Under the Raised Roof: Creating the Space for Family and Community

Posted on February 3, 2017


Happy Friday everyone. If you are looking for something relaxing to do over the weekend then might I suggest some nice conference videos from the EAA conference in Vilnius. Here is one of the sessions we filmed:

Session Details:

Friday, 2 September 2016, 09:00-16:00
Faculty of History, Room 330
Author – McCullagh, Roderick, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Romankiewicz, Tanja, University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classic and Archaeology,
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) – Postma, Dani l, University of Groningen, Groningen Institute of Archeology, Groningen, Netherlands
Co-author(s) – Winger, Katja, Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie, Berlin, Germany
Keywords: building, reconstruction, timber

This session continues the discussion we started at EAA 2015: Raising the Roof. We began by asking whether the interpretative visuals that populate archaeological reports actually represent past architecture. This year we want to think about how domestic buildings performed and how their inhabitants behaved within these spaces. Can we assume that seasonal and daily changes bent house design to match daylight availability, temperature cycles and shifting climatological circumstances? Did these factors set the rules by which occupants of all ages lived within their buildings and behaved towards each other? By what evidence can we test our assumptions? Have we really understood past architecture? Do archaeologists actually recover evidence of behaviours within the roofed space? What evidence is still to be recognised and what will forever evade us?
Past life consisted of so much more than environmental adaptation and basic use of space; how can we recognise ideological matters in the architecture? Do common features under the roof (e.g. hearths and door frames) reveal a past sense of homeliness? How did people truly regard the space under the roof and in what way did their views on sensuality, privacy, teaching, life and death affect the occupants choices as architects and interior designers?
In this session we seek papers that explore the knowledge about past peoples as they spent and shaped part of their lives in the protected space under the home roof. We seek a discussion on the archaeological evidence and the reconstructions of those spaces and how to maintain a sense of academic objectivity throughout the research process. Perhaps an even more ambitious question: through credible architectural reconstructions and our understanding of past home spaces, can we inspire the design of family architecture in a sustainable future?

Building on buildings: creating a solid foundation for the contextualisation of building remains

https://youtu.be/A-7PdJfvoGc Author – M.A. Postma, Daniel, Groningen Institute of Archaeology, Lelystad, Netherlands (Presenting author)
Keywords: Buildings archaeology, Methodology, Netherlands

Archaeological settlement research in the Netherlands can traditionally be characterised by its coverage of large excavation areas, often yielding substantial numbers of house-plans. This image is particularly applicable to the (Pleistocene) sandy soils, where poor preservation conditions enable quick and fairly straightforward documentation of postholes and other, mostly negative soil features. Over the years, numerous typologies have been built up which outline regional groundplan varieties and their development through time. But this conventional typological approach has recently been criticised for not having moved beyond basic data classification. Theoretical interpretations, on the other hand, may be said to push our understanding of past societies beyond what currently can safely be established on the basis of building remains. Viewing these typological and theoretical approaches as opposites in archaeological settlement research, it becomes clear that they are divided by something of a methodological gap. The current situation in Dutch settlement archaeology seemingly hampers the development of a single, both highly informative and well-founded approach for researching past architecture.
This paper presents a simple strategy to establish a more solid argumentation for interpretating archaeological building remains. It is argued that we should not move away from classic groundplan typologies, as some archaeologists suggest, but neither should we lower our expectations when it comes to interpreting these plans in economic, socio-political or ideological terms. Rather, it is suggested that we elaborate on well-established research strategies in such a way that they can support each other; as Trebsche (2009, 515) puts it: “Contextual analyses should always proceed from better-documented interpretations.” In order to really understand ancient building traditions, information on the use and technicalities of built structures will have to be analysed in separate methodological ‘building blocks’, as a means of closing the gap between classification and interpretation. It will be demonstrated that the concept of a ‘functional typology’ can provide a framework for systematically building up a well-founded, yet holistic view of excavated ground-plans. The key objective in setting up a functional typology is to analyse and explain how ancient buildings functioned in their various respects. Starting as objectively as possible, the level of interpretation gradually increases to a total of five steps: 1) typological analysis, 2) functional use analysis, 3) technical analysis, 4) reconstruction and 5) contextualisation.
The basis for this methodology was recently outlined and tested during the research of early medieval buildings in the north of the Netherlands. Building remains previously unearthed in the (Holocene) clay and peat area have shown that a lot more information can be gathered from ground-plans than excavations in the sandy soils have so far suggested. Using early medieval turfwalled buildings with cruck-like trusses as an example, it is argued that a structural approach (cf. steps 3 and 4) is essential for in-depth research of ancient buildings.
Referenced article: Trebsche, P. 2009. “Does form follow function? Towards a methodical interpretation of archaeological
building features”. World Archaeology 41 (3): 505–19. doi:10.1080/00438240903112534.

