Category Archives: Stockholm University

Notes from the Osteological Associations 2008 symposium part 4

These are notes that will be edited, I urge you to comment on anything that seems to be out of place or faulty so that I can correct this. The intention is to compress these notes into a far shorter and more focused version to be printed in the Swedish Osteological Associations journal Benbiten during 2008.  The last lecturer of the day was Fil. Dr. Caroline Arcini from the National Heritage Board (RAA), UV Syd. UV is RAA’s department for archaeological excavations, and UV syd is the regional office for the south in Sweden, mainly Scania.

Reconstructing daily life in past populations. The future of Paleopathology.

Fil. Dr. Caroline Arcini


Caroline Arcini started off with a discussion of anthropology and the importance of collaborations to answer questions of what happened, how it happened and why did it happen instead of merely describing what we see.

For example how do we determinate if markers from a trauma are due to an accident or to violence? In some cases as in beheadings, shootings and stabbings these markers can be clear in others as fractures it can be more unclear.

Examinations of skeletal material from Lund dated to ca 1000-1500 has showed that many wounds/injuries have been treated and healed well, this includes both in infections and fractures. Some injuries have healed so well that it is hard to detect them at all, but there are exceptions.


Some diseases lead to Social exclusion for example Leprosy, the oldest written sources of leprosy is from ca 600 BC and comes from China and India. A common misperception is that the disease makes you drop your limbs, this is not the case instead it is bone resorbtion that makes it seem as the patient loses his or her limbs

The oldest finds in Sweden has been dated to ca 700 AD. The normal funerary practise of the time is cremation. The skeletal material with traces of leprosy has not been cremated, is this due to the disease? (Skeletal funerals do exist side by side with cremations through the late Iron Age though they are not as common and most of these have not had leprosy.)

In the Viking Age skeletal material from Lund ca 3-4 % show signs of leprosy.

990-1100 AD                      42/1300 individuals = 3,2 %

1100-1536 AD                    1/1500 individuals = > 1 %

This is material from within Lund which shows that not all were banished to special hospitals. These hospitals were normally placed outside of the cities. It seems as the frequency decreases during the Middle Ages, this might indicate a new view on the lepers for example that they have been forced to hospitals outside of the city.

Leprosy has existed for a long time though it is more or less non-existing in Sweden today; though as late as in 1864 a new leprosy hospital was built at Järvsö where ca 400 lepers lived. Outside of Visby at Gotland are ruins after an older leprosy hospital (St Görans? ca 1300-1540 AD).


Finds of Arteriosclerosis has been made in China (ca 2100 yrs old) and from mummies in Egypt. There are also a few finds from Scandinavia. The finds looks like a dried macaroni or a cheese doodle and has approximately that size. They are found in the cranial region and are very fragile, therefore one should be very careful when cleaning skeletal finds, and when it is done it should be done in a laboratory.

Atherosclerosis is a disease affecting arterial blood vessels. It is a chronic inflammatory response in the walls of arteries. It is commonly referred to as a “hardening” or “furring” of the arteries. It is caused by the formation of multiple plaques within the arteries.

Tooth health

Of the teeth from the Middle Ages examined by Caroline Arcini ca 40 % was affected by caries, this problem is big in both adult and milk teeth. Another big problem during this period was tooth loss.

On teeth we can find evidence of people’s habits for example smoking. Clay Tobacco Pipes gives clearly visible marks on the teeth. Findings of these markers can be dated (in Sweden) from the end of the 17th century till the 19th century. Until the 19th century it seems like it was almost exclusively a male habit.

In situations like this archaeology and ethnology has lots of information to share with each other.

Case study the Dome of Linköping

Caroline Arcini has skeletal material from 560 graves, dating to ca 1100-1810 AD, to analyze. In this case there are records such as death certificates from ca 1750 and forth that can be compared with the analyses and church books regarding who is buried where, date of birth and death etc. In other words a great part of this material comes with answers and should be possible to use as a Swedish standards.

Possibilities regarding age estimations which in turn is important concerning issues of health etc.

In a well documented material as this one can study and interpret living conditions. Here we cam find information about access to food, occupation, kinship etc. All this information is interesting when compeered to Osteological data, for examples, common traits, teeth hypolasia. The key to all this is of course dating and identifying the individuals.

