[Archaeologist] Ament sees grave 5 as a founder's burial, like that at Lavoye. Around it, in the sixth and early seventh centuries, other clan members were buried. When the chapel was built, the importance of this founder's burial was still recalled, and the builders included the other clan graves within the confines of its walls... [This positioning] strongly suggest[s] that the continuity between pre-Christian and Christian clan members was not broken by baptism. In fact, on a physical, structural level, the founder was given a burial infra ecclesia after the fact, thus including him in the newly Christianized clan tradition. (37-8).Well, why not? Why do we assume that conversion is tied to a moment in time, extending only forward from that moment and denied to all who came before it? We do now, of course, because of long-established tradition that (for example) pagans are denied entry into heaven, even Virgil because he unluckily died just a few years short of a certain critical historical moment. But that's quite an assumption to make, isn't it? That everyone would automatically understands religion and relationship to religious standing in that way? Why can it not simply be a cultural and behavioural difference, a difference in architecture, into which one may incorporate the past as easily as one might build a temple to an ancestor in a new architectural style and depict them in this generation's sartorial fashions in the frescoes?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Another temporality thought - on conversion
According to Patrick Geary (Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, London: Cornell UP, 1994), there is, under the parish church of Flonheim, a series of tombs that predate the conversion of the local population to Christianity.