Faculty of Social Sciences

”The Good Death,” an archeological study of graves, burial rituals and practices at the Dominican convent St. Olof in Skänninge

  • Date:
  • Location: Humanistiska teatern, Campus Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Menander, Hanna
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Arkeologi
  • Contact person: Menander, Hanna
  • Disputation

”The Good Death,” an archeological study of graves, burial rituals and practices at the Dominican convent St. Olof in Skänninge, is a dissertation arising out of the large grave materials from various archeological investigations of the convent.

A total of six investigations have been made of the convent within the framework of the so called Skänninge Project (Skänningeprojektet). In a number of these excavations, graves from the burial ground of the Dominican convent have been more or less in focus. In total, 287 graves have been excavated, generally showing great homogeneity of interment practices. The majority of the graves lacks all kind of grave goods, and most of the deceased have been interred without a coffin.

The overall focus has been on understanding the graves and the burial customs in a contemporaneous and situational context. The dissertation does not primarily focus on the Dominican order in itself, although it works as a major actor in the framework of the graves. For this purpose, a so-called archeothanatological method is used to analyze the burials. The intention is thus to clarify general features in the funeral tradition in the convent, and their possible connection to the role of the Dominicans as ritual specialists. In this context, the interior design of the Dominician church has also played a significant role, which is important for the choice of burial site as well as for the rituals performed for the deceased. Therefore, it is primarily a dissertation that deals with medieval burials and funeral rituals, but in a special context. The object has been to use the graves as an important archaeological source material, partially studied with new methods, to create new questions. These questions are discussed an analyzed in the light of other archaeological finds, as well as historical and other source materials.