Tag Archives: pitted ware culture

Real world postPhD

Welcome Elin Fornander to the real world 🙂 and congratulations, just yesterday her thesis was printed and she got to hold it in her hands. The title is Consuming and communicating identities – Dietry diversity and interaction  in Middle Neolithic Sweden. It still has to be defended – but I share no fears it will go smoothly – now it is just the question of finding your place in the archaeological real world postPhD, best of luck (I share no fears here either).

I look forward to give it a good read through as I have high hopes for this next chapter in research regarding the Neolithic’s (and pitted ware culture) and will come back to the subject as I’ve read the thesis and after the dissertation.

Big congratulations to Elin

Magnus Reuterdahl

From Kalmar with love

Then this year filed season has started. A few days in Västervik – a few search trenches and a couple of excavated cultivation cairns – not much but a nice start in the sunshine. Now a short period indoors; writing a report on the mentioned field work, making preps for the next fieldwork, writing a few offers on couple of other jobs and so fourth. Lot’s of things to do, and lots of new stuff to learn as I’m new at Kalmar County Museum; all institutions have their way and praxis’s – but the best way to learn is to bite the bullet and on head right on.

A foal playing around his or her mother just south of our work site.

As new things starts up old things catches up – one of the things I worked on last year was a report for Arkeologicentrum on the excavation of a pitted ware site (en gropkeramisk boplats ca 3200-2300 BC) some miles north of Gothenburg in Göta Ă„lvdal called Skepplanda 32:1. The titel is Forntiden pĂĄ Kattleberg belyst genom arkeologisk undersökning av tvĂĄ förhistoriska boplatser, Skepplanda 32 och 230, Västergötland, Ale kommun, Västra Götalands län and it is written by Lisbeth Bengtsson, Britta Wennstedt Edvinger and myself. Now it’s available in Swedish as a pdf.

That’s all for now

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 bĂĄtyxekulturen 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 academia.edu

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

Report from within a monster

I’ve begun reading Åsa M Larssons (Ting & Tankar) thesis; Breaking and Making Bodies and Pots: Material and Ritual Practices in Sweden in the Third Millennium BC.

400+ pages makes for a thick and heavy book and academia normally isn’t a light read but this is quite an easy read for an academic work. This is in part due to a good flow and good usage of language and in part due to a good disposition of the book where each chapter has a clear beginning and end and is well marked off. A lot of nice pictures and graphs gives some rest to dreary eyes but are also and more importantly illustrative to the text.

Some first notes; I’m not sure I agree with Asa in naming it a monster (at least not a growling one), at a first glance it’s more of slowly building crescendo of pitted ware data; background information, descriptions and syntheses mixed with some fun facts and good writing. Quite a pleasent read.

I’ve started with the osteological parts of the thesis on which I’ll posts some notes later on, as I read it through a little bit more in detail.

Magnus Reuterdahl

We’re close to the finishing line

Skepplanda 32 hearth

The Skepplanda 32 excavation is beginning to come to an end – only two days left. We’ve made a lot of interesting finds during the excavation and these last few days we also found some hearts and cocking pits whereof some might be Neolithic. Several of them looks like they’re from the Iron Age but we’ve made some finds that indicatives that they possibly are from the Stone Age. Today I found this arrow head (type C) belonging to last phase of the pitted ware culture in a hearth.

Skepplanda 32 arrow head C type

Today I took a few moments to look at the view over Gota Alv (river Gota) it’s magnificent. The scenery is nothing like that the people of the middle neolitic saw as this was in the archipelago at the time and the sea level met the beach right were here. On that they made hearths, hunted seal, fished and possibly lived, at least for a while.

Skepplanda 32 view

Well all good things have an end and it’s been a good dig. Coming up next is a week of vacation and then it is of Ostergotland for more work.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Yet another Monday at Skepplanda

Monday mornings are often grey, so was this one. It started witha grey sky and heavy clouds that kept pouring rain on us but as the day progressed so did the weather. During the worst part of the rain we took a quick pause and went to Lodose museum to see their exhibit on the coastline curves on the west coast of Sweden, ie a display on how the water table have changed since the last Ice Age and onwards. A very interesting and clear exhibition, unfortunately we were only had a few minutes to scatter through prehistoric and medieval exhibition it seemed very nice and I’ll return later this summer to the museum for a more detailed visit.

Today we found out first shard of pitted ware, earlier during the excavation we’ve found several small ceramic shards but no ornated ones until now.

keramik skärva skepplanda

I also found my first arrow head, or at least a part of an arrow head today… though only the tongue.

arrow head skepplanda 32

Well, the beginning of the day was rainy and gray but at the end the sun was up and we’ve made a visit to Lodose museum, found some nice finds – all in all it turned out really good.

Magnus Reuterdahl

A theme song for a Stone Age excavation

Day 8 at the Skepplanda 32 excavation dealt a mixed hand; a bit of rain, a good deal of sun and some wind to top it off. It all started with horses though, two had escaped and was finding our excavation site a nice enough place (sorry no photos).

view skepplanda 32 

Obviously not all that glimmer in the ground is from the Pitted Ware Culture (ca 3200 – 2300 BC), today we found an arrow head from the late Neolithics (ca 2350 -1700 BC).

 arrow head skepplanda 32

arrow head skepplanda 32 2

Magnus Reuterdahl

Through the eye of the Geodimeter

 a look

The excavation continues, though a lot of nice flints and some ceramics we’ve still haven’t found any traces of the settlement itself, no postholes, no cocking pits and no hearths. Well we’ve found one hearth but it’s probably Iron Age and not Stone Age though a C14 analysis will settle that at a later date. The flints and the ceramics are from the Neolithic pitted ware culture.

 Skepplanda 32 excavation

At the moment it’s my task to excavate and document it; as seen on the picture below the SW quadrant have been dug so far, ca 1 x 1 m and 0,15 m deep. I’ve only found a few scattered flints at the bottom of the hearth, if they are part of the hearth or not is anyone’s guess at the moment; if they are it might be Stone Age if they aren’t it’s probably of a newer date.

 hearth skepplanda 32

As you can see there are a lot of stones, most affected by the fire and found in a layer filled with ash and coal.

This afternoon I got a curious visitor, a slow worm (Anguis fragilis) or in kopparorm (in Swedish) is a lizard that in Sweden is called a snake and in English a worm.

 slow worm kopparorm kopparödla

Returning to the title of this post. At this dig I’ve been appointed head of measurements; which means I constantly needs to find measure slaves (people to hold the lath), though the instrument isn’t the newest it is kind of nice to relax behind it and watch people run around at your whim.

 total station

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 StorĂĄ 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

%d bloggers like this: