Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Cliopatria Awards

The Cliopatria Awards is a new one for me, it got on my radar through Archaeoastronomy. The Cliopatria Awards recognize the best history writing in the blogosphere. If you want to be a nominee the time is short; nominations will be open throughout November.


Magnus Reuterdahl

A pleasant surprise

I was glad to notice that Svenska Arkeologiska Samfundet (The Swedish Archaeological Association) now links to my blogg along with lots of other interesting and useful sites and internet tools (most in Swedish).

Many thanks!

Magnus Reuterdahl

Osteo treasures somewhat related to Santa

Some months ago while out in field, a few miles north of the polar circle, I found the remains of Santa’s little helper; in other words a reindeer (Rangifer tarandus).  


The Mandible





The ulna and radius are closely linked though not fused like the Bovines.


 A vertebrae





Parts of the pelvis – one half os coxae


 and the os sacrum.


Os talus


Metatarsal bone

 rangifer-tarandus-hoof b


Phalanges number I-3


And at last this is what he/she looked like when alive.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

Struve Geodetic Arc part 2

I am sorry to say that I had to cancel, or postpone, my trip to the survey point at Alanen Perävaara due to the weather.

As I wrote in my previous post the Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations points. It stretches from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea and covers more than 2,800 km. The world heritage is made up by 34 of the original 265 survey points of which four are in Sweden on the mountains Tynnyrilaki, Jupukka, Pullinki, and Perävaara in the municipalities Haparanda, Kiruna, Pajala and Övertorneå in Tornedalen. The Struve Arc was made a UNESCO world heritage in 2005.

In the beginning of 19th century the German-Russian astronomer Wilhelm von Struve (1793-1864) decided to triangulate the exact form and size of the Earth. The survey was carried out between 1816 and 1855. All in all he used 265 measure points 30 km apart from each other, from in Hammerfest Norway to Izmail at the Black Sea. The measurements proved that the latitudes were ca ten meter less wide in Scandinavia than at the equator, thus proving that the Earth was oval rather than round. The project started in Russia 1816, in Sweden it started in the 1840’s and was finally finishes at the Pulkovo observatory where the finishing calculations where made.

Struve’s measurement wasn’t the first attempt to investigate whether the earth was oval or round; in 1745 the royal French academy of sciences sent an expedition to Peru and another to the Sweden led by in De Maupertuis. The expedition came to Tornedalen (Torne valley) in 1736 and included among others Anders Celsius and was finished in 1737. Jöns Svanberg during continued the work during 1800-1804.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The Struve Geodetic Arc

I’ve been somewhat neglecting Testimony of the spade for the better part of a week and a half, but posts are coming. I had planned to visit the world heritage Struve Geodetic Arc, at least one of the points, but since there has come snow we’ll have to see about that.

I must confess I had no idea what Struve Geodetic Arc was or that it was a world heritage before I stumbled across it during work. I got interested and have done some general research into the matter to get a picture of what Struve Geodetic Arc really is. In short The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations. It stretches from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Seaand covers more than 2,800 km. The heritage is made up by 34 of the original 265 survey points. The survey was carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve and was the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. Four of the points are situated in Sweden; they can be found on the mountains Tynnyrilaki, Jupukka, Pullinki, and Perävaara in the municipalities Haparanda, Kiruna, Pajala and Övertorneå in Tornedalen.

The visit I have in mind is at Alanen Perävaara in Haparanda municipally. It should be a 3-4 km hike to the spot that supposedly is marked by a cross and a cairn, but the weather is a factor if I’ll go or not.

A map of the can survey be found here.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The Open Air museum Hägnan

Gammelstad (Old town) is a church village, more about the church and the church village can be found in previous posts here and here, dates back to the Middle Ages. Some of the oldest known parts of the village was placed where the open-air museum Hägnan (the fence) now resides or very nearby.


Within this area excavations have dated constructions to the 14th century and forth. It is believed that a chapel mentioned in texts from the 14th century that later on was turned into a church (1374), was situated in the near vicinity. According to the sources the vicarage was placed nearby the church and within Hägnan the vicarage was placed during the 16th century. In 1558 it was turned into a Kungsgård (a royal farmstead) and in 1563 turned back to be a vicarage again. There are also a couple of C14 datings to the 12th and the 10th century but I haven’t found out exactly were these were made, though probably within Hägnan.


Within the Open air museum are buildings that are in its original place as well as buildings that has been moved there later on. It visit gives a view into the Norrlandic farmsteads and its developments.


This village store is one of newer buildings; it was originally situated in Kalix and is from the early 19th century, then added to and rebuilt over time. Today a village store in style of the 1920’s is in place, it is open during tourist seasons.


A loft shed from the 18th century, at the time the buildings formed an inner farm square. When they became obsolete many were torned down and today only 8 are still left within Norrbotten.


An interesting feature is an open building, where one can study how the house skeleton and see construction details.

I recommend a visit if you are in the vicinity of Lulea, the church, the church village and the Open Air museum is a full days worth of cultural activity.

A view toward Gammelstad and Nederlulea church from the NW edges of Hägnan.

Link to Hägnan Open Air museum (In Swedish)

Magnus Reuterdahl

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