Category Archives: Stockholm University

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

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.


– 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.


– 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.


–          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.

Mono or stereo?

Yet another dissertation on the Middle Neolithic’s in Scandinavia is on the way, this time it’s Kim von Hackwitz who puts foward Längs med Hjälmarens stränder och förbi – relationen mellan den gropkeramiska kulturen och båtyxekulturen aka. Along the shores of Lake Hjälmaren and beyond – the relationship between the Pitted Ware Culture and the Boat Axe Culture. Stockholm Studies in Archaeology 51. Stockholm. Written in Swedish with an English summary.

The abstract as well as the thesis is available at

Kim will hold her defense December 19th at Stockholm University, I wish her the best of luck (I’ll be attending). I’ve only glanced through the pages but it seems an interesting read on the now century old but ever pressing issue on whether the Pitted Ware Culture and the Boat Axe Culture are two material cultures that express two different ethnical groups or whether as Kim proposes different expressions in culture that express a dynamic and active society that manifests itself through a variety of different places, which were maintained for specific purposes.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The Swedish Osteological Association’s annual seminar 2009



The Swedish Osteological Association in collaboration with the Osteoarchaeological research laboratory (OFL), Stockholm University, hold it’s annual seminar and a workshop at Stockholm University February 14th 2009.

“Bird and fish bones – methods and seasonality”.

Seminars by Fil. Dr. Carina Olson, the Osteoarchaeological research laboratory (OFL), Stockholm University, Professor Inge B Enghoff, Natural History Museum of Denmark (Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen) and Fil. Dr. Kristiina Mannermaa, University of Helsinki, Finland.

DATE: 14th February 2009.

LOCATION: Stockholm University, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, seminar room, level 3, Wallenberglaboratoriet, Lilla Frescativägen 7.

Språk/language: Swedish and English

Chair: Senior lecturer Jan Storå 


13.00-13.15 Welcome

13.15-14.00 Fil. Dr. Carina Olson, Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University. “Tolkning av fiskben från arkeologiska lokaler”. (Interpretations of fish bones in archaeological contexts; seminar in Swedish)

14.00-14.45 Professor Inge Bødker Enghoff, Natural History Museum of

Denmark (Zoological Museum), University of Copenhagen. “Archaeoichthyology: Size estimates and repesentation of skeletal elements”. programfeb2009a1

14.45-15.15 Coffee.

15.15-16.00 Fil. Dr. Kristiina Mannermaa, University of Helsinki, “Bird bones in graves at Yuzhniy Oleniy ostrov (Russian Karelia)”.

16.00-18.00 Workshop two sessions/species (16.00-16.45 and 16.45-17.30)

18.00-18.30 Discussion and reflection.

18.30 Dinner at the Department



Carina Olson “Tolkning av fiskben från arkeologiska lokaler” (In Swedish)

Vid tolkning av fiskben från arkeologiska lokaler används metoder som kroppslängd- och viktberäkning, ålders- och säsongsbedömning. Exempel på detta där kotor och otoliter av torsk använts kommer att visas och sedan praktiskt provas på. En aspekt på kvantifiering är att jämföra NISP och antal förekomster per kontext får man fram olika slags information från kvantifieringen. Istället för att bara erhålla antal per art från en boplats (NISP), får man genom antal artförekomster per kontext fram fler dimensioner till tolkningen. Till exempel hanteringen av fisk (eller andra djurben) inom en boplatsyta, vilket indikerar hur aktiviteter rumsligt förekommit inom lokalen.

(I’ll translate this later tonight)

Inge Bødker Enghoff “Archaeoichthyology: Size estimates and representationskeletal elements”

Measurements of subfossil fish bones can be used for estimating the total length of the fish from which the bones derive. The total length of the fish can in turn be used for inferences about fishing methods and season. The relative frequency of, e.g., bones from head vs. body, can be used for inferences about processing of the fish for consumption. However, the method of excavation needs to be taken into consideration when interpreting the finds. The talk will be illustrated with examples from the author’s own research on fish bones assemblages from Danish sites, e.g., Vængesø III (Mesolithic), Viborg Søndersø (Viking Age), and Selsø Vestby (Medieval).

Kristiina Mannermaa “Bird bones in graves at Yuzhniy Oleniy ostrov (Russian Karelia)”

Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov in Karelia, northwestern Russia, is the largest known Mesolithic cemetery in northern Europe. Most of the graves are well preserved, and a wealth of materials, including human skeletal remains and a variety of grave goods, has been documented during the excavations in 1937 and 1938. Animal bones, both unmodified and in the form of artifacts were found in the graves. In this presentation I talk about fresh results of the analysis of bird bones from graves on Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov. The most common bird species in the cemetery was the osprey (Pandion haliaetus). By studying the location of bird bones in burials as well as the distribution of anatomical elements,

it is possible to interpret the roles of birds in burial practices. The behaviour and ecology of the identified species can be used for investigating and estimating why these species may have been placed in graves and what kind of significance or value these species may have had for the Late Mesolithic people who used the cemetery.

Participation entries are due no later than febuary 8th 2009. For payment see Osteologiska föreningens webpage (in Swedish) or contact me for further information. The price is 60:- for members and 95 for non members, this includes the seminars, the workshop and coffee. For dinner participants the price is 175:- for members and 225:- for non members.

Programme (pdf-file part in Swedish part English).

Magnus Reuterdahl

Tomorrow comes doomsday (for my application)

Update at the end of the page!

A few months back I sent in an application to the archaeology post-graduate program at Stockholm University. If my information is correct the admission process starts tomorrow (15/12), a meeting will be held regarding the applicants, of whom I’m one. At this meeting they will select or at least discuss who the top candidates are and from there on interview a few of the applicants. This time there is one opening, and looking back on previous openings I would guess that there are probably 40-60 applications.

For me it seems applications always are due at the worst time. This time as well as the last time Stockholm University had a spot open I’m working way up here in Norrbotten; miles and miles from my personal library. This is no excuse, there’s been plenty of time between the two applications for rewrites and updates of the research plan etc, but other thing has been a priority. This time around I did some changes in my application, though I’m not sure if I did enough. I have some ideas of what’s been deemed unclear and/or a bit outmoded in my previous applications. Hopefully this time I’ve managed to get it a bit better balanced and focused – well, time will tell won’t it.

A PhD in Archaeology isn’t necessarily a way to get better salary or a steady job within our trade. Therefore it is important that if I get the chance to spend four years (or so) digging in to a subject, it is a subject of importance to me. That I feel that it is something that I personally can gain from, perhaps not economical but personal growth wise. Martin Rundqvist at Aarvarchaeology has pointed out, both on-line and IRL, that it isn’t necessarily the best of career moves to set time aside to get a PhD. I believe he has a point, but his ambitions or reasons for pursuing a PhD and mine aren’t necessarily the same. I wish to work as a civil servant working with questions regarding archaeology, cultural heritage etc or at a county museum. Now this is something that has been working out rather well for me the last few years and it might be questionable whether a break from the labour market is to my advantage. Therefore I believe it’s important to keep in close contact with the labour market during an eventual period of research.

Well to make it clear and easy – me wants a PhD, me wants it bad – I want the possibility and the time to dig deeper into archaeology as a subject and hopefully take another few step in my personal development.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Update 2008-12-15 – Got the answer on the application and it was no again. So it’s back to the drawing table and start over. I think it is time to find another angle and I’ll got at least a few months ´til the next application is due. Thanks for the quick and speedy process and the feedback!

Urminne nr 7 2008

A new issue of Urminne (7/2008) is available, Urminne is a periodical concerning prehistoric and medieval issues in the Swedish provinces Småland, Öland and Östergötland. All articles are written in Swedish and it is possible to order it from Jonkoping County museum.


In this issue me and colleague; Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay, have an article; Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland (Three unexpected finds at Ottenby Kungsgård).

Abstract: This paper presents three somewhat unexpected finds made in connection to the excavation in 2004 of a Pitted Ware site (Neolithic) at Ottenby Royal Manor on the southernmost part of Öland, Sweden. The first find to be treated here was identified during the excavation, and consists of an Early Medieval glass bead of Hungarian origin, of a type not previously documented from the Scandinavian area. The other two finds were identified during the osteological analysis; in the material from the 2004 excavation a Gannet (Morus bassanus, formerly known as Sula bassana) was identified, being the first of this species from a prehistoric context on Öland and the forth find from the large islands in the Baltic Sea altogether. Secondly whilst analysing bones from the 1991 excavation at the site a previously unidentified human bone was identified.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The other articles are (sorry I haven’t translated ´em);

– Jörgen Gustafsson: “Paradis i inland”
– Magnus Reuterdahl & Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay: “Tre oväntade fynd från Ottenby Kungsgård, Öland”
– Michael Dahlin: “Låt gravarna berätta! Några nygamla bronsåldersgravar i södra Tjust”
– Alexandra Nylén & Åsa Jönsson: “Gripeberg. En fornborg i Smålands inland”
– Christina Helander: “Att tända den livsgnista som släckts. En tolkning av två stensättningar i Bäckseda”
– Erika Räf: “Varifrån kom järnet? Om framställning av blästjärn i Östergötland under förhistorien”
– Mikael Nordström: “Död mans dörr och järnåldersdösens gåta”
– Anna Kloo Andersson: “Hälsa och ohälsa under medeltid och efterreformatorisk tid i södra Vätterbygden. Med utgångspunkt från skeletten i Barnarps kyrka”
– Rickard Wennerberg: “Skogens svarta guld. Undersökning av kolframställningsplatser i Nifsarp utanför Eksjö”
– Leif Häggström: Om viljan att kommunicera resultat. En analys av olika aktörers publiceringsfrekvens från en småländsk horisont”

Congratulation winners of SAU’s science award 2008

I would like to congratulate Sven Isaksson, archaeologist at the Archaeological research laboratory (AFL) Stockholm University, to SAU science award 2008 (In Swedish). Sven Isaksson is a bimolecular archaeologist who specialising in organic residues, for example lipid analysis on prehistoric ceramics. Sven is great teacher, scientist and fore most someone I call friend and it is always good see that good things comes to those who are good.

He wasn’t the only winner he shared the price with Uppsala scientist Anne Ingvarsson-Sundström, I don’t know her personally, though I believe I’ve met her on occasion, but I’ve read some articles and know of her as she do osteology (as well as archaeology). Congratulation it is good to see that bones are appreciated.

SAU or Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis (in Swedish) is Uppsala based foundation that does contract as well as research based archaeology.

Read more about Sven and his work in this presentation/article (in English).


Magnus Reuterdahl


Neolithic Fisheries – Osteoarchaeology of fish remains in the Baltic Sea region

Last Friday I sat in on Carina Olson defence of her doctoral thesis; Neolithic Fisheries – Osteoarchaeology of fish remains in the Baltic Sea region at Stockholm University. Her dissertation is of importance for those interested in fish osteology and marine economy during the Neolithic’s especially regarding the Pitted ware culture along the east coast of Sweden and on the islands of the Baltic Sea.

I’ll get back with some notes on the papers in her dissertation but one that I felt was especially interesting is paper III; Selectivity across the millennia. Prehistoric vs. modern Baltic cod fisheries by Karin Limburg, Yvonne Walther, Bongghi Hong, Carina Olson and Jan Storå as it introduces some new elements and interesting openings within osteology. This concerns life history of cod during the Neolithic’s and present, the authors are trying to say something of the how the environment has changed from then to now and how that has affected the cod. There are several factors that are in work, such as the salinity of the water, the temperature, natural predators, the industrial fishery etc. 

The thesis is available in an pdf file here. ‘

Magnus Reuterdahl

Pitted ware culture thesis

Today I am going to the disputation of Petra Molnar; she will defend her thesis in Osteoarchaeology Tracing Prehistoric Activity – Life ways, habitual behaviour and health of hunter-gatherers on Gotland at Stockholm University. I’ve read the thesis which includes five articles on the neolithic pitted ware culture. She ‘s been studying traces of prehistoric stress through stress markers, dental wear and oral pathology, the graves and grave-goods, she has compared these Neolithics health status with the health status of those living in Sigtuna during the middle ages (interesting results) and she has been studying the link between osteoarthritis and activity.

The abstract is available here.

I’ll get back with a few more in depth thoughts of the thesis.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A day at Ulriksdal Palace

Just a few kilometres away from home is the royal Palace Ulriksdal, it is situated at the brink of Edsviken just east of Bergshamra (where I live). As a student at the Osteoarchaeological research laboratory (OFL) at Stockholm University I spent two years here as the laboratory at that time was situated in one of royal stables. Today OFL is no longer at Ulriksdal and can now be found at the Wallenberg laboratory, Stockholm University campus.


In this building OFL was situated until 2003.

The surroundings hold many scenic spots both of cultural historic importance and due to beautiful nature scenery.

As one walks from Bergshamra one passes a cemetery for soldiers that became invalids during wars between 1788-1814. King Karl IV Johan made Ulriksdal available for veterans that had been injured during these wars, thus Ulriksdal served as a nursing home between 1822-1849. In total 383 officers, soldiers and enlisted men lived and were taken care of at the castle. The cemetery was founded in 1824 and is the final resting ground for some 200 men. A small part of the cemetery is enclosed and except for five tombstones the graves are unmarked.

The palace was built during the 17th century by field marshal Johan De la Gardie and was then named Jacobsdal. When Queen Hedvig Elenora acquires the castle in 1684 the name is changed to Ulriksdal. The exterior of the palace today is from the mid 18th century. As time have passed several kings and queens has made changes and added to the castle and the surroundings. This very obvious if one takes the tour of the castle, where different periods of its history are displayed. One of the interesting things is one of Stockholm’s first living rooms. It is designed by Carl Malmsten for the crown prince Gustaf VI Adolf in the 1920’s.

The castle park was originally created during the second half of the 17th century, within the park is the Orangery and several sculptures by artist such as Carl Milles and Pehr Henrik Lundgren.

The Orangery is a building from the beginning of the 18th century by the architect Nicodemus Tessin the younger. It was restored in 1987-91 and works as a museum for art by Swedish sculptors such as Tobias Sergel, Bengt Erland Fogelberg, Johan Niklas Byström and Christian Eriksson.

Another buildings is the Ulriksdal royal chapel, it was build in the 1860’s by King Karl XV. It is a popular spot for weddings.

At Ulriksdal is also one of Sweden’s oldest preserved theatres; the rococo theatre Ulriksdal royal theatre aka the Confidence. The theatre was built by Queen Lovisa Ulrika and was opened in 1753. Sorry to say I have no picture of the theatre at the moment.

Across the theatre is Ulriksdals inn (Värdshus) the building is from 1867 and the food and environment is great.

And to finish this post a few pictures of the surroundings at Ulriksdal.

Ulriksdal palace

Magnus Reuterdahl


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