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Late Iron Age pendants (800–1250 AD) in the Eastern Baltic: adorning, self-definition, religion

Tuuli Kurisoo MA

My PhD project aims to investigate the role of different symbols and their meanings in the Late Iron Age Estonia and Eastern Baltic. For that purpose I study mainly pendants, which are the most symbolic figures among all artefacts.

Iron Age pendants Fig. 2

Pendants from Lõhavere hill fort AI 4133: 1032, AI 3578: 1766b, AI 3578: 1407, AI 3578: 1214 (Photos: T. Jonuks).

In my study I focus on three topics:

Firstly, I will analyse pendants as objects. I will use comparative and typological methods together with archaeometric analysis.

Secondly, I will concentrate on contexts. Particularly to find out their distribution, direct context (in what kind of combinations pendants and adornments occur) and usage. The intention is to analyse pendants in the context of body, dress and personal appearance using various case-studies together with comparisons.

Thirdly, I will discuss over the different concepts that are attributed to pendants and pendant users. I will explore my material in connection to adorning, self-definition and religion.

Theoretically the work builds on several premises. On the one hand I will study pendants as individual pieces and place them as a part of clothing and analyse them from the perspective of usage. On the other hand I will discuss the nature of pendants and approach my material from the perspective of aesthetics, performativity and non-verbal communication.


Iron Age pendants Fig. 1a

Pendants and a rumble bell attached to chain ornament AM A: 1036: 33 (Photo: T. Jonuks).



AI – Archaeological collections of the Institute of History of the Tallinn University

AM A - Archaeological collections of the Estonian History Museum

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