My buddy Niklas Ytterberg recently sent me an impressive excavation report in Swedish. Constrained by the field-archaeological paradox, he dug a really nondescript Neolithic settlement site at Djurstugan near Tierp, Uppland in 2003. Then he somehow found funding to subject the measly finds to a battery of innovative scientific analyses, extracting loads of interesting information.
Norwegian medical doctor Ståle Fredriksen offers a refreshing perspective on healthy living. In his opinion, our thinking about illness is still largely ruled by old superstitions where what happens to a person is somehow just what he or she deserves. If the neighbour has a heart attack, we will semi-unconsciously think that he should have taken more exercise, eaten less fatty foods and smoked less. All these things might have saved him. But Dr Fredriksen’s point is that for each person who lives in a certain way and has a heart attack, there are hundreds who live in exactly the same way, or even less healthily, who never fall ill. The real culprit when a person falls ill is generally simply bad luck. And such a person deserves sympathy, not secret condemnation.
How about paying to participate in a Roman Period dig in Bulgaria this summer? I’ve been asked to help promote the Bulgarian Archaeological Association’s 2007 Field School.
This really takes me back. I paid for food and board on my first dig, on Tel Hazor in the Galilee, in 1990. I was an 18-year-old grunt and shifted a lot of topsoil. That autumn I enrolled at the University of Stockholm to study Scandinavian archaeology, and look at me now.
Just a brief note to tell you that Sweden’s a decent place to live apart from the paucity of daylight in the winters. I suggest that everybody move here.
The Sage of Brooklyn, Jim Benton, returns with a guest entry after months of blogging silence. This piece originally appeared as a two-part comment on Debunking Christianity.
Repatriation and reburial are large concerns these days