Research

19 pages
133 views

Paweł Szczepanik and Sławomir Wadyl, A Comparative Analysis of Early Medieval North-West Slavonic and West Baltic Sacred Landscapes An Introduction to the Problems - Networks and Neighbours (2014): 1-19

of 19
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Share
Description
Paweł Szczepanik and Sławomir Wadyl, A Comparative Analysis of Early Medieval NW Slavonic and West Baltic Sacred Landscapes - Networks and Neighbours (2014): 1-19
Transcript
  A Comparative Analysis of Early Medieval North-West Slavonic and West Baltic Sacred Landscapes An Introduction to the Problems Pawe ł   Szczepanik and S ł  awomir Wadyl I NTRODUCTION   Research into space Ð especially space perceived to be sacred Ð and its role in culture, is a very important problem in the study of the past. It is worth noting, however, that archaeologists seldom attempt to develop their own methodology concerning the identification and description of sacred landscapes and objects. Instead, they resort to methodologies developed in other areas of the humanities, especially in the phenomenology of religion. However, such use of the conceptual instruments borrowed from other sciences Ð which in many cases seems intuitive - often leads to the creation of Ôscientific mythsÕ that are usually taken for granted and sometimes treated almost as paradigms in the scientific literature. The major aim of our paper is to present a comparative analysis of early medieval north-west Slavonic and Prussian objects and places which are interpreted in a sacral context. The interpretation of sacred objects and sacral landscapes is a very difficult and complex interpretive task with many methodological problems and inconsistencies, which this article will expose. Subsequently, the authors will consider the possibility of creating and using a framework of criteria which could be used to develop an anthropological interpretation of space among Slavic and Prussian cultures. Were there, for example, similar ways of valorising space in those societies?  2 P AWE Ł   S ZCZEPANIK AND S Ł AWOMIR W ADYL  Networks and Neighbours Modern ways of perceiving and valorising early medieval sacral objects are based mainly on information from medieval chronicles and folk culture. Elements of natural landscapes Ð holy groves, mountains, lakes, stones Ð and cultural landscapes that are associated with the category of sacrum   will be the most significant points in our comparison. Analysis of archaeological sites and objects, especially those with a settlement and/or cultural context, which are most often connected to sacral space, will have a great importance. An exploration of this material, then, will allow us to create a model of the so-called sacred places in early medieval Slavonic and Prussian culture. S OME R EMARKS ON T HEORY AND M ETHODS OF S TUDYING S ACRED L ANDSCAPES   Contemporary approaches to the interpretation and understanding of sacrum   as a category are radically different from the traditional approaches. In archaeological practice a Ôcult placeÕ is usually defined as space which has no obvious utilitarian function, or its function is unknown. This approach often leads to very complex arguments; where one space is often simultaneously described as both a place of communal cult activity and familial cult activity. It is precisely for this reason that the term Ôcult placeÕ should be connected to expressions of ritual rather than to a purely archaeological standpoint. Said another way, space, and more specifically the function of that space, need to be considered before passing judgments on its function. It is also worth remembering that sacral places, which played a significant role in the religious experience, were not necessarily the spaces where these ritual activities were performed. 1  In archaeological practice concerning the diagnosis and interpretation of sacral places, archaeologists often still use the categories presented by Carsten Colpe in the 1970s. 2  In Polish archaeology, however, recent work has begun to question these old categories. 3  These new notions of sacral space see the actual places related to the sacral sphere as being characterised by at least one of two categories: repetition or revelation Ð uncovering or symbolic of extraordinariness. This This is a version of paper given on 17 May 2012 in Kaliningrad Museum of History and Art during the Sixth International Conference of the Natural Holy Places in the Baltic Sea Region  . 1  We need to remember that Olympus has played such a role. It was the place where gods lived, not where cult activities were. See. P. S ! upecki, ÔMiejsca kultu poga " skiego w Polsce na tle bada "  nad wierzeniami S ! owianÕ,   in W. Chudziak and S. Mo # dzioch, (eds), Stan i potrzeby bada  !  nad wczesnym  " redniowieczem w Polsce Ð 15 lat p—   #  niej   (Toru " /Wroc ! aw, 2006), pp. 68-69. 2  C. Colpe, ÔTheoretische Mšglichkeiten zur Identifizierung von HeiligtŸmern und Interpretation von Opfen in Ur- und PrŠhistorischen EpochenÕ, in M. MŸller-Wille, (ed.),   V orgeschicctliche HeligtŸmern und OpferplŠtze in Mittel- und Nordeuropa   (Gšttingen, 1970), pp. 18-39. 3  T. Makiewicz and A. Prinke, ÔTeoretyczne mozliwo $ ci identyfikacji miejsc sakralnychÕ, Przegl  $ d Archeologiczny   28 (1980), pp. 57-83.  A   C OMPARATIVE A NALYSIS OF E ARLY M EDIEVAL N ORTH -W EST S LAVONIC AND W EST B ALTIC S ACRED L ANDSCAPES  3 Volume 2, Number 1 (2014) approach assumes a phenomenological attempt of ÔunderstandingÕ the reality of the past by ÔempathizingÕ with its specificity. According to A. Posern-Zieli " ski, such a methodological approach is inappropriate for archaeological interpretation because archaeologists are incapable of empathising, which, after all, is completely unknowable. 4  Although it is difficult to agree with such a pessimistic opinion, it is worth remembering that Ôarchaic ontology seems to be a piece of humanÕs self-consciousness, not a step of itÕ. 5  Archaeologists still often use Rudolf OttoÕs conception of ÔnuminousÕ and EliadeÕs notions concerning the morphology of Ôholiness.Õ Meanwhile, G. Van der LeeuwÕs or G. WidengrenÕs views on the subject seem to be underestimated, even though their influence in the phenomenology of religion remains significant. 6  The current work being done on the phenomenology of environment by Tilley deserves similar attention. 7  Still, we should remember that TilleyÕs ideas on archaeological reality are based on a concept of phenomenology of perception first put forward by Merleau-Ponty. 8  Human experience that is mediated by the body is the most important from this perspective. Tilley claims that: ÔPhenomenology involves the understanding and description of things as they are experienced by a subject. It is about the relationship between Being and Being-in-the-world. Being-in-the world resides in a process of objectification in which people objectify the world by setting themselves apart from it. This results in the creation of a gap, a distance in space.Õ 9  Following this definition, the way of being in the world, and its cultural interpretation, is the key concept for the identification and understanding of the specific character of Baltic and Slavonic sacral places. Traditional societies like those of the early medieval Balts and Slavs perceived the world in the category of sacral valorisation. This valorisation was constituted around a certain Ôontological securityÕ. 10  Thus it is justifiable to utilise the latest ideas in anthropology and religious studies concerning notions of sacred space, in archaeological research on the religious spheres of human activity. 4  A. Posern-Zieli " ski, ÔInspiracja fenomenologiczna w archeologicznych studiach nad religiami spo ! ecze " stw pradziejowych. Refleksje etnoreligioznawczeÕ, Przegl  $ d Archeologiczny   30 (1982), pp. 191-92. 5  J. Tokarska-Bakir, Obraz osobliwy. Hermeneutyczna lektura  #  r—de  %   etnograficznych (Wielkie opowie   " ci)  (Krak—w 2000), p. 377. 