When studying welfare three components are important; Age groups, how old did the population get, stature and child morality.

A part of the study will be concerning Tuberculosis. Between 1780-1810 there were 4500 deaths recorded, of these 36 (8 %) were recorded to have died from TB. An estimation is that 5-7 % would have skeletal TB and 2-3 5 TB on the spine. Of these 4500 individuals 140 has been exhumed, among these 1 can be expected to have had TB.

There are other marks than those of disease.

Arcini have been working on an article that is coming in BAR in a near future concerning man made marks on teeth, teeth mutilation in Scandinavia. In this article she has been studying 60 teeth from Gotland, 1 from Öland, 1 from Denmark and 4 from Scania. All teeth have been filed. These are among the few finds in Europe, though there are several other finds in the world.

This concludes my notes from the symposium. I’ll now start working on a summary that will be presented in the Osteological Associations annual, Benbiten, later this year.

Remember that these are notes that will be edited, I urge you to comment on anything that seems to be out of place or faulty so that I can correct this.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Notes of the Osteological Association’s 2008 symposium part 3

This lecture deals with ancient DNA and archaeological research concerning DNA, it is not my field of expertise and it is quite possible that if something seems amiss or odd it is due to fact that I have misunderstood it, if so please send me a mail or make a comment so that I can correct it.

Magnus Reuterdahl

The fourth lecture of the day was held by Anna Linderholm, PhD student at the Archaeological Research Laboratory (AFL), Stockholm University.

“Ancient DNA and Pathology”

Anna Linderholm


Anna started the lecture with a question; what is DNA?

There are different types of DNA, Chromosomal DNA or nuclear DNA (nDNA) and Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA. nDNA is the most common DNA used in forensic examinations and mtDNA is most often used while dealing with Ancient DNA. mtDNA is located in organelles called mitochondria while most other DNA is found in the cell nucleus.

One way to find diseases through DNA is to identify DNA from Prokaryote Bacteria. They are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus, or any other membrane-bound organelles. Most are unicellular, but some prokaryotes are multicellular organisms. Their DNA can range from 12-160’000 base pairs (bp) (The size of an individual gene is often measured in bp as DNA is usually double-stranded). Bacterias genetic material is typically a single circular chromosome located in the cytoplasm in an irregularly shaped body called the nucleoid.

The extraction process

An ancient DNA laboratory is a sterile environment, it is important that the DNA does not get contaminated. DNA can be extracted from bone and teeth but also coprolites or soft tissue as hair from a mammoth.

When extracting DNA from bone or teeth one normally starts with using a drill and then one separates the organic material from the inorganic material. After this one has to purify the material and multiply it.

To multiply DNA a method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is used, basically this means that you create an artificial DNA cell.

The Analysis

Step one is to dye the DNA, when this is done the analyst for the first is able to see if he or she has extracted any DNA. Though if there is DNA he or she can say if it is the right kind of DNA.


What diseases have been identfied through analysis of ancient DNA? Tubercolosis is the most studied so far others are leprocy, palgue, kolera and syphilis etc. These are all tracable through pathogenic bacterias (e.g. bacterias that can cause disease).

There are several examples of projects that have given intresting results. At AFL several intersting project has been carried out, for example:

“Kronan” – Tuberculosis

Emilia Nuorala worked on samples from the man-of-war Kronan. Kronan sunk in the Baltic Sea outside of Öland in battle with a Danish Dutch fleet during the Scandia war in 1676. Ca 800 died and 42 survived the battle. From the excavation some 400 kg of bone as been rescued, these bones are in excellent condition for DNA analysis as they have been lying in darkness and in an oxygen free environment.

20 samples have been tested for TB using PCR, in 9 samples from 3 individuals DNA was successfully extracted. The analysis showed that it was possible to find ancient Mycobacterium tuberculosis in skeletal material that showed no morphological indications of tuberculosis, as in the Kronan case.

Björned – Leprosy and TB

Emilia Nuorala also did an analysis on skeletal remains excavated at Björned, an early Christian cemetery dated to 1000-1100 AD.

