Proceedings of the 10th Nordic TAG conference
at Stiklestad, Norway 2009
Marek E. Jasinski
BAR International Series 2399
Publishers of Brish Archaeological Reports
276 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 7ED
N-TAG TEN. Proceedings of the 10th Nordic TAG conference at Sklestad, Norway 2009
© Archaeopress and the individual authors 2012
ISBN 978 1 4073 0994 1
Printed in England by 4edge, Hockley
All BAR tles are available from:
Hadrian Books Ltd
122 Banbury Road
The current BAR catalogue with details of all tles in print, prices and means of payment is available free
from Hadrian Books or may be downloaded from www.archaeopress.com
Merovingian men – fulltime warriors?
Weapon graves of the continental Merovingian Period of the Munich
Gravel Plain and the social and age structure of the contemporary society –
a case study
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
The main archaeological sources of the continental Merovingian Period are cemeteries and graves. Many of these graves are richly
furnished. Furthermore their respective grave goods show a close connection to the buried person. In men’s burials weapons are often
seen as dominant, but they are by far not the only objects that followed the deceased into the grave. In recently excavated Merovingian
cemeteries the archaeological analysis of the grave goods was supplemented by an anthropological analysis of the skeletons of the
dead – thus not only details of the grave and its grave goods are available for these burials but information about the age and diseases
of the buried persons as well.
Four sites of the Munich Gravel Plain, Upper Bavaria, Germany, are considered in this paper: The cemeteries of Aschheim-
Bajuwarenring, Altenerding, München-Aubing and Pliening, which have all been published with both archaeological evaluation of the
graves and anthropological analysis of the deceased.
Assuming that men with weapons can be seen as warriors, this paper wants to show the different social dimensions that are exposed in
men’s burials, as found in the cemeteries included in this case study, and hence ask, how visible warrior identity was in the daily life
of a continental Merovingian society.
In men’s graves weapons and armament are commonly seen
as the main grave goods, or at least as the most dominant
ones – especially when Merovingian archaeology,
particularly the male role in Merovingian society, are
presented to a wider public. Hence, all major exhibitions
regarding time and people, i.e. exhibitions regarding the
Bajuwarians (Dannheimer and Dopsch 1988), the Franks
(Wieczorek, Périn, v. Welck and Menghin 1996), and
the Alemanni (Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-
Württemberg1 1997), presented warriors when intending
to visualise Merovingian male clothing (fig. 1). In the
catalogue of the exhibition on sixth century Franks Frank
Siegmund explicitly writes: „Mag der gelebte Alltag des
Mannes auch anders ausgesehen haben, im Tod zeigte
er sich als Krieger“2 (Siegmund, 1996:700). Yet, it is
easily overlooked that weapons and armoury are not the
only objects that followed the deceased into their graves.
Therefore I want to ask the following question in this case
study: Were Merovingian men really fulltime warriors?
And if not, which other social identities can be deduced
from the grave goods displayed in their burials?
In this context the evidence presented by the early medieval
Reihengräberfelder (row grave cemeteries) with their rich
and ornate furnishings, which include parts of clothing,
weapons, jewellery, tools, and items of daily life, represent
1 State Museum of Archaeology of Baden-Württemberg
2 Even if every-day life of a [Merovingian/common] man might have
looked quite different, in death he presented himself as a warrior.
Fig. 1: A typicAl merovingiAn mAn? (dAnnheimer And
dopsch 1988, 243 Fig. 167).
a major source for investigation. These graves usually
contain the remains of a single individual; his or her gender
and age can be determined by anthropological methods
(see Alt and Röder 2009, 94-110). Regarding the Munich
gravel plain, such interdisciplinary data pools exist for the
early medieval grave cemeteries of Altenerding (Losert
2003; Sage 1984), Aschheim-Bajuwarenring (Gutsmiedl-
Schümann 2010), München-Aubing (Dannheimer 1998),
and Pliening (Codreanu-Windauer 1997) – which are on
the one hand the largest early medieval cemeteries on the
Munich gravel plain, and on the other hand the only ones
that are in use during the whole Merovingian Period. First,
I will briefly introduce these sites.
The necropolis of the case study
The cemetery of Altenerding was systematically excavated
by Walter Sage from 1966 to 1969 and in 1973 (Sage, 1973,
213-214; Sage 1984, 10-11). The necropolis consisted of
1521 burials (Sage 1984, 14), which makes the site the
largest one included in this study. Some of the graves had
to be saved under most difficult conditions before regular
archaeological excavation began (Sage 1984, 9-10). Thus,
skeletal material could be evaluated by anthropological
methods only for 1321 burials; comprehensive osteological
analysis was undertaken by Hermann Helmuth (Helmuth
1996). 441 of the deceased were determined to be boys
or men, 480 to be girls or women (Helmuth 1996, 10).
318 of the boys or men’s graves contained grave goods,
and hence could be analysed also with archaeological
methods, as could 382 of the girls or women’s graves (see
table 1, figure 2). The oldest graves from Altenerding date
to about 450 A.D, the youngest ones to 670/680 (Losert
Number of Graves
Boys or Men’s Graves
Boys or Men’s Graves with
Girls or Women’s Graves
Girls or Women’s Graves
Altenerding (AE) 1966-1969, 1973 450-670/680 1521 441 318 480 382
Aschheim-Bajuwarenring (ASH) 1997-1998 480/490-670/680 444 179 123 193 158
München-Aubing (AU) 1938; 1961-1963 late 5th century – beginning 8th century 881 198 110 185 145
Pliening (PLI) 1937; 1972 around 500 – end of 7th century 231 60 39 51 38
tAble 1: tAble oF the cemeteries used in this cAse study: Altenerding (sAge 1984; losert 2003), Aschheim-bAjuwArenring
(gutsmiedl-schümAnn 2010), münchen-Aubing (dAnnheimer 1998), pliening (codreAnu-windAuer 1997).
Fig. 2: mAp oF the
AreA, where the
cemeteries used in
this cAse study Are
locAted. 1: münchen-
Aubing, 2: Aschheim-
pliening, 4: Altenerding.
doris gutsmiedl-schümAnn: merovingiAn men – Fulltime wArriors?
The first graves of the necropolis of Aschheim-
Bajuwarenring were found during construction works
in 1997. The whole cemetery was excavated in the
spring of 1998; the excavation was undertaken by ARDI
Archäologische Dienstleistungen GbR, an excavation
company run by the archaeologists Hans-Peter Volpert and
Mauritz Thannabaur (Gutsmiedl-Schümann 2010, 19-21).
The cemetery contained 444 graves (fig. 2) and dates to
the period of 480/490 to 670/680 (Gutsmiedl-Schümann
2010, 113-114). Osteological analysis of skeletal remains
was undertaken by Anja Staskiewicz. 179 individuals
were determined to be male skeletons; of these 123 had
been buried with grave goods. 193 graves were identified
as girls or women’s graves, and of these 158 had been
furnished with grave goods (Staskiewicz 2007, 39).
In the late 1930s some early medieval graves were
discovered in a gravel pit, situated in the district of
Aubing, city of Munich. Immediately after the discovery a
first excavation was begun, lasting from autumn to winter
of 1938. During this campaign 358 burials of the northern
part of the cemetery could be recovered (Dannheimer 1998,
11). Because the skeletal material was lost during World
War II, no anthropological data exist for these burials
(Dannheimer 1998, 37), even though the archaeological
evidence survived. In 1960 Hermann Dannheimer
searched for the remaining graves in the southern part
of the necropolis of Aubing. The remaining graves were
excavated from 1961 to 1963 (Dannheimer 1998, 12-13).
All in all 881 graves were excavated (Dannheimer 1998,
24). Skeletal remains were preserved from 523 graves
for anthropological evaluation, which was undertaken by
Gerfried Ziegelmayer and Ingo Hertrich (fig. 2). 198 of
the grave were determined to be graves of boys or men,
110 of these contained archaeological findings as well.
185 individuals were determined to be girls or women,
of these 145 were buried with grave goods (Dannheimer
1998, 38-52). The earliest graves of München-Aubing date
to the time of 500 A.D. The necropolis was given up at the
beginning of the eighth century (Dannheimer 1987, 11).
The fourth and last necropolis included in this case study
is the cemetery of Pliening. The first graves were found
there in 1937; the whole cemetery, containing 231 graves,
was excavated in 1972 by Wolfgang Czysz. Osteological
analysis was undertaken by Gerfried Ziegelmayer
(Codreanu-Windauer 1997, 9, 12; 14-15). 60 graves were
identified as boys or men’s graves, 39 of these graves
contained grave goods (fig. 2). 51 burials were identified
as girls or women’s graves, 38 of them had been furnished
with grave goods (Codreanu-Windauer 1997, 16-17). The
necropolis of Pliening was in use from about 500 to the
end of the seventh century (Codreanu-Windauer 1997,
All four of the included necropoli have in common that
they were used during the whole Merovingian period,
and that a major number of their burials were evaluated
archaeologically as well as anthropologically. Only those
graves are used in the following case study. Anthropological
results not only included sex analysis of the individuals but
also a morphological determination of age at death (fig. 2).
In some cases it was impossible fit the age of an individual
into the established age groups. In such cases the findings
were prorated to the respective age groups according to
the following pattern: one half of the data of the grave
and grave goods of, for example, a man belonging to the
age group adultus-maturus was added to the age group
adultus, the other half to the age group maturus.
Some thoughts on the Origin and Development of
Graves and their inventories are those material remains of
burial ceremonies and grave rituals that are still visible to
us today. The graves of the so-called Reihengräberfelder
are a good starting point for developing an understanding
of burial rites based on archaeological evidence, and hence
of the community the deceased had been taken from. The
normal burial practice/rite is based on single inhumations
in these burial grounds; a grave and its particular inventory
can therefore generally be allocated to a single individual.
The grave thus represents the closest connection between a
deceased person and his or her surrounding material culture
that can be found in the archaeological record (Härke 2003,
Hofmann 2008, 360-363). In the ritual context of the burial
ceremonies it can be assumed that clothing and equipment
of the individual deceased were carefully chosen. This
pushes grave finds close to intended tradition like written
records and narrative historical sources. Nevertheless, the
incompleteness of burial evidence, due to the differential
preservation of many materials, has to be taken into
account (Härke 1997, 23-25; Sasse 2007, 47).
Individuals who take part in burial rites can be allocated to
three groups: the first comprise the deceased themselves,
the second are those individuals who execute the burial
rites and actually bury the dead person. These can be
assumed to have been members of the family as well as
persons recruited from the close social environment of the
deceased. The wider social environment, in which the first
two groups are embedded, constitutes the third group that
attends the burial as a quasi-audience (Brather 2009, 248).
The deceased themselves had only minor influence on the
burial rites. Rather, the furnishings and the burial ceremony
offered a ‘social stage’ for the family concerned on which
the social standing3 of the deceased could be displayed to
the public. Furthermore, the family of the deceased could
claim a certain place within social stratification of a given
community in the way they exhibited the burial rites as
well as through the furnishings of the grave (Hofmann
2008, 357-358). At the same time, we can assume that
the equipment of the dead ought not to contradict the
idea which the participants of the burial had cultivated
of the deceased in their in everyday life before they died
(Brather 2007a; 2009). Thus, this last public appearance
3 After Linton, 1979:97-99, the social standing of a deceased includes all
social roles the deceased has performed during his or her lifetime. This
definition will be used in this paper.
of the deceased must have had a huge impact on common
remembrance: ‘It is in those final moments that the living
memories of the dead person are congealed’. (Parker
Pearson 2003, 9).
In many cases, the social position and the inherent different
social roles the deceased performed during their lifetime
are visualised by external signs, e.g. specific clothing
or the wearing and usage of particular items. It can be
assumed that some of these signs followed them into
the grave as well. These can be traced through material
culture and hence are recorded as archaeological evidence
(Arnold 2008; Brather 2009). Thus, all parts of clothing,
such as belt fittings, as well as weapons and tools found in
men’s graves, which are included in this paper, should be
regarded as such external signals.
The individual equipment of a Merovingian man may be
interpreted as signs for his social environment. Yet, in case
of a living man carrying belts, armament, and tools, such
insignia will have different signalling ranges according to
Bettina Arnold and H. M Wobst. Smaller items of clothing
and tools such as belts and belt fittings or tool-sets are only
visible in the immediate surroundings of the bearer and
hence are meant for a closer social environment, while
weapons, especially multi-parted armory, significantly
change the silhouette of their bearer to such an extent that
their meaning can be recognised from far away and thus
by members of other groups or even communities (Arnold
2008; Wobst 1977). In contrast, during burial rites we
can assume that the dead person and his or her clothing
and furnishings were displayed to visitors for a certain
time. The range of the signal effect and the information
transfer of those insignia, i.e. belts, armoury, and tools,
was therefore restricted to the participants of the burial
ceremony. The death of an individual not only left a void
in his family or rural community, but in the local society
as a whole, a void that had to be filled. Hence, one easily
may assume that the burial rites not only mirrored the
social standing of the individual and his or her family, but
that the local community employed their burials rites as
communicative and highly symbolic process during which
it re-adjusted its own social reality (Hofmann 2008, 357-
Within their social environment individuals are confronted
with various role models and role expectations, depending
on the counterpart they interact with, in a given situation.
