Monthly Archives: April 2008

The speech of Neanderthals

Through the a Swedish forum for discussions concerning archaeology, Arkeologiforum, I found this newsflash:

Do you want to hear how the Neanderthals talked? In an article in NewScientist one can read about the research and results made by Robert McCarthy, an anthropologist at Florida Atlantic University. He has found that the Neanderthals voices were not as guttural as has been believed but more nasal and shrill. Here you can listen to McCarthy simulate an “E”.  

Magnus Reuterdahl


A Seminar concerning castles and ancient fortresses

Tomorrow (Friday 18th) I plan to attend a seminar about castles held by the Swedish Association for castle studies (Link in Swedish). The program promises some interesting seminars such as:

Professor Ulf Näsman will talk about ancient fortresses on the southern part of the Island Öland and the societies that built them.

One example of these ancient fortresses is Ismantorps borg, read more here.

Next in line is Fil.Dr. Anna Lihammer will speak on the subject Trelleborgar in their context. Trelleborgar: Trelleborgar are large round ancient fortresses of a type mainly found in Scania and Denmark dated to the Iron Age.

Fil.Dr. Peter Carelli will speak of the castle of Helsingborg during the middle ages. The castle is a made out of a large tower, dated to the 13th century. Link to a picture here.

And finally Mats Sandin and Tom Wennberg from Gothenborg city museum will speak of the excavations at the middle age castle Älvsborg.

I will take some notes though not so detailed as those concerning the Osteological Associations seminar. I might have missed someone’s title or gotten it wrong, if so please contact me.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Proud to be one!

A few days ago, on the 10th, the spade had given testimony for one year. During the first 365 days I’ve posted 148 posts and have had more than 12500 visits. I feel pleased with my first year with the spade. I missed my birthday with a few days but better late than never.


I use this opportunity to share some photos I haven’t shared before. One of my big interest is Ostoeology so this time around it got to be photos of bones, in this case craniums.


As I went through my digital photos I found these pictures that I took as I worked at the Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory (OFL), Stockholm University, in preparing a move from the royal castle Ulriksdal to the Wallenberg laboratory in 2005.


The photos of these craniums have been taken for different reasons. These are examples on how disease can leave traces on bone. On this skull we see what osteosarcoma, a type of malignant bone cancer, looks like.


Kranium osteosarcoma





Kranium osteosarcoma




Kranium osteosarcoma


This photo where taken as an examples of a discrete trait, in this case so called inca bones or os incae. Discrete traits are traits that often are more common among certain populations. The inca bones have been named so as they are more common amongst the Incas of South America. Inca bones are small bones that are developed within the sutures of the skull.


Kranium med inca ben, os incae

Continuing with sutures; a suture that normally closes during childhood is sutura frontalis, on the forehead, but in some cases it is visible beyond that.


barn kranium 

As you can see on this child cranium the forehead (os parielate) is divided into two pieces though the sutura frontalis has began to close.



This a an adult cranium where where one can see the sutura frontalis.


Other marks are from a trauma of diffrent kinds. In this case it is a healed injury, probably from a sword or an axe.


skadat kranium, svärd, yxa, hugg


The edges of the injury are soft and rounded, this shows that the individual has survived the injury.

In the collections, at that time, were also a few mummies. Here is one of them, today these are at the university of Uppsala.




Through the bones and other remains of prehistoric or historic humans we as archaeologist/osteologists comes very close to the individuals we work on. The skeletons hold many answers on living conditions, health and in some cases what the individual did for a living. I see it as a privilege to be able to work on such materials and to be able to find out more about what their life might have been.



Lets hope for an interesting year with lots of archaeology and osteology!


Magnus Reuterdahl

The exterior of the dome of Linköping and then some

In my last post I showed parts of the interior of the dome now to the exterior.

Linköpings domkyrka

The history of the dome of Linköping begins before the dome; it probably is predated by a small wooden church, maybe built during the 11th century. The first stone church was built during the first half the 12th century. The foundation of this church was excavated in 1915-1916. During the beginning of the 13th century the bishop Bengt (1220-36) started to make expansions. He built a new chancel as well as a transept nave. These parts are still a part of the dome as well as the altar. Since the church has been rebuilt, added to and renovated. A dome can be seen as a constant work in progress, though these days there are mostly renovations and changes of the interior design.

 Linköpings domkyrka

One interesting detail is the sundial, it can be found on one of the exterior pillars of the chancel.

Medeltida solur Linköpings domkyrka

It is dated to 1512 and one of the oldest in Sweden. As you can se in the photo below it is a square with lines and inscriptions to help the watcher to read the time.

 Medeltida solur lindköpings domkyrka

Just northwest of the dome is a reconstruction of a labyrinth, a.k.a. a trojaborg.

 linköpings domkyrka labyrint

Just southwest of the dome is Linköping castle. The oldest parts of the castle are dated to the 12th century and it is one of the oldest profane buildings in Sweden. The oldest parts are a small basement and a small two-storey house, both made out of limestone, they are dated to the first half of the 12th century (of which I have no pictures…).

Linköpings slott 3

Linköpings slott 1

Lindköpings slott 2


Magnus Reuterdahl


Runes, graffiti, marks and inscriptions in the dome of Linköping

In the dome of Linköping as in many old churches one can find a lot of inscriptions. Some are carvings for graves or memorials others in the form of graffiti or stone cutter marks. Here are a few of the inscriptions and marks me and my fiancé found as we visited the church last Sunday.

For me runes are the most fun and we found a runic inscription. It is located to on the right side of the stone fundament that encloses the altar section.



 The runic inscription can be transliterated into kuts, kauts or possibly knuts. The second rune might be a bindrune, the rune stave is used for more than one run, in this case A+U or N+U. I don’t know the signum of this inscription as I haven’t found it in the database of runic inscription: samnordisk runtextdatabas.

Update number 1, 2008-04-14.

I’ve got word that no runic inscriptions from the Dome of Linköping are published in samnordisk runtextdatabas as yet, this does not means that they are unknown just not published in the sources currently used such as Sveriges Runiskrifter (The Runic inscriptions in Sweden) or in annuals like Fornvännen etc.

Update number 2, 2008-04-15.

I would like to thank Jan Owe at for getting some answers for me. Jan Owe works on, among other things, updating and I belive maintaing the runic database samnordisk runtextdatabas which is a great tool for those of us who are interested in runic inscriptions.

Jan Owe has just read the books Sveriges kyrkor (the churches of Sweden) number 200 and 201 that concerns the dome of Linköping. In these there are no references to the inscription “kuts/knuts/kauts“. But Jan Owe has come across a notation about the inscription at Runverket (the Department of Runes at the National Heritage Board, aka RAA). In this it is mentioned that the u + a/n-rune is not an intentional bindrune but most probably an u-rune. The a/n line isn’t as deep as the other lines and therefore probably not intentional.

Jan Owe also is also kind enough to point out that I missed a few runic inscription in the dome, that will be added to the database. I’ll have to search for these the next time I am in Linköping. 

These two inscriptions are probably stone cutter marks.

As I mentioned previously there is also a lot of old graffiti and here is a selection of graffiti from the 17th and 18th century.


I’ll end up with an inscription which at least seems to be of Hebrew or Arabic decent. If any one knows please send let me know.

inskrift Linköpings domkyrka


Magnus Reuterdahl


The last stop was at the manor Gunillaberg just outside of Bottnaryd, Jönköping County, Småland.


The manor building was built somewhere during the second half of the 17th century by Johan Prinz (1592-1663). Johan Prinz is perhaps best known for his time as governor of the Swedish colony New Sweden, Delaware, USA during 1642-1653. He later on became commandant for the castle of Jönköping (1657-1663) and county governor for Jönköping County (1658-1663).


The manor is built in the Karolin style, named after the Karolin era, 1654-1718 during the regency of King Karl X Gustav, Karl XI and Karl XII. On of the trait of the style are the strict symmetries.

left wing

The left wing

The main building is more or less unchanged and it built by timber. There are also many interesting details indoors, as the hand painted tapestry from the 18th century. The two wings were built in the 18th century.