Five individuals were tested, one had leprosy and two had TB, one of these individuals had both diseases.

Yersinia Pestis (Pasteurella pestis) – The Palgue

Y. Pestis is caused by bacteria and therefore it should be detectable through DNA analysis. There are three pests

  • – Antiqua Pestis
  • – Mediaevalis Pestis
  • – Orientalis Pestis

The Plague of Justinian was a pandemic that afflicted the Byzantine Empire in 541-542 AD. Samples from two individuals were tested for plague. Both died in 542 AD according to the tombstones. The test was made on teeth (M3 + M1) and on ribs. The test was not positive for plague – why?

  • – These two individuals were not affected by plague
  • – Due to taphonomic processes the DNA has not survived
  • – The extraction didn’t work

Protozoa – Malaria

Protozoa Plasmodium falciparum is a parasite that causes malaria in humans. They multiply in the liver and then in the red blood cells.

Interstingly evidence Malaria has been found in Uleborg, Finland, from the 17th century. There are written sources that describes people who died of fever, that might have been caused by malaria. It is known that malaria was usuall in that area until the end of the 17th century. Anna Linderholm has analyised 30 samples but the analysis are not finshed yet.

Other possiblities in the future

Through DNA analysis we should be able to identify viruses for example CMW, Herpes and Smallpox etc. The oldest records for smallpox is written sources dating to ca 600 AD but the disease could be as old as 10000 BC.

Another disease that is interesting is syphilis. It is hard to find ancient DNA of syphilis as it preserves badly. One of the oldest finds in Europe is that the remains of a medieval woman found in Essex, England, dating to circa 1296-1445. Interesting research is being made on materials from the Easter Island; syphilis came there with Europeans in the 18th century.

The limitiations for research of ancient DNA is preservation and contamination. Ancient DNA is fragmented or degrated and as it degrates it alters, the finds are tahta of small amounts and there is always a risk that the DNA is contaminated.

A case study

This project was started by Ander Götheström and has been finished by Anna Linderholm. It is an indirect study of disease, as it concerns a human gene called CCR5Δ32. One aim has been to find if the gene is in the Scandinavian (Swedish) gene pool during the Neolithic another to establish its geographical spread.

Individuals homozygous for CCR5Δ32 are protected against HIV infection. The geographical distribution of the gene is also interesting. More or less it is only found in European populations and has an especially high frequency in Scandinavia and Sweden.

The gene CCR5Δ32 is a mutation, the mutation or deletion has been dated to somewhere between 700 yrs ago to 3500 yrs ago. The gene has been identified in individuals found in a medieval plague mass burial. This find gives an indirect dating; the deletion is older than 700 yrs.

The gene is only present in Europe (in any measurable quantities) where 16-3 % of the population has it. The highest frequency is found in parts of Norway, Sweden and the Baltic states.

This study has analyzed bone material from the Mesolithic and Neolithic. In total 46 individuals have been analyzed. The Mesolithic finds came from Skateholm and Huseby-Klev and the Neolithic finds are from the Funnel Beaker Culture (TRB) ca 4200-2800 BC and the Pitted ware culture (GRK) ca 3200-2300 BC. Among the others the finds are from Visby, Jettböle, Dragby, Ire, Hjelmars rör and Rössberga.

In this study, two methods has been used to extract DNA. Ander Götheström used the guanidium method and thiocyanate extraction while Anna Linderholm used a method called fishing extraction to find the nuclear marker CCR5Δ32.

In 19 of the 46 individuals they successfully extracted DNA and in 10 of these they identified the CCR5Δ32 gene. These individuals came from at least two Neolithic sites and from Skateholm (As I understood it the dating of the individual is not entirely certain), which is from the Mesolithic.

One conclusion is that approximately 17 % of the Neolithic individuals hade the gene, compared to today’s 14 %.

Why is the frequency so high?

The bottleneck theory is one possibility. For example an epidemic happens and those with the CCR5Δ32 gene survives as do a part of those who don’t have it. But the bottleneck increases the percentage of the population with the CCR5Δ32 gene.

Anna Linderholm holds the smallpox theory as the most likely but there are also others for example the plague theory and the Viking theory.

