Tacit knowing of thraels- the social context of pottery production in High Medieval Skänninge.

Project: Research

Layman's description

Within the Skänninge-project, organized by the Swedish National Heritage Board, Östergötland, I study the pottery production during the 11th and 12th centuries. This was solved by unfree members within the household. The forms of the vessels indicate the provenance of slaves. The tradition and transmission of style was organized through every-day practice and tacit knowing.

In this project, the High Medieval pottery and its production in Skänninge, Östergötland is presented and discussed. Cultural identity and identity negotiation through style are topics often studied in higher social strata of societies. Emblemic style is maintained and displayed in jewellery or other eye-catching parts of the material culture to distinguish oneself in relation to others. However, the construction and negotiation of identities occur on all social levels within a population, including neglected and disrespected individuals. Such a group is the unfree in Late Viking Age and High Medieval Scandinavia. Slavery was culturally and economically embedded in agricultural as well as artisanal production until it was legally discarded in 1335. Thraels and ambátts, the female term for slave, are not easily discerned as a social category in archaeological sources. However, it is possible to argue that they were responsible for the production of every day ceramics on the household level. They can be observed at least until the professionalisation of pottery production in the beginning of the 13th century.

The pottery style at the farms in Skänninge is compared to other significant styles in Sweden. The archaeological investigations have produced a large series of reconstructed vessels. This is the first proper study of a complex from the time and place under study.
Effective start/end date2007/01/012011/12/31