Monthly Archives: February 2010

On my way to London

As part of the Yangshao project I and my associate Johan Klange has been invited to a conference at British Museum held by Museo Arti Primarie (MAP), the Museum of Primary Art, on March 5th. So it seems I am off to London next week.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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A thesis on Harbours and hinterlands, Corinthian Gulf (600-300 B.C.)

On Saturday, February 20th, Anton Bonnier defends his thesis Harbours and hinterlands: Landscape, site patterns and coast-hinterland interconnections by the Corinthian Gulf, c. 600-300 B.C. at Stockholm University, 10.00, in auditorium D8. I plan to attend, if I ain’t held up by the coming snowstorm.

The abstract is available here.

I will return with some notes on the thesis as soon as I can.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Archaeology in Stockholm County part 2

I’ll continue with the notes from next three (3-6) seminars held at “Archeology in Stockholm County 2009” at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm 2010. Link to part one.

At Jarlabankes home – Are the individuals buried at Brobybro grave field, in Täby parish, related?

Lars Andersson, Stockholm County Museum

The Brobybro grave field is dated to ca 1000 to 1100 A.D. The excavations are a part of the project Runriket (The land of runes) and the findings will be exhibited at the Stockholm County Museum in a new exhibit that opens on February 24th 2010.

Jarlabanke was one of the most powerful men in Uppland somewhere around 1000 AD who owned great land estates in Täby and Vallentuna. Jarlabanke and his family are known to us through the inscriptions on several rune stones.

The grave field consists of ca 20 burials, 12 of which are investigated. A burial mound, Oesten’s mound, has been removed due to cultivation during the 19th century and on the graves. On the grave field are three rune stones, there has originally been four. These are rare as the inscriptions are tied to the burial ground, and those who are buried there, including Estrid and Oesten. Oesten was Jarlabanke grandfather and died in Greece, therefore it’s believed that the mound was empty and erected to the memory of Oesten. The skeletons have been osteological analyzed and only one is female, possibly Estrid who is mentioned on one of the rune stones. From the skeleton a facial reconstruction has been made and will be on display at Stockholm County museum. Of the other skeletons eight has been deemed male, two are from children. One of the children were very young, possibly newborn, was buried in the outskirts of the grave field. In eight of the graves are indications of coffins, two were nailed together, and six had a trough-like design. Most appear to have lids and the lids seem to have been, at least in some cases, charred. Among the finds a number of coins stand out, among other things, a Olof Skötkonung (king of Sweden 995-1022) coin otherwise very few artifacts had been left with the dead.

Besides osteological analysis the skeletons has also gone through DNA analysis to see if the buried are related to each other, the analysis was not jet finished at this time. The reason for DNA-analysis were debated during the seminar as whether or not they turn out to be blood relatives or not might not matter all that much, as during the late Viking Age and early Middle Ages as adopted family members were as high in rang as blood relatives when it comes to the right of inheritance. Regardless of all this the analysis gives knowledge – either new or results that reinforce old knowledge. The results also accumulate to the database of DNA analyzed prehistoric skeletons.

Another thing that was debated was the absence of women, or the presence of just one woman. During the debate it was put forth that this is to be expected at grave fields from this time of this sort (small grave fields connected to an estate, a farm or a family) as the buried are those who stand in line to or have inherited the estate, which most often are sons. In this case Estrid is mentioned on the rune stones which might be due to the fact that she inherited the state as a widow or a lonely child.

Comments;

– Interesting finds from a very interesting place. This gives me a good reason to visit Stockholm County Museum later this spring.

Prehistoric ceramic usage in the eastern part of middle Sweden – a result of university- and assignment (exploration) archaeology

Sven Isaksson, the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University

Sven Isaksson has made a compilation of lipid analysis made at the AFL from 300 prehistoric vessels, where one fragment equals one vessel. The method used is mass spectrometry. With this you can see whether the lipids derived from marine/aquatic fats, respectively, land animals or vegetables. There are a overlap between lean fish and terrestrial animals to consider. One can, at best, also identify differences between ruminant and monogastric animals, and if the fat comes from meat or milk proteins. There is also possible to separate vegetable fat that is derived from oils and nuts.

Some ceramic shards are “empty ” ie. there are no lipids to be extracted, this may be due to preservation conditions, soil composition and the nature of the ceramics; ie. porous or solid ceramic and of course it might depend of how the vessel been used.

