At EAA 2022 there will be a session on medieval marketplaces again.

Session: #135

The Medieval Marketplace in Europe - Interdisciplinary and Theoretical Approaches to Its Biographies and Developments

The marketplace is one of the most distinct features of the European medieval town. It underwent manifold developments resulting in complex life trajectories and biographies that have a direct effect on their archaeological content as well as visibility.

The reasons for this relate first of all to the changing concepts and significances of what it means to hold a market. In the early medieval period markets were held ad hoc in open air, in the framework of assembly and ceremonial meetings. To hold a market would result in individual pits with residues of craftsmanship, or dark earths with organic deposits. From the moment ports and emporia developed, markets get not only associated with semi-permanent infrastructure and deposits related to this infrastructure. In the late medieval period, many markets evolved into the monumental public space of towns, as well as “shops” and warehouses. In the latter case, written sources enlighten us about the merchants and their policies and products, without a clear view on the materiality of the traded goods. In the other cases, the archaeological signal will stand alone without detailed written sources about merchants and their agency which makes it much harder to interpret them.

In this session, we will focus on interdisciplinary approaches, implying geoarchaeology and environmental archaeology, and the study of crafts and trade or the use of cultural anthropology which can help us to understand the life trajectories of marketplaces and what it means to hold a market. Furthermore, specific “marketplace landscapes” and their development over the course of the Middle Ages shall be discussed.

We are looking for studies and approaches from all over Europe, relating to markets and trade in the broad medieval period (4th c – 18th c).



Felix Rösch, Dries Tys & Sven Kalmring