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Material Culture, Sex, Gender, Sexuality And Transgression In Sixth-Century Gaul

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Chapter Summary

The author explores the construction of gender in earlier Merovingian society and its relationship to ideas of sex. The author investigates the possibility of the use of archaeological data to confront issues of sexuality and instances where heterosexual norms might have been questioned or breached. This chapter begins with an illuminating tale from that rich mine of illuminating tales, Gregory of Tours Histories, written between 576 and c. 592. Obviously it is difficult to know how typical the story was. There was less need for the competitive burial rites of the sixth century, and so graves are far less furnished. Powerful families gradually removed themselves from such arenas, for separate burial, eventually in their own churches. The archaeology of Merovingian Lorraine tells us much about sex and gender; with the aid of other forms of evidence, it can also suggest the importance of sexuality in the ordering of rural communities.

Keywords: Gaul; gender; material culture; Merovingian society; sex; sexuality; sixth-century; transgression



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