A beautiful older farm building at Gunillaberg.

The sundial is from 1796 and made out of marble from Kolgården and was an edition by the owner at the time, Carl Axel Lilliecreutz.


A beautiful building that by the way is for sale.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Rune stone Vg 90

On our way home we made a quick stop at the rune stone Vg (Västergötland) 90 at Torestorp in Håkantorp parish.

Besides the runic inscription there is also the ornamentation, on this stone a cross. It is dated to the Viking Age. As you can see it isn’t all that easy to read it as it looks today. It is high time for the National Heritage Board or the County Administrative Board to repaint the runic inscription as well as make a new information sign.

When I visited the stone this sign produced by Falbygdens museum where at place. It has clearly seen better days and is only printed in Swedish.

The inscription is as follows

burþiR * sati * stin * þonsi * iftiR * h(i)–o * sun * sin * harþa * kuþan * trik

Translated into English:

Bróðir placed this stone in memory of <hi–o> his son, a very good valiant man.

One could be lead to believe that Bróðir should be translated to brother but it is more likely, in this case, that Bróðir is a name. At the end of the inscription it is stated that the stone is erected in memory of Bróðirs son.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The grave field Ekornavallen

Our trip in Västergötland continued and our next stop on the way to Lake Horborga was the grave filed Ekornavallen.

Grave field, Västergötland, Prehistoric

Ekornvallen is a grave field with a very long continuity span, from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. The oldest graves are four passage tombs and a stone cist from the Neolithic Age, a great cairn from the Bronze Age, large stone settings, erect stones and stone circles from the Iron Age, besides this element from a fossilized landscape are visible on and around the grave field.

Passage tomb, Västergötland, Prehistoric grave field

Passage tomb

Prehistoric grave field, Västergötland

Overview from southeast, in the centre at the top lays the big cairn and to the left a passage tomb.

Ekornavallen, Prehistoric grave field, Västergötland

A filled round stone setting, 20-25 meter wide

Erect stones, västergötland, prehistoric grave field

Erect stones 

Ekornavallen, Västergötland, Prehistoric gravefield

Erect stone

The oldest graves are in other word ca 4-5000 years old and the youngest ca 1-2000 years old.

Spring is the absolute best time to do archeothingy-spotting. Just before nature really awakes the ancient monuments seem to pop up from the ground. All features gets so visable due to the fact that no new grass has begun to grow. At this grave field the caretakers helps visitors yet a bit by keeping the area and especially the remains that can be difficult to spot really tidy.

Read more about Ekornavallen at the National Heritage Boards webpage.

This grave field is really worth visiting.

Next stop VG 90 (A rune stone)!

Magnus Reuterdahl

The passage tombs of Karleby

The people buried in these graves during the Stone Age lived and farmed this land for a long time, ca 4500-5000 years ago.

In Sweden we know of ca 400 passage tombs, ca 66 % of these can be found here in Falbygden. Around Karleby there are 13 passage tombs. A passage tomb has a chamber and a passage way build by blocks of stone, and other blocks are placed as a roof.

One deduction is that the passage tombs show traces of an ideological expression of collectivism as in one of the graves more than 80 individuals have been identified. During excavations done 1989-1992 archaeologists found remains of settlements. These remains are postholes, artefacts, animal bones etc. The excavations have given evidence regarding domesticated animals such as cows, sheep and pigs and what crops were cultivated, such as wheat and barley. The archaeological records also show that the settlements and burial grounds were intentionally kept apart from each other.

At this particular spot three graves are lays within 100 meter from each other,they are easy to access as they lay between the farms near the passing road, several of them has information signs.


This one is called Ragnvalds kulle (the hill of Ragnvald).

My next post will be on the grave field Ekornavallen.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Check it out

Don’t miss the 38th volume of Four Stone Hearth; The Early Bird Special Edition, hosted by the always interesting blog with a great name “A very remote period indeed“. 

Later today I will publish a post about the prehistoric graves I visited this weekend, with some great photos.

Magnus Reuterdahl

%d bloggers like this: