EAA Barcelona 2018 – 5‐8 September 2018
Call for Papers and Posters
Deadline: 15 February 2018
Re‐thinking medieval and early modern pestilences from a biosocial perspective: advanced methods and renewed concepts in archaeological sciences
While contagious diseases have affected the human species since its origins, great medieval epidemics (e.g. plague, leprosy, tuberculosis) have sparked particular interest for decades. In recent years, archaeology has played an increasing role in the scientific study of medieval pestilences, notably by providing reliable data on both the paleobiology of epidemic victims and their burial treatment. Despite the various breakthroughs reached by interdisciplinary research, the study of past epidemics still needs to get improved, particularly through an integrated analysis of biological and social dimensions of these diseases, which are closely interrelated. We invite contributions regarding both recent methodological advances in the retrospective diagnosis of infectious diseases and the output of archaeological sciences on social and cultural factors acting in human populations’ adaptability to these diseases.
The session shall address various questions, among which:
– What are the new lines of research and future perspectives in paleopathological and palaeomicrobiological study of these diseases?
– What information paleobiological data derived from skeletal assemblages can provide on the epidemiological characteristics of the diseases?
– What was the endemicity of diseases in various places, how did they evolve over time, and how did various diseases competed each other?
– How funerary archaeology and textual sources contributes to reappraise the history of these diseases (e.g. attitudes towards the victims in terms of their integration and/or exclusion, depending on the time period and cultural framework)?
– Which methodological implementation would be desirable in the future to allow retrospective diagnosis of still poorly-known diseases (e.g. ergotism)?
Keywords: Archaeology, Paleomicrobiology, Paleopathology, Medieval, Epidemics
– Session theme: Theories and methods in archaeological sciences
– Session ID: #413
– Session type: Session, made up of a combination of papers, max. 15 minutes each
– Dr. Dominique Castex, CNRS, UMR 5199 – PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France, firstname.lastname@example.org
– Dr. Mark Guillon, Inrap, UMR 5199 – PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France, email@example.com
– Maria Spyrou, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org
– Marcel Keller, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany, email@example.com
– Dr. Sacha Kacki, Department of Archaeology, Durham University, United Kingdom, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract submission deadline:
15 February 2018
If you are interested to submit a Paper or Poster proposal, please use the conference website at
Further information, including registration details, general and practical information, etc. can be found on the conference website
The following session report by Doris Gutsmiedl-Schümann (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), Sacha Kacki (Université de Bordeaux, France), Marcel Keller (MPI-SHH Jena, Germany) and Christina Lee (University of Nottingham, UK) will be published in The European Archaeologist. With kind permission of the EAA.
Edit 17-02-07: filmed talks are now linked under the respective name.
Plague, an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, occurred in at least three major historical pandemics: the Justinianic Plague (6th to 8th century), the Black Death (1348-1352, with further epidemic outbreaks until the 18th century), and the Modern or Hong Kong Plague (19th to 20th century). However, it appears that the disease may be much older: DNA from Bronze Age human skeleton has recently shown that plague first emerged at least as early as 3000 BC. As any disease, plague has both a biological as well as a social dimension. Different disciplines can therefore explicate different aspects of plague which can lead to a better understanding of the disease and its medical and social implications.
The session was held on 2nd September 2016 as part of the 22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA with the aim of bringing together researchers from different disciplines who work on plague. It addressed a series of research questions, such as:
- Which disciplines can contribute to the research on plague?
- What are their methodological possibilities and the limitations of their methodologies?
- How can different disciplines work together in order to gain a more realistic and detailed picture of plague in different periods and regions?
- How did different societies react to plague? In which way may we prove or disprove evidence for such reactions – and which disciplines may contribute to the debate?
- What where the common aspects, and what the differences of the various plague outbreaks? Are there any epidemiological characteristics that are essential and/or unique to plague?
- What are possible implications of the pandemic spread and endemic occurrence of plague through the ages for the interpretation of historical and cultural phenomena?
- R. Schreg, Ecological Approaches in Medieval Rural Archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology 17(1), 2014, 83-119
[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.
|Yersinia pestis, Direct Fluorescent Antibody Stain (DFA),
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s
Public Health Image Library [PHIL],
identification number #1918 [public domain]).