Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Tradition Und Transfer in Spätgermanischer Zeit

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Tradition Und Transfer in Spätgermanischer Zeit

Article excerpt

Solveig Möllenberg, Tradition und Transfer in spätgermanischer Zeit, Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 76 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011). x + 265 pp. ISBN 978-3-11-025579-9. euro109.95.

This dissertation from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum addresses long observed and widely discussed similarities between Scandinavia and the Continent, especially in the Alamannic territories, in the fifth and sixth centuries ad, applying a fresh theoretical perspective involving sociological concepts of 'social space' alongside already familiar anthropological characterizations of culture and symbolism. It focuses upon certain classes of artefact and styles of art, alongside the use of runic writing and linguistic relationships argued for by some philologists. The unfamiliar term 'spätgermanische Zeit' denotes a period of relative cultural homogeneity in those media, embracing early Anglo-Saxon England as well as Scandinavia and the Continent, which preceded a phase of irreversible diversification in the seventh century, which in fact was associated with the stronger definition of political units across all of this area and the progress and consolidation of Christianity in much of it.

The extent of the triangular relationship between England, Scandinavia, and the Continent in the immediately post-Roman period is sufficiently underappreciated for a monograph study that foregrounds this configuration to be welcome. Solveig Möllenberg declares dissatisfaction with merely calling a relationship 'influence', or with the inference of migration and colonization by assigning 'ethnic significance' to the phenomena. Specific case studies form the backbone of her analysis, and throughout she emphasizes the sparsity of evidence for individuals having travelled far from regions they apparently should have called 'home'. The bulk of her evidence comes from graves: the furnished final resting places of individuals of this period, with their dressfittings and other classes of artefact. Most of chapter 4 discusses a series of burials others have seen as pre-eminent examples of Scandinavian material character in southern Germany, and even as the burials of Scandinavian women there. The conclusions, in chapters 6 and 7, emphasize the uniformity of symbolic communication amongst the elite in this wide 'Symbolwelt' - hardly an unfamiliar idea - and stress that early Anglo-Saxon England appears much closer to southern Germany in terms of similarity than Scandinavia does. …

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