TitleCrossing Borders in the Medieval Western Balkans: What Can Funerary Material Culture Tell Us?
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
OrganiserSaša Čaval, Scientific Research Centre, Slovenian Academy of Sciences & Arts, Ljubljana
Moderator/ChairMonika Milosavljević, Department of Archaeology, University of Belgrade
Paper 711-a Nomadic Pastoralism in the Archaeology of the Medieval Western Balkans: New Insights through Old Data
(Language: English)
Radmila Balaban, Department of Archaeology, University of Belgrade
Monika Milosavljević, Department of Archaeology, University of Belgrade
Index Terms: Anthropology; Architecture - General
Paper 711-b Crossing the Border to the Afterlife: Some New Insights on the Inscriptions of Medieval Stećki
(Language: English)
Anja Ragolič, Institute of Archaeology, Slovenian Academy of Sciences & Arts, Ljubljana
Index Terms: Archaeology - General; Epigraphy
Paper 711-c Materials Crossing Borders: Objects between History and Archaeology
(Language: English)
Saša Čaval, Scientific Research Centre, Slovenian Academy of Sciences & Arts, Ljubljana
Radmilo Pekić, Department of History, University of Priština
Index Terms: Archaeology - Artefacts; Historiography - Medieval; Politics and Diplomacy
AbstractThis session focuses mostly on funerary practices in the medieval Balkans (12th-16th centuries). While this peripheral region did fall under strong Byzantine influence, the practices differed and distorted in relation to the Byzantine legal and cultural traditions. The session aims to provide various insights into society and the activities of the actual people in this region who crossed state borders. From privileged, highly positioned members of societies, traders and foreign individuals, esteemed such as doctors, but also outcasts, criminals and above all livestock herders, who travelled the mountains with their animals with no regard to what would have been state borders. What were the implications for everyday life when living in the high mountainous or heavily wooded zones, i.e., in areas with physical-geographical barriers, in which state borders play no role? In addition, we also seek to understand how a lifestyle that implies crossing or not crossing the border affects the creation of collective identity and inclusion or exclusion from a community.

While it is more straightforward to obtain such data from the perspective of history, from an archaeological perspective aggravating methodological circumstances arise. Within archaeology, these cultural and social phenomena can be discussed indirectly through funerary archaeology and burial practices. The material culture from graves speaks of trade networks, while certain burial practices and tombstones offer evidence of similarities regardless of borders. The style and manner of making the tombstones speak of trends and artistic influences, which is the domain of art history. Bioarchaeological research on human skeletal remains can also be instrumental in understanding human migration and lifestyle. Zooarchaeological information from medieval sites can assist in the reconstruction of the symbiotic movement of humans and animals (such as with sheep, horses, and mules). The historical record can help significantly understand animals' role in travel and crossing borders. Ethnography on the behaviour of shepherds in the Dinaric area and their movement allows for the reconstruction of the past but under all critical caution.