Author Archives: Rainer Schreg

About Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

Ecological Approaches in Medieval Rural Archaeology

  • R. Schreg, Ecological Approaches in Medieval Rural Archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology 17(1), 2014, 83-119
    DOI 10.1179/1461957113Y.0000000045

    [There is currently no Open Access, sorry!].

In recent years, scientific methods of bio- and geoarchaeology have become increasingly important for archaeological research. Political changes since the 1990s have reshaped the archaeological community. At the same time environmental topics have gained importance in modern society, but the debate lacks an historical understanding. Regarding medieval rural archaeology, we need to ask how this influences our archaeological research on medieval settlements, and how ecological approaches fit into the self-concept of medieval archaeology as a primarily historical discipline. Based mainly on a background in German medieval archaeology, this article calls attention to more complex ecological research questions. Medieval village formation and the late medieval crisis are taken as examples to sketch some hypotheses and research questions. The perspective of a village ecosystem helps bring together economic aspects, human ecology and environmental history. There are several implications for archaeological theory as well as for archaeological practice. Traditional approaches from landscape archaeology are insufficient to understand the changes within village ecosystems. We need to consider social aspects and subjective recognition of the environment by past humans as a crucial part of human–nature interaction. Use of the perspective of village ecosystems as a theoretical background offers a way to examine individual historical case studies with close attention to human agency. Thinking in terms of human ecology and environmental history raises awareness of some interrelations that are crucial to understanding past societies and cultural change. (Abstract)

The article takes the late medieval crisis as an example for the complexity of interaction and proposes to understand the Black Death within the framework of human ecology.

Factors and hypothetical interactions during the late medieval crisis

Factors and hypothetical interactions during the late medieval crisis

 

 

 

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Black Death in the Media

Black Death today

Belfast Telegraph (21.1.2014): Bubonic plague strain could return – http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breakingnews/offbeat/bubonic-plague-strain-could-return-29955070.html

Gizmodo (28.1.2014): Plague DNA Found in Ancient Tooth Suggests Black Death Isn’t Dead Yet –  http://gizmodo.com/plague-dna-found-in-ancient-tooth-suggests-black-death-1510789914

The Atlantic (11.4.2014): Avoiding the Black Plague Today – http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/avoiding-black-plague-today/360475/

Decoded Science (6.4.2014): Digging up the Black Death: What Caused the Black Plague, and Are We In Danger? – http://www.decodedscience.com/digging-black-death-caused-black-plague-danger/44166

New finds in London

The Guardian (29.3.2014): Black death skeletons reveal pitiful life of 14th-century Londoners – http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/29/black-death-not-spread-rat-fleas-london-plague

Reuters (30.3.2014): British experts say they have found London’s lost Black Death graves – http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/30/uk-britain-history-blackdeath-idUKBREA2T09S20140330

DNA studies

International Business Times (22.4.2014): Black Death DNA Mapped to Discover Bubonic Plague Evolution – http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/black-death-dna-mapped-discover-bubonic-plague-evolution-1445624

Digital journal 825.4.2014): Scientists create Black Death family tree – http://digitaljournal.com/science/black-death-family-tree/article/382087

Consequences

MedicalNewsToday (7.5.2014): Were medieval Britons more resilient to disease following the black death? – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276438.php

The conversation (8.4.2014): No, the Black Death did not create more jobs for women – http://theconversation.com/no-the-black-death-did-not-create-more-jobs-for-women-25298

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Various links from our facebook group

I just collected the links from recent posts in our facebook-group.

Obviously the plague is for most colleagues here the most interesting aspect. However, I would like to emphasize, that we intend to understand the 14th century crisis within a wider context of social, economic and environmental history. – I would be glad, if we could have more contributions also for this broader perspective. It is not necessary to have elaborated scientific articles here. Short references / links to recent publications, own research or conferences may help to have the BlackDeath Network as a plattform of interdisciplinary exchange.

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Environmental damages in 14th century Southwest Germany

An interesting new study proves extreme  gullying in a landscape in Southwestern Germany.  By now there have been little indications that 1342 St. Magdalen’s flood had impact also on settlement landscapes in Southwest Germany.

Today this landscape – the southwestern Schönbuch natural park north of Tübingen – is completely forrested, but it must have been a rather open landscape vulnerable to erosion in the 14th century. In neighbouring settlements there are various indication for rural industries. There need for firing wood may have been an important factor for deforestation and environmental risk. A blog-post at Archaeologik discusses the archaeological evidence of settlement activity.

