The Black Death, Plague, and Mass Mortality

Andree Beauchamp
University of Manitoba
black-death-mass-graves1Abstract: Cultural funerary practices typically entail a set of common rituals, ceremonies, and treatments that are common to the cultural group. These practices are adhered to unless there is a significant culture change or the community experiences a catastrophe such as war, natural disaster, or epidemic. When such periods of disaster spread over a large territory and are experienced for a long period of time, such as during the epidemic of Black Death in Europe during the Middle Ages, it could be argued that the mass burials become a funerary practice in itself. There is value in identifying these catastrophic samples. By identifying the pattern of these mass burials researchers can identify such catastrophic examples with greater ease and place this distinct funerary situation within the larger context of funerary practices. The goal of this research is to distinguish the burial practices employed in Europe during the epidemic of Black Death from standard funerary practices at that time period and define the shift in burial practice as a funerary practice in itself. The pattern of mass burial observed during the Black Death epidemic will then be compared to other instances of mass burial to determine whether different causes for mass death and burial can be distinguished in the funerary practice.

004_The Black Death, Plague, and Mass Mortality








Understanding Early Christian Art integrates the motifs and subjects of early Christian art with the symbols and themes of early Christian literature and liturgy. The book begins with an analysis of the non-narrative subjects of early Christian art, for example the Good Shepherd, the praying figure, and fish and birds. The book then explores the narrative images, portraits, and dogmatically orientated figures found in Roman catacomb painting, sarcophagus relief sculpture, and early mosaics, ivories and manuscript illumination. The parallels between biblical exegesis as found in early homilies and catechetical documents and images portraying particular biblical figures are also discussed. Finally, the book examines iconographic themes such as Jonah, Daniel, Abraham offering Isaac, and Adam and Eve. Understanding Early Christian Art offers an insightful, erudite, and lavishly illustrated analysis of the meaning and message of early Christianity as revealed in the texts and images of the early Christians.

Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The results of the Skagafjörður Church Project

Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The results of the Skagafjörður Church Project 003_Early church organization in Skagafjörður, North Iceland

The article discusses the results of the Skagafjörður Church project. The aim of the project is to establish the number and nature of the earliest, Christian cemeteries and churches in the county of Skagafjörður, north Iceland. By employing a systematic regional approach to the study of early Christian cemeteries, a more nuanced interpretation of early church development can be generated. The research suggests that at least 130 cemeteries may have been established in Skagafjörður in the 11th century, following the official adaption of Christianity AD 999/1000. The results indicate a swift adoption of Christian burial rites and cemetery architecture and that at first most independent farmsteads had their own Christian household cemetery. The apparent uniformity of burial customs and architecture suggests some form of management or communality from the outset. Many of these cemeteries appear to have gone out of use in the late 11th/ early 12th centuries, an indication of increasing ecclesiastical control.



The Early Christian Landscape of East Anglia

The Early Christian Landscape of East Anglia

1, Ely Cathedral and its towers rise above the surrounding landscape, so that it has long been known as the “Ship of the Fens”
Ely Cathedral


This paper explores aspects of the historical and archaeological evidence for the coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon East Anglia with a particular focus on the wide-scale restructuring of the landscape that the conversion precipitated. In order to establish the historical framework within which these events sit, it begins with an examination of the evidence presented by Bede in the Historia Ecclesiastica. Bede draws our attention to some of the ecclesiastical sites established by the early churchmen; a broader consideration of the conversion-period landscape reveals many important sites that are not mentioned in the surviving historical sources. In particular, disused Roman enclosures and topographically distinct locations can be demonstrated to have been of particular significance to the conversion process. The coming of Christianity also caused a great upheaval in the sites chosen for cemeteries, argued to be a direct result of a changing attitude towards the dead, which resulted in the integration of cemeteries and settlements during the Middle Saxon period.
Finally, this paper offers some suggestions about how we might take the study of the conversion-period landscape further.

Christian Ancient Burial Places

Journal of Anthropology and Archaeology
June 2014, Vol.2, No. 1, pp. 57-73
ISSN: 2334-2420 (Print), 2334-2439 (Online)
Copyright © The Author(s). 2014.
All Rights Reserved.
Published by American Research Institute for Policy Development LINK
Dr. Peter Caban
Culture of a nation is expressed in the methods of burial. This sentence characterizes the basic archeological attitude towards the burial and all the related activities in the Christian antiquity. Natural desire of a human being that memory of him could be preserved in the next generations is visible in the methods of burying of the dead. In the burial places we find the archeological testimonies of the natural historical and religious environment where a human person– a Christian–lived, prayed and worked.

The Beauty of the Cross

A book: vilades1 (see:

The Beauty of the Cross
The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts, from the Catacombs to theEve of the Renaissance by Richard Viladesau
1. The Beauty and the Scandal of the Cross, 3
2. The Cross in the New Testament and the Patristic Paradigm, 19
3. The Monastic Paradigm and the Romanesque Style, 57
4. The Theology of High Scholasticism and Gothic Art, 87
5. Nominalism, Naturalism, and the Intensification of Passion
Piety, 137
Appendix: Web Sites for Viewing Artworks, 174
Notes, 175
Index, 211


by Richard Viladesau

C7ycfJ5XwAAk6hTThis volume represents the first part of a study of the concept and the symbol of the cross in Christian theology and imagination. Eachof the chapters will examine the theology of the cross in both its conceptual and aesthetic mediations within a specific historical context, from the early church to the eve of the Renaissance.
The first chapter is methodological. After explaining the notion of aesthetic theology and its relationship to theoretical, conceptual theology, it sets forth the specific problem to be examined here: the Christian perception of “the cross”—that is, the suffering and death of Jesus—as a salvific event. Finally, it deals with the ideas of paradigms, styles, and classics that will guide the progress of the book’sexposition.
The following chapters attempt to correlate theological paradigms of interpretation of the cross—that is, a particular aspect of Christian soteriology—with artistic styles that were more or lesscontemporaneous with the theological ideas of each paradigm, or that illustrate a parallel theological attitude.
Each chapter begins with a representation of the crucifix that in some way exemplifies the focus of the chapter. There follows an examination of themes from representative theological writings on soteriology and a consideration of artistic developments that are to some extent parallel, or that can be seen to embody similar themes and reactions to the cross. The general method, then, is one of correlation between two kinds of interpretation of the Christian tradition and of human experience: between theology as explicit systematic
thought and as affective and communicative images. The justification and general principles of a method that takes the aesthetic realm as a theological locus have been expressed in my previous works, and here willonly be briefly summarized.
Within the aesthetic realm, this volume will emphasize especially visual and poetic art, both liturgical and nonliturgical. Poetry (including especially the texts of hymns) often provides a clear but also imaginative and affective expression of theological ideas. Visual images of the passion can also be correlated to general theological themes; but, as we shall see, their connection to more particular theories of salvation is often ambiguous. The illustrations will allow us to look closely at several classical works that are representative of larger movements in art. Other visual artworks referred to in the text unfortunately
cannot be reproduced here; but in an appendix I refer the reader to various
Web sites where they may be viewed.
This book is intended for a general audience: educated lay people, students, artists who wonder about theology, theologians who have little knowledge of the arts. But I hope it may also to be of use to scholars who wish to pursue the topic further. Hence I have included footnotes not only to indicate my sources and occasionally to suggest further lines of thought but also to provide a number of significant theological quotations in their original language.
Finally, it should be noted that my ultimate project is one of systematic theology. This book is not intended as a text in historical theology, per se, nor, a fortiori, as art history. It is rather an exploration of historical themes, ideas, and images that are the necessary background to a contemporary theology of the cross. I have therefore not pursued in detail many questions of dating, influence, and context that would be important to the historian. On such topics, this book needs the complement of more detailed studies by specialists. On
the other hand, this volume remains within the realm of exposition of historical data, and within a limited period. A projected future volume will extend this study from the Renaissance to the contemporary era, and will undertake the further task of correlation of these historical data with contemporary intepretations of Christian experience.