Falconry Workshop, March 5-7th 2014


Structure of the workshop
Hunting with trained birds of prey is a very elaborate hunting technique that was possibly invented by the Eurasian Nomads. A broad analysis of this kind of hunting would have to rely upon an entire series of sources that only a multitude of researchers (including actual falconers) could manage. There has been no recent academic attempt to cover the topic in this way. As regards Europe, the use of falconry pre 1000 AD is highlighted by a number of extraordinary eastern Swedish burials, the oldest of which date back to the late 6th century. These, thoroughly analysed, burials stand out by the exquisite preservation conditions and the voluminous faunal remains, which include one or several birds of prey and animals that represent the typical prey of falconry. During the workshop, the archaeo(zoo)logical evidence for birds of prey in northern and large parts of continental Europe until 1500 AD are to be scrutinized in a broad sense for the first time, and this includes burials of a female upper class. However, in the present context, it is inevitable that falconry must be considered as a broader phenomenon of social and hunting history that left remarkable traces in historical accounts, literature, pictorial sources and names, in addition to which the origin of this particular hunting technique will also have to be examined. During the workshop, c. 30 scholars from a variety of countries and scientific faculties will gather, but the ensuing publication in the year 2015 will be open to additional contributions, which will help to describe falconry as an even broader Eurasian pheno­menon.

Key questions of the workshop

  • How certain are we about the actual area and date of the origin of falconry?
  • Which methodological problems exist for identifying skeletons of trained birds of prey, and from which archaeological find contexts do the bird bones originate?
  • To what extent does falconry in historical accounts, literary descriptions and depictions really reflect actual hunting practices? Which sources reflect a stereotypical noblesse oblige in terms of hunting, and which sources carry an allegoric meaning independent from or beyond falconry?
  • Is the practice of name-giving with a reference to raptor birds proof of the same person acting as a falconer, and what about place and field names related to birds of prey and, more specifically, falconry?

Organisation of the workshop
English manuscripts of five pages maximum shall be delivered to the organisers until the end of 2013. They will be sent out to all lecturers before the actual meeting. During the workshop, there will be only limited time to present an abstract (15 minutes), followed by a discussion of the same length.

For organisational reasons, the workshop will be restricted to the actual lecturers. Travelling and accom­modation are covered by the ZBSA unless the employer of a lecturer does so.