Such expectations can derive from gender-specific role
models as well as the standing of individuals within
their family, role models determined by a professional
or religious framework, or age, to mention just a few. In
crucial moments, such as death, there is a tendency to
represent as many roles as possible (Brather 2008, 152-
154). The social roles of an individual are intermingled to
form a multi-layered picture of the deceased – mirrored in
their grave inventories – that cannot easily be picked apart
and might even be contradictory in some cases (Arnold
2008). The individual components of a grave inventory
hence can be interpreted as insignia of the different social
roles which a person performed during his or her life. This
approach will be employed in the following study.
Grave Inventories of Early Medieval Men and Boys
590 burials from the necropolis of Altenerding, Aschheim-
Bajuwarenring, München-Aubing and Pliening could be
assigned to boys and men, whose age at death has been
anthropologically determined and whose graves contained
grave goods as well (table 1). The latter findings were
grouped into the object classes of ‘weapons and armament’,
‘tools and utensils’, and ‘(magnificent) belts’.
Fig. 3: weApons on the munich grAvel plAin in men’s grAves.
doris gutsmiedl-schümAnn: merovingiAn men – Fulltime wArriors?
1. Weapons and Armament
In the male graves of the Munich gravel plain the
following weapons are found: seax (one-edged sword),
arrow, spatha (two-edged sword), lance, shield, and axe
(fig. 3). 259 of the burials in the area under investigation
for this study contained weaponry. Of this group 155 boys
and men were buried with only one weapon or weapons
of only one weapon type, 44 graves contained weapons of
two different types, 14 graves contained weapons of three
weapon types. Four different weapon types were found
only in 6 graves.
When these results are allocated to the age groups, they
show that only a limited number of weapons are found
in boys’ graves. The graves of the age group infans 1
only contain seax and arrows, in burials of the age group
infans 2 a lance can be found occasionally. Only the
graves of adults contained weapons of all types, in various
combinations, with spatha, lance, and shield as the most
commonly associated weapons in men’s graves. The
number of individual weapons is highest in graves of the
age group adultus, decreasing for the age groups maturus
and senilis, while all kinds of weapons and armament can
still be found in the graves of old men (fig. 4).
While spatha, lance, and shield obviously can be used only
in warfare and hence are defined as pure weapons, arrows
can also be used for hunting (Riesch 1999). Axes can be
used by craftsmen in their daily work as well as in warfare
(Heindel 1990, 254-256). The same can be said for seaxes,
at least in principle, especially for those types of seax that
Fig. 5: the connection between spAthA, seAx And tools in Adult men’s grAves oF the
munich grAvel plAin.
Fig. 4: weApons on the munich grAvel plAin in the diFFerent Age groups.
more or less resemble long knives. This interpretation
is supported by those findings where objects from the
class ‘tools and utensils’ are associated with spathas and
seaxes (fig. 7). 379 of the boys’ and men’s graves in the
investigated area contained one or more tools and utensils.
In 66 of these inventories tools and utensils were combined
with a seax, in only 25 cases tools were associated with a
spatha. Of the 186 graves containing one or more tools
and utensils, 34 contained a seax, 15 contained a spatha. In
only 19 or 3.2 % of the men’s graves of the Munich gravel
plain two or more tools were associated with two or more
weapons. Tools and utensils and weapon and armament are
in general rarely associated; however, if such associations
occur, it is far more likely to find a seax in such combined
inventories than a spatha.
2. Tools and Utensils
A total of 379 graves were furnished with tools and
utensils, with 186 graves containing objects from two
or more types. The most prominent objects in the boys’
and men’s graves of the Munich gravel plain are knives,
followed by flints, awls, and combs. While needles,
hooks, tweezers, and fire steels are also frequently found,
inventories containing shears, folding knives, scales,
whetstones, whorls, drills, and chisels are very rare (fig.
6). Often these tools are found in a narrowly limited
space within the grave, carefully arranged and orientated
in the same direction (fig. 7), (Aschheim Grab 205/206)
(Gutsmiedl-Schümann 2010, Taf. 62). This shows that
the tools had been arranged in a tool-bag or some other
pouch made of organic material, which was has not been
preserved. In a few exceptional cases metal components
of these containers can be detected, such as handles, small
buckles, or metal fittings (as have been found in grave 812
of the necropolis of München-Aubing: Dannheimer, 1998,
188-192; Losert,2003, 372).
Fig. 7: Aschheim-bAjuwArenring grAve 205/206: the
tools in buriAl 206 next to the seAx Are lying close
together And Are oriented in the sAme direction,
suggesting they were plAced in A tool-bAg (gutsmiedl-
schümAnn 2010,tAF. 62).
Fig. 6: tools in men’s grAves oF the munich grAvel plAin.
doris gutsmiedl-schümAnn: merovingiAn men – Fulltime wArriors?