The Palgue theory does not hold as the CCR5Δ32 does not protect against Yersinia infection, and so it would not have conferred a survival advantage.

The Viking theory is based upon the fact that it is most usual in Scandinavia and that the mutation can be found in the areas the Vikings traveled.

The smallpox theory is that the mutation increased in prevalence as the result of smallpox epidemics. It has been suggested that it may have provided the selective pressure for the CCR5Δ32 mutation.


The findings in this study prove that the mutation is more than 4000 yrs old and possibly older than 6000 yrs.

The End of this lecture, lhe last will come soon (Caroline Arcini)

Remember that these are notes that will be edited, I urge you to comment on anything that seems to be out of place or faulty so that I can correct this. The intention is to compress these notes into a far shorter and more focused version to be printed in the Swedish Osteological Associations journal Benbiten during 2008.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Notes from the Osteological Associations 2008 symposium part 1

These are notes that will be edited, I urge you to comment on anything that seems to be out of place or faulty so that I can correct this. The intention is to compress these notes into a far shorter and more focused version to be printed in the Swedish Osteological Associations journal Benbiten during 2008. 

Bones bearing witness – notes from the Osteological Associations 2008 symposium.

A beautiful sight (at least for an arranger), in the seminar room more than 60 persons are crammed together to focus on the subject of the day; Osteology, Bones, Decease and more.


The morning sojourn started with an introduction and some welcome phrases by the president of the Osteological Association, Sofia Prata.


She in turn handed the microphone to ass. Professor Jan Storå of the Osteological Research Laboratory (OFL) who held a short introduction speech. As the symposium was held in honor of the late professor Ebba During Jan Storå briefly spoke a few words about her and her accomplishments. He pointed out that the symposiums name is a direct translation of the title of her book “Benens vittnesbörd”. The intention of the symposium is not to be a memorial but a symposium within her spirit and that the symposium in some ways mirrors her attitude of intriguing and curiousness towards bones with a glimpse in her eye.


Thereafter the moderator of the day; Fil.Dr. and substitute ass. Professor at OFL Anna Kjellström, introduced the first lecturer of the day:


“Climate and skeleton. Towards a Human Ecology of Skeletal remains”

Fil.Dr. Tobjörn Ahlström from Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University.


Ahlström began his lecture with an introduction to the Cornucopian versus Catastrophic debate, optimism versus pessimism.

The debate concerns the limits to global agricultural production where the Optimists point to technological progress as the answer and the pessimists stress limits on arable land.

The Cornucopian or optimistic view holds that continued progress and provision of material items for mankind can be met by advances in technology. In other words if the population grows bigger we will find ways to support the larger population. The term cornucopian comes from the name of  the mythical “horn of plenty” (cornucopia) of the Greek mythology which supplied its owners with endless food and drink magically.

The Catastrophic or pessimistic view was presented by Thomas Robert Malthus “An Essay on the Principles of Population has served to define the terms of debate on human population growth and the Earth’s capacity to provide subsistence” ca 200 yrs ago (1798). His hypothesis was that a human population had the potential to increase exponentially if it weren’t limited by support from its resource base. If or when the birthrate is increasing faster than the resource rate this will lead famine and/or the possible collapse of a society. The growth of the number of human consumers and their demands will always threaten to outrun the growth of sustenance. In other words there a society can only grow to a certain size.

In later time the demographic-economic paradox has though proven Malthus wrong.

Within the society of archaeologists and historians there is a form of anthropological uniformitarianism were most gives a very similar view on population growth in prehistoric times. The popular statement is that there is a substantial population growth from ca 1500 BC, with the agricultural revolution. In other word the previous periods were kind of uneventful regarding population growth. The uniform thought could be summarized as slow process during the prehistoric and fast processes today. Ahlströms asks himself and us if this really is the case and how we can find an answer to this?

One thing we can study is climate changes and especially abrupt climate changes and compare this to measurable elements for example human skeletons. The climate change in prehistoric times is studied through ice cores from Greenland and one measurable change on the skeleton that could be connected to climate change is stature.

During the younger Dryas there are two known abrupt climate changes, the 10000 BC event and the 6000 BC event. Both these events happened due to changes in the North Atlantic Sea, one plausible theory is that large amounts of newly melted freshwater might have been rushing into the Sea from the north American continent.

One thing that we lack today is a calibration of archaeology and paleoclimatology.

There is no evidence for a climate change during the transgression period between the Ertebölle culture (Mesolithic, 5200-4000 B.C.) and the Funnel beaker culture (early Neolithic, ca 4000-2800 B.C., the first agriculturists in Scandinavia). But there is evidence for climate change between the time of the Funnel beaker culture and Pitted ware culture (3200-2300 B.C.).

In the skeletons we find several morphological changes that are due adaptation, possibly climatic change. For example the differences between Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens and Homo Sapiens Sapiens could in part be explained by adaptations to different climates.

Ahlström proposes several questions, analysis, that could give us some answers:

  • At what age do the weaning starts?
  • At what age do puberty start?
  • Studies of differences in adult body size
  • Study of mortality scheduals etc.

Another interesting model that can be applied is the Lotka-Volterra model, developed independently by Lotka (1925) and Volterra (1926). This is a model predator-prey interaction where survival is the most important and fertility can be seen as instrument for survival but also as a counterbalance tool. If the life expectancy within a population is high they tends less children than in a population where the life expectancy is low.

Another theory is the Life history theory, an analytical framework that is widely used both in animal and human research where one presumes that many of the physiological traits and behaviors of individuals may be understood in terms of the key maturational and reproductive characteristics that define the life course.

For example why are the pygmees shorter than other groups that lives in the same enviorment? The fact that they live in the same enviorment tells us the stature is not due to any singel enviorment. If one study the growth curves of the pygmees one can see that they stop growing at an early age 12-14 yrs comperd to other groups. In compersiment they also enter puberty early, at ca 12-20 yrs. Some has concluded that this might be a result of fetal imprinting or programing.

Back to climate again but we make a jump in time to the Middle Ages and Historic times.

Two interesing penomenas to study are the medevial warmth period (MWP) (ca 800-1300 AD) and the small Ice Age (LIA) (ca 1400-1850 AD). An intersting study is the corralation between life expectensy and body length.

An intersting study is that of what happende to the Norsemen om Greenland. They landed there during the MWP and either died or moved away during the LIA. There are evidence that shws a tendency towards a shorter stature during the LIA than during the MWP, the sample is

As a conclusion Tobjörn Ahlström stated that there is a lot to gain if we integrate life history theory with human osteology.

The next in line was professor George Maat who in some way continues on the trail set by Tobjörn Ahlström as he takes us to Spitsbergen (Svalbard). Here the climate is a factor instead of main subject, the main subject is instead Scurvy.

“Scurvey. Dying in the world of Spitsbergen”

Professor George Maat from the University of Leiden, Netherlands.


Professor Maat started with a historical background on whaling in the 17th and 18th century. For about two months a year the whalers went to Spitzbergen, the Neatherlands were in competition with the Brittih whalers and this often led to troubles. As the Brittish often arrived before the Dutchmen they on occation burned or destrotyed the dutch village which costed time. In 1634 the dutchmen decided to leave seven men in the village Smeerburg for the winter to prevent this. Smeerburg is/was located on the northwest coast of Amsterdam Island.

The seven men documented their stay in a journal that has been published on several occations in the Neatherlands. Thanks to this jurnal we can follow the hardship that was layed onb this men.

Some notes:

  • 2 December 1634 – They took scurvy potions
  • January 1635 – three men died from scurvy
  • 7 Febuary 1635 – all sufferd from grip, spitting of blood, rectal bleeding and evacuation.
  • 26 Febuary – the last notes are entered
  • Come spring all seven are found dead.

The dead men were found in a baracede house, the description includes a statement on how the dead were found. The seven men was then buried.

The story about seven whalers lived on in the Neatherlands and in 1887 the Barentz expedition visited Smeerburg, among other things they searched for the burial of the seven heroes. They did not find them but discovered that may other graves had been savaged by polar bears.

In 1906 the Dutch navy reburied the dead found under a stone  monumnet to protect the graves from plundering and polar bears. They also searched for the seven men who died in 1635 but didn’t find them.

In 1980 profeesor Maat came to Island to do research on the men buried by 1906 expedition and by chanse stumbled upon seven graves from the 17th century. There were several intersting marks on the the bones, there were long cracks and they were blackend around the joints and the distal ends.

As they began to open the graves, the dead, was in blocks of ice. So before doing any analysis they had to find a way to defrost them. This was done with the help of black plastic bags and the sun.

Of the total number of individuals, 50, including the newly founds at least 39 were concluded to have had scurvy.

The traces were found in different parts of the body. On all 39 hemastosis was found on the ankles and knees. On 28 at the hipjoint, on 27 at the shoulders, on 26 at the elbows and on 18 on the wrists etc.

On a living scury patient one could expect to see swellings on for examples the thighs, marks on the skin due to several small internal bleedings, bleedning gums and later on rottening gums and toothloss.

Traces of healed scurvy is often seen as hematosis in the form of lines on the long bones. This is traces of new bone tissue has inbedded the bloodvessels on the bone.

Scurvy therapy history

The earliest reports on how to prevent scurvy is from 1554, dr. Dodonaeus, who claimed that oranges and scurvy grass was good preventors. In 1747 a test was prefomed by a british captian? Lind?. He ordered half his crew to eat oranges and forbade the other half, as they reached the South Pacific Sea half of the crew was dead, guess what half?

The black colour in the bone was a bit of a mystery. It turned out to blood and due to the microclimate it was still preserved. And it was preserved were the contusions or small internal bleeding could be expected.

To be continued….

Remember that these are notes that will be edited, I urge you to comment on anything that seems to be out of place or faulty so that I can correct this. The intention is to compress these notes into a far shorter and more focused version to be printed in the Swedish Osteological Associations journal Benbiten during 2008.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Sold out! The Osteological Association’s symposium 2008.

On this Saturday it is time for the Osteological Association’s symposium and I am happy to report that it is fully booked; more than 60 people will attend. I will publish a report on the symposium as soon as I can, probably early next week.

Magnus Reuterdahl

To Neolithic China and back! The Yangshao project

Now availible on-line: To Neolithic China and back! The Yangshao project

This article was orginally printed in Benbiten number 1-2, 2007, the (Swedish) Osteological association’s periodical.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Christmas dinner at the Ghost castle in Stockholm

For the second time I had the fortune of being invited to the Ghost palace (Spökslottet) or the palace of Scheffler (Schefflerska palatset) for a traditional Christmas dinner. Within its walls a treasure awaits, a treasure of art, glass and furniture.

The building was built by the Dutch businessman Hans Petter Scheffler ca 1700 and has been used as a private resident until 1923. After this it has been owned by Stockholm University. The building is situated at Drottninggatan 116 in Stockholm.


The picture is borrowed from wikipedia.(

The major part of the art collection within is dated from the 16th century to the 18th century. Most paintings are made by international artists among them Pieter Bruegel the elder (ca 1527-1569). There are also paintings from 18th century Venice by for example Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) and some Swedish paintings aswell. There is also a large collection of glass from the glasswork Orrefors in Småland. The furniture is from mostly swedish and from the late 17th and the 18th century.

In this pdf publication “Art treasures in the Ghost palace” some of the finer artworks on display in the Ghost castle are presented.

The museum is not open for public except on special occasions, I warmly recommend it if you have the possibility to visit it.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Osteological symposium in Stockholm; Feb 2, 2008

The period of notification has run out!!!

Today I lend my blog to the Osteological Association Sweden, to introduce a symposium that will be held in Stockholm on February 2, 2008. All are welcome to partcipate both members and others, at the end of the post are the details on how to register. Some parts in the programme is written in Swedish.

Best wishes and welcome!

Magnus Reuterdahl/the Osteological Association, Sweden

Osteological Association Sweden
in cooperation with
Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory
“Bones bearing witness- A symposium in honor of Ebba During”

DATE: 2th of February 2008.

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

Language: English

11.00-11.15 WELCOME

11.15-12.15 Fil. Dr. Torbjörn Ahlström, Institutionen för arkeologi och antikens historia, Lunds universitet. “Climate and skeleton. Towards a Human Ecology of skeletal remains”.

