Category Archives: anthropology

Walk this way

Nowadays most of my job is being done from behind a desk while using a computer, but now and then I get to go out on a hike in the cultural landscape whislt working.

Today I was out inspecting a find of a  so called  fossil road (hålväg in Swedish term). This road ha sprobably not been used for quite some time, probably several hundered years.

hålväg1 fossil road (600x450)

How old it is, I can not say offhand, but through long usage it has cut through the soil. This part of the road is about 150 meters and is part of a system of parts of different roads, it is about 40-70 cm wide at the bottom and 2-3 meters at the top and has a depth of about 0.8-1 meter. It has been used more than a few times.

hålväg2 fossil road (450x600)

It makes you or at least med wonder who used it, when and why. Is this a road between two villages, settelments, or between different activity areas or is it a more general way?

Quite a luxery being able to dwell on thongs like this whilst at work 🙂

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

Osteo-doctoral day for Ylva Telldahl

Ylva Telldahl will do her doctoral defence for her thesis on December 19 at Stockholm University föreläsningssalen, Botaniska institutionen, Lilla Frescativägen 5 at 13:00.

Her thesis is called: Working animals and skeletal lesions. Paleopathology of cattle and horse in Iron Age and medieval Öland, Sweden.

Ylva has concentrated on the relationship between animal husbandry practices and the associated pathological conditions using methods such as osteometric analysis, conventional radiographic and bone mineral study, as well as incorporated molecular analysis.

The material used was excavated (1964-1974) at Eketorp ringfort on Öland. The fort was used during the Iron Age and early Middle Ages, ca 300–1300 AD and from the Skedemosse wetland site that was excavated in the early 60’s.  This site is a ritual site where weapons, animals, coins and other valuables was offered to the gods, 200-500 AD.

Read the full abstract here.


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

Så du vill bli arkeolog! // Ahh… you’ve decided to be an archaeologist!

An English version of this post will follow the Swedish.

Inspirerad av min kollega i norr, Nils Harnesks blogginlägg Från student till yrkesaktiv… en till synes enkel resa men som man kan göra på många olika vägar tänkte jag skriva några ord om min väg från student till yrkesverksam.

Låt mig börja med ett citat från en annan bloggande arkeolog Martin Rundkvist Archaeology is Not a Good Career – Arbetsmarknaden är skit och det finns inga jobb. Alla skandinaviska länder producerar betydligt fler arkeologer varje år via universiteten än det finns arkeologer som går i pension. Om du trots detta, mot alla odds får ett jobb, så kommer du få det via kontakter och jobbet kommer sannolikt vara dåligt betalt och bara vara under några sommarmånader. Negativt – ja, sant, ja för många men inte för alla.

Men vill du bli arkeolog behöver du göra betydligt mer än att bara klara dina kurser på Universitetet, i viss mån gäller det att specialisera sig, dels genom kurser men kanske främst genom val, såsom uppsatsämne och att sälja in sig. Att skapa nätverk som når utanför universitets väggar, till exempelvis genom att skriva om något en arbetsgivare kan vara intresserad av och i det gäller det att identifiera framtida arbetsgivare. Tänk på att det finns fler vägar än man kanske tänker på vid en första anblick; det finns museer, stiftelser, privata företag, myndigheter, forskningsinstitut med mera. Ett annat sätt att profilera sig är att göra om sin uppsats till en artikel så man kan visa att man gjort något mer än att bara ha skrivit ett par uppsatser, man kan leta upp internationella grävningar mm.

Min resa har gått via forskningsprojekt på Stockholms Universitet, där jag var med forskningsgrävningar och göra ett par osteologiska analyser. Samtidigt skrev jag en artikel av min Magisteruppsats som publicerades i Urminne och ytterligare en tillsammans med en doktorand utifrån en osteologisk analys som också publicerades i Urminne. Via en kurs i kulturmiljövård fick jag kontakter in i länsstyrelsevärlden, dels genom en uppsats riktad till länsstyrelserna, dels genom ett utökat kontaktnät. Detta kombinerat gjorde att jag fick jobb på Länsstyrelsen i Kronbergs län där jag jobbade i flera projekt rörande stormskador efter stormarna Gudrun och Per. Detta gav mig dels en inblick och kunskaper om handläggning men framförallt inventeringsvana och lite projektledningsvana. Därefter jobbade jag med arkeologiska undersökningar för Östergötlands museum och Norrbottens museum och med ett projekt tillsammans med en studiekompis som tagit oss till Kina två gånger om. Därefter har jag jobbat på Länsstyrelserna i Norrbotten och Västernorrland, för privata företag såsom Arkeologicentrum och Arkeologikonsult och Kalmar museum för för tillfället jobba på Länsstyrelsen i Östergötland. Jag har med andra ord snurrat runt en hel del i vårt avlånga land och träffat mängder med intressanta människor, sett fantastiska kulturmiljöer och lärt och lär mig mängder… hela tiden!