The inventories of boys’ graves of the age groups infans
1 and infans 2 only contain knives, flint, awls, needles,
and hooks. In the age group juvenilis tweezers are also
included. Combs are found in graves of the age groups
infans 1 and juvenilis, but none was found in graves of the
age group of infans 2 (fig. 8).
In boy’s graves of the age groups infans 1 not more than
two different types of tools and utensils are found, in boy’s
graves of the age group infans 2 not more than three. Only
the graves of adult men contain four and more different
types of tools and utensils, with a maximum variation
of eight different types. Though the number of types as
well as the absolute number of tools decreases with age,
even graves of old men contain extensive ensembles of
tools and utensils (fig. 9). Nevertheless, it its noteworthy
that a complete variety of objects from the object class
‘tools and utensils’, which occur in grave inventories of
the necropoleis of Altenerding, Aschheim-Bajuwarenring,
München-Aubing und Pliening, are only found in the
graves of the age group adultus.
Knives, awls, and hooks can be used for a wide range of
tasks and needs; their occurrence is in no way restricted to
a special craft. Flint and fire-steel have often been called
a strike-a-light (for example see Losert 2003, 375-376)
and share the everyday characteristic of knives, awls and
hooks. In contrast, whorls and needles are easily associated
with textile working, whereas combs and tweezers can be
assigned to hair and beard care (Codreanu-Windauer 1997,
Fig. 8: tools on the munich grAvel plAin in the diFFerent Age groups.
Fig. 9: diFFerent kinds oF tools in the diFFerent Age groups.
67-68; Losert 2003, 385). The combination of shears and
combs can also be linked to personal hygiene (cutting
ones hair for example), while a combination of whorls,
needles, and shears indicate craftsmanship within the field
of textile work.
The scales present a special case. They suggest a range
of uses (Knaut 2001; Koch 2007b, 341-344). Artefact
combinations, such as found in grave 423 of the
necropolis of Altending, where scales are combined with
a fine smithing hammer and an awl, which in itself is a
multifunctional tool that may be identified as a punch in
the context of metalworking, suggests that the balance
was used to weigh precious metal by a craftsman (Losert
2003, 390). Yet, scales were also used for trade, especially
for testing coins by weighing them (Steuer 1987; Werner
1954). In general, precise scales are used for any task that
demands the weighing of small and smallest amounts.
This is supported by small weights that are occasionally
found associated with the balances (Steuer 1990). Besides
the already mentioned use in trade and metalworking,
scales might also be an indicator for crafts requiring the
measurement of exact amounts of ingredients such as
medicines, drugs, and dyes.
According to the evidence so far Merovingian men’s
graves of the Munich gravel plain can be divided into two
major groups: the ‘craftsmen’, identified by inventories
containing quite numerous tools and utensils, and the
‘warriors, who were buried with weapons and armament
but with no or only few tools and utensils. This leads us to
the question, whether and how the two groups related to
each other in Merovingian society. To obtain a first view
of their interdependencies a third object class shall be
employed: the belts.
3. Magnificent Belts
All in all a great variety of belt buckles and fittings can
be found in the men’s graves of the Munich gravel plain,
ranging from simple buckles made of iron or non-ferrous
metals to sophisticated belt sets of multi-piece design with
ornate fittings. Only the latter will be considered for this
case study. Such belt sets were found in 220 graves and
will be called magnificent belts form here on. Apart from
their decorative function they can also be interpreted as
status symbols and insignia (Fehr 1999, 110-111).
Magnificent belts are not restricted to special age groups,
although the majority is found in the adult group (fig. 10).
Magnificent Belts as Insignia and their Association with
Weapons and Armament and Tools and Utensils
The data found so far leads us examine how the occurrence
of tools, weapons and magnificent belts in the graves of
Merovingian men might follow a systematic pattern
and which conclusions can be drawn from such patterns
regarding the stratifications within the early medieval
society living on the Munich gravel plain. In all six graves,
Fig. 10: mAgniFicent belts on the munich grAvel plAin in the diFFerent Age groups.
Infans 1 (Inf 1) up to 7 years old
Infans 2 (Inf 2) about 7 – 14 years old
Juvenilis (Juv) about 14 – 20 years old
Adultus (Ad) about 20 – 40 years old
Maturus (Mat) about 40 – 60 years old
Senilis (S) more than 60 years old
tAble 2: AnthropologicAl Age groups And their
trAnslAtion into yeArs.
doris gutsmiedl-schümAnn: merovingiAn men – Fulltime wArriors?
total (1-4 weapon types) 1 weapon type 2 weapon types 3 weapon types 4 weapon types
men’s graves with weapons 259 184 44 14 6
men’s graves with weapons
and magnificent belt 129 86 26 11 6
‘warrior’ ‘warrior’ ‘warrior’
total 1 tool type 2 or more tool types
men’s graves with tools 379 193 186
men’s graves with tools and magnificent belts 117 67 50
tAble 3: men’s grAves with weApons And men’s grAves with weApons And mAgniFicent belts.
tAble 4: men’s grAves with tools And men’s grAves with tools And mAgniFicent belts.
which contained the maximum of four weapon types,
magnificent belts were found. Eleven of the 14 graves with
three weapon types contained such belts as well. In total
64% of the graves, which contained two or more weapon
types, included magnificent belts (Table 3). 186 of the
men’s graves contained two or more tools and utensils, but
magnificent belts were found only in 50 or 27% of these
In the necropolis of the Munich gravel plain 25% of graves
containing inventories with two or more weapon types or
two or more types of tools can be identified as burials of
‘warriors’ and 75% can be seen as burials of ‘craftsmen’.
If those graves are taken into account, that are furnished
with grave goods, but where the inventories cannot be
associated with craftsmen or warriors, the fraction of the
‘warriors’ decreases to 11% and the fraction of ‘craftsmen’
to 31.5% of those deceased who were buried with grave
goods. Expanding the results to the whole male population
buried in these necropolis, i.e. all individuals that could be
identified anthropologically as boys and men, regardless of
whether they had been buried with or without grave goods
(Table 2), only 7.3% of the men can be assigned to the
group of ‘warriors’ and 21% to the group of ‘craftsmen’.
There is thus a significantly higher probability for a man
who was buried with weapons to possess a magnificent
belt as well. This hints at a high social standing of the
‘warrior’ within Merovingian society as well suggesting
that they constituted a powerful group within that society.
Considerably more of the deceased can be allocated to
the group of ‘craftsmen’. Within that group the number
of grave inventories containing magnificent belts is
comparatively low, implying that the craftsmen had fewer
members with a high social status. This indicates that their
importance within the Merovingian society was lower than
that of the warrior group.
Fig. 11: the connection between weApons, tools And mAgniFicent belts in men’s grAves oF the
munich grAvel plAin.
In this case study a total of 590 boys’ and men’s graves
equipped with grave goods from the early Merovingian
necropolis of Altenerding, Aschheim-Bajuwarenring,
München-Aubing, and Pliening were evaluated, their
grave goods were assigned to the categories of ‘weapons’,
‘tools’, and ‘magnificent belts’. According to the above
thoughts on the origin of grave inventories these three
categories are taken as insignia of the social roles the
deceased held during his lifetime.
First the graves were categorised according to whether
they contained weapons or tools. There are such men’s
grave which contain two or more weapons and such which
contain two or more tools. An overlap of artefacts from
both categories is rare. The two groups were then labelled
graves of ‘warriors’ and ‘craftsmen. Men who had been
buried with two or more weapons were allocated to the
‘warriors’, men whose graves contained two or more tools
were allocated to the ‘craftsmen’.
To evaluate the ratio of those two groups within
Merovingian society the third category of grave goods, the
magnificent belts, are employed as tracers of high social
standing. Even though the group of the ‘warriors’ with 64
graves is significantly smaller than that of the ‘craftsmen’
with 186 graves, the first contained a higher number of
magnificent belts and hence can be attributed to higher
Thus, in contrast to the popular idea of the early medieval
warrior bristling with weapons, which is presented so
readily and often as the typical representation of the
Merovingian man, the grave inventories of the necropolis
of Altenerding, Aschheim-Bajuwarenring, München-
Aubing und Pliening draw a significantly different picture.
Although there are graves of warriors furnished with
weaponry, their number is low, showing that the fraction of
‘warriors’ within early medieval society is far smaller than
commonly thought. Furthermore, a considerably larger
group of men buried with tools could be identified. This
group, which has only scarcely been recognised so far, can
be considered as the one that draws a far more realistic
picture of average Merovingian men who most probably
used their tools every day, but their weapons on only rare
Alt K. W. and B. Röder 2009.. Das biologische Geschlecht
ist nur die halbe Wahrheit. In U.
Rambuscheck (ed.), Zwischen Diskursanalyse und
Isotopenforschung. Methoden der archäologischen
Geschlechterforschung. Münster, Waxmann.
Archäologisches Landesmuseum Baden-Württemberg
1997. Die Alamannen. Stuttgart, Theiss Verlag.
Brather, S. 2007a. Von der „Tracht“ zur „Kleidung“. Neue
Fragestellungen und Konzepte in der Archäologie des
Mittelalters. Zeitschrift für Archäologie des Mittelalters
Brather, S. 2007b. Bestattungsrituale zur Merowingerzeit.
Frühmittelalterliche Reihengräber und der Umgang
mit dem Tod. In C. Kümmel, B. Schweizer, and U.
Veit (eds.). Körperinszenierung, Objektsammlung,
Monumentalisierung. Totenritual und Grabkult in
frühen Gesellschaften. Archäologische Quellen
in kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. Tübinger
Archäologische Taschenbücher 6. Münster, Waxmann.
Brather, S. 2008. Kleidung, Bestattung, Identität. Die
Präsentation sozialer Rollen im Frühmittelalter. In S.
Brather (ed.). Zwischen Spätantike und Frühmittelalter.
RGA-Ergänzungsband 57. Berlin – New York, Walter
Brather, S. 2009. Memoria und Repräsentation.
Frühmittelalterliche Bestattungen zwischen
Erinnerung und Erwartung. In S. Brather (ed.). Historia
archaeologica. Festschrift für Heiko Steuer zum 70.
Geburtstag. RGA-Ergänzungsband 70. Berlin – New
Yoprk, Walter de Gruyter.
Codreanu-Windauer, S. 1997. Pliening im Frühmittelalter.
Bajuwarisches Gräberfeld, Siedlungsbefunde und
Kirche. Materialhefte zur Bayerischen Vorgeschichte
A 74. Kallmüntz/Opf, Verlag Michael Lassleben.
Dannheimer, H. 1987. Auf den Spuren der Bajuwaren.
Archäologie des frühen Mittelalters in Altbaiern.
Pfaffenhofen, W. Ludwig Verlag.
Dannheimer, H. 1998. Das bajuwarische Reihengräberfeld
von Aubing, Stadt München. Monographien der
prähistorischen Staatsssammlung 1. Stuttgart, Konrad
Dannheimer H. and H. Dopsch (eds.). 1988. Die
Bajuwaren. Von Severin bis Tassillo 488-788.
Rosenheim-Mattsee, Gemeinsame Landesausstellung
des Freistaates Bayern und des Landes Salzburg.
Fehr, H. 1999. Zur Deutung der Prunkgürtelsitte der
jüngeren Merowingerzeit. In S. Brather, C. Brücker, and
M. Hoeper (eds.). Archäologie als Sozialgeschichte.
Studien zu Siedlung, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft im
frühgeschichtlichen Mitteleuropa. Festschrift für
Heiko Steuer. Studia honoraria 9. Rahden/Westf.,
Verlag Marie Leidorf..
Gutsmiedl-Schümann, D. 2010. Das frühmittelalterliche
Gräberfeld Aschheim-Bajuwarenring. Materialhefte
zur Bayerischen Vorgeschichte A 94. Kallmünz/Opf.,
Verlag Michael Lassleben.
Härke, H. 1997. The nature of burial data. In C. K. Jensen
and K. Høilund Nielsen (eds.). Burial and society.
The chronological and social analysis of burial data.
Århus, Århus Univ. Press.
Härke, H. 2003. Beigabensitte und Erinnerung:
Überlegungen zu einem Aspekt des frühmittelalterlichen
Bestattungsrituals. In J. Jarnut and M. Wemhoff
(eds.). Erinngerungskultur im Bestattungsritual.
Archäologisch-Historisches Forum. Mittelalterstudien
3. München, Fink.
doris gutsmiedl-schümAnn: merovingiAn men – Fulltime wArriors?
Heindel, I. 1990. Zur Definition und Typologie einfacher
eiserner Handwerkszeuge aus dem westslawischen
Siedlungsgebiet. Zeitschrift für Archäologie 24, 243-
Helmuth, H. 1996. Anthropologische Untersuchungen zu
den Skeletten von Altenerding. In H. Helmuth, D. Anker,
and H.J. Hundt, Das Reihengräberfeld von Altenerding
II. Anthropologie, Damaszierung und Textilfunde.
Germanische Denkmäler der Völkerwanderungszeit A
XVIII. Mainz, Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Hofmann, K. P. 2008. Ritual und Zeichen - Zum Umgang
des Menschen mit dem
Tod anhand eines Fallbeispieles. In C. Kümmel, B.
Schweizer, and U. Veit (eds.). Körperinszenierung,
Objektsammlung, Monumentalisierung. Totenritual
und Grabkult in frühen Gesellschaften. Archäologische
Quellen in kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive.
