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  • Author or Editor: Birgit Bühler x
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Abstract

The technological choices made in the production process of a particular object can provide valuable clues regarding the identity and background of the goldsmith who made it. For example, true repoussé ("Treibziseliertechnik") was an uncommon technique throughout the entire Avar Period, although it occurs on a number of high-quality items of metalwork, which may be associated - for typological, stylistic and/or technological reasons - with "Byzantine" culture. Although the importance of connections between "Byzantine" and "Avar" culture is already well known, the mechanisms of cultural and technological transfer, as well as the regions where such transfer took place, are not yet clear. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate, with the help of two case studies, how a combination of technological criteria with an innovative, detailed typology of plant ornament may contribute to resolving these questions. The results of this preliminary study suggest that "Italo-Byzantine" workshop traditions may have played an important role in this context.

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Abstract

Bioarchaeology can contribute to interdisciplinary research on the social organization of the Avar Empire (568 AD to around 800 AD) by providing information on the health, lifestyle and habitual activity patterns of Avar populations, thus offering an important, additional perspective to traditional archaeological methods focusing on material culture. The so-called horse riding syndrome refers to a combination of changes on the human skeleton, which may indicate that the individual in question practised horse riding as a habitual activity during his or her lifetime. The aim of this paper is to identify potential differences in habitual horse riding activity between different socioeconomic groups within the adult male population of the Avar cemetery of Wien 11-Csokorgasse, using a major criterion of the horse riding syndrome (namely the ovalization or vertical elongation of the acetabulum) and an indicator of social status in burials of Avar men (namely the depth of burial). The sample included only males (age group adult or older) with at least one completely preserved acetabulum (n = 38 for the left acetabulum, n = 40 for the right acetabulum). The ovalization of the acetabulum was determined using a basic measurement method, the Index of Ovalization of Acetabulum (IOA). The sample was divided into two groups according to depth of burial: The “high-status” group included the skeletal material of adult male individuals with a depth of burial of 1.00 m or more. The “low-status” group included the skeletal material of adult male individuals with a depth of burial less than 1.00 m. We observed highly significant differences regarding the ovalization of the acetabulum between “high-status” and “low-status” adult males. This may reflect considerable variation in lifestyle and/or habitual activity patterns between these two groups, which could suggest differences regarding the prevalence of habitual horse riding between “high-status” and “low-status” adult males. Hence, using a major criterion of the “horse riding syndrome” – the “ovalization” of the acetabulum – we may have identified a group of “high-status” Avar warriors, whose way of life appears to have differed from that of the “lower-status” male population buried in the Avar-period cemetery of Wien 11-Csokorgasse.

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