Session Title

The Seventh Century across Cultures: New Perspectives

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Seventh Century Studies Network

Organizer Name

Thomas J. MacMaster

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Edinburgh

Presider Name

Thomas J. MacMaster

Paper Title 1

Writing the Past Anew: The Trojan Narrative in the Early Medieval Culture

Presenter 1 Name

N. Kıvılcım Yavuz

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Institute for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Leeds

Paper Title 2

An Archaeological Case Study of Visigothic Military Hill Forts during the Second Half of the Seventh Century in the Sistema Ibérico Mountains (La Rioja, Spain)

Presenter 2 Name

José María Tejado Sebastián

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Oxford.

Paper Title 3

Bound Pendants: Variation within Continuity

Presenter 3 Name

Genevra Kornbluth

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Kornbluth Photography

Start Date

11-5-2014 8:30 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 204

Description

The goal of this session is to bring together scholars from different disciplines studying the seventh century in order to promote discussion and the cross-fertilization of ideas. We will explore how wider perspectives can be used to formulate new approaches to source material, drawing out fresh perspectives on both the familiar and unfamiliar.

Each of the three papers addresses the long seventh century from a separate academic and regional focus yet, whether art, archaeology, or the written word, all can be seen as addressing the overall question of whether this was a period of continuity or a break in the longue durée.

The first paper, “Writing the Past Anew”, takes a literary approach. For over three millennia the fall of Troy has been a popular topic in European culture and the story of Troy has been one of the most exploited subjects throughout European history. Besides several historical accounts of the Trojan War and literary works that include characters from Troy, there is a long tradition of European peoples and dynasties claiming Trojan ancestry. The seventh century constitutes a crucial turning point in the evolution of the Trojan narrative not least because the earliest written claim to Trojan origins comes from the Chronicle of Fredegar dated to c.660. Considering both textual and manuscript evidence, the paper will examine the development of the Trojan narrative in the transition from the Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages with a specific focus on the seventh century and attempt to address the following questions: What are the reasons behind the fascination with Troy? How were the classical and late antique sources on the Troy story received by the medieval audience? What was the significance of having Trojan origins? What was the function of the Trojan narrative in terms of early medieval politics? How did the Trojan origin story influence the circulation and reception of other Trojan narratives during the early Middle Ages? And finally, how did early medieval culture and history transform the Trojan narrative?

Our second paper is, by contrast, an archaeological case study and looks at hill forts in Visigothic Spain. The simple and clear stratigraphy of one of these hill forts excavated in archaeological campaigns, “El Castillo de los Monjes” [The Castle of the Monks], shows an undoubtedly chronological frame between 640-720 EC for the foundation (and abandon) of the network of the hill forts. One of the most remarkable points is relative about the complex 'poliorcetic' systems of defence of some hill forts of the network detected. The study of some Byzantine military treatises reveals some Byzantine influences on the parameters of these castra; the triple system of defence, the well defended access, the system of extraction of stones, and the whole planning of the building. Finally, the paper introduces ideas regarding the heart of the Meseta and the relationship between central power and the archaeological record in terms of continuity.

The third paper treats the subject of bound pendants from the era. One of the most characteristic forms of the early medieval amulet, the bound pendant (roughly spherical materials suspended in metal straps), is found in archaeological contexts dating from the mid-fifth to the eighth century. Relatively few are dated before the sixth century, and in the eighth century they become very rare. Continuing usage of bound pendants from the early sixth to the late seventh century reflects cultural continuity. But the geographical distribution of specific materials and setting types belies that continuity, suggesting instead frequent shifts of fashion and function in different regions over time.

The three papers bring new perspectives on the era and should stimulate a wide-ranging discussion.

Thomas J. MacMaster

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May 11th, 8:30 AM

The Seventh Century across Cultures: New Perspectives

Bernhard 204

The goal of this session is to bring together scholars from different disciplines studying the seventh century in order to promote discussion and the cross-fertilization of ideas. We will explore how wider perspectives can be used to formulate new approaches to source material, drawing out fresh perspectives on both the familiar and unfamiliar.

Each of the three papers addresses the long seventh century from a separate academic and regional focus yet, whether art, archaeology, or the written word, all can be seen as addressing the overall question of whether this was a period of continuity or a break in the longue durée.

The first paper, “Writing the Past Anew”, takes a literary approach. For over three millennia the fall of Troy has been a popular topic in European culture and the story of Troy has been one of the most exploited subjects throughout European history. Besides several historical accounts of the Trojan War and literary works that include characters from Troy, there is a long tradition of European peoples and dynasties claiming Trojan ancestry. The seventh century constitutes a crucial turning point in the evolution of the Trojan narrative not least because the earliest written claim to Trojan origins comes from the Chronicle of Fredegar dated to c.660. Considering both textual and manuscript evidence, the paper will examine the development of the Trojan narrative in the transition from the Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages with a specific focus on the seventh century and attempt to address the following questions: What are the reasons behind the fascination with Troy? How were the classical and late antique sources on the Troy story received by the medieval audience? What was the significance of having Trojan origins? What was the function of the Trojan narrative in terms of early medieval politics? How did the Trojan origin story influence the circulation and reception of other Trojan narratives during the early Middle Ages? And finally, how did early medieval culture and history transform the Trojan narrative?

Our second paper is, by contrast, an archaeological case study and looks at hill forts in Visigothic Spain. The simple and clear stratigraphy of one of these hill forts excavated in archaeological campaigns, “El Castillo de los Monjes” [The Castle of the Monks], shows an undoubtedly chronological frame between 640-720 EC for the foundation (and abandon) of the network of the hill forts. One of the most remarkable points is relative about the complex 'poliorcetic' systems of defence of some hill forts of the network detected. The study of some Byzantine military treatises reveals some Byzantine influences on the parameters of these castra; the triple system of defence, the well defended access, the system of extraction of stones, and the whole planning of the building. Finally, the paper introduces ideas regarding the heart of the Meseta and the relationship between central power and the archaeological record in terms of continuity.

The third paper treats the subject of bound pendants from the era. One of the most characteristic forms of the early medieval amulet, the bound pendant (roughly spherical materials suspended in metal straps), is found in archaeological contexts dating from the mid-fifth to the eighth century. Relatively few are dated before the sixth century, and in the eighth century they become very rare. Continuing usage of bound pendants from the early sixth to the late seventh century reflects cultural continuity. But the geographical distribution of specific materials and setting types belies that continuity, suggesting instead frequent shifts of fashion and function in different regions over time.

The three papers bring new perspectives on the era and should stimulate a wide-ranging discussion.

Thomas J. MacMaster