Category Archives: books

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

Bye Bye Bradbury!

A few days ago one of my favourite authors went astray leaving us with his written legacy. If your yet to explore his body of work there’s hours and hours of great fun, great adventures and lots of dystopia – he mixed science fiction, horror, fantasy and mystery.

I love several of his books, especially ut am mainly a fan of his short stories and short story collections such as   The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated man (1951), The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), The October Country (1955) and  A Medicine for Melancholy (1959).

A death is always tragic but can also be a starting point, for me it gives cause to revisit some of my favourite books and novels and few of the adaptations to the silver screen such as The Illustrated man from (1969) that I like to the The Martian Chronicles three part NBC-TV-series (1980) that I didn’t find all that amusing when I saw them sometime in the 90’s – found my VHS-copy though so I’ll look through it later on.

There are also those who take fandom to next level 🙂

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury – you will be missed!

Magnus Reuterdahl

Into the vault

At present I’m digging into the history of blues and rock & roll via Josh Alan Friedman’s book Tell the truth until they bleed. Coming clean in the dirty world of blues and rock ‘n’ roll (2008).

When reading these types of books youtube is a blessing (in disguise). As you read you can listen in and find “new” favs along the way. Though I would like to have it as an audiobook with soundclips incorporated.

When doing so I also feel bound to read up on the artists in question – so the next couple of posts are 40s, 50s and 60s bound. The book starts with Jerry Lieber and composer Mike Stoller, american songwriters, known for ‘ Hound dog’  among lots and lots of other hits. Elvis recorded this in 1956 but it was orginally released by Big Mama Thornton in 1952. This is her singing it in 1965.

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton was born in 1926 and died in 1984) She’s also known for writing and recording ‘Ball ‘n’ Chain’.

Other interesting artist mentioned in the firstchapter is Little Esther (Esther Philips 1935-1984). Great Vocals!

Three tons of joy, Marie Adams and sisters Sadie and Francine McKinley.

I’ve just read the first chapter so there’s more bound to come.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A few words on prehistoric and historic wine imports, etc.

Detta inlägg finns på svenska på min vinblogg Aqua Vitae (This post is a translation from Swedish that was originally posted at my wine blog Aqua Vitae)

The Stockholm wine puller guilds emblem

A few weeks ago I wrote about the discovery of a unique wine bottle, found on the sea bed of the Stockholm archipelago in the 1940s and was rediscovered in Vin- och Sprithistoriska museet (the Wine and Spirits Historical Museum) collections a couple weeks ago, read more here. Since then, I been reading up a little on Scandinavian wine imports in prehistoric and historic times, read about vindragarna (the wine pullers) and their guild here (in Swedish), and got hold of some information that I present below. This is but a few scattered notes.

An interesting detail that the Groot Constantia bottle tells us is that wine was imported by the bottle. I have previously thought wine to be primarily imported in barrels or the like and then bottled in this country before sale. There are several examples of this, for example in the archaeological record from the neighbourhoods Apeln and Diplomaten in the city Jönköping – where archaeologist found several shards from bottles and bottle seals made in the Björkenäs glass works on Värmdö (1736-1786), outside of Stockholm. Björknäs glass works made bottles for wine and spirits among other things. The excavation was made by Jönköping County museum a few years ago.

Groot Constanz wine bottle

Via the Wine and Spirits Historical Museum in Stockholm I got an article by Karen Hjort describing the family Schulin’s wine cellar during the 1700s. The article is based on documents from Frederiksdal castle archives in Denmark. The oldest list is from 1744 and  about 50 years older than the bottle found in the Stockholm archipelago. It runs through until 1808. Records show which wines you might expect to find in a bourgeois family in Scandinavia at this time, but also from which countries they imported wine. Johan Sigismund Schulin (1694-1750) had worked in the Executive Board of generalpostamtet (the Post) in Denmark, he was secretary of the German Kancelli etc and finished his career as a contemporary equivalent of foreign minister.

In the first note 504 bottles are quoted: 9 ½ bottles of unfamiliar wine, three samples (a bit unsure of what is meant by sample but it’s not bottles) of Madeira, three samples of Mosel and Rhinsk wine, one Rhone wine, one Burgundy wine and ½ bottle of cherry wine, 83 bottles of English beer and 6 ½ bottle juice. In addition to this there are three oksehoveder (a measure) and 2 ahn and an one anchor rhinsk wine, translated this should be about 700 liters of red wine and 340 liters of Rhine wine. On the list is also mentioned usquebak which is synonymous with whiskey. Among the types of wine are notes of red wines, Pontac, Hermitage, Burgundier, Riinsk wine, French wine, Muscatvin, Samosvin, Mathers, Cote Roti, Constanze, Capvine, Hvid Capvin, Ungarsk wine, Syracuservin, Florentiervin, Peter Semeng etc.

I found this translation table on the measurement oksehoved from 1647 for wine (obviously different dimensions for different products) = 1 ½ Amme = 6 anchor = 240 potter = about 232.5 litres.

A quick glance at these facts shows that there are wines from several regions and countries – many of which still today are among the major regions. Wines from South Africa – the Constanza is there as well – that’s the winery that produced the wine in the bottle found outside of Stockholm. It is mentioned that there is both red and white Contstanz. The white sweet wine was the more famous. In the second half of the 1700s, the Constanz wine, and then the white sweet in particular, became hugely popular among the European aristocracy and was so until the 1880s when wine production in South Africa was hit by phylloxera.

Later on in the documents one can find several other interesting comments such as wines from more other regions, such as Margaux and Médoc, and names of wine merchants, such as Toyon. In total 2799 bottles made its way through the cellar between 1744-1808.

Let’s goback some years in time to the Swedish Middle Ages (1050-1523 AD). In Hans Hildebrands book Sverige Medletiden (Sweden the Middle Ages) it is stated the following on beer and wine; Beer plays the biggest role and can be called the national drink of the time, but wine is also mentioned. The first mention is regarding the funeral of Birger Persson in 1328 AD when three kinds of wine were served; white wine, Rhine wine and red wine from La Rochelle. During the 1500s there are references to wines from Klarethe (Claret, Clairet = Bordeaux), Malmarsey (possibly Italy and wines from grapes Malvasia), from Romani in Spain, Odersberg in Schleisen and from Thorn in Germany. The Wine imports in 1539 were nearly 50 000 litres – compared to Systembolaget’s (the Swedish Monopoloy) sales of wine in 2010 that amounted to 182 471 261 liters (Link in Swedish). In the encyclopedia Medeltidens ABC (the ABC of the Middle Ages), it is said that wine was imported by the aristocracy and the church, the majority of the wine came from Germany. From this book you can also get an idea of the price of wine at 14th century in Sweden. The wine from La Rochelle that were served at the funeral in 1328 costed 12 mark penningar per barrel (ca 150 litres), while the Rhine wine costed about 8 mark penningar per barrel. Compare this with the salary of a craftsman at the time which was about 45 mark penningar/year + food and drink or a farm labourer who earned about one mark penningar money for the summer and half a mark penningar during the winter months at the time. Wine was a luxury product and not for the common man.

The wines are usually shipped in heavy wooden barrels, which made long-distance wine trade in principle only possible through waterways. The long journeys often made the delicate wine go bad. Because of this it was often seasoned with ginger, cloves and or nutmeg. Another popular combination was Klaret and Rhine wine seasoned with sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Then the wine was trickled from the spices, King Gustav Vasa’s (1496-1560 AD) court had it’s own brewer for this, Kilian Vintappare. Another type of spiced wine was Lutendank, a spiced wine mixed with milk (I’m pretty sure I don’t want to taste that!).