6  G. van der Leeuw, Fenomenologia religii   (Warszawa, 1997); G. Widengren, Fenomenologia religii   (Krak—w, 2008). 7  C. Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape Places, Paths and Monuments   (Oxford/Providence, 1994). 8  M. Merleau-Ponty, Fenomenologia percepcji   (Warszawa, 2001). 9  C. Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape Places  , p. 12. 10  A.P. Kowalski, ÔMy $ lenie magiczne jako przejaw poczucia ontologicznego bezpiecze " stwaÕ, in A. Dobosz and A.P. Kowalski, (eds), Bezpiecze  ! stwo ontologiczne   (Bydgoszcz, 2007), pp. 162Ð64.  4 P AWE Ł   S ZCZEPANIK AND S Ł AWOMIR W ADYL  Networks and Neighbours S ACRED L ANDSCAPES IN W RITTEN S OURCES :   I MPORTANCE OF E NVIRONMENT FOR S  ACRUM   Written sources often emphasise the symbolic meaning(s) of various elements of natural landscapes used for sacred purposes in early medieval societies. According to most of the medieval chroniclers of Prussia the environment held great significance in the sacred sphere. These medieval chroniclers usually indicated woods and groves as the main cult sites. 11  However, written accounts show us only one category of sacral space, which was situated in the Ônatural worldÕ. Through an analysis of these sources, it appears that the natural landscape was very central to the Prussian religion system, which was, after all, based on a type of nature worship. 12  In fact, it is believed that almost all natural landscapes were infused with a type of magical element. 13  When one looks, however, at the sources that deal with Slavonic spirituality, it becomes clear that there were several different categories of space all playing significant roles within the religious beliefs of Slavic society. The oldest extant source, written by Procopius of Caesarea, mentions not only Ôthe one god, the creator of thundersÕ, but also contains details concerning the worship of, and sacrifices to, Ôrivers, nymphs and other spirits.Õ 14  Furthermore, additional written accounts mention two other categories of cult places. The first of these categories consists of the so-called sanctuaries in Ôthe world of natureÕ, and the second concerns the sanctuaries in Ôthe world of culture.Õ 15  It is noteworthy that such a division outlines a structural dichotomy along the Ônature-cultureÕ line. 16  This dichotomy, however, does not conform to any early medieval cultural reality. In our opinion, a completely natural landscape Ð i.e. not transformed by human activity Ð belonged to the culture of the world because the natural elements were connected, through the human/world, to a 11  R. Philippi and C.P.Woelky, Preussisches Urkundenbuch, Politische Abteilung   1 (Kšnigsberg 1882), pp. 161Ð63; K. G—rski, ÔDescriptiones terrarum (Nowo odkryte # r—d ! o do dziej—w Prus w XIII w.)Õ, Zapiski Historyczne   46.1 (1981), p. 8; Olivierus Scholasticus, Historia Regum Terrae Sancte  , ed. by T. Hirsch and E. Strehlke and M. Tšppen, Scriptores Rerum Prussicarum 1 (Leipzig 1861), pp. 240-41; Dusburg, Petrus de Dusburgk, Chronica terrae Prussiae  , ed. J. Wenta and S. Wyszomirski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica   13 (Krak—w 2008), pp. 52-3. 12  However it is hard to accept any thesis assuming the existence of a developed cult of nature, animals, and weather phenomenon in the Western BaltÕs culture; See H. Crome, ÔDie Religion der Alten PreussenÕ, Altenpreusen. Vierteljahresschrift fŸr Vorgeschichte und Volkskunde   4 (1928Ð1929), pp. 51Ð3; G. Labuda ÔReligia poga " skich Prus—wÕ, in G. Labuda, (ed.), Historia Pomorza 1 (Pozna " , 1969), pp. 332-33. 13  V. % ulkus, The Balts: Economy and SocietyÕ in P. Urba " czyk, (ed.), The Neighbours of Poland in the 11 th century   (Warszawa, 2002), p. 197; M.J. Hoffmann, ÔMiejsca i obiekty kultu poga " skich Prus—wÕ, in J. Wrzesi " ski, (ed.), Czarownice. II Funeralia Lednickie   (Wroc ! aw/Sob—tka, 2000), p. 151. 