Two worlds apart? A comparison of material culture from urban and rural medieval households in eastern Denmark

Lecture by PhD student Hanna Dahlström (UrbNet, Aarhus University).

2018.06.26 | Ditte Kvist Johnson

Date Tue 02 Oct
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) Aarhus University Moesgård Allé 20, DK-8270 Højbjerg Denmark Building 4230-232



In studies of medieval urbanism the contrast between urban and rural life has often been taken for granted. There is a pre-conception of urban life as being more socially and economically complex, which in archaeology should be seen in the different repertoires of objects recovered from urban and rural excavations. However, actual comparative studies of the material culture of towns and countryside are quite scarce in Scandinavia, and the studies which have been made in recent years indicate a more complex picture than the predominant contrast of “urban vs. rural”. This paper aims to contribute to the nuancing of our understanding of life in towns and villages in medieval Denmark. By looking at a few specific categories of objects found in the towns Copenhagen and Malmö and in selected villages in their surroundings, issues of consumption, wealth and external interaction in these places will be addressed. The paper forms a part of my ongoing research where I investigate how to identify the emerging phases of an urban way of life, with Copenhagen as a case study. The comparative study presented here will allow me to form a more qualified opinion of how (and if) life was different in these medieval towns compared to their neighbouring rural settlements.

History and archaeology, Lecture/talk