From the edge of the settlement to the centre of attention – new building remains from Kleinklein(A)

https://youtu.be/XLaxmjr4hBg Author – Mele, Marko, Slovenia (Presenting author)
Keywords: building remains, Hallstatt-period, Kleinklein (Austria)

Kleinklein near Großklein in southern Styria (Austria) is known to the scientific community for more than 100 years. It is famous for its bronze mask and hands, bronze cuirasses and ornamented bronze vessels from the princely tumuli in Kleinklein. Since the publication of the tumulus cemetery by Claus Dobiat in the 1980s and the latest publication of the princely tumulus Kröllkogel by Markus Egg and Diether Kramer in 2013, the approximately 700 tumuli, which can still be found in the woods around the highest peak called the Burgstallkogel, stand in the centre of attention. The settlement on the plateau of the hill called Burgstallkogel was first researched by Walter Schmid in the beginning of the 20th century and later by Claus Dobiat, who excavated search-trenches on the top and on the northern terraces of Burgstallkogel in 1982 and 1984. They could very well date the settlement, but didn’t uncover any complete building remains or give insights into settlements organization.
Since 2010 a team of the Universalmuseum Joanneum is concentrating its research on the settlement area and the region around Burgstallkogel. In 2015, through a mere coincidence, an almost perfectly preserved building was discovered on the southern edge of the settlement. The building, which could be almost completely excavated, burned down at the end of the 7th or beginning of the 6th century BC. Besides the burned timber walls, preserved in few meters length and with still visible architectural elements, the almost complete stamped clay floor under the ruin of burned clay and wood could be investigated. The discovered building, which was positioned on a perfectly prepared terrace on the southern slope of the hill, gives us the first opportunity to understand the architecture of the site. Since the building burned down, collapsed and no further buildings were erected on its remains, its remains are very well preserved and we have got the opportunity to get a first insight into the usage of interior space in a building of the Burgstallkogel settlement. A highlight was an almost completely preserved fire dog of a half moon shape, which was found in situ on the floor.
In my paper I would like to present the results of the analysis of the building remains from Burgstallkogel near Großklein, not only the building from 2015 but also the results from other parts of the settlement excavated in 2013 and 214, and put them into the context of known settlement remains in the south-eastern Alpine space. The emphasis will be put on the architecture, organization of space and combined with the GIS and LIDAR analysis of the settlement area and its surrounding.

Creating a home. Ritual practice related to houses in a terp settlement in the northern Netherlands

https://youtu.be/3dZ-MugAwHA Author – Dr. Nieuwhof, Annet, University of Groningen, De Punt, Netherlands (Presenting author)
Keywords: human remains, Northern Netherlands, Ritual practice

Between 1923 and 1934, excavations were carried out in the terp settlement of Ezinge by one of the founding fathers of Dutch archaeology, A.E. van Giffen. Ezinge is located in the coastal area of the northern Netherlands, a former salt marsh area. It is one of many terps that are found in this region: artificial dwelling mounds, which once protected their residents against floods. A terp started with one or several houses built on separate platforms, which clustered as they were heightened, developing into single larger mounds. The terp of Ezinge ultimately reached a height of 5.5 m and covered 16 ha, about 10% of which was archaeologically excavated in 22 levels.
Ezinge became famous because of the well-preserved remains of 85 longhouses, dating from the 5th century BC until the early middle ages. The lower parts of wooden buildings often were still preserved in situ, revealing the structure of these 3-aisled, two-partite houses with built-in byres.
Excellent preservation, also of pottery and bone, enabled not only a thorough investigation of the material culture, but also of ritual practice in this settlement. This investigation was carried out only recently, between 2011 and 2015. This paper will present some of the results of the study of ritual practice. It will discuss the ways in which rituals were related to various stages of the lifecycle of a house: raising the house platform, building the house, living in it and finally abandoning the house. A conspicuous element of ritual practice was the burial of human remains in and near houses. It will be argued that burying the remains of deceased family members created ancestral grounds and also made people feel at home. Single inhumations and single bones (probably the remainders of the dead which were collected after a process of excarnation) were both used that way.
Ritual practice associated with houses changed over time. It was influenced by internal developments, especially population growth, which caused changes in the layout of the settlement and competition for the available space on the terp.

The use of architecture as cultural and socially discriminators in Iron Age Denmark

https://youtu.be/A10ovJpgunU Author – PhD Haue, Niels, Historical Museum of Northern Jutland, Aalborg, Denmark (Presenting author)
Keywords: Building, Community organization, Settlement

Most of the Iron Age Houses in Southern Scandinavia shows an invariable construction that only allows minor differences in the architecture of the individual house. The houses are three-aisled, east west orientated and divided into a stable in the east and living area in the west. However, in rare occasions the alignment and the interior design of the house is fundamentally different. This paper will address whether these differences should be explained by functionally or economically patterns, or rather as a deliberate discriminator in a social-cultural and ideological context? The paper will present how architecture was used to express and manipulate identity and social groupings in the settlement, and discuss what the consequences of the “distorted” space within the house could have.

At the hearth. Daily life, and domestic architecture in Early Iron Age farmsteads of Western Denmark

https://youtu.be/wSQ-1sYX7qI Author – Dr. Meller, Niels Algreen, Museums of South West Jutland, Ribe, Denmark (Presenting author)
Keywords: Domestic activities, Iron Age, Settlement Archaeology

This paper will discuss the evidence of domestic activities in the Early Iron Age (500 BC – !50 AD) farmsteads of Western Denmark. The Danish evidence of daily life and domestic activities can roughly be divided into two: Evidence from well-preserved settlements with preserved cultural layers excavated in the 1920s to 1950s and evidence retrieved from settlements leveled out below modern day plough soil. The former has the advantage of in situ evidence of daily activities on the preserved floors while the later mainly benefits from the large amount of completely excavated farmsteads and macrofossil – as well as geochemical evidence collected on settlement excavations in the last 20 years.
By combining the two types of evidence, it is possible to establish a generalized picture of the development of domestic activities. The longhouse is throughout the Iron Age at the heart of domestic life with evidence of food processing, storage as well as stalling livestock. However, during the Early Iron Age some activities, both specialized crafts and to some extent food preparation are moved into nearby outhouses and the fenced of interior of the farmyard as the farmsteads grow in size. During the period under consideration the lifespan of individual houses is prolonged, the number of burials in connection to individual farms increases, as do the number of votive deposits found within the longhouses. Within the farmsteads of the later part of the Early Iron Age we find architectural traits such as stone paved entranceways, decorated hearths and fenced of farmyards. Individual households may through a more elaborate use of these architectural traits and votive deposits have created a sense of homeliness and interconnectedness between the house and the household members. Though these developments at the same time set individual households apart from other households in the growing village communities by stipulating social differences.
Thus the study of daily life in the Danish Iron Age houses and farmsteads is a study of practicalities, ideology and the basic segments of Iron Age society.

Charting the microstratigraphic life-cycle of an early Roman urban property, Roman Silchester, UK


Author – Dr. Banerjea, Rowena, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Fulford, M. G., University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) – Clarke, A. S., University of Reading Reading, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) – Barnett, C., University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) – Pankhurst, N., University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
Keywords: Architecture, Soil Micromorphology, Urbanism

In Roman Britain, domestic urban properties are dynamic spaces with constantly evolving architectural forms. The evidence for super-structure components can often be ephemeral as these properties have timber or earthen walls, which are frequently truncated by later building foundations or, as observed at Roman Silchester, by the trenches of Antiquarian excavators. Previous research at Silchester has integrated thin-section micromorphology and experimental archaeology to characterise sediments and occupation deposits to identify doorways roofed, semiroofed, and open spaces within the properties in order to understand their architectural form.
Building on this previous research, this paper will chart, using a microstratigraphic approach, the evolution of a dynamic property, early Roman timber building 8, which stood from the period immediately after the Roman conquest (A.D. 43) until c. A.D. 125/50. By the end of the life of this property, it had taken on an interesting architectural form comprising a ‘zig-zagged’ frontage abutting the north-south road, and had become poorly maintained with in situ evidence for metalworking activities. Micromorphology has demonstrated that in its earlier phases, the entrance way to the building had moved several times. There is also evidence for earthen floors, and the division of spaces. Earlier uses of this property may include the manufacture of glass, and spaces where animals were stabled.
The application of a spatial and diachronic microstratigraphic approach presents the opportunity to examine, at high resolution, the finer details of the daily lives of its inhabitants. In particular, this paper will examine how did the inhabitants structure their space? Were there divisions of craft and domestic activities? Early Roman structures at Silchester and elsewhere in Roman Britain are frequently single-roomed structures with central hearths. This is arguably a continuation of singleroomed Iron Age architecture. How does the architectural form of early Roman timber building 8 adapt and deviate from this model? Are changes due to a process of acculturation?

Understanding household activities: an examination of two Medieval dwellings in Atlantic Scotland


Author – Prof. Sharples, Niall, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Keywords: House, Material culture, Spacial organisation

In this paper I want to explore the organisation of space in two houses excavated in the Western Isles of Scotland. One dates to the late 11th century the other to the late 13th century AD. They provide the opportunity to explore change across a major political division; the transfer of political power from Norway to Scotland.
An understanding of the use of these houses can be explored by an examination of the architectural changes but more importantly by the substantial assemblage of material present in the house floors. The contrast between the communal organisation and material richness of the Norse house and the poverty and partitioned spaces of the Scottish house are dramatic and provide considerable insight into the social significance of domestic space in the North Atlantic region.

‘Private’ spaces???… Reconstructing the ‘living-rooms’ of medieval castles


Author – Dr. Dempsey, Karen, Dublin, Ireland (Presenting author)
Keywords: Medieval Castles, Reconstruction, Social Space

During the thirteenth century, the hall and chamber were typically separate structures within castlecomplexes in Ireland and Britain. Careful examination of the architecture of medieval chambers – understood as ‘private’ spaces – has revealed that their first-floor spaces appear to have been divided into ‘rooms’ most likely using partitions comprised of timber and/or textiles. Some castles have very tangible indications of divisions such as masonry corbels that once supported wooden partitions. Many other internal divisions, though now lost, have left significant indicators of their former presence, such as the arrangement of windows; grouped together or obviously spaced apart which indicated a deliberate spatial organisation that allowed for the placement of internal divisions or even furniture. Further clues for partitions are evident in the arrangement of certain internal features, such as the grouping of latrines and fireplaces together at one end of the chamber away from the main entrance. We can also see that the latrine was typically situated in the furthest corner angle from the main entrance (diagonally opposed) or directly opposed suggesting that either the doorway or the latrine (or both) may have been screened from view. Interestingly, the latrine was always placed on the cold north side whereas main entrance faced south indicating that heat and light (or its absence) played a major role in their choices of interior design. Does the arrangement of spaces inform us of the social practices of the medieval world? Or are we transposing modern interpretations of ‘public’ and ‘private’ on the past? This paper demonstrates how we can read the ‘space syntax’ of these buildings to inform us of how these ‘rooms’ may have acted in the past and how their inhabitants behaved within these spaces. Furthermore it raises questions about how the modern concepts of ‘public’ and ‘private’ may obscure our objectivity in understanding these buildings. In reconstructing the interior spaces of these buildings we must be mindful that only certain elements survive, left are the tantalising gaps which we must ‘reconstruct’ whilst remaining open to the idea that these spaces were ultimately occupied by people – the households – who made choices about how to use and live in them (within the constraints of their traditions).

Family space vs. community space from the perspective of settlements from the Lower Danube Region

https://youtu.be/vcaRPYcSoSg Author – Dr. Magureanu, Andrei Mircea, Institute of Archaeology Vasile Parvan, Bucharest, Romania (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Dr. Ciuperc , Bogdan, History and Archaeology Prahova County Museum, Ploie ti, Romania
Keywords: early middle age, family space, community space, house, settlement

The archaeological discoveries from 5th-10th centuries from the Lower Danube Region are numerous enough to sustain a discussion about what is family space and what can be considered the community space. This discussion is based on two concepts: house and settlement/village. The problem is what can we interpret as a house and what we can consider a settlement. Generally, the archaeological reports described only similar constructed structure, settlements from this time frame seeing to be monotonous and against a discussion like that we intend to provoke.
But, in fact, discussions like: how can we identify a house? (what are the arguments for); what is the habituated space? (it is only the pit in the cases of sunken building); what are the meanings of the objects discovered into the archaeological structure and how those can help us to understand the family space? can we definitely separate this space from the community one’s? where those spaces interact and where those are divergent, if they are? architectural differences between the structures of the same village can suggest us appurtenance to different spaces? are still important and, in our paper, we intend to propose some possible responses.

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