Van Halen vs an immaterial cultural heritage

I sat listening to Van Halen the other day – going through my old albums, on vinyl – anyone remember those big old round things? When I got to the 1984 album and the hit Jump – something hit me. This song got me thinking on a Swedish word Ättestupa.

While David Lee Roth sees jumping as something positive, Ättestupa is quite another form of jumping – Instead of; get up, and nothing gets me down – Ättestupa means; get down and nothing gets you up again. But the phrase; Might as well jump. Jump! – works in both cases!

Ättestupa is what one could call an immaterial cultural heritage. It’s a word for a type of ancient or historic remains that really is only part of ledgends or sagas. The word comes from the Icelandic saga: Gautreks saga (aka Götriks saga) in which a cliff, (Æetternisstapi), in Götaland (a part of Sweden) is mentioned.

In this saga Göte gets lost while hunting in the woods. He ends up in cabin belonging to the poor Skavörtung family. While there he sleeps with the farmers daughter and knocks her up. This brings shame to the family – and they, except the daughter, jumps of the Æetternisstapi.

In 1664 the saga was published in Swedish by Olof Verelius. The saga got very popular during the 17th and 18th century inSweden and many saw it as a historic record. Due to this many cliffs have been named Ättestupa and legends has been spun regarding their history, people imagined that old people jumped off these cliffs as not to be bourdon to them selves or their relatives, or to rid them selves from pains or sadness.

From Erik Dahlbergs Svecia Antiqua et Hodierna (ca 1680-1740) (1924 ed)

Well, maybe, it’s time for vinyl to end up on a Ättestupa soon – but I think I hold on to them for just a little longer though 🙂

BTW – Van Halen is back together again – on tour – possibly to town near you!

Magnus Reuterdahl


About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

2 responses to “Van Halen vs an immaterial cultural heritage

  • tannhauser3

    Rolig, informativ och väl skriven blogg du har – tackar även för den nya bloggen kulturvårdsforum. Eftersom jag ibland skriver om näraliggande ämnen, som till exempel Gudahovet vid Ranheim, utanför Trondheim, som snart skall förstöras under ett modernt bostadsområde, samt – ibland – annat arkeologiskt, länkar jag gärna till din sida…

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