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Early Medieval Regions and Identities

accuracy. There is a brief rough patch early on, when a plodding survey of the sources threatens to derail things before they get started, but after that, the familiar stories are placed in a very new analytical framework. Many ostensibly „new“ histories of this period could have been written under Victoria or the „Kaiser“, but for a modernized vocabulary; not so Henning B(örm)s. He has absorbed the great deal that is good in Viennese scholarship on early medieval identities, without reproducing its dogmas; he has come to terms with the Anglo-American attention to the

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ancient cultures and nearby land- epilogue 283 scapes, and they often use possessive language about insights into “our history.”20 These exhibits coincided with the vigorous debate in archae- ological and historical circles about ethnic identity in early history. The catalogs that accompanied these exhibits presented the latest archaeo- logical knowledge and information about the constructed nature of early medieval identities, but they still suggested close ties between the land and ancient peoples. Some scholars have rejected presentations that focus primarily on

core.256 That inev- itably leads to a circularity of its arguments: early records are interpreted as evidence of ethnicity; the evidence is mined in the anticipation of finding corroboration; and, when it is found, is interpreted as fulfilling that expectation.257 The documentary evidence for the extension of core Ger- manic traditions into late antique and early medieval identity is, furthermore, problematic. While it is true that early origin myths and genealogies are at first sight flagrantly Germanic, many are as startlingly British in origin as the names

over the long term. This book is an attempt to offer a new model for discussing the multi- layered nature of early medieval identities and for using the evidence of these layers to better understand the mechanisms by which such identity shifts occurred. By distinguishing between the political, religious, and descent overtones with which the ethnonyms Goth, Frank, and Roman were used in Visigothic Iberia and Merovingian Gaul, this study will shed light on the complex ways they interacted to shape contemporary society. By addressing both Iberia and Gaul, it will

in the mid-term.69 As for diet and alimentary studies, even though in their initial phases, they reveal a panorama far from the precarious vision lodged in traditional views on the period, although particular interpretations of the changes between Roman and post-Roman times are still under debate.70 Thus, the traditional ‘apocalyptic’ view gave way to a frame of local adaptation, resilience, and mid-term economic strategies. Another important contribution of archaeology is its critical contribution to the issue of early medieval identities. It is beyond