Landscape of Ancestors


I have been interested in how mortuary ritual serves as a prism through which ancient social systems can be perceived (rather than a mirror in which they are reflected) since conducting research for my PhD thesis on Iron Age social structure in southwest Germany. The “Landscape of Ancestors” project, initiated in cooperation with the State Monuments Office (LAD) of Baden-Württemberg in 1997, involved the selection, with the assistance of Siegfried Kurz, of two 20 meter diameter burial mounds in the vicinity of the early Iron Age Heuneburg hillfort that were both in close proximity to one another and to the Hohmichele, a mega-mound that had been almost completely excavated in the late 1930s.

The goal was to investigate the relationship of these smaller mounds to one another, the Hohmichele, the hillfort and the landscape as a whole. After three seasons of excavations of Speckhau Tumulus 17 and 18 in 1999, 2000 and 2002 over a decade of intensive conservation and analysis of finds is now coming to a close. Several innovative approaches were pioneered by the Head Conservator Tanja Kreß in Tübingen, with whom we worked in close partnership throughout the post-excavation phase; these included removing fragile or ephemeral metal and organic material en bloc followed by CT-scan analysis; these results will now appear on the final excavation report.

Selected Publications

Bettina Arnold and Matthew L. Murray, with contributions by Tanja Kreß. A Landscape of Ancestors: Archaeological Investigations of Two Iron Age Burial Mounds in the Hohmichele Group, Baden-Württemberg. LAD Baden-Württemberg: Forschungen und Berichte zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss Verlag. In progress.

2017. Wiktorowicz, C. J., Arnold, B., Wiktorowicz, J. E., Murray, M. L., & Kurosky, A. (2017, February). Hemorrhagic fever virus, human blood, and tissues in Iron Age mortuary vessels. Journal of Archaeological Science, 78(February), 29-39.

2015. Reconstituting community: 3D visualization and early Iron Age social organization in the Heuneburg mortuary landscape. With Kevin Garstki and Matthew L. Murray. Journal of Archaeological Science 54: 23-30.

2012. “Soul Stones”: Unmodified Quartz and Other Lithic Material in Early Iron Age Burials. In Peter Anreiter, Eszter Bánffy, László Bartosiewicz, Wolfgang Meid and Carola Metzner-Nebelsick (eds), Archaeological, Cultural and Linguistic Heritage: Festschrift for Erzsébet Jerem in Honour of her 70th Birthday, pp. Budapest: Archaeolingua.

2011. The illusion of power, the power of illusion: ideology and the concretization of social difference in early Iron Age Europe. In Reinhard Bernbeck and Randall McGuire (eds), Ideologies in Archaeology, pp. 151-174. Albuquerque: University of Arizona Press.

2010. Memory maps: The mnemonics of Central European Iron Age burial mounds. In Katina Lillios and Vasileios Tsamis (eds), Material Mnemonics: Everyday Memory in Prehistoric Europe, pp. 147-173. Oxford: Oxbow.

2010. Eventful archaeology, the Heuneburg mud-brick wall and the early Iron Age of southwest Germany. In Douglas Bolender (ed.), Eventful Archaeologies, pp. 176-186. Buffalo: State University of New York Press.

2008. “Reading the body”: Geschlechterdifferenz im Totenritual der frühen Eisenzeit. In Ulrich Veit, Beat Schweizer and Christoph Kümmel (eds), Köperinszenierung – Objektsammlung – Monumentalisierung: Totenritual und Grabkult in frühen Gesellschaften, pp. 375-395. Münster: Waxmann.

2002. A landscape of ancestors: the space and place of death in Iron Age West-Central Europe. In Helaine Silverman and David Small (eds), The Space and Place of Death, AP3A No. 11. Arlington: Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association.