A kind of culinary context must be taken into account. What was the main function of the vessels; cooking, storing food or drink, a sacrificial piece etc. – The interpretation must include more than the vessel itself such as the context of usage; Who cooked the food? What cooking technique was used? For what reason did they cook food? Where they used for storage and for how long etc. There are, for example, several containers from the Bronze Age that are showing traces of tar. Most often pieces from the mouth of the vessel is used for analysis and this might be traces of a sealing, it might also be a residue from a technique to seal the walls of the vessel.

The analysis shows that there are differences over time in terms of cuisine. The early Neolithic, Funnel beakers (TRB), represents a different type of cuisine than the cuisine of the Pitted ware culture (GRK) in the later period of the Neolithic’s. The GRK cuisine continues into the Bronze Age, though developing towards a more one-sided use. During the Iron Age it once again goes towards a more diverse couisine and usage of the pottery.

Comments;

– An interesting compilation that is worth a closer look.

Karsvik in Bromma – a plateau house environment, Norra Ängby

Anna Arnberg, Johan Runar & Bengt Windelhed, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University

The field course in Archaeology (General course) held by the department of archaeology at Stockholm University 2009 were carried out in collaboration with several institutions and companies such as Stockholm City Museum, Bromma local history association and Arkeologikonsult (private company).

The field course and the project concern a farmstead environment with its roots in the Bronze Age which can be followed forth through the Iron Age, the Middle Ages and newer Ages. The students in cooperation with the mentioned institutions have done surveys, studies of historic maps, and excavations. The excavation concerns the foundations of a Viking Age farmstead, Bromma 226:1, at a terrace and a stone setting (a burial monument), Bromma 30:1. The survey has identified four different elements from different periods;

  • A stone fence, Bromma 30:1, dating to the early Iron Age (500 B.C.–550 A.D.), a minor excavation of a smaller part for the purpose of dating the fence.
  • A stone setting (a burial monument), Bromma 66:1, made out of large stones and boulders, probably from the early Iron Age or Bronze Age. A find within the stone setting shows that it’s been reused during the late Iron Age.
  • A foundation of a Viking Age house on a plateau, Bromma 226:1.
  • A stone setting (a burial monument) and a five stone boundary cairn, Bromma 226:2-3. The boundary cairn is placed on an older burial monument, possibly. It’s a difficult context to interpret, the five stone cairn, in reality not a cairn but five stone placed in a cross formation where a heart stone marks the spot and the wing stones the direction of the border, these are often placed where a boarder makes a turn. According to historic maps there should be a five stone cairn about here, a there is a bit of difference in opinions if this is that cairn or not. Finds of cremated bones, fragments of a comb and a arrowhead is evidence of the grave, though if I understood it right, the outside of the stone setting was disturbed by later day activities and the possible five stone cairn.

After the Viking Age the settlement moved away from the plateau down slopes where several remains can be seen in the ground.

Comments;

–          The scientific value of this place is the long time continuity of usage that have left traces in the landscape, possibly from the Bronze Age and forth


  • These notes should not be used as references, if you’re interested I’m sure the people behind the seminars are happy to help you.
  • These are memory notes so there might very well a few faults or misunderstandings among them, if you find anything that is wrong or out of place please contact me so that I can fix it.

Four Stone Hearth # 86 Amazing stories edition

Welcome to the spade where we’ll dig deep into the anthropological part of the blogosphere and find some amazing posts. Besides archaeology I love the pulp fiction magazines so I’ll use some covers to illustrate this edition. Sit back, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the multitudes and amazingness of the following posts;

It’s no wonder that you feel the urge for a snack when you visit the movies or go to the theatre, now it’s proven that we’ve had this urge for hundreds of the years. But back then the rustling of candy rappers wasn’t what made the man in front of you go bananas but rather the cracking noise of oyster shells beeing opened.

At this amazing stories ed. all is not what it seems to be, visit Geobastard (you might know him from Terra Incognita and Antimonite R.I.P.) for an updated La Promenade.

Let us continue with some good honest field work, I’ve been in some odd situations but I would also wonder where in the hell I am if I was berated by a 50 year old woman… naked and wrapped in an American flag… Poorly wrapped.

As we’re on the subject of human anatomy an archaeologist for hire tells a hairy story, I especially love the poster; the Hierarchy of beards.

I would personally love to see the moustache (Flapwings) worn by the top left man on the Hierarchy of beards poster on Martin Rundqvists upper lip and cheeks. Then I believe that no one would dare to not give you a professor post – who could say no toa man in such a fine ornament. Btw Martin been studying tripartite name usage traditions and found a link between Denmark and China.

Continuing in the language department – Steven Till gives us the medieval history term of the week; [huhz-buhn-dree]

It’s said a picture says more than a thousand words – at Visualizing-Neolithic they more or less discarded the use of words and let the pictures tell the story.

I wish I could take photos like Deanna Dent – whilst she struggles on finding an answer to the question “How do you find Sudan? I think the answer might be in her photos.

Staying on the African continent and on the subject of pictures, Judith Weingarten studies dance and trance via rock-art.

From ancient Rock-art to a modern form of rock art, mosaics at a subway station of New York, and a little on the history by them (If you ever come to Stockholm I’m pleased to tell you that you’ll feel safe in the subway, all the underground stations are filled with art, web page in Swedish but translatable with the web tool of your choice  or you can choose to just look at the pictures; se under Konst i tunnelbanan; 1950-tal etc.).

From stills to moving pictures Seandálaíocht gives us info on online TV about the Hidden heritage in Northern Ireland.

Television moving into to web might be part of yesterdays technique in today’s media landscape, Johan Postill have a post on a digital media landscape in transformation.

Information sometimes takes crooked ways to finds its recipient; Jonathan Jarrett at A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe found information of a conference in Bristol on bones found in Germany through an American blog The Heroic Age.

Another way to find and share information is through different networks, Lena Stridh at Ossamenta writes on the network Professional Zooarchaeology Group in Britain or you can find that network in a blog; Archaeolog is a collective weblog dealing in all things archaeological. It is open to the wider archaeological community and cognate fields from academics to field practitioners, from professors to students. The latest post is written by Christopher Witmore who wishes for a new archaeology, a pragmatology that might provide a surrogate umbrella under which archaeologists who are concerned with stakeholder associations, questions of heritage, contemporary archaeology, archaeological ethnography, and reflexive method might operate.

When on the note of artefacts and how we interpret them and their contexts, Johan Normark at Archaeological Haecceities discusses polyagents, time-shelters and causeways – Bachelard vs. Bergson and Deleuze.

From thoughts on artefacts to artefacts Declan Moore tells the tale of a lonely Bronze Age Halberd and its way from the ground to the virtual and to the National Museum.

Still on the subject of artefacts Perica Sardzovski at Arheoblog tells the tale of an artefact that has been creating turmoil; Adam of Macedonia, a clay figurine of a male torso, in a seated position excavated at the turn of the millennium, from the archaeological site of Govrlevo (Skopje, Macedonia), dated to ca 6000 BP.

Another type of “artefacts” can be described as “Y-hap T, along with L…” Does this ring a bell? If so, or if this caught your interest, Terry Toohill of anthropology.net got tale for you.

I started with an invitation to take a glass of wine and let you be drawn into the wonderful world of blogs. We are approaching the end of the attractions of this carnival and after a glass of wine it might be time to find a bite to eat, why not try it an in vogue diets such as Paleo diet, short for Paleolithic diet, a.k.a. caveman diet. Ciarán Brewster wonders if we are better adapted to the Palaeolithic than the Modern era and which aspects of the Palaeolithic the Paleo diet reference to.

Next Four Stone Hearth blog carnival will be hosted by Anthropology in Practice If you would like to submit content to the next issue of the carnival, please write to Ciarán Brewster or to Martin Rundkvist. You are encouraged to submit other bloggers’ work as well as your own and ff you would like to host the carnival, please write to Martin Rundkvist.

A big thanks to all of you who submitted material!

That’s all folks I hope it was as good for you as it was for me!

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl


Upcoming Archaeology seminar in Östergötland

On Friday (February 12th) the County Administrative board of Östergötland holds a seminar not unlike that I visited in Stockholm last week.

Program

Östergötland County museum

The archaeological field works of 2009 – Marie Ohlsén

S:t Illian, the third church  – Mats Magnusson

Sudden death in Skänninge – Victoria Björhager & Emma Karlsson

Mariehov, an archaeological investigative stage 1 – Anders Persson & Rickard Lindberg

Arkeologikonslut

Tornby – Björn Hjulström

Kv. Stenhuset – Kenneth Svensson

Arkeologicentrum

The wind farm in Hornsberg – Magnus Reuterdahl

The National Heritage board UV Öst

Garden archeology in kv. Lyckan – Annika Nordström & Jens Heimdahl

Valla, a Viking Age farm complex – Karin Lindebald & Katarina Sköld

Tombs and burial practices at St. Olaf. New methods and analysis of medieval tombs in a Dominican convent- Hanna Menander

Kulturmiljövård I Mälardalen

Archaeology in Motala – Fredrik Hallgren

Looking forward on Friday’s activities and from list of participants as well as speakers I see a lot of familiar faces.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Four Stone Hearth # 86 progress report!

Since I noticed that several of you have been checking up on my progress on the 86th ed of the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival via its homepage, I thought that I’d give you a small progress report. I hope to have the 86th edition is up and running in a few hours.I got a lot of posts that I’ll try to bind together into something, at least, seemingly coherent way

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl


Archaeology in Stockholm County part 1

Notes from the seminar “Archeology in Stockholm County 2009” held at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm 2010. I’ve divided it into three parts in the order they were given.

The Neolithic landscape at Albyberg in Haninge.

Michel Guinard SAU (Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis)

A report on the results from an archaeological investigation in 2009 in Haninge where 16 settlements (Stone Age), one rock with cup marks (dating Stone Age – Iron Age) and four cairns that mark boundaries (medieval or newer times) was found.

12 of the 16 settlements consisting of finds of quartz, these are dated roughly to about 9000-6000 BP. They are positioned high in the countryside, about 40-55 m above sea level, in small sheltered positions on the highest peak levels. These sites might be some kind of temporary hunting stations temporary for seal hunters, fishers or bird hunters.

These can be compared with the four Neolithic settlements found at 30-35 m above the sea level on sandy flat surfaces.

Comment;

– The report is not yet published.

Korsnäs Revisited – about an ongoing research project on middle Neolithic activities at Södertörn

Elin Fornander, the Archaeological Research laboratory, Stockholm University

Korsnäs is a pitted ware settlement (ca 3200 BC– ca 2300 BC) at Södertörn, Grödinge parish. The settlement is situated ca 25 m above the sea level on a flat sandy surface. The settlement was discovered 1903. Several minor excavations and surveys has been made since then; 1931 phosphate mapping, 1933 minor excavation, 1964 survey, 1970/1973/1979/1991/2003 minor excavations, 2005 screening of old dump piles, 2009 minor excavation).

The 2009 excavation was part in the research project at hand, the excavation will continue in 2010 as part of the field courses (Archaeology, Archaeological Sciences, Osteoarchaeology) held by the Department of Archaeology at Stockholm University.

The place has very good preservation conditions for bones. What makes the enviorment good for bone preservation has been debated, during the project soil samples will be taken for the purpose of answering that question. Among the animal bones seals and pigs dominate but bone analysis shows that an essentially part of the diet was marine which leaves question on what they did and how they regarded the pigs. There are also seven known graves, the latest found in 2009. The graves in the pitted ware culture are often elaborate and diverse. In one of the graves the individual has been laid on a bed of herring bones together with a dog skull and a clay bead in one of the eye sockets. Also interesting is a child burial.

The 2009 excavation gave evidence for the richness of the site, they excavated a surface of 17 m2 and found nearly 49 kg of ceramic shards, ca 19 % are decorated. There are also several shards from miniature vessels, they’ve been ca 2-3 cm – 5-10 cm in size. Besides the ornate ceramics the ceramics can be divided into two types; porous and solid cargoes.

Comments;

– this is an interesting project that include several archaeological methods; soil analysis, lipid analysis, bone chemistry (13C-analysis), ceramic analysis, osteology etc. The results will come in a report, but also as part of a student essays and be part of at least one thesis.

Mass burn sacrifice (flint and other stone tools that has been purposely exposed to fire and heat as a ritual act) in early agricultural society, Stensborg, Grödinge parish

Lars Larsson, Department of Archaeology Lund University

Settlements are often a too wide term to describe a site as it includes many diverse and divergent types of sites; human settlements, farms, manufacturing sites, hunting sites, activity areas, etc. In this case a better word might be gathering sites (Samlingsplaster). They are well defined places, often they can be described as some form of enclosed by natural or manmade barriers such as ravines, trenches, open water, hills etc. At these locations one finds large amounts of deposited burned, and deliberately broken objects; flint artifacts, slate artifacts, ceramics, exotic objects, human bones, etc., Known places of this sort includes Sarup in Demark on Fyn, the Alvastra pile-dwelling and a number of premises in southern Sweden. An interconnecting element is fire and the deliberated destruction of the objects. The items are usually deposited in small pits or small thin flakes.

