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The formation of the state in Early Medieval Castile: craft production and social complexity

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EARMEDCASTILE (The formation of the state in Early Medieval Castile: craft production and social complexity)

Reporting period: 2015-07-08 to 2017-07-07

The main goal of the project is to analyse the emergency and the collapse of states in the Early Middle Ages through the study of production and distribution systems, which are consider a marker of social and political complexity. The project is based on two main axes: first at all, an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of pottery would have the capability of revealing the political background of economic exchange, as well as the role of local and central powers. Secondly, the North of Iberia represents an excellent case study for investigating the transformation of political structure in Early Medieval Europe, taking into account that in this scenario five different states rose and collapsed within only five centuries (the Roman Empire, the Visigothic State, Al-Andalus, the Asturian Kingdom and the Castilian County).
Production, distribution and consumption systems would be analysed, in order to highlights evidence for social and political complexity related with the emergence of states. In practical terms, early medieval pottery from fourteen sites located in the Old Castile would be studied : the main steps of the project would be (a) the identification of the main workshops located in the upper Ebro valley in early medieval times; (b) the analyses of consumption patterns, by combining pottery studies with bioarchaeological and palaeodiet evidence; this would allow the identification of elite lifestyles; (c) the definition of political trends at a local scale and the change of scale that determined the structuration of central powers taking into consideration the distribution systems.The results of the Spanish case studies will be discussed with reference to previous studies carried out in Italy by the candidate during her PhD, with the aim of inserting the project in a European dimension.
Progress recorded are in collecting and storing data of some case studies and in starting a debate of archaeometrical and distributive analyses of pottery. We have also concentred in studying the archaeological bibliography on this areas, included unpublished reports. We have therefore at our disposal a set of (12.000) almost twelve thousand fragments with a total weight of seventy eight Kilos (78 kg) and one thousand one hundred fifty-five (1155) different vessels represented (EVREP, minimum vessel), which can be related to all of the to early medieval assemblages of 14 sites.
The output created is:
- creation of a new database of pottery relating to typology and technology.
- creation of comparison tables of pottery, regarding the morphological aspects.
- collection of pottery samples. The samples are analyzed in a Laboratory of Department of Heart Science of University of Siena (Italy) thank to a new collaboration with the staff of professor I. Memmi Turbanti and in the Laboratory of UPV/EHU, Department of Leioa/Bilbao thanks to collaboration with the team of GIPyPAC and Luis Angel Ortega and Ainhoa Alonso Olazabal.

Completed analytical work

- 2 Books (in press)
- 2 Book Chapters
- 3 Journal papers with referees
- 5 Papers in conference proceedings

Professional training (course work, teaching activity):

- 2 Member of Tribunal (Master and PhD) in Spain
- 3 Teaching activities
- 6 Training in specific new areas (language, SIG)

Workshop, congress, conferecence, seminars

- Organization and Coordination of Internationals Workshops: 2016, 10 June: University of Basque Country, Arqueometría de los materiales cerámicos en el Norte de la Península Ibérica: métodos y estrategias para el futuro, Faculty of Humanities, Salon de Grados.
- 6 International Conference participation in Spain, Greece, Italy, Netherlands
- 4 National and International Workshops participation in Spain, Italy and France

Outreach activities (public engagement):
- XV and XVI Week of Science
- Marie Curie Ambassadress in XVI Week of Science
- 8 press articles on local newspapers
EarmedCastile project operates within the group Patrimonio y Paisajes Culturales ( directed by Juan Antonio Quiros Castillo, and remains in touch with a number of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and British Universities. The progresses of the project can be followed on the purposedly created blog For the conclusion of the project, the Candidate is working on a book which aims to reconstruct, for northern Spain, a quality model for the study of ceramic and its production; these are identified as indicators of political and social complexity, and therefore would allow to investigate societies and settlement patterns, as well as the nature of central and local powers. Due to the impact of her studies, she has been invited to deliver seminars at the University of Valladolid (December 2016) and Salamanca (March 2017) (Spain), Madrid (March 2017) and Siena (Italy, April 2017).
As part of her Marie Curie project, Francesca Grassi promoted a debate on the future of scientific analyses in the study of archaeological materials; in order to create a team of specialists able to critically apply for the first time such methodologies to the study of societies in northern Iberia. Having this aim, in June 2016 she organised the first multidisciplinary conference on Archaeometry in Spain, inviting major experts in the field. She is currently working on the acts of the conference, which will be published Open Access in winter 2017; this will allow a greater reach and free access to every researcher. See audio and video recording at the link .
In sum, the Candidate’s current research within the ‘Patrimonio y Paisajes Culturales’ group at the University of the Basque Country aimed to compare the various settlement patterns between the 6th and 11th centuries, using the production systems, especially those of ceramics, as the main indicators. The interpretative model developed by the Candidate in Tuscany, one of the areas of southern Europe most intensively investigated by medieval archaeologists, is used to analyse and compare different regions of the Mediterranean and northern Europe; the aim is to expand geographically and chronologically the available data, in order to establish a global approach to the study of the formation and development of central and local powers during the Middle Ages.

Long-term career objectives (over 5 years):
- University of Palermo, Italy, Full Professor, call 2017
- FCT, Portugal, Group Research Project, Projetos de Investigação Científica e Desenvolvimento Tecnológico (IC&DT), call 2017
- EURIAS, Europe, EURIAS Fellowship Programme, call 2017
- ERC Consolidator Grant call 2018
September post of Blog
the brochure of EARMEDCASTILE in the Week of Science (Vitoria Gasteiz, November 2015)
First slide of Presentation of Antalya Congress AIECM3, October 2015
Press Article en Campusa (upv-ehu)
the poster of EARMEDCASTILE in the Week of Science (Vitoria Gasteiz, November 2015)