12.15-13.15 Prof. George Maat, University Leiden, Netherland. “Scurvy. Dying in the cold world of Spitsbergen”. 13.15-14.30 Lunch

14.30-15.30 Fil.Dr. Nikolaos Roumelis, Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University. “The Paleopathology of Kirchberg”.

15.30-16.30 Ph.D. student Anna Linderholm, Archaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University: “Ancient DNA and Pathology”.

16.30-17.15 Coffe

17.15-18.15 Fil. Dr. Caroline Arcini, Riksantikvarieämbetet, UV Syd. “Reconstructing

daily life in past populations. The future of Paleopathology”.

18.15-19.00 Closing, discussion and reflections. Senior teacher Jan Storå, Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory, Stockholm University.

19.00 Dinner at the Department


This symposium has partly been financially supported by grants from Berit Wallenbergs Stiftelse (the Berit Wallenberg Foundation), which is most gratefully acknowledged.

Conference Speaker Biographies:

Fil. Dr. Torbjörn Ahlström

Som osteolog har jag varit verksam vid Statens historiska museum och Riksantikvarieämbetet. Jag har undervisat i ämnet sedan 1994, först vid Stockholms universitet och nu vid Lunds universitet. Som forskare har jag varit verksam vid Stockholms, Göteborgs och Lunds universitet, och som gästforskare vid Odense universitet samt Max Planck-institutet för demografi, Rostock. För närvarande delar jag min tid mellan ett forskningsprojekt vid Göteborgs universitet och undervisning i Lund. Min forskning berör huvudsakligen människan och inspirationen hämtas från såväl naturvetenskap som humanvetenskap. Jag har arbetat huvudsakligen med skelettmaterial från meso- och neolitikum, men med några nedslag i medeltid.

Prof. George J.R. Maat MD PhD, anatomist – forensic anthropologist

George Maat studied medicine at Leiden University in Holland, became MD in 1973 and defended his PhD-thesis at the same university in 1974. Thereafter he has worked as an anatomist at Surinam University (1974-1976), Leiden University (1977-1986), Kuwait University (1986-1990), Utrecht University (1991-1993) and again at Leiden University Medical Center since 1993. In addition to teaching human anatomy, embryology and histology he has been teaching physical anthropology since 1977. From 2004 he teaches forensic anthropology in the Forensic Human Identification Course at the University College London (Barts & Queen Mary), and from 2007 he has been appointed as an honorary professor at the Department of Anatomy at the University of Pretoria. His fields of research are paleopathology and forensic anthropology. At the moment he is, together with Prof. Terry O’Connor and Prof. Shelley Saunders, editor of the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. He is affiliated with the Netherlands Forensic Institute at The Hague. As permanent member of the Dutch Disaster Identification Team and as a temporary member of the British Forensic Team he has been deployed in Kosovo (ICTY; 1999, 2000, 2003), Enschede (fireworks disaster; 2000), Thailand (tsunami; 2004-2005), Afghanistan (military helicopter crash; 2006) and in Surinam (aftermath identifications of the 1989 airplane crash; 2007).

Fil. Dr. Nikolaos Roumelis

Dr Nikolaos Roumelis began his studies in archaeology and osteoarchaeology during the 1990s at Stockholm University. In 2007 he presented his doctoral thesis at Stockholm University. He has specialized in the field of palaeopathology and palaeohistopathology (the use of microscopy in investigating vestiges of diseases on the skeleton), the main field of research is tumorous diseases, inflammatory and deficiency diseases. Since 2001 he has conducted research in Palaeopathology at the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany, and is part of the Göttingen Palaeopathology Group, led by Prof. Dr. Michael Schultz. He is currently working on the investigation of health during the Late Neolithic in Sweden and is also working on several international research projects, eg with DAI in Cairo (Deutsche Archäologische Institut) investigating health in the Early Dynastic Period on the Island of Elephantine, Egypt.