14   Prokop z Cezarei  , ed. by G. Labuda, S  %  owia  ! szczyzna staro   &   ytna i wczesno   " redniowieczna. Antologia tekst—w  #  r—d  %  owych   (Pozna "  1999), pp. 170-71. 15  L.P. S ! upecki, ÔSanktuaria w $ wiecie natury u S ! owian i German—w. & wi ' te gaje i ich bogowieÕ, in S. Mo # dzioch, (ed.), Cz  %  owiek, sacrum,  " rodowisko. Miejsca kultu we wczesnym  " redniowieczu. Spotkania Bytomskie   4 (Wroc ! aw, 2000), pp. 39. 16  W. Burszta, ÔNatura Ð my $ l symboliczna Ð kulturaÕ, Lud   46 (1987), pp. 39-58.  A   C OMPARATIVE A NALYSIS OF E ARLY M EDIEVAL N ORTH -W EST S LAVONIC AND W EST B ALTIC S ACRED L ANDSCAPES  5 Volume 2, Number 1 (2014) mythological valorisation of reality. 17  It is also worth considering whether unworked stone, trees, streams, etc. belong to the Ôworld of natureÕ or to the Ôworld of cultureÕ? Because it is impossible to answer this question definitively, we believe that using terms such as Ônatural sanctuaryÕ or Ôsanctuary in world of the cultureÕ are inappropriate. Therefore we propose the study of cult places in the context of their creation, or transformation, by humans. 18  Holy groves, mountains, islands, trees, stones, and fountains should be treated as not transformed. Temples and statues of gods, and anthropological stone statues represent the second group. Certainly, we need to be aware of the possibility of mixing both groupsÕ elements and the creation of a new, sophisticated Ôsacred spaceÕ. In a way, such a division corresponds well with the deities and sacral power which were to be worshiped in those places. Confirmation of this division can be found in HelmoldÕs Chronica Slavorum  , which states: ÔSome establish strange statues in temples (É) Other gods inhabit forests and groves (É) These are not shown on pictures.Õ In the same chapter the chronicler gives us another very important piece of information about ProweÕs grove when he states: ÔWeÕve noticed huge oaks between trees that were devoted to Starogard LandÕs god Prowe, surrounded by a courtyard. The courtyard was surrounded by a fence, diligently built of wood, with two gates (É), this place was sacred. (É) Entry to the courtyard was banned for everyone except the priest and those bringing the sacrifice, or those in danger of death. Shelter for these was never refused.Õ 19  The existence of the holy groves was confirmed by ThietmarÕs chronicle when the author described the activities of his predecessor, Bishop Wigbert: Ôtireless in teachingÉ he dedicated lambs away from the errors of the worshipped superstition, and, after felling to the ground the grove called Zutibure (Holy Forest), which the natives worshipped as equal to gods and always treated as untouchable, built a church on this place (É).Õ 20   17  About the artificiality of such a division is worth quoting Ludwik StommaÕs doubt: Ò Las posadzony w rz  $ dki, r—wne linijki sosenka za sosenk  $ . Jest to kultura czy natura? Kompozycyjnie, ogrodniczo albo le   " niczo kultura na pewno. Ale sk  $ din  $ d drzewo jest samo w sobie uosobieniem natury. A potem las zaczyna zarasta  ' . Krzewy, je   &   yny, maliny...ju   &   nawet wej   "'  si  (  nie da. Tymczasem  jedne sosny usch  %   y, inne rozsia  %   y dooko  %  a botaniczne potomstwo. Nic nie zosta  %  o z pierwotnej geometrii. Wi  ( c ju   &   natura zwyci  (&   y  %  a kultur  ( ? A je   " li tak to w kt—rym momencie  Ó, see L. Stomma, ÔNatura: kulturaÕ, Polska Sztuka Ludowa. Konteksty 51 (1997), pp. 141-42. 18  We acknowledge that such a division is imperfect Ð how can we classify a cult place consisting of a sanctuary which is located on top of a mountain or on an island? Ð but we use this for the systematization of materials. 19  G. Labuda, S  %  owia  ! szczyzna staro   &   ytna i wczesno   " redniowieczna. Antologia tekst—w  #  r—d  %  owych   (Pozna "  1999), p. 176. 20  Thietmar, Kronika Thietmara  , trans. by M. Jedlicki (Krak—w, 2000), p. 138.
Related Documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x