Zwischen den Welten / Jens Schneeweiß

Zwischen den WeltenThis new book by Jens Schneeweiss focuses on the Höhbeck/Elbe area along the border between Lower Saxony and Brandenburg. This area lays “between the worlds” of the Viking Age. In the Early Middle Ages, the Vikings were the “global players” of the north. The west was determined by Charlemagne and his empire, followed by the Ottonians, whereas Eastern Europe was populated by the Slavs. From the 8th to the 11th century, these people clashed in this border region. Here, European history was condensed exactly at the location where the Iron Curtain divided Europe in the 20th century.

From 2005-2009, the Department of Prehistory and Early History of the Georg-August-University of Göttingen carried out extensive archaeological excavations in this border region on the Elbe. They were largely funded by the DFG. The results of this research form the basis of the book, which ranges from the first appearance of Slavs on the Elbe in the 7th and 8th centuries to the beginning of High Medieval land development during the 11th and 12th centuries.

At the Höhbeck, the defunct Carolingian border trade control town of Schezla was located with Charlemagne’s castellum hohbuoki. Here, Henry I defeated the Slavs in a crucial battle in CE 929. At that time, long before the construction of dikes, the development of settlements was closely linked to the dynamics of the river landscape. This can be interpreted as an expression of sensitive man-environment relations, which contributed to the fact that history reached an impasse at Höhbeck. The subsequent loss of importance of this region paradoxically makes it a treasure trove for archaeology, because it provides us today with a surprisingly unobstructed insight into the Early Middle Ages.

An interdisciplinary approach allows Jens Schneeweiss to illustrate different scientific perspectives on the history of settlements and events. In addition to a traditional archaeological analysis of finds and features, the volume contains geoarchaeological, historical, and theoretical approaches, opening up new levels of interpretation. They shed new light on early European history far beyond the immediate Elbe region.

Zwischen den Welten: Archäologie einer europäischen Grenzregion zwischen Sachsen, Slawen, Franken und Dänen by Jens Scheenweiß. Göttinger Schriften zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 36. Kiel: Wachholtz Verlag 2020, 792 pages (in German).

The book can be viewed here (Wachholtz Verlag).


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