Workshop: Power in Numbers. The Role of the Rural Population in Christianisation a State Formation

The proposed workshop aims to bring together researchers from Europe, dealing with different, yet connected, affairs of the state and church networks‘ of archaeological and historical heritage.

In the last decade, interest in the research of Christianisation has been growing. Diverse approaches in history were observable; researchers have investigated the process in the light of state formation, church law, hagiography, and continuing the most traditional branch of research, the development of the ecclesiastical network. This latter has been primarily focusing on the higher levels – archbishoprics, bishoprics, and monastic institutions – mostly due to sources‘ availability. The largest segment of the population, thus the widest audience of Christianisation, and the smallest, yet arguably most influential element of the church network on the process -local churches- were neglected, as their appearance in written sources is almost nonexistent. Archaeological discussion somewhat followed the footsteps of history; researchers also focused on the archaeology of the largest centres and their ecclesiastical institutions. Besides, investigations concentrated mainly on the individual, by interpreting religion in burials, and the relation and interpretation of the pagan-Christian shift in different cemetery types. Still, the ambiguity of the definition and the relative scarcity of such data, these investigations did not result in reliable conclusions. Even though archaeology considered the significant impact that Christianisation had on transforming the rural landscape, targeted large-scale investigations are yet to be uncovered. Still, a shift started in archaeological research in the last few years; researchers began to move from a more concentrated study to a broader approach. These investigations sometimes involved also archaeological Big Data and diverse digital methods to deal with it. Our Primus project works along these lines, focusing on the research on the archaeological remains of the earliest network of (rural) local churches and their relation to Christianisation in East-Central Europe, contextualising and analysing them in a regional level, by integrating them into a Geographical Information System. By applying new, comprehensive methods, with regional and interdisciplinary cooperation on the investigation of neglected sources and the often-overlooked rural population, new narratives will become available on the state formation and Christianisation processes of East-Central Europe.

Therefore, the workshop aims to examine how and why state politics have interfered in diverse religious affairs; such as the process of Christianisation and the development of the local church system in the early Middle Ages, the promotion and support of certain cults, religious orders, or particular places of pilgrimage to the later Middle Ages, and give a Longue-durée perspective on the matter, by bringing these processes together.

The workshop welcomes papers focusing on the early and High Middle Ages, within the range of the following topics:
– early rural churches, churchyards and field cemeteries
– problem of transitional cemeteries and burial practices
– connection between early state power centres and the ecclesiastical network
– monastic networks and Christianisation
– material culture connected to Christianisation

The workshop proposes to invite eight participants from abroad and involve approximately six to ten local researchers. The duration of the workshop is planned to be two full days.

Event detail

Event start
11. 10. 2021 16:00
Konec události
13. 10. 2021 18:00
Celetná 20, Prague 1 (Department of Archaeology Library, Charles University)
Organizing Institution
Department of Archaeology
Event type