medieval archaeology

archaeological sub-discipline

Medieval archaeology is the study of humankind through its material culture, specialising in the period of the European Middle Ages. At its broadest, the period stretches from the 5th to the 16th century and refers to post-Roman but pre-modern remains. The period covers the upheaval caused by the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and cultures such as the Vikings, the Saxons, and the Franks. Archaeologists often specialise in studying either the Early Middle Ages (Migration Period) or the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages, although many projects and professionals move across these chronological boundaries. The rich nature of the medieval written record means that archaeology has often been seen as the "handmaiden to history", especially in the Late Middle Ages. Analysis of material culture may enrich or call into question written evidence from the medieval period and the two sources of evidence need to be used together. Medieval archaeology has examined the development of medieval settlements, particularly the development of medieval towns, monasteries, and castles. It has also contributed to understanding of the spread and development of Christian monasticism during the medieval period.
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