Archaeology of social inequality in Early Medieval Europe. A tribute to Chris Wickham

The conference Archaeology of social inequality in Early Medieval Europe. Socio-political practices from top-down and bottom-up approaches. A tribute to Chris Wickham will be held in the Faculty of Arts of the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the framework of the Research Project DESPAMED (Landscapes and Social Inequality in Northern Iberia, HUM 2012-32514) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

The aim of this conference is to discuss the theoretical challenges posed by the study of social and political inequality in early medieval societies in Western Europe. It will focus mainly on archaeology of rural communities. Traditional approaches have defined them as poor and unstable, in the framework of a self-sufficient economy that prioritized animal husbandry over agriculture. However, available archaeological evidence has upended that picture in recent years. It is also unfolding both the relevance of peasant agency and the true complexity of those small worlds. All these novelties are currently being discussed in the light of a research agenda centered on the emergence of villages, the formation of local elites, the creation of socio-political networks and the state, intensification of agrarian production and the role of identities and other strategies in the legitimation of social inequalities.

This conference is a tribute to Chris Wickham in occasion of his retirement.

This is the IX Conference on Medieval Archaeology in Northen Iberia organized by the Heritage and Cultural Landscape Research Group of the University of the Basque Country.

International conference, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 22th-23th September 2016


Thursday 22th September 2016, Salon de Grados, Faculty of Arts

9.15 h. Presentation

Session I. Archaeology of the State

9.30 Julio Escalona Monge (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid), Towards an archaeology of state formation in North-western Iberia

10.15 Andrew Reynolds (University College London), A case for the role of local stability in the formation of large-scale polities

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret (Universidad de Alicante), “Revisiting al-Andalus” o cómo leer la desigualdad en los registros materiales de la otra alta Edad Media Europea

Session 2. Social inequality and Social complexity 

12.15 Robin Beck (University of Michigan), Maize, Mounds, and Cosmos: Durable Inequality in the Mississippian World (AD 1000-1250)

13.00 Lunch

15.00 Anne Nissen Jaubert (Université Paris 1, Panthéon Sorbonne), Small worlds and networks of power

15.45 Catarina Tente (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Evidence for social status in tenth century AD settlements of central-northern Portugal

16,30 Coffee break

17,00 Sauro Gelichi (Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia), Pottery as inequality? Systems of production and distribution in the Northern Italian rural societies during the Early Middle Ages

17,45 Francesca Grassi (UPV-EHU), Craft production and social complexity in Early Medieval Castile


Friday 23th September 2016, Salon de Grados, Faculty of Arts


Session 3. Local Societies

9.00 Dries Tys (Brussels Free University), Social dynamics of the peasants from the salt marshes in Flanders in the context of the rise to power of a European warlord

9.45 Iñaki Martín Viso (University of Salamanca), Pequeños mundos desiguales. Las dinámicas sociales de las comunidades rurales leonesas en el siglo X

10.30 Coffee Break

11.00 Alfonso Vigil-Escalera (University of Salamanca), The slave in the peasant household: an archaeological crux

11.45 Juan Antonio Quirós (UPV-EHU), Nucleation and the archaeology of communities  in north-western Iberia in Early Medieval period

12.30 Chris Wickham (University of Oxford), Conclusions

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