At a golf course in Stenstorp, Grödinge parish, a small field between two courses has be saved. On this field archaeologist Sven-Gunnar Bostrom have picked up, measured, positioned and collected more than 3,000 objects by field walking. Among the objects are large quantities of rock axes (thin-and with a pointed ridge), flint axes, and much Funnelbeaker (TRB) ceramics. A high percentage of the ceramic shards are decorated. There are also a lot of exotic objects such as a slate knife and the artifacts made of Kristianstad Flint.  These have artifacts have been deliberately destroyed by fire and by breaking. A lot of the objects have roughly the same size which shows that it’s important how to destroy them correctly. They could also be said to have been “baked” or cremated in a controlled way to make the destruction go a certain way for example the flints are often found as large pieces of white sheets of flint. Thereafter the destroyed objects have been “buried” in small pits that has been sealed with clay or in flat beds of clay that more resembles a form a sowing. Some artifacts, such as rock chisels are not destroyed, indicating that they instead have been used in the process of destruction.

In 2008 and 2009 excavations in the field and on the ridge which forms the northern boundary. During the excavation yet another interesting find was made, in the field, concentrations of burnt grain, more than 7000 grains were collected from three samples- The grain consist mainly of barley, spelt and bread wheat. The grain was well-stocked, severely burned and in combination with very little charcoal. This indicating that the grain exercised as fuel.  14C-dating of the grain gives dates to ca 4600 BP i.e. Funnelbeaker culture.

The excavations on the ridge resulted in more normal settlement finds.

Comments;

–          So far this place is unique in this part of Sweden, though not unique in Scandinavia.  It shows extraordinary similarities to their southern counterparts, which indicates arather close connection between the South Scandinavian Stone Age cultures and between middle Swedish owns. Among the finds are also artifacts that show contacts to the north, such as a slate knife, also broken.  The similarity between these sites indicates that there is a consciousness and organization within the society that reaches far beyond the tribe or the closest neighbors, that borders on the concept of organized religion.

Magnus Reuterdahl


These notes should not be used as references, if you’re interested I’m sure the people behind the seminars are happy to help you.

These are memory notes so there might very well a few faults or misunderstandings among them, if you find anything that is wrong or out of place please contact me so that I can fix it.


Four Stone Hearth: Call for Submissions

Testimony of the Spade will host the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival on Wendsday, February 10th. If you would like to contribute any anthropology-themed posts that you’ve written or you’ve seen please send me a mail; inventerare[at delete_this]hotmail[dot]come.

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl


A seminar on Archaeology in Stockholm County

The county administrative board of Stockholm holds a seminar on archaeology in Stockholm County on Thursday February 4th that I’ll attend.

Seminars

  • The Stone Age landscape at Albyberg, Haninge by Michel Guinard, SAU
  • Korsnäs revisited – an ongoing research project  on middle neolithic activities at Södertörn by Elin Fornander, the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University
  • Mass burn sacrifice (flint and other stone tools that has been purposely exposed to fire and heat as a ritual act) in early agricultural society, Stensborg, Grödinge parish by Lars Larsson, Department of Archaeology Lund University
  • At Jarlabankes home – are the people buried at Broby, Täby parish, related? by Lars Andersson, Stockholm County Museum
  • Prehistoric ceramic usage in the eastern part of middle Sweden – a result of university- and assignment (exploration) archaeology by Sven Isaksson, the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University
  • Karsvik in Bromma – a plateau house environment, Norra Ängby by Anna Arnberg, Johan Runar & Bengt Windelhed, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University
  • On the marine archaeological work at the harbour of Birka by Johan Rönnby, Department of Culture and Communication; Archaeology, Södertörn University
  • Excavtaions at Spånga church – a completed project by John Wendesjö, Stockholm city museum
  • The Dominican convent in Sigtuna by Anders Wikström, Sigtuna Museum

An interesting mix of university scholars and archaeologist working with assignment/exploration archaeology and an interesting mix of subjects – I’ll write a few lines on them later on.

Magnus Reuterdahl


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