The written evidence gives us a view of the conversion of the peri-Baltic area through the eyes of the successful Christianizers who painted a process that was quick, historically necessary, and politically effective. They dichotomized the past into two distinctive epochs separated by decisive events which introduced divine order into ungodly chaos. Therefore archaeologists have been convinced that discerning between 'pagan' and 'Christian' burials does not pose much of a problem and that a threshold of change exists. Today it is clear that the story of building a shared Christian identity was a much longer and difficult process on both sides of the Baltic Sea. Apparently, the ecclesiastic tradition to put a sign of equality between the act of a ruler's conversion and inclusion of a whole 'nation' into the universal Church is misleading. A recent tendency in archaeology is to explore the dialectic aspects of 'acceptance versus resistance' attitudes and to expose the confrontation and the continuation of the 'old' and 'new' religion-driven socio-political systems. Generalizations like 'Slavic heathendom' or 'Norse paganism' are not obvious any longer and need a chronological and geographical specification every time. Only a skilful combination of text and material evidence studies, supported by linguistics, theology, numismatics, history of art and historical anthropology may ensure any real progress in our understanding of the fascinating process of Christianization in Northern Europe. The new faith, its rituals and eschatological expectations, diffused at a very slow rate among the rural inhabitants of the formally converted state. Collective cultural practices, such as death rituals and burial customs integrate members of particular communities and, at the same time, differentiate the populations. Therefore, changes in this sphere must have been difficult to impose. In Poland archaeology shows that only after 150 to 200 years did the concentration of all burials (without grave goods) around churches demonstrate that the Church had finally gained full control over the death rituals and burial practices of the local populations.
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