Ph.D student Anna Linderholm

After a degree in molecular biology at Umeå University and two years at the Karolinska Institute I started my archaeological studies. After a degree from Stockholm University in archaeological Science in 2001, I spent 7 months at the Anthropological Institution, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, working on a project dealing with possible kinships in a Slavic cemetery, using ancient DNA. After a year working as a research assistant I was accepted to the Archaeological Research Laboratory as a PhD student in 2004. During my PhD studies I have been a Marie Curie fellow stipend at the University of Bradford, UK, working with Prof. Mike Richards learning about stable isotopes, especially sulphur and oxygen. In 2006 I received a STINT stipend and spent 6 months at The Department of Defense DNA registry, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Maryland, USA. Here I worked with ancient DNA from fallen soldiers trying to solve some problems retrieving the DNA from these said samples. The focus of my PhD is migration and adaptation and I try to study this with the help of both stable isotopes and DNA analysis on skeletal material.

Fil. Dr. Caroline Arcini

Jag har varit verksam som osteolog i snart 25 år. Tidigt inriktade jag mig på humant material, och har ett särkilt stort intresse för kartläggning av människans hälsa. Jag har arbetat med gravplatsmaterial från alla tidsperioder, från stenålder till 1800-talet. Genom årens lopp har drygt 10.000 individers skelett blivit föremål för analys. Ett av mina stora intressen är när, varifrån, hur lång tid tar det för olika sjukdomar att sprida sig och hur påverkas de samhällen som drabbas. Mina nuvarande projekt är social stratifiering – vilka begrovs på konventskyrkogårdar, avrättningsplatser, leprans spridning i Norden, syfilis vara eller icke vara i Europa före Columbus återkomst. Jag arbetar också med brandgravar och problematiken kring vilka lämningar som utgör bålplatser respektive gravar.

Registration and prices

Participant registration and payment shall be made at the latest on January 22, 2008. Payment is made to the association on PG 45 56 39-5 SE.

Registration is made by e-mail to of_nyheter@[erase-this]

Pris/Price:                             Symposium, kaffe och lunch/ inklusive middag

Medlemmar/members                                       60:- /150:-

Icke medlemmar/ others                                   95:-/ 200:-

Åke Hyenstrand 1939-2007

I was informed by Martin Rundqvist at Aardvarchaeology that the former head of the archaeological department at Stockholm University Åke Hyenstrand has past away. I believe that Hyenstrand will be remembered foremost for his contributions to Scandinavian and Swedish archaeology during the 70’s and 80’s, especially his works concerning the care of our cultural heritage and his large scale analysis of the results of the national survey of ancient monument in the 70’s.

My thoughts go out to his family and close ones.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Two Notifications from OFL

Two interesting activates at OFL, the Osteoarchaeological research laboratory, at Stockholm University.

I am sorry to say that I will miss them both.

A while ago I wrote a post about Niko Roumelis whose dissertation will be put to the test at 22 September. His lecture earlier this spring showed that his dissertation will be very interesting. I wish him all the best. His research concerns inflammatory and tumorous diseases in the population from Kirchberg/St. Niedenstein, Germany (13th – 16th century AD). The title is: The Palaeopathology of Kirchberg: Evidence of Deficiency, Inflammatory and Tumorous Disease in a Medieval Rural Population in Hessia, Germany. The abstract is here. The defence will be held at De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:00 at Stockholm University, the defence will be held in English.

A few days before this Pia Bennike will hold a seminary at OFL under the title: Nutidens sygdomme set i et udviklingsmæssigt aspekt/ Today’s desices seen from an evolutionary point of view. The lecture will be held at OFL the 20 September at 1400.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Viking Age rune carvers and literate settings in Scandinavia

A dissertation I won’t miss is Magnus Källströms on June 1st. The subject is ancient Scandinavian languishes and the title is: Mästare och minnesmärken: Studier kring vikingatida runristare och skriftmiljöer i Norden (Masters and memorials: Studies on Viking-age rune-carvers and literate settings in Scandinavia ).

Omslag Mästare och minnesmärken

The thesis is written in Swedish with a summary in English, there is an abstract available in English.

The dissertation is at Stockholm University, lecture hall B4 at 10.00 am.

Sorry that this post is a bit late, I meant to have published this a few days ago. I will publish some comments regarding the thesis when I have had time to read it.

// Magnus Reuterdahl

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