There are written sources and archaeological materials that indicate that wine was imported to Scandinavia before the Middle ages. During the Viking Age one can guess that the Vikings came in contact with wine during their journeys to Greece, France and Spain etc, but also through the travels through today’s Russia to the Black Sea and back. When Sweden became Christian during the late Viking Age and the early Middle Ages the wine import became institutionalized as the Church needed wine for communion.

The history of wine begins, however, long before this – the oldest traces have been dated to about 6000 BC. It is believed that the oldest wines were red and the white wines were added later. An early exampel of white wine is that found in amphoraes in Tutankhamen (death cirka1339 BC) tomb. As wine became a commodity it had to be transported and sealed. In antiquity they were transported in amphorae, which were sealed with pitch or resin. Sometimes they were provided with a layer of olive oil on top of the wine’s surface, as in the German example below. They also stirred down different spices and sulfur in order to extend the life of the wine. During the Roman Empire they began to store and transport the wine in barrels (wooden barrels) besides the traditional way of amphorae.

©Historisches Museum der Pfalz

That wine was transported in antiquity is obvious – there are plenty of amphorae around the Mediterranean as proof of that. The oldest complete wine bottle with contents is in the Historical Museum of Palatinate in Germany. It is a ca 1600 years old Roman wine bottle with dolphin-shaped handles, dating to 325 AD. It was found in a Roman stone sarcophagus during excavations 1867. Amazingly, there were and still is some liquid remaining in it, two thirds is viscous and probably some kind of olive oil poured in for preservative reasons. They have also found traces of honey. Underneath this was residues of wine. The contents were analysed in 1916 by senior inspector Schmidt and Professor Halenke. The result showed that it most likely contained wine together with olive oil. Further analysis was done in1934 and 1937/1938 by Professor Grüß and Professor von Stockmann in Berlin. Their findings were never published and was lost, unfortunately, during World War II. The museum’s former director, Dr. Karl Schulz wrote in the 50’s that during the analysis they found scent of aromatic wine. The taste is unknown – no one has tasted the wine. There are currently no plans for new analysis.

The wine bottle can be seen in the “Weinmuseum” as part of the permanent exhibition at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer. The image is reproduced with the authorization of the museum.

Link to the Historical museum of the Palatinate (Historisches Museum der Pfalz)

A big thanks goes to the Historisches Museum der Pfalz for information and accessrights to the image.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Hjort, Karen 2003. En fornem vinlaelder. Siden Saxo 2003:01. Danmark

Hildebrand, Hans (1983 nytryck). Sveriges Medeltid, del 2, Städerna.

Medeltidens ABC

Muntliga källor

Claes Pettersson, Jönköpings läns museum

Ludger Tekampe, Historisches Museum der Pfalz

Runic et Mediævalia 2011

Tonight is the society Runic et Mediævalia holds its annual meeting. After the meeting is held the traditional lecture. This year it’s about Bero Magni (Björn Magnusson). For me he is an unknown but in 15th century Vienna he was probably one of the most reverend Swedes at the time. For more than 30 years he taught as a magister regens at the University at the philosophy department. He donated his library to to the dome in Skara, Sweden. The books are since long lost but through documents about it many of the 138 books are possible to identify. The lecture is hold by Ph.D. Erika Kihlman.

As always it will be both interesting to go to hear the lecture and nice to meet up with acquaintances at the following dinner.

If you’re not a member and you’re interested to promote research on runes and medieval languages, culture and society then join up and get the newest on the topic through the book series edited and issued by Runic et Mediævalia, divided into series Scripta Maior, Scripta minora, Opuscula and Lectiones. Note that most are written in Swedish. More info is available through the webpage.

Magnus Reuterdahl


Runica et Mediævalia 2010 editions

New books on my reading list, from Runica et Mediævalia:

Det senmedeltida Stockholm – en språklig och kulturell smältdegel (The late medieval Stockholm – a linguistic and cultural melting pot). Stefan Mähl. Sällskapet Runica et Mediævalia Lectiones 9, 2010.

Bebådelsebilder. Om bildbruk under medeltiden (Annunciation pictures. About use of pictures during the Middle Ages.). Mia Åkestam. Runica et Mediævalia Scripta mimora 19. 2010.

S:t Sigfrid besjungen. Celebremus karissimi, ett helgonofficium från 1200-talet (Songs on S:t Sigfrid. Celebremus karissimi, a saint officium from the 1200s). Edition och kommentarer av Ann-Marie Nilsson. Runica et Mediævalia Scripta maiora 6. 2010

Magnus Reuterdahl

Second hand finds

I like to scavenge throw flee markets and second hand shops. I look for different things but most often end up buying books. Today we managed three stores in Karlskoga. Didn’t find all that much but as always a few books ended up in my possession. The County museums in collaboration with the local historical society annually publishes books. Örebro County publishes the annual book called Från bergslag och bondebygd (From mining and farming districts). These books normally concerns local art, history, cultural history, archaeology etc. Sometimes there is a theme to these books such the 1980 edition: pictures from the world of work.

This time I found 1950-59, 1962 and 1980. A selection of articles from these books addresses such topics as:

  • A working year of Siggebo smelting mountain man’s farm
  • Tanners on the river
  • A Orebro Journal of 1680s
  • The preaching of the maid in Kumla
  • Deserted farms fate
  • Stone cist graves in Yxhult
  • With the mark of arrows and roses
  • The silver treasure from the Eketorp
  • The Hassle find once again

Etc. etc.

The authors of these books are both professional researchers and local historians and others. The content goes from science to trivia. I will return to them or parts of them in a future post.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Holiday reading

As New Years eve is closing in there are still a few days of relaxing left. A perfect opportunity to do some reading.

I’m currently reading Barbara W. Tuchmans the First salut. A book on the American Revolutionary history; the 13 colonies vs. the Brits. This is a piece of history I know very little about so when I found this book in a sales basket I thought it would be good to read up on it. As I understand this book is written from a European perspective and one of the questions is how did England manage to lose the Revolutionary War?

It all starts with the `first salute’ by the Dutch owned West Indian port of St. Eustatius on November 16, 1776 in response to a salute given by the American brigantine Andrew Doria. This is perhaps the starting point of a formal recognition of American as an independent nation.

I’ll look forward to be better educated as I continue reading and will come back with one or a few posts on the subject.

As always I have a few other on-going reads and I’ve also started Lotta Mejsholms PhD thesis Gränsland: Konstruktion av tidig barndom och begravningsritual för kristnadet I Skandinavien (Borderland. Constructions of Early Childhood and Burial Rituals during the Christianisation in Scandinavia) from 2009.


The thesis explores the process of Christianisation in Viking and Medieval Scandinavia through the social constructions of infancy and the beginnings of human life, as expressed in the ideals and practices seen in written and archaeological evidence.‘Childhood’ is regarded as a social construction defined by, and therefore also reflecting, contemporary society…

The abstract and the thesis is available as a pdf here (In Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl

A cultural historic food adventure

Detta inlägg finns tillgängligt på svenska på min vinblogg Aqua Vitae.

Sometime in the coming week, I intend to take a little break from my Austria adventure in favour of a historic food adventure. Some time ago I bought a cookbook by late Swedish top chef Tore Wretman; Svensk Husmanskost (Swedish traditional cooking). This book is as much a cookbook as a mirror to the historic kitchen, some recipes are from yesterday and some are several hundred years old. He mixes recipes, with tips and historical contexts.

My first try from this book will be a soup that has some connection with my wine blog, Aqua Vitae; Ölsupa (Beer soup). Wretman writes that this soup might be the cause that many Swedes’ lacks enthusiasm for soups in general. Here I stop for a few seconds. The book was written in 1967 and obviously there has been some change as lot has happened since then, much of which we can thank Mr. Wretman for. While soup may not be as much a part of the Swedish cuisine as in most European kitchen they definitely have their place. Would you like to eat really good soups Swedish as well as international while in Sweden, I recommend a small oasis in central Stockholm called Sibiriens soppkök (Siberia’s soup kitchen).

Returning to the Ölsupa (Beer soup). Ölsupa was for a long time a large part of the Swedish cosine.

The recipe that Wretman presents comes from comes from Södermanland County.

You need this:

  • 2 bottles of svagdricka (about 6 ½ cup)*
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar or syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a piece of ginger

You can also season with a piece of cinnamon, a little grated lemon peel; a little grated nutmeg but you should not use salt.

*) Svagdricka is a Swedish low alcohol dark malt beverage brewed since the Middle Ages. It’s like a sweetened small beer, dark small beer, a little like porter but a bit blander or a little like kvass.

Boil the Svagdricka and pour in the milk. Whisk the egg yolks and pour them down the pot while vigorous continuing the whisking. Add sugar, salt and ginger. Remove from the heat and season. If soup is too weak, let Ginger stay and take a while. If you want you can spice up the soup with the cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon, but then you should be advised to refrain the salt. The sugar can be replaced by syrup.

None of the variants above sounds particularly tasteful but of course both versions will be made and tasted. Wretman tells of a Frenchman who visited Sweden in the 1830s and was affected by this national soup and in a travelogue tells of his horrific encounters with this dish, in the middle-class homes he lived while in Sweden.

A simpler version is Drickasoppa (Drink soup), hot-brewed Svagdricka was poured over porridge or bread pieces before being served.

I will come back with notes on the taste or rather distaste for the course in a near future.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings

Once again in Jonkoping and once again finding myself on a shopping spree. This weekend I’m visiting my parents before going on a job in the southwest of Sweden. And as luck has it I picked up some 17th and 18th century copperplate engravings and prints, if coloured they’re hand coloured.

These two lovely copperplate engravings by Briot, 1672 or 1676, from Histoire de L’Etat Present de L’Empire Ottoman.

To the right, “Vin Spahis”(Tome 2, Fol. 33). Spahi or Kapu Kuli was one of the finest horsemen of the six corps of the Ottoman and later Turkish army. To the left Le Ianisar Agasi, General des Ianissaires (Tome 2 Fol. 45). The Ianissaires where one of the greatest strengths of the Ottoman (and Turkish?) armed forces.

A black and white copperplate engraving of the Chinese wall, in the background is the city Xogon Koton (not sure of its current name or the Pinyin transcription).

The Embassadors entry through the famous Chinese Wall. Near 1200 miles in length from John Harris’s Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca or A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels 1748.

The next engraveing is also on a Chinese view of the Porcelain tower of Nanjing or Bao’ensi.

Prospect of the Porcelane tower at Nan King in China (Sparrow sculp), ca 1790.

The last one with a Chinese motive is named the procession at a Chinese funeral (vol II pag.217) from The general history of China : containing a geographical, historical chronological, political and physical description of the Empire of China, Chinese-Tartary, Corea and Thibet including an exact and particular account of their customs, manners, cermonies, religion, arts and sciences by Jean Baptiste du Halde 1739. (volume the second, The Second edition Corrected)

I also bought a map of the north part of Scandinavia; the Norwegian coast Sweden from Medelpad, the north part of Finland, the north west of Russia. On the map Laponie Suedoise is especially marked. The map is named Carte des courones du Nord, dédiée au tres-puissantet et trees-invincible prince Charles XII roy de Suede des Gots et des Vandales, grand duc dr finlandie &c, &c, &c. Par son tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur Guillaume De l’Isle de l’Academie Rle. des Sciences, 1706. A Paris, chez l’Auteur sur le Quai de l’Orloge a avec Privilege du Roy. Grave par Liebaux le fils.  The map was made by Guillaume de Lisle (1675-1726), this map is printed in Paris 1780.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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