Category Archives: art

A visit to Hästholmen a villa forensis in Östergötland, Sweden

Hästholmen lanterna 600I’ve been lazy when it comes to archaeology blogging lately, partly due to lots and lots of work. The other day I was asked to meet up with some folks from Jönköping County administrative board to tell a little on Hästholmen, as they were visiting on their annual staff day. This gave me a good reason for some blogging :)

Hästholmen hamnen 2 (600x450)

Hästholmen is a small town, ca 500 residents, by lake Vettern. It’s interesting out of many aspects, but lets start during the middle ages. Hästholmen is named in several historic documents, the oldest dated back to 1300 AD. It was never a town but it was what can be called a villa forensis (a place with a market) – this was one of the ports for transporting agricultural commodities from the fertile plains of Östergötland.

Hästholmen nya skärgården (450x600)

In medieval sources a church and a castle is also mentioned. The castle was probably more of a fortified farmstead than a castle. It was owned by one of Albrecht of Mecklenburg knights, Gerdt Snackborg. At Hästholmen was also a ting-place, a middle age court, this was active until at least 1523.

Hästholmen fyr (446x600)

Hästholmen peaked during the 14th and 15th century and then slowly faded into history as Vadstena, where the newly founded Vadstena Abbey was based, received its town charter. There hasn’t been done much archaeology within the medieval parts of Hästholmen, but the finds that has been found are mainly from the 14th or 15th century, for example weapons parts, a seal stamp and a collection of coins. The Seal Stamp is bourgeois and holds the name S.olai Pedarson. In 1983 a collection of 282 silver coins was found on the small hill where the “castle” is supposed to have been. The coins are from Sweden, Denmark and Germany and are minted between 1363 and 1520.

Hästholmen hamnen 4 600

Hästholmen hamnen karta 600The next time in history Hästholmen is visible in history is during the mid 19th century when it once again became an important harbour for agricultural commodities. This was to due with the steam-ship traffic on lake Vettern. In 1859 they rebuilt the harbour, much as it looks today, and 1860 the first the first harbor warehouses, one of this is till there. In 1939 they built a facility for storage and processing of grain which also is still standing. A narrow gauge railway was added in 1888 and a broad gauge (standard gauge) between Hästholmen and Mjoelby wasinaugurated in 1912.

Harbour ware house ca 1860

Harbour ware house ca 1860

In 1918 the ship Per Brahe went down during a storm just 500 meters from the Hästholmen port. It’s know as one the beloved artist John Bauer and his family together with more than 20 others died. The ship was salvaged from the bottom of the lake in 1922 and was was used for many more years in different parts of Sweden and Finland.

Facility for storage and processing of grain, build 1939

Facility for storage and processing of grain, build 1939

This is not the only find made in the harbour or nearby the harbour. Another ship wreck was found 2003, this is not dated but of old age (Viking Age or later). Added to this is also a stone age shaft-hole axe and a Vendel Age (550 – 800 AD) sword.

The old harbour

The area around Hästholmen, Alvastra and Omberg is one of the three pre-historic central areas in Östergötland. The district has been inhabited since the Stone Age, with plenty of both Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements, which has been around creeks, ancient lakes and wetlands in the plains and by lake Vettern.

Information sign rock art

Information sign rock art

During the Boreal period, about 8500-6800 BC we know of more than 30 Mesolithic settlements around the lake Tåkern, alone. In Hästholmen are traces of at least one Neolithic settlement and an Iron Age settlement. At Omberg, about 1-2 km north of Hästholmen is the Alvastra pile-dwelling site, ca 3100 BC. There has also been a megalith grave, that was destroyed in 1916. Excavations at this site was conducted in 1979-83 and found human bone material from both the Neolithic period, ca 3200 BC, and the Mesolithic’s, ca. 6300 BC.

In this area is also lots of medieval remains such as the ruins of the Alvastra monastery, Sverker Chapel, Sverkers farmstead and Alvastra mill. The Sverker-dynasty is one the early royal dynasty’s connected with the formation of Sweden during the 12th-13th century.

One rocks with carvings at Hästholmen

One rocks with carvings at Hästholmen

One of the more interesting sites in Hästholmen is the rock-art. Near Hästholmen are more than 80 known places with rock art, most of these are mainly dated to the Bronze Age. The normal type of carvings are cup marks (skålgropar, älvkvarnar) but in but six places there are also figurative motifs, all of are these close to lake Vettern and the most known are those at Hästholmen. It includes about 200 carvings spread over some 10 areas, including 130 cup marks, 29 ships, nine people, axes and animal etc. etc.

Hästholmen hällristningar 8 (600x450)

Hästholmen hällristningar 7 (600x309)

Hästholmen hällristningar 6 (502x600)

Hästholmen hällristningar 5 (600x450)

Hästholmen hällristningar 4 (600x449)

All in all a nice day :)

Magnus Reuterdahl


Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia

I recently was in Georgia on a wine-tour in combination with EWBC. Now Georgia also poses lots of interesting archaeological finds and some of the oldest that can be connected to wine and wine producing.

Vine branches with silver framing, dated to ca 2-1st millennium B.C. found in Georgia

We visited the Georgian National Museums archaeological exhibit and also got to see some finds that as yet has not reached the exhibit. If you go to Georgia this is a museum not to miss, lots of nice and interesting finds that shows both relations to West Europe, the Middle East and Asia – there’s really no question that you are on the Silk road.

Most of these finds are found in graves and there are several fantastic gold and silver artifacts. The exhibition represent the history of Georgian gold smithery from the 3rd millennium B.C. To the 4th century A.D. So lets get ready for some archeo- artifact – pornography! The pictures are just a few the objects on display and a few in the end that are not on display as yet.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Rock-art-lollapalooza part 2: the Fossum site

Next stop on my Rock art lollapalooza in the UNESCO world Herritage site Tanum is Fossum. The rock art in Tanum is dated to the Bronze Age, ca 1500-1000 BC.

Among the pictures are hunting scenes, people holding axes, people playing horns and of course lots of ships, animals, foot soles and cup marks etc.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

 There’s still more to come :)

Magnus Reuterdahl


Rock-art-lollapalooza part 1

 My fiancée, who also is an archaeologist, is currently participating in an archaeological dig at the Swedish west coast, at Tanum. Tanum is internationally known for its rock art sites, the Tanum UNESCO World Heritage site includes a multitude of rock carvings dated to the Bronze Age ca 1700-500 BC. In the area there are more than 1500 known sites with rock art. Last weekend I visited and we went on a rock art Safari visiting a few of the sites, the first Vitlycke, which is one of the biggest sites including the famous carving that is called the the wedding couple .

The most common motives are cup marks, ships, people, animals, footprints, wheels etc. Not being an expert on these they still captures my imagination, this is as close as we come to a written testimony of the Bronze Age world giving us glimpses into the world then. The rock carving as seen today is made on outcrops and rocks that are visible in the modern farming landscape, but during the Bronze Age they were situated near the waterline. What is ongoing in Scandinavia, since the last Ice Age, is the land uplift in progress, due to this the coastline has moved quite a bit since the Bronze Age and so landscape surrounding the rock carvings has changed as well.

Big outcrop with rock art at Vitlycke

On top of this hill, ca 100 meter higher in the terrain are two great burial cairns from the Bronze Age.

This is the first of several posts consisting mainly of photos from these sites.

The wedding couple

As you see the carvings have been filled with paint, when they’re found they’re not – can you see the carvings on the next picture?

In the middle is a foot sole and down to the left is part of a ship.

At Vitlycke is also a rock art museum, which includes a replica of a Bronze Age farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl


A ship, a wreck? – an etching

updated

We are currently switching our bedroom with our study due to the fact that our library has grown and continues to grow. When you take things down from shelves and walls you will find things you forgot other things have been there so long that you become blind to them as this picture.

It is an etching by Erik Ekroth – a Stockholm artist. The motive is probably from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm with a view towards Södermalm. I haven’t found much information on Erik Ekroth, but he was born in 1883 in Boston, USA. He was educated at the Art Academy etching school, in Stockholm, and a pupil of Axel Tallberg (Wikipedia article on Tallberg in Swedish) and active in the Stockholm area. He did etchings for at least two works – in 1913 a collection of etchings was published in Bonniers månadshäften (Bonniers monthly booklets): 100 Stockholmskåkar (100 Stockholm houses) and HAGA. Tolf etsningar af E. Ekroth (Haga – 12 etchings by E.E). Text av Carl Forsstrand. 1918, printed in a mare 200 ex.

There is little economic value in this etching, but it is decorative and shows a moment frozen in time from the past. I’m no expert on ships and how they were handled at the turn of the century (19th -20th), but I got the impression that this is was an obsolete ship. Alongside this is part of the crew or possibly the owner, mayhap considering voyages done or the work at hand. I’ve been given information that this very likely is a row picture rather than a wreck.  Before the dry time, it is usual to turnover ships to inspect or repair the undersides. Thanks to Claes Theliander and Claes Pettersson for info!

Skeppsholmen is an island in lake Saltsjön in central Stockholm. Today four museums are situated on the island including the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. For Over 300 years until 1968 Skeppsholmen was used by the Navy. Many of the buildings on Skeppsholmen stems from this era.

Magnus Reuterdahl


das Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna part 3 the Roman Empire

The last post on das Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna (for this time), here are some photos from the Roman Empire exhibit.

Gaius Julius Caesar ( 100-44 BC)

Augustus, Gaius Octavius Thurinus (63 BC-14 AD)

Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138 AD)

Lucius Septimius Severus (145 –  211 AD)

Jupiter

Jupiter

Mercury


Roman citizen

Amazon


Terra Sigillata

Magnus Reuterdahl

 


das Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna part 2 Cyprus and Greek

Continuing with pictures from das Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna, here are some statues, bronzes and ceramics from Cyprus and Greece.

A Cypriote statue dating to ca 550 BC.

Some Greek statues, bronzes and ceramics.

Zeus

Eros

Aphrodite

Aphrodite

Aristoteles

Magnus Reuterdahl

 


Some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings

Once again in Jonkoping and once again finding myself on a shopping spree. This weekend I’m visiting my parents before going on a job in the southwest of Sweden. And as luck has it I picked up some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings and prints, if coloured they’re hand coloured.

These two lovely copperplate engravings by Briot, 1672 or 1676, from Histoire de L’Etat Present de L’Empire Ottoman.

To the right, “Vin Spahis”(Tome 2, Fol. 33). Spahi or Kapu Kuli was one of the finest horsemen of the six corps of the Ottoman and later Turkish army. To the left Le Ianisar Agasi, General des Ianissaires (Tome 2 Fol. 45). The Ianissaires where one of the greatest strengths of the Ottoman (and Turkish?) armed forces.

A black and white copperplate engraving of the Chinese wall, in the background is the city Xogon Koton (not sure of its current name or the Pinyin transcription).

The Embassadors entry through the famous Chinese Wall. Near 1200 miles in length from John Harris’s Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca or A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels 1748.

The next engraveing is also on a Chinese view of the Porcelain tower of Nanjing or Bao’ensi.

Prospect of the Porcelane tower at Nan King in China (Sparrow sculp), ca 1790.

The last one with a Chinese motive is named the procession at a Chinese funeral (vol II pag.217) from The general history of China : containing a geographical, historical chronological, political and physical description of the Empire of China, Chinese-Tartary, Corea and Thibet including an exact and particular account of their customs, manners, cermonies, religion, arts and sciences by Jean Baptiste du Halde 1739. (volume the second, The Second edition Corrected)

I also bought a map of the north part of Scandinavia; the Norwegian coast Sweden from Medelpad, the north part of Finland, the north west of Russia. On the map Laponie Suedoise is especially marked. The map is named Carte des courones du Nord, dédiée au tres-puissantet et trees-invincible prince Charles XII roy de Suede des Gots et des Vandales, grand duc dr finlandie &c, &c, &c. Par son tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur Guillaume De l’Isle de l’Academie Rle. des Sciences, 1706. A Paris, chez l’Auteur sur le Quai de l’Orloge a avec Privilege du Roy. Grave par Liebaux le fils.  The map was made by Guillaume de Lisle (1675-1726), this map is printed in Paris 1780.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Going to Kristinehamn

The last day of this summer vaction is closing in, I return to work on Tuesday, but still a few lazy days awaits and we better do the best of it. Today we’re going to Kristinehamn to visit friends and enjoy the sights.

Kristinehamn became a city in 1582 and is situated by the shoreline of lake Vänern, known for the beautiful archipelagic idyll and the world´s biggest(?) Picasso sculpture. The sculpture measures 15 m in height and is a portrayal of his wife Jacqueline. It was set up in 1965. I’ll take a few pictures and update when I’m back again.

 

Magnus Reuterdahl


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