Tag Archives: Sweden

Walk this way

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

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

hålväg1 fossil road (600x450)

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

hålväg2 fossil road (450x600)

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

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

Day of archaeology 2013

It’s that time of the year again – DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY 2013 – and I’ve written a small piece; your welcome to read that or any other of the several hundreds, hopefully thousands, of posts beeing published on archaeology today.

Check out my post here.

Check out Day of archaeology 2013 here.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Need Swedish museums more volunteers?

The annual political event Almedalen, on the island Gotland in Sweden, is just around the corner.

During the first week of July politicians and lobby-organisations meet on common ground to discuss current events – and this year I’m in 🙂

Cultural Heritage is of course part if that and so are questions regarding museums, archives and libraries. A few months ago I was elected to the board of DIK – the creative union; that includes communicators, archaeologists, museum employees, antiquarians, librarians, speech pathologist etc.

One of the debates this year concerns volunteers in cultural institutions. In one corner are Annika Olsson, Gender studies – Stockholm University, (me) Magnus Reuterdahl, DIK, and Karin Thorasdotter, Arenagruppen.

On this side we are concerned when it comes to volunteers. There is a risk that they are replace paid personal, and issues regarding insurances, liability and costs are not clear – among other things.

On the opposite side are Lars Amréus, Antiquarian of the Realm, Riksantikvarieämbetet (National heritage board), Nicklas Lundblad, IT debater, social policy adviser, Google and Lars-Anders Johansson, responsible for cultural issues, Timbro.

They are for more volunteers.

The debattle is organized by Riksutställningar (The Swedish Travelling Exhibitions) under the name; Need Swedish museums more volunteers? (Behöver svenska museer fler volontärer?)

The debate is held on July 2,10:00 – 11:30 at Riksutställningar.

Read more about it here (in Swedish).

Magnus Reuterdahl

A visit to Hästholmen a villa forensis in Östergötland, Sweden

Hästholmen lanterna 600I’ve been lazy when it comes to archaeology blogging lately, partly due to lots and lots of work. The other day I was asked to meet up with some folks from Jönköping County administrative board to tell a little on Hästholmen, as they were visiting on their annual staff day. This gave me a good reason for some blogging 🙂

Hästholmen hamnen 2 (600x450)

Hästholmen is a small town, ca 500 residents, by lake Vettern. It’s interesting out of many aspects, but lets start during the middle ages. Hästholmen is named in several historic documents, the oldest dated back to 1300 AD. It was never a town but it was what can be called a villa forensis (a place with a market) – this was one of the ports for transporting agricultural commodities from the fertile plains of Östergötland.

Hästholmen nya skärgården (450x600)

In medieval sources a church and a castle is also mentioned. The castle was probably more of a fortified farmstead than a castle. It was owned by one of Albrecht of Mecklenburg knights, Gerdt Snackborg. At Hästholmen was also a ting-place, a middle age court, this was active until at least 1523.

Hästholmen fyr (446x600)

Hästholmen peaked during the 14th and 15th century and then slowly faded into history as Vadstena, where the newly founded Vadstena Abbey was based, received its town charter. There hasn’t been done much archaeology within the medieval parts of Hästholmen, but the finds that has been found are mainly from the 14th or 15th century, for example weapons parts, a seal stamp and a collection of coins. The Seal Stamp is bourgeois and holds the name S.olai Pedarson. In 1983 a collection of 282 silver coins was found on the small hill where the “castle” is supposed to have been. The coins are from Sweden, Denmark and Germany and are minted between 1363 and 1520.

Hästholmen hamnen 4 600

Hästholmen hamnen karta 600The next time in history Hästholmen is visible in history is during the mid 19th century when it once again became an important harbour for agricultural commodities. This was to due with the steam-ship traffic on lake Vettern. In 1859 they rebuilt the harbour, much as it looks today, and 1860 the first the first harbor warehouses, one of this is till there. In 1939 they built a facility for storage and processing of grain which also is still standing. A narrow gauge railway was added in 1888 and a broad gauge (standard gauge) between Hästholmen and Mjoelby wasinaugurated in 1912.

Harbour ware house ca 1860

Harbour ware house ca 1860

In 1918 the ship Per Brahe went down during a storm just 500 meters from the Hästholmen port. It’s know as one the beloved artist John Bauer and his family together with more than 20 others died. The ship was salvaged from the bottom of the lake in 1922 and was was used for many more years in different parts of Sweden and Finland.

Facility for storage and processing of grain, build 1939

Facility for storage and processing of grain, build 1939

This is not the only find made in the harbour or nearby the harbour. Another ship wreck was found 2003, this is not dated but of old age (Viking Age or later). Added to this is also a stone age shaft-hole axe and a Vendel Age (550 – 800 AD) sword.

The old harbour

The area around Hästholmen, Alvastra and Omberg is one of the three pre-historic central areas in Östergötland. The district has been inhabited since the Stone Age, with plenty of both Mesolithic and Neolithic settlements, which has been around creeks, ancient lakes and wetlands in the plains and by lake Vettern.

Information sign rock art

Information sign rock art

During the Boreal period, about 8500-6800 BC we know of more than 30 Mesolithic settlements around the lake Tåkern, alone. In Hästholmen are traces of at least one Neolithic settlement and an Iron Age settlement. At Omberg, about 1-2 km north of Hästholmen is the Alvastra pile-dwelling site, ca 3100 BC. There has also been a megalith grave, that was destroyed in 1916. Excavations at this site was conducted in 1979-83 and found human bone material from both the Neolithic period, ca 3200 BC, and the Mesolithic’s, ca. 6300 BC.

In this area is also lots of medieval remains such as the ruins of the Alvastra monastery, Sverker Chapel, Sverkers farmstead and Alvastra mill. The Sverker-dynasty is one the early royal dynasty’s connected with the formation of Sweden during the 12th-13th century.

One rocks with carvings at Hästholmen

One rocks with carvings at Hästholmen

One of the more interesting sites in Hästholmen is the rock-art. Near Hästholmen are more than 80 known places with rock art, most of these are mainly dated to the Bronze Age. The normal type of carvings are cup marks (skålgropar, älvkvarnar) but in but six places there are also figurative motifs, all of are these close to lake Vettern and the most known are those at Hästholmen. It includes about 200 carvings spread over some 10 areas, including 130 cup marks, 29 ships, nine people, axes and animal etc. etc.

Hästholmen hällristningar 8 (600x450)

Hästholmen hällristningar 7 (600x309)

Hästholmen hällristningar 6 (502x600)

Hästholmen hällristningar 5 (600x450)

Hästholmen hällristningar 4 (600x449)

All in all a nice day 🙂

Magnus Reuterdahl

Osteo-doctoral day for Ylva Telldahl

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

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

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

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

Read the full abstract here.


Magnus Reuterdahl


Today I was elected to the Association Board of DIK, the Swedish union for academics working on Culture and Communication, for the next three years

It’s both inspiring and exiting to be part of the DIK’s Association Board and to get be part of an interesting group of people and to work with interesting issues.

DIKs styrelse 2013-2015.
Övre raden från vänster: Erik Palm, Magnus Reuterdahl, Sara Sivre, Mia Lindgren, Lars Aldemark. Främre raden från vänster: Susanna Wennerfeldt, Helena Leidebrant, Karin Linder, Lena Sundberg, Emili Rask, Anna-Stina Takala. Ej med på bild: Jimmy Mannung, Sara Wranne. Bild: DIK.se

Idag blev jag invald i DIKs förbundsstyrelse, där jag kommer att sitta de närmsta tre åren. Jag ser fram emot att få arbeta med ett gäng intressanta människor från andra branscher, sätta mig in i nya frågor och ta del av intressanta arbetspolitiska frågor.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Rock-art-lollapalooza part 1

 My fiancée, who also is an archaeologist, is currently participating in an archaeological dig at the Swedish west coast, at Tanum. Tanum is internationally known for its rock art sites, the Tanum UNESCO World Heritage site includes a multitude of rock carvings dated to the Bronze Age ca 1700-500 BC. In the area there are more than 1500 known sites with rock art. Last weekend I visited and we went on a rock art Safari visiting a few of the sites, the first Vitlycke, which is one of the biggest sites including the famous carving that is called the the wedding couple .

The most common motives are cup marks, ships, people, animals, footprints, wheels etc. Not being an expert on these they still captures my imagination, this is as close as we come to a written testimony of the Bronze Age world giving us glimpses into the world then. The rock carving as seen today is made on outcrops and rocks that are visible in the modern farming landscape, but during the Bronze Age they were situated near the waterline. What is ongoing in Scandinavia, since the last Ice Age, is the land uplift in progress, due to this the coastline has moved quite a bit since the Bronze Age and so landscape surrounding the rock carvings has changed as well.

Big outcrop with rock art at Vitlycke

On top of this hill, ca 100 meter higher in the terrain are two great burial cairns from the Bronze Age.

This is the first of several posts consisting mainly of photos from these sites.

The wedding couple

As you see the carvings have been filled with paint, when they’re found they’re not – can you see the carvings on the next picture?

In the middle is a foot sole and down to the left is part of a ship.

At Vitlycke is also a rock art museum, which includes a replica of a Bronze Age farm.

Magnus Reuterdahl

Blankaholm 2012 -Swedish east coast archaeological seminar

Tomorrow it that time of the year, again, when all eyes turns to the East Coast and the metropolis Blankaholm (you can find in google maps or such). Don’t know of it? Well, not many do, but since some years back an annual seminar on archaeology is held there – lots of fun and interesting archaeology is presented . All seminars are held in Swedish.

This 2012 schedule:

Saturday 25/2

  • From the Neolithic to a farming crisis – A farming historical research project on the north-eastern Smaland coast land and in land by Michael Dahlin & Mårten Aronsson
  • A few reflections on the archaeological excavations and the reporting of the E22 project in Blekinge by – Elisabeth Rudebeck
  • Mass production of green stone axes in western Blekinge by Kenneth Alexandersson
  • The Vikings – a long history by Roger Wikell
  • The Bronze Age in Blekinge – results from the E22 excavations by Helena Victor
  • Actions at an urn grave field. A presentation of the results from Flyestock and ideas concerning ducumentations of grave fields by Fredrik Strandmark.
  • About the excavation of the urns from the Flyestock grave field – methods and results by Torbjörn Brorsson.

Sunday 26/2

  • Reuse of picture stones on Gotland during the Iron Age by Martin Rundkvist
  • Props & Rit – traces of ritual actors with examples from the East Coast by Fredrik Gunnarsson
  • The Risinge mound; the excavation of a large mound on Öland by Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay
  • Brick making and maker stamps in Kalmar County by Örjan Molander
  • Mesolithic bones in Iron Age huts, Övra Vannborga, Öland by Magnus Reuterdahl

Magnus Reuterdahl

Guidelines of ethics & archaeology

Currently I’m in group assembled by the union DIK (the union for archaeologist, librarians, archivists etc.) discussing ethical guidelines for Archaeology inSweden. We’re only just started so we’re trying to get feel for the subject and finding the framework, through our own experience and through works by other organizations such as AAA, EAA and the Swedish Archaeological Society(Svenska arkeologiska samfundet) among others.

While going through these guidelines and codes I found that they do have lots of substance and important statements, though when we disscused this we felt that we like to do this in a somewhat other fashion –  not just copy and paste but actually saying something of our own. It’s also possible that we have a somewhat different starting point and somewhat other aims as these are guidelines rather than codes, but as I say we’re just starting up – so we might change our perspectives several times. One thing that came up is the importance of setting humanity in the centre of the discussion.

Ethics is a big word, it covers a lot of grounds, and we must in some way concentrate the subject, focus it on certain areas and to make it workable and presentable. We’ve been looking into grouping this into certain fields or headlines, for example;

  • Re-search and studies,
  • contract-archaeology (both from the filed point of view and from the departmental view),
  • the public
  • and economics.

As contract-archaeology is getting more and more a business as many others, it still differs tom most as the main goal for most archaeologist isn’t to make a monetary profit but rather a scientific profit (not said that archaeological business, museums, institutions etc isn’t or shouldn’t be looking out for the future by making sure they make enough money). Though this has been a reality for some time, there are several ethical issues connected to this, for all parts involved.

Other issues concerns practices, sharing of knowledge, contacts with the public etc and politics.

In the latter part is a big issue that needs to be addressed, how do we avoid to be used as a political tool of groups, parties or associations – or should we avoid it? Archaeology or rather the cultural environment is part of the political landscape and should so be, but when groups try to control a certain remain or type of remains, ideas or interpretations it begins to be difficult. In most cases this does not go to the extreme, but then again sometime it does – Historian, archaeologist and author Magnus Alkarp and his family was recently threatened by neo-nazis due to Alkarps new play 4 dagar i april (4 days in April). The story is based on a true story about the riots that shookUppsala 1943 when nazis gathered atUppsala mounds (burial mounds from the Iron Age) for a demonstration. I haven’t seen the play, yet, but has great admiration for Magnus Alkarps work, courage and engagement – Keep up the good work!

These threats shows how important it is, and often difficult, to deal with groups that have other interests in archaeology and prehistory than the scientific ones. I feel it is important that we as an archaeological community works actively with question concerning how our results are being used or misused and that we are active and supportive towards each other in this.

With this said as a sketchy background we’re looking for current articles or posting on the matter, international and or national on ethics, big scale or small, to use as reference points or inspiration.

 Magnus Reuterdahl

Nytt uppdrag: Etik & arkeologi – A new mission: Ethics & Archaeology

This post is available in English further down.

Som jag nämnt i tidigare inlägg byter jag arbetsgivare från och med den 1 februari, från Länsstyrelsen i Västernorrland till Länsstyrelsen i Östergötland.

Det är dock mer på gång för mig inom det arkeologiska – jag kommer ingå in en arbetsgrupp inom DIK med uppgift att ta fram etiska riktlinjer för arkeologer. Tanken är att dessa ska fungera som vägledning för alla arkeologer; forskare såväl som för arkeologer på olika myndigheter, museer, stiftelser, företag m fl. Tanken är att riktlinjerna ska vara överskådliga och lätta att kommunicera. I uppdraget ingår också att lämna förslag om hur de etiska riktlinjerna kan lanseras och förankras bland Sveriges arkeologer och diskussioner kring certifiering.

Efterhand hand hoppas jag kunna skriva ytterligare några inlägg om detta. just nu ligger spänningen i vilka är de övriga i arbetsgruppen? – Vet du skriv en kommentar!

DIK är ett fackförbund och en del av centralorganisationen SACO, Sveriges akademikers centralorganisation. DIK företräder akademiker inom kultur- och kommunikationsektorn och då bland annat arkeologer.

Läs mer här


More new challenges as I will have to begin thinking on Archaeology and ethics in a more concentrated form. In previous posts I’ve mentioned that I start a new job February 1st in Linkoping at the Administrative County board of Östergötland.

As I mentioned in previous posts I’m changing employers as of February 1st, from the County Administrative Board of Västernorrland to the County Administrative Board in Östergötland.

But there is more news regarding the archaeological – I will be part of a working group within DIK with the task of developing ethical guidelines for archaeologists. DIK is a trade union and part of SACO, a trade union confederation for university graduates or professionals with a college degree. DIK represents the culture and communications sectors, and among them the archaeologists.

The idea behind the guidelines is that they are to serve as guidance for all archaeologists, researchers as well as to archaeologists at various government agencies, museums, foundations, corporations and others. The idea is that the guidelines should be transparent and easy to communicate, and the assignment also includes proposals on how the ethical guidelines can be launched and anchored among Swedish archaeologists and discussions around certification.

I will get back to you on a later date with more info on this.

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