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Social implications of unburied corpses from intergroup conflicts: postmortem agency following the Sandby borg massacre
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0181-4458
2019 (English)In: Cambridge Archaeological Journal, ISSN 0959-7743, E-ISSN 1474-0540, p. 1-16Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

A massacre took place inside the Sandby borg ringfort, southeast Sweden, at the end of the fifth century. The victims were not buried, but left where they died. In order to understand why the corpses were left unburied, and how they were perceived following the violent event, a theoretical framework is developed and integrated with the results of osteological analysis. I discuss the contemporary normative treatment of the dead, social response to death and postmortem agency with emphasis on intergroup conflict and ‘bad death’. The treatment of the dead in Sandby borg deviates from known contemporary practices. I am proposing that leaving the bodies unburied might be viewed as an aggressive social action. The corpses exerted postmortem agency to the benefit of the perpetrators, at the expense of the victims and their sympathizers. The gain for the perpetrators was likely political power through redrawing the victim's biographies, spatial memory and the social and territorial landscape. The denial of a proper death likely led to shame, hindering of regeneration and an eternal state of limbo.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press, 2019. p. 1-16
Keywords [en]
Sandby borg, massacre, postmortem agency, dead bodies, body politics, Iron Age
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Humanities, Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-82594DOI: 10.1017/S0959774319000039OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-82594DiVA, id: diva2:1316356
Available from: 2019-05-17 Created: 2019-05-17 Last updated: 2019-05-17

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Alfsdotter, Clara
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CiteExportLink to record
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