A Comparative Analysis Of Early Medieval North-West Slavonic And West Baltic Sacred Landscapes

A Comparative Analysis Of Early Medieval North-West Slavonic And West Baltic Sacred Landscapes: An Introduction To The Problems

By Slawomir Wadyl and Pawel Szczepanik

Networks and Neighbours, Vol.2:1 (2014)

Gross Raden, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Reconstruction of a 9th century Slavic temple

Abstract: A lot of issues concerning the sacral sphere of two neighbouring cultural circles in the early Middle Ages have been exposed in the article. Authors proposed a comparative analysis of North-West Slavonic and West Baltic sacred landscapes, and objects perceived to be sacred. Review of methodological approaches used in studies of sacrum sphere in humanities have presented as guiding interpretive frameworks. It has been demonstrated from this that both Slavic and Prussian sacrum organization was deeply rooted in the natural world. The degree of diversity and complexity of the discussed issues related to the problem of sacred landscapes have been revealed, with the authors pointing out the major similarities and differences noted within the investigated cultural circles.

Introduction: Research into space – especially space perceived to be sacred – and its role in culture, is a very important problem in the study of the past. It is worth noting, however, that archaeologists seldom attempt to develop their own methodology concerning the identification and description of sacred landscapes and objects. Instead, they resort to methodologies developed in other areas of the humanities, especially in the phenomenology of religion. However, such use of the conceptual instruments borrowed from other sciences – which in many cases seems intuitive – often leads to the creation of ‘scientific myths’ that are usually taken for granted and sometimes treated almost as paradigms in the scientific literature.

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