositing in the 1st–9th century AD eastern Baltic”.

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