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Alfsdotter, C. (2019). Social implications of unburied corpses from intergroup conflicts: postmortem agency following the Sandby borg massacre. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 29(3), 427-442
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social implications of unburied corpses from intergroup conflicts: postmortem agency following the Sandby borg massacre
2019 (English)In: Cambridge Archaeological Journal, ISSN 0959-7743, E-ISSN 1474-0540, Vol. 29, no 3, p. 427-442Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A massacre took place inside the Sandby borg ringfort, southeast Sweden, at the end of the fifth century. The victims were not buried, but left where they died. In order to understand why the corpses were left unburied, and how they were perceived following the violent event, a theoretical framework is developed and integrated with the results of osteological analysis. I discuss the contemporary normative treatment of the dead, social response to death and postmortem agency with emphasis on intergroup conflict and ‘bad death’. The treatment of the dead in Sandby borg deviates from known contemporary practices. I am proposing that leaving the bodies unburied might be viewed as an aggressive social action. The corpses exerted postmortem agency to the benefit of the perpetrators, at the expense of the victims and their sympathizers. The gain for the perpetrators was likely political power through redrawing the victim's biographies, spatial memory and the social and territorial landscape. The denial of a proper death likely led to shame, hindering of regeneration and an eternal state of limbo.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2019
Keywords
Sandby borg, massacre, postmortem agency, dead bodies, body politics, Iron Age
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Humanities, Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-82594 (URN)10.1017/S0959774319000039 (DOI)000475364600004 ()2-s2.0-85061706993 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-05-17 Created: 2019-05-17 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved
Alfsdotter, C. & Kjellström, A. (2019). The Sandby Borg Massacre: Interpersonal Violence and the Demography of the Dead. European Journal of Archaeology, 22(2), 210-231
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Sandby Borg Massacre: Interpersonal Violence and the Demography of the Dead
2019 (English)In: European Journal of Archaeology, ISSN 1461-9571, E-ISSN 1741-2722, Vol. 22, no 2, p. 210-231Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During excavations of the Iron Age ringfort of Sandby borg (ad 400-550), the remains of twenty-six unburied bodies were encountered inside and outside the buildings. The skeletons and the archaeological record indicate that after the individuals had died the ringfort was deserted. An osteological investigation and trauma analysis were conducted according to standard anthropological protocols. The osteological analysis identified only men, but individuals of all ages were represented. Eight individuals (31 per cent) showed evidence of perimortem trauma that was sharp, blunt, and penetrating, consistent with interpersonal violence. The location of the bodies and the trauma pattern appear to indicate a massacre rather than a battle. The 'efficient trauma' distribution (i.e. minimal but effective violence), the fact that the bodies were not manipulated, combined with the archaeological context, suggest that the perpetrators were numerous and that the assault was carried out effectively. The contemporary sociopolitical situation was seemingly turbulent and the suggested motive behind the massacre was to gain power and control.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2019
Keywords
violence, trauma, Migration period, Sandby borg, Iron Age, unburied
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Humanities, Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-82036 (URN)10.1017/eaa.2018.55 (DOI)000463085900004 ()2-s2.0-85061709442 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-04-23 Created: 2019-04-23 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved
Alfsdotter, C. (2018). Bad Death at Sandby borg: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Intergroup Violence and Postmortem Agency of Unburied Corpses. (Licentiate dissertation). Växjö: Linnaeus University Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bad Death at Sandby borg: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Intergroup Violence and Postmortem Agency of Unburied Corpses
2018 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The subject of corpses from mass violence is surprisingly unexplored, even though the materiality of the corpse carries strong symbolic capital in conflicts. The aim of my PhD research is to create new knowledge about the implications of unburied corpses that stem from intergroup conflicts, and subsequently to add knowledge concerning how intergroup violence is organised to achieve desired social agendas.

In the licentiate thesis presented here, I research the conditions for postmortem agency and how treatment of corpses can be studied in prehistory, specifically through the material remains of unburied corpses from the Sandby borg massacre. The Sandby borg case study is explored through a bioarchaeological perspective. Inside the Iron Age ringfort, the remains of at least 26 individuals have been recovered hitherto. Several of the dead display traces of lethal intergroup violence. By integrating osteology, archaeology, taphonomy and social theories, I show how bioarchaeological research can contribute to the understanding of past postmortem agency in relation to intergroup violence as a social process. The thesis is comprised of four articles.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2018. p. 28
Series
Lnu Licentiate ; 13
Keywords
Sandby borg, Migration period, Iron age, Massacre, Mass violence; Conflict, Unburied corpses, Postmortem agency, Taphonomy, Archaeothanatology, Forensic taphonomy, Trauma, Öland, Treatment of corpses, Folkvandringstid, järnålder, Öland, obegravda kroppar, våld, massaker, politiseing av lik, tafonomi, arkeothanatologi
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Humanities; Humanities, Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-73396 (URN)978-91-88761-56-9 (ISBN)978-91-88761-57-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2018-05-16, C 305 K Falken, Nygatan 18B 392 34, Kalmar, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Knowledge Foundation, 20140011
Available from: 2018-05-02 Created: 2018-04-24 Last updated: 2018-05-02Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-0181-4458

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