Documents from the town of  Esslingen, less than 30 km northwest of the gullies indicate that in fact rains in summer 1342 also affected the Neckar region (http://archaeologik.blogspot.de/2013/01/bodenerosion-1342-ein-rechtsstreit-in.html).

erosion gully in the southwestern Schönbuch forest northwest of Tübingen. Todya the landscape is completely forrested with little traces of medieval settlement.
(Foto: R. Schreg, 2013)

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Lepra in the Middle Ages

A new genetic study dealing with Lepra:
V. J. Schuenemann, P. Singh, T. A. Mendum, B. Krause-Kyora, G. Jäger et al., Genome-Wide Comparison of Medieval and Modern Mycobacterium leprae. Science (online 13.6.2013)

There have been several media reports in Germany. E.g. FAZ (19.6.2013)

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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y.p. genomes

Just a notice of two posts at Contagions, dealing with recent papers on y.p. genomes:

and at Bones don’t lie:

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Another Black Death Burial Site in London

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

More Posts - Website

Effects of 1342 rainfalls at the Neckar river, southwest Germany

Written, archaeological, and geographical sources show the heavy effects of the rainfalls in summer 1342. The mostly refer to the river Main, the middle Rhine, Elbe, and Weser.  A charter from the town of Esslingen situated at the river Neckar, dated 9th of September 1342 documents a court ruling. The local Augustinian monastery sued  against Kaisheim abbey, which owned a nearby vineyard. Soil was flooded into the Augustinian monastery. The document shows that the rainfalls in summer 1342 also affected the Neckar valley.

 

 

The town of Esslingen depicted by Andreas Kieser. The wineyard ist situated below the castle
(HStA Stuttgart H 107/15 Bd 7 Bl. 22, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

More Posts - Website

Late medieval apotropaic devices

The medievalists.net refers to a Master thesis from the University of Louisville dealing with c.

  • Lena Mackenzie Gimbel, Bawdy badges and the Black Death: late medieval apotropaic devices against the spread of the plague. MA thesis (Louisville 2010) – pdf from Louisville university.

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Current debates about sustainability – and the 14th century crisis

The German Leibniz-Gemeinschaft and theFederal Ministry of Education and Research initiated a program of public discussion on sustainability at various research museums (humans culture sustainability). The 4th and last of the Museumsgespräche 2012 “Mensch Kultur Nachhaltigkeit” at the RGZM in Mainz is dedicated to the handling of soil and water in past and present.

Discutants are Prof. Dr. Hans-Rudolf Bork (Kiel unisversity), Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Frede (Gießen university) and myself; moderation by Axel Weiß (SWR). On November, 27.th 2012 at 19PM there will be a livestream at http://www.zukunftsprojekt-erde.de/mitmachen/museum-digital/museumsgespraeche-2012-mensch-kultur-nachhaltigkeit/museumsgespraeche-2012-livestream.html. Discussion however will be in German.

The 14th century will probably one topic among others as it seems to be a very interestig case study for sustainability assessment.

Links

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Introduction – Linda Ehrsam Voigts

I am retired academic who works primarily with Latin and vernacular medical texts from late medieval England. With Patricia Kurtz I am responsible for Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English (eVK2), a database on 10,000 texts and prologues searchable from the website of the History of Medicine Division of the (U.S.) National Library of Medicine, and through the Resources link at the home page of the Medieval Academy of America. We have also provided an electronic version of Thorndike and Kibre, Incipits of Medieval Scientific Writings in Latin (eTK) on those websites.
see http://cctr1.umkc.edu/search
At present I am studying, with Ann Payne of the British Library, an English-language household compendium (including university medical treatises) datable to the reign of Henry VII. The section of recipes for members of the royal family contains many recipes, both prophylactic and therapeutic, against the plague.

Linda Ehrsam Voigts

Curators’ Professor of English Emerita
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Kansas City, MO y4110

VOIGTSL@UMKC.EDU

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Plague or rather climate?

Audun Dybdahl: Climate and demographic crises in Norway in medieval and early modern times. The Holocene 22 (10), 2012, 1159-1167
doi:10.1177/0959683612441843
http://hol.sagepub.com/content/22/10/1159

The paper claims that the role of the climate for the late medieval crisis in Norway (and more general) has been underestimated.

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

More Posts - Website