The formation of the hereditary elite in the Early Middle Ages



Year of publication 2023
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The early Middle Ages in Central Europe is a very important period for the further historical formation of this part of the continent. In the 9th and 10th centuries, the later early medieval hereditary elite was formed in residential centres. The origins of this elite community can be traced in the church cemeteries located in the power, political and economic centres of the time. One of these centres was Pohansko near Břeclav (CZ). In the cemetery around the rotunda, placed in the north-eastern suburb of the stronghold, 152 graves were investigated. Five individuals were placed directly in the interior of the church. There were discovered rich equipped graves in the burial ground, but not many. The burial rite was probably strongly influenced by Christian funeral rules, in which grave goods and material displays of power lose their importance. Exclusive grave furnishings were also lacking in the graves deposited in the church. For individuals from this burial site, we have a complete aDna analysis from which we can construct individual pedigrees of biologically related individuals. By combining an archaeological approach (grave furnishings, arrangement of grave pits, position of graves in relation to the church) with palaeogenetic information (blood relations), we can gain a basic understanding of how early medieval church cemeteries were structured and how they reflected the social hierarchy of the community at the time. We hope that the results of our research will be generally applicable to the study of analogous sites.
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