Från grav till gård: romersk järnålder på Gotland
1998 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
From the grave to the farm : the Roman Iron Age on Gotland (English)
Houses with a stone foundation represent a new type of building on Gotland in the middle of the Roman Iron Age. At the same time there are other changes, for instance the number of visible graves decreases, and the farm and its land are emphasized by the stone enclosures that meander in the landscape. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how these changes in the source material can be understood in terms of changes in society and in people's way of looking at their world. Graves from the Roman Iron Age are studied in relation to their grave-goods, their appearance, and their connection to settlements and other graves. Objects of gold in the graves are compared with gold in deposits, and one can establish that different types of artefacts are found in different contexts. The settlements are also viewed at various levels, from the individual house and its artefacts to the structure of the cultural landscape. The hill-forts on Gotland are discussed and an overview of the Roman Iron Age in the rest of Scandinavia is given.
The analysis of the graves reveals that the decrease in number in the middle of the Roman Iron Age can, at least in part, be explained by the a lack of a superstructure. At the same time precious artefacts such as Roman objects become more frequent, and so do the number of graves containing weapons. By studying the outline of the settlement pattern, one can conclude that the stone enclosures should not be interpreted merely as prehistoric fences, but that they should be recognized as a more complex phenomenon. In addition they link farms together into larger groups, and they connect the farmsteads to older graves. The interpretation that is put forward is that the stone enclosures, which link together farms and ancestors' graves, were an expression of how the society was organized around the family and kin. In this respect the stone enclosures "embodied" the social structure. In the analysis of the "forts", it is suggested that fortifications on flat ground belong to the period that precedes the changes in settlement, and that they constitute central places for the community. The forts on hilltops are on the other hand in many cases contemporaneous with houses with a stone foundation, and comparisons are made between hill-forts and stone enclosures.
One interpretation that is put forward is that the maintenance of the social order in the local communities demanded new strategies, due to circumstances both on Gotland and in the surrounding world. Stone had a great part in this strategy, because it could preserve the farm and the enclosure-communities for the future. The stone enclosures linked the past graves to the present, and through the stones' permanence one built for the future. Some of the changes in the archaeological material can thus be interpreted as an attempt to prevent changes in the society.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholms universitet , 1998. , 228 p.
Stockholm Studies in Archaeology, ISSN 0349-4128 ; 16
Research subject Archaeology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-45717ISBN: 91-7153-731-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-45717DiVA: diva2:369404
1998-05-15, Hörsal 6, hus C, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Olsen, Bjørn, Professor