An Urban Way of Life: Urban Practices, Networks and Identities in Odense, 1100-1500 CE

Based on recent excavations of an almost entire block in the medieval town center of Odense, as well as older excavations and written sources related to medieval Odense, this project will study the urban way of life in Odense from the 12th to 16th century.

Central research questions are:

  • What characterises the social practices of the town?
  • How are urban practices expressed in the archeological record?
  • How were the town’s local, regional and transregional networks manifested?
  • How are identities of the urban communities expressed in the material culture?

Putting the archaeological context first and analysing settlement patterns, use of resources, waste management and use of public and private space, the project will identify social practices as they are expressed in an urban environment. The social or urban practices are seen as defining the urban way of life.

Urban practices are not the only thing defining the urban way of life; networks related to the town are also of significance. Networks have played a crucial role in shaping the town and its people as they have facilitated an exchange of material culture, practices and norms. By shedding light on artefact biographies and innovations as seen in changes in material culture and structures, networks can be reconstructed and the relations within them pointed out and highlighted.

Furthermore, the inhabitants and visitors that peopled the town are key elements in understanding the urban way of life. Who were they and what defined them? The vast and well preserved material from Odense holds the potential to study the identities of the inhabitants and the identities of the various communities (formal or informal) within the town, e.g. women, children, merchants, craftsmen etc. This can happen both through the artefacts themselves but also through their distribution, past and archaeological context.

Addressing the aforementioned themes via a contextual approach, combined with a wide range of scientific analyses, the project aims to establish a new archaeological research approach to urbanity.

Besides coinciding with the overall aims of UrbNet, the PhD is also part of the research and public outreach project "Urban Encounters – mobility, migration and networks in premodern Scandinavia".

The project is funded by the Velux Foundation and is set up as collaboration between the Museum of Copenhagen, Odense City Museums, the Nya Lösöse project in Gothenburg and UrbNet at Aarhus University.

PI: PhD student Kirstine Haase