Tübinger Archäologische Taschenbücher 6. Münster,
Hofmann, K. P. 2009. Grabbefunde zwischen sex
und gender. In U. Rambuscheck (ed.). Zwischen
Diskursanalyse und Isotopenforschung. Methoden der
archäologischen Geschlechterforschung. Münster,
Knaut, M. 2001. Merowingerzeitliche Feinwaagen. Neue
Funde und Anregungen. In E. Pohl, U. Recke, and C.
Theune (eds.). Archäologisches Zellwerk. Beiträge zur
Kulturgeschichte in Europa und Asien. Festschrift für
Helmut Roth zum 60. Geburtstag. Studia honoraria 16.
Rahden/Westf., Verlag Marie Leidorf.
Koch, U. 2007a. Die Grabfunde – Bausteine der
Chronologie – Indikatoren der sozialen Stellung. In
H. Probst (ed.)., Mannheim vor der Stadtgründung,
Teil I Band 2: Die Frankenzeit. Regensburg, Verlag
Koch, U. (2007b) Was Grabfunde zu Verkehr, Handel und
Wirtschaft verraten. In: Probst H. (ed), Mannheim vor
der Stadtgründung, Teil I Band 2: Die Frankenzeit.
Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg.
Linton, R. 1979. Mensch, Kultur, Gesellschaft. Stuttgart,
Losert, H. 2003. Das frühmittelalterliche Gräberfeld von
Altenerding in Oberbayern und die „Ethnogenese“
der Bajuwaren. Berling, Scrîpvaz-Verlag, Ljubljana,
Založba ZRC/Verlag ZRC.
Parker Pearson, M. 2003. The archaeology of death and
burial. Sutton, Stroud.
Riesch, H. 1999. Untersuchungen zu Effizienz
und Verwendung alamannischer Pfeilspitzen.
Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 29, 567-582.
Sage, W. 1973. Gräber der älteren Merowingerzeit aus
Altenerding, Ldkr. Erding (Oberbayern). Berichte der
Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 54, 213-289.
Sage, W. 1984. Das Reihengräberfeld von Altenerding
in Oberbayern I. Germanische Denkmäler der
Völkerwanderungszeit A XIV. Berlin, Gebr. Mann
Sasse, B. 2007. Ein merowingerzeitlicher Friedhof
– Zerrspiegel einer Lebensgemeinschaft. In
S. Burmeister, H. Derks, and J. v. Richthofen,
Zweiundvierzig. Festschrift für Michael Gebühr zum
65. Geburtstag. Studia honoraria 25. Rahden/Westf.,
Verlag Marie Leidorf.
Siegmund F. 1996. Kleidung und Bewaffnung der Männer
im östlichen Frankenreich. In A. Wieczorek, P. Périn,
K. v. Welck, and W. Menghin (eds.). Die Franken –
Wegbereiter Europas. Mainz, Verlag Philipp von
Stadler P. 2005. Quantitative Studien zur Archäologie
der Awaren I. Mitteilungen der Prähistorischen
Kommission 60. Wien, Verlag der Österreichischen
Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Staskiewicz, A. 2007. The early medieval cemetery at
Aschheim-Bajuwarenring – a Merovingian population
under the influence of pestilence? In G. Grupe and J.
Peters (eds.). Skeletal series and their socio-economic
context. Documenta Archaeobiologiae 5. Rahden/
Westf., Verlag Marie Leidorf.
Steuer, H. 1987. Gewichtsgeldwirtschaften im
frühgeschichtlichen Europa. In K. Düwel, H. Jankuhn,
H. Siems, and D. Timpe (eds.). Untersuchungen zu
Handel und Verkehr der vor- und frühgeschichtlichen
Zeit in Mittel- und Nordeuropa Teil IV: Der Handel
der Karolinger- und Wikingerzeit. Bericht über die
Kolloquien der Kommission für die Altertumskunde
Mittel- und Nordeuropas in den Jahren 1980–1983.
Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Steuer, H. 1990. Spätrömische und byzantinische Gewichte
in Südwestdeutschland. Archäologische Nachrichten
aus Baden 43, 43–59.
Werner, J. 1954. Waage und Geld in der Merowingerzeit.
Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der
Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-historische Klasse,
Heft 1/1954. München, Verlag der Bayerischen
Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Wieczorek A., P. Périn, K. v. Welck, and W. Menghin
(eds.). 1996. Die Franken – Wegbereiter Europas.
Mainz, Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Wobst, H. M. 1977. Stylistic behavior and information
exchange. In C. E. Cleland (ed.) For the Director:
Research in honor of James B. Griffin. Anthropological
Papers 61, 317–342.
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Vor-
und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie
D-53113 Bonn, Germany