Sanning att säga man måste förbereda sig på åtminstone några år i en kappsäck (8 år och pågående), halvtaskiga boenden (för tillfället dock bra) och en taskig lön (lite bättre nu!) – till det kommer dubbel bosättning och massor med resor. Belöningen är ett fantastiskt jobb och fantastiska kollegor. Sedan kan det vara betydligt lättare att få jobb om man är beredd att göra ett antal säsonger långt från storstaden, så kolla upp,genom dina nätverk (vänner, kollegor, lärare, twitter, bloggar, facebook grupper kan vara sätt att förstora ditt nätverk) var större projekt är på gång, t ex vägarbeten, större byggprojekt etc och kontakta arkeologiska företag i denna region. Om du får jobb, se till att få lära dig så mycket som möjligt, försök att få ta ansvar över något och gör dig så värdefull som möjligt. Det är också ett bra sätt att verkligen lära sig något och något som kan vässa ditt CV inför kommande säsonger.

Jag skulle också se till att ha en plan B, för de flesta jag arbetat med har inte stannat i branschen, av olika anledningar: en del har tröttnat på resandet och osäkerheten, andra på hårt jobb i dåligt väder, vissa på grund av lönen och några för att de helt enkelt inte haft turen att få några jobb.

Jag önskar dig lycka till om jag inte skrämt bort dig och du nu ändå bestämt dig!

Är du arkeolog och bloggar – skriv ett inlägg på detta tema du med så kan vi försöka samla ihop dem någonstans.

Ossamenta har skrivit ett inlägg här (på engelska)

DIK har lagt upp versioner av detta här och här

Magnus Reuterdahl


I got inspired by a colleague of mine, archaeologist and blogger, Nils Harnesks, who wrote a blog post entitled From student to a professional career … a seemingly simple trip but it can be done in many different ways (In Swedish). I thought I’d share a few words about my route from student to professional.

Let me begin this by a quote from an another blogging Scandy-archaeologist, Martin Rundkvist who blogged about Archaeology is Not a Good Career a few years ago. He writes: The labour market is crap and there are no jobs. All Scandinavian countries produce new archaeologists at a vastly higher rate than the old ones retire. If you do get a job against all odds, then that will be through contacts, and the job will be poorly paid and last only a few months in the summer. That might seem a bit harsh and negative – but it’s kind of true, at least for many though not for all.

But since you’ve already decided to become an archaeologist, you need to do much more than just manage your classes in college, to some extent, you have to specialize, through courses, but perhaps mostly by choices, such as essay topic and to sell your self, or branding your self. It’s important to build networks that extend beyond the walls of the university, for example, by writing about something an employer might be interested in and in relation to that identify potential employers. Keep in mind that there are more ways to be an archaeologist than you might think at first glance, there are museums, foundations, private companies, government agencies, research institutes and more. Another way to distinguish yourself is to make your essay into an article so you can show that you have done something more than just having written a few essays, you can also look up international excavations or research projects that you can help out in.

The last 8 or 9 years when I’ve been active, I’ve worked for 15 or so employers, all over Sweden, with different tasks and in different situations. One day digging north of the polar circle the next writing decisions at an agency or doing surveys. All fun, always something new, meeting new people, seeing new “old” things and always learning. Its quite a ride 🙂

Truth be told you also prepare yourself for at least a few years in a suitcase, with half dodgy accommodation and a shitty wages. The reward is a fantastic job and great colleagues. It may be much easier to get a job if you are prepared to make a few seasons away from the big city so scout for projects on the go via your networks; twitter might be good as well as blogs or facebookgroups etc. If you get a job, make sure to learn as much as possible, try to take charge of something and make yourself as valuable as possible. There is also a good way to push yourself and your CV.

