Masthead Banner Competition

Any artists out there? This blog needs a nice masthead banner at the top. I’d like it to feature the following:

  • The word Aardvarchaeology
  • At least one recognisable aardvark
  • Recognisable archaeology stuff, e.g. a square pit, a spoil dump, a sieve, a trowel, a bucket, a folding rule, a metal detector, a surveying instrument on a tripod…
The dimensions of the graphic should be 756 x 93 pixels.

All submissions will be showcased here, and if I get one I decide to use, then its creator will receive a $20 book token and +3 charisma.

Now go play with yer crayons!

5 January. Here’s a good one from Rhampton:


11 January. Can anyone beat that?


Four Stone Hearth Call for Submissions

The Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is coming up here at Aardvarchaeology on Wednesday 17 January. 4SH is about anthropology in the widest American sense: the study of humankind, throughout all times and places. Four lines of research are emphasised (the stones of the hearth):

  • Socio-cultural anthropology
  • Bio-physical anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Linguistic anthropology
So, if your blogging touches upon any of these themes, send me a link to a good recent entry and a brief description ASAP! Any language I can half-understand will do. (Wouldn’t want to link unwittingly to any Saami pornography. I hear it’s pretty wild stuff though.)

Two New Norwegian Boat Graves


Ship burials are rare and signal royal status: Sutton Hoo, Oseberg, Gokstad, Borre, Tune. Burials in smaller boats, large enough for only three or four pairs of oars and useless on the high sea, are far more common (though never a majority rite). The most famous and richly equipped boat inhumations are 7th and 8th century burials in Uppland, Sweden at sites like Vendel and Valsgärde. But most boat inhumations are in fact Norwegian 9th and 10th century burials of middling to fair wealth. Two have recently been excavated in Rogaland county at on-going excavations at Frøyland farmstead.

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Subway Beggar Retaliation

For the last couple of years, a new kind of beggar has operated in the Stockholm subway. These people walk through the carriage handing out little photocopied notes, and then they move back, collecting the notes and whatever spare change people are willing to give. The notes say things like “I am an unemployed Bulgarian violinist rendered incapable of playing by carpal tunnel syndrome. I have three children to feed. Please help.” Harmless enough, I guess, but a bit of a nuisance in a culture unused to beggary.

A friend of mine got really tired of the note beggars on his daily commute. He made the observation that many of them didn’t seem to be able to read their own notes as they were written in Swedish. So he pocketed a few beggar notes, went home and produced variations on them with the same typography. The next time a subway beggar gave him a note, he exchanged it for one of his own, and then the beggar moved on and presumably gave the doctored note to another subway traveller.

Here’s what one of my friend’s notes said.
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Information Scientist Looks at Archaeology


I just came across a pretty far-out book. On 1 December, Isto Huvila passed his viva for the PhD degree in information science in Turku/Åbo, Finland. His thesis is entitled The Ecology of Information Work (available on-line).

“The study explores an interface between the human patterns of information use and the methods of structuring and organising information and knowledge. The issue is discussed with a reference to information work in the domain of archaeology. The study refers to the notion of virtual realities as a prospective basis for a knowledge organisation system and discusses the question that whether and how a virtual reality based knowledge organisation system might enhance the practises of archaeological information work.

The study also presents for the first time a concise analytical description of work and information work within the domain of archaeology from an information science point of view. The study forms a solid basis for the future development of information systems and information services for archaeology and cultural heritage professionals.”

Huvila, Isto. 2006. The ecology of information work. A case study of bridging archaeological work and virtual reality based knowledge organisation. Åbo University Press. 401 pp. ISBN 951-765-336-0. Available on-line.

Took the Kids to the Science Centre


The kids’ teachers had a training day yesterday, so we picked up a visiting cousin in town and went to the science centre in Södertälje. I hesitate to tell you its name: the place’s mascot is for some reason named Tom Tit, and there’s no genitive apostrophe in Swedish, so our much-beloved science centre for kids is named… err… Tom Tits. Sounds like a buddy of Seymour Butts’s to me, but I guess the people who named it weren’t thinking in English.

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Hopeful Buttons

In the left-hand sidebar are two new buttons, one of which will, if pressed, mark Aardvarchaeology as one of your favourite blogs on Technorati. The other one will allow you to rate the blog with the Swedish service Bloggtoppen: yea verily, you can either pan it or praise it. Use them wisely, kids.


One of my blog entries from last spring has made it into a science blogging anthology (a “blook”) edited by fellow Sber Coturnix! It’ll soon be published as a paperback through The chosen piece is about the Field-Archaeological Paradox, that is, the curious fact that it is far easier in Sweden to fund expensive excavations at poorly preserved and uninformative sites than at really cool ones.

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The Gold From Vittene


As the first reader-submitted pic, my buddy Lars Lundqvist has sent me a snap of himself taken by Klas Höglund in October 1995. Lars is happy in this picture, the reason being that he’s just found the object he’s holding. It’s a large plough-mangled Continental gold neck ring of the first few centuries AD, and it’s part of the Vittene hoard.

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