Interpreting the Socio-symbolic Value of Jet and Amber Artifacts as Markers of Religious Transformation in Early Christian Britain
Date of Award
Master of Science
Jean L Hudson, Jason Sherman
Amber, Christian Britain, Christian Conversion, Jet, Religious Transformation
During the Medieval period in Britain, changes in the lived materiality of religion aided in the reinforcement of new ideologies. Christian missionaries and foreign invaders introduced new religious structures and cultural paradigms from the Continent that included novel symbolic forms and material markers. In pre-Christian contexts, jet and amber are thought to have been used for religious purposes due to their presumed magical properties, such as burning and generating a static charge. These materials also served as lucrative exports throughout Europe and beyond before the introduction of Christianity. Textual records from the Mediterranean as well as archaeological evidence for the use of exotica like jet, amber, and coral confirm the fact that their value was not just due to their rarity. Using a data set of 203 amber and jet artifacts recovered from contexts in south-central England and Scotland dated to a period from AD400 to AD1200, this project investigates how the use of amber and jet was impacted by the introduction of Christianity. This investigation of cultural and religious syncretism focuses on a specific set of objects and materials with implications for studies of material transformation in the wake of other cultural contacts.
Strohl, Rachel C., "Interpreting the Socio-symbolic Value of Jet and Amber Artifacts as Markers of Religious Transformation in Early Christian Britain" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 2956.