Even though you’ve seem to have made up your mind I’d make sure to have a plan B, for most people I worked with are not still in the industry, for various reasons: some have grown tired of traveling and the uncertainty, others did not enjoy the hard work, often in bad weather, some due to the low salaries and some because they simply have not had the good fortune to get any job.

I wish you the best of luck if you still consider Archaeology as a career!

If you are you an archaeologist and have a blog – write a post on this subject, then we might collect all the posts somewhere.

Ossamenta has a post here

Magnus Reuterdahl


Day of Archaeology 2012

It’s on again – Day of Archaeology – check it out, last year more than 400 archaeologists world wide posted – lets see how many we are this year. My contirbution is called Who is an archaeologist? – check it out!

Magnus Reuterdahl

After the games been played

As we’re in the middle of a fantastic European football championship and one can watch top match after match delivered as they were produced on a conveyor belt – it’s kind of hard imagine a time with less or no top football to watch – though we all know it’s lurking there just around the corner. With several months for the next Champions league, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga or Italian Serie A and then again years for the next World or European championship.

In Sweden we can still enjoy football during the summer as Allsvenskan (Swedish first division) and Superettan (Swedish second division) etc. runs its course during this part of the year (though I wont claim it’s great football) and still here is my love in the football world – Jönköping Södra IF aka J-Södra, somewhere in the middle of the second division. And though it seems every season gives cause for a heart attack as they seems be stuck around relegation line to the lower divisions.

Stadsparksvallen in Jönköping

Stadsparksvallen in Jönköping, just before the season started 2012

It then you realize there are always those have it worse. This midsummer I spent in the small community Långban in Värmland. This village was mining community that had its hay day before 1972 when the mines closed down.

And there while taking a walk I saw what was left of a someones dream, someones favourite team, a graveyard of football memories – though I can’t much on the internet.

The team was called Långban IF, they started in 1924, they played in red and white, the “area” was called Mullvaden (the Mole) and the senior team, was cancelled in 1968 though if I understand it right they made a swift comback in the early 80’s. Långban IF has a webpage though (in Swedish).

It’s when I see this, I’m a glad that my favourite team still is in the loop, I can see my team not just the remains of what once was a team. Still this is ancient remain, a part of our Cultural Heritage, a reminder of what once was, someone’s dreams and aspirations, joy and sorrow, a monument of past glory’s and defeats.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Black hawk up & The Swedish Air Force Museum in Linköping

As we said good bye to a colleague that goes into retirement we visited the The Swedish Air Force Museum, but before that my colleague got to get a flight in the SK60 (a jet plane) we got a trip in Helcopter 16 or better known as Black hawk. Really really cool 🙂

I can also strongly recommend Flygvapenmuseum The Swedish Air Force Museum in Linkoping. Here are almost all planes that can be connected to Swedish air force as well as an exhibit on the cold war, where Swedens military, Swedish politics and domestic issues are connected – really good and then an exhibt or a crypt of a a Swedish DC3 that was shot down in the Baltic Sea in the 50’s and the story of the political game behind the story – this is stuff for a Hollywood picture – the plane was found a few years ago and lifted from the bottom of Sea. This museum is not only for air force or air plane buffs but everyone that wants to know more about the history of the cold war.

The pictures are divided into three groups: air force exhibit, cold war exhibit, DC3 exhibit.

Air force exhibit

Cold war exhibit

DC3 exhibit

Magnus Reuterdahl

Förändringens vindar? – Winds of change?

This post will follow in English.

Idag kom då Kulturmiljöutredningen, där man bland annat tittat på Lag (1988:950) om kulturminnen m.m. (KML). I denna föreslås ett antal förändringar av större och mindre slag, man har också tittat på målen för statens kulturmiljöarbete samt fått i uppdrag att titta på KML rörande metalldetektorer/sökare. Jag har bara snabbt skummat igenom den och har just nu inga särskilda åsikter om den – dock känns det som att ändringarna kan komma medföra merarbete för Länsstyrelserna och i någon mån för Riksantikvariämbetet men också möjligen merkostnader – samtidigt finns det också flera ändringar som jag tror är både bra och nödvändiga.

