February 25, 2021

3.3 Archaeology of Early Medieval Europe: Metal Smiths, Kingship, and Gender

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Dr. Duncan W. Wright, Newcastle University.

https://www.ncl.ac.uk/hca/people/profile/duncanwright.html

 

Publication:

Duncan W Wright (2019) Crafters of Kingship: Smiths, Elite Power, and Gender in Early Medieval Europe, Medieval Archaeology, 63:2, 271-297, DOI: 10.1080/00766097.2019.1670922

IN THE EARLIEST CENTURIES of the Middle Ages, skilled metalsmiths were greatly valued by
cult leaders who required impressive objects to maintain social links and the loyalty of their retainers.
Despite their clear importance, smiths were peripheral characters operating on the fringes of elite communities.
Such treatment may reflect an attempt to limit the influence of metalworkers, whose craft was seen
as supernatural and who themselves were probably spiritual figureheads; archaeological evidence associates
smiths and their tools in symbolic processes of creation and destruction, not only of objects but also
of buildings and monuments. The Church clearly appropriated these indigenous practices, although conversion
eventually saw the pre-eminence of the sacred smith and their practice wane. Anthropological
study provides numerous comparators for skilled crafters acting as supernatural leaders, and also suggests
that as part of their marginal identity, smiths may have been perceived as a distinct gender.

 

This is a podcast about new and innovative research in archaeology.

Each episode I talk with pioneering and influential archaeologists about their journal papers, books and research projects.

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Season 3 is on Early Medieval Europe.

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Medieval Europe, Osteoarchaeology, Mesoamerica, Pacific Archaeology, Prehistoric Burials, Post-Medieval, Scientific Techniques, South-east Asia, Bronze Age Monuments. You tell me!

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