Local communities between the cracks of history: changing traditions, materiality and regional networks in the (former) Roman North during the 5th century

01 January 2021 → 31 December 2023
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Archaeology of the Low countries or Belgium
    • Classical archaeology
    • Historical archaeology
    • Material culture studies
    • Archaeological science
Confronting the invisibility of the 5th century Post-Roman/Pre-Merovingian communities Material fingerprinting German English French Dutch Late Antiquity Antiquity Belgium Western Europe Archaeology History
Project description

The 5th century marks the transition from the Roman to the Medieval world, an essential turning point in European history. However, when we try to identify it in the archaeological record of the (former) Roman North, we can only deliver a handful of evidence. While 5th century archaeological material is not absent, the general picture of how local communities lived and interacted with each other on a daily basis, remains very much obscure. This invisibility of the 5th century is caused by a lack of diagnostic material culture and an unclear historical and societal framework. The limitations in understanding the materiality of this pivotal century is related to its position between the Roman and Early Medieval archaeological disciplines. As a result, the 5th century is neither fully Roman or Medieval, but a vague stretch of time without clear identity, structure or coherent culture. This project aims to address this issue by studying the materiality of various post-Roman/pre-Merovingian communities. Material fingerprints will be created from regional patterns in material assemblages based on a carefully selection of high-quality contexts throughout the study area. New methods and analytical approaches will be tested to improve our capacity to date and identify the 5th century in the material record. Furthermore, a strong focus on studying cultural traditions, craft production and networks ensures a novel perspective beyond ethnic labelling and singular interpretations.