Bland det man föreslår är en ändring av fornlämningsbegreppet, i det att man ger ett förslag med nya kriterier som avgränsar fornlämningsskyddet till de lämningar som kan antas ha tillkommit före 1750. Dock ska staten ha möjlighet att även skydda yngre lämningar efter särskilt beslut, så kallad fornlämningsförklaring. Här föreslår man också att det i vissa fall kan komma att utgå någon form av ersättning till markägaren, vilket kan komma att försvåra ett sådant förfarande, vidare ska markägare kunna kräva ett fastslaget fornlämningsområde – vilket jag också har funderingar kring hur det ska kunna fungera i verkligheten, då man fortfarande har skrivningen att fornlämningsområdet ska vara så som behövs för att bevara hela lämningen.Dvs områdets storlek kan skilja beroende på arbetsföretag.

Utredningen föreslår att det generella förbudet mot att använda metallsökare kompletteras med en tydlig dispensreglering för att ge ett rimligt skydd för kulturarvet. Det tydliggörs att tillstånd inte får lämnas för att söka efter fornfynd eller när det finns anledning att anta att metallsökaren kan komma att användas för att söka efter fornfynd. Detta innebär att det inte kommer att ge tillstånd i fornlämningstäta områden såsom på Öland och Gotland.

Jag får säkert anledning att återkomma 🙂 Rapporten kan laddas ned här (SOU 2012:37)

English version, this is a little shorter than the Swedish one!

Today came the cultural inquiry, which, among other things looked at the Cultural Heritage Act (KML) and proposes a number of changes in this, they have also looked at the objectives of the state cultural work, and have been asked to look at KML in regards og the usage of metal detectors.

I have just quickly skimmed through it and currently have no specific views on it – however I feel that the changes might result in additional work for the county administrative boards and to some extent for the National Heritage Board.

Among the things being proposed is an amendment to the concept of ancient monuments and remains, the proposal is a new criteria that separates ancient monument/remains protection to the remains that are likely to be older than from 1750 and abandoned at that time. However, the state should have the opportunity to also protect the young remnants after special decisions.

The report proposes that the general prohibition against using metal detectors is complemented by a clear exemption regulation to provide reasonable protection for the cultural heritage where it is clarified that the permit must not be for be used to search for archaeological finds, or when there is reason to believe that metal detectors can be used to search for ancient finds. This means that permission will not be granted in areas with lots of known ancient monument/remain such as on Öland and Gotland.

The report is avilable in Swedish (SOU 2012:37)

Magnus Reuterdahl

A view into the future

In November I’ll head for Turkey and the upcoming European wine bloggers conference (EWBC). Besides archaeology wine is my other other mistress – and sometimes the two twine together so it shall be in November.

The theme for the EWBC 2012, that will be held in Izmir, is source. Now source can be interpret in different ways but of those are source as in the source of wine and winemaking. If today’s Turkey is the original source of domestic vine cultivation and possibly winemaking is of less importance than the fact that it’s one of the first places where wine making was done. For this purpose I’m really looking forward to hearing one of this years speakers Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, the Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. The laboratory discovered the earliest chemically attested alcoholic beverage in the world (ca. 7000 B.C. from China), the earliest grape wine (ca. 5400 B.C.) and barley beer (ca. 3500 B.C.) from the Middle East etc etc.

But it won’t stop there during the conference I’ll also visit the ancient city of Ephesus, the House of Virgin Mary and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. In Ephesus several excavations from the late has Roman period been made over the last decades.

But I’m not pleased with only visiting one country with traces of very early wine making – after Turkey I’ll continue on to Georgia. We’re will be able to taste the food, see the country and drink Qvevri wine. Qvevri wine or Amphora wine making is a tradition that has been preserved over thousands of years producing wines of unique character and style sometimes called orange wines. So besides the archaeology of wine and winemaking along side the great sites I’ll also get the chance that in some small way taste the taste of Wines Past.

Don’t you wish you were an archeological-wine-nerd like me?

And of course we’ll taste a lot of modern wines from Turkey as well as Georgia as well… but more about that on another blog 🙂 and later on!

Magnus Reuterdahl

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