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Durham e-Theses
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A symmetry analysis off early mediaeval ormameimtation

Ebeling, Bianca-Sophie (1990) A symmetry analysis off early mediaeval ormameimtation. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this thesis is to test the appropriateness of symmetry analysis as a method for the systematic classification of Early Mediaeval ornamentation. This method is different from the traditional Montehan concept of formal classification in archaeology, in that the stylistic entities are not chosen according to the formal similarity of individual motifs and motif-elements, but according to the formal similarity of their symmetrical organisation within an ornamental pattern. It is suggested that symmetry analysis is a more objective method of classifying and analysing ornamentation, as it avoids the subjective selection of typological elements, and therefore also avoids one of the pitfalls of typological classification caused by the ambiguity of the concept of style. Washburn, the originator of this method has suggested that in this way hypotheses can be tested regarding the identity as well as the interaction or information exchange of individuals belonging to a certain cultural, ethnic or social group. In order to test the usefulness of symmetry analysis in relation to these proposals for archaeological research, garnet jewellery from the Merovingian period as well as two manuscript paintings from the Gospel-books of Lindisfarne and Kells have been analysed and compared. It was concluded that the structure of the design-fields of the different types of artefact is one of the main factors for the appearance of certain symmetries within the ornamental context of the artefacts. However, the analysis could also indicate that the method has the potential to classify decorated artefacts according to different regions and workshops of production, and even according to their different social milieu of production. It is concluded that a larger quantity of material has to be analysed in order to get conclusive results from the symmetrical analysis in relation to the latter aspects of investigation, and with regard to the other original proposals made by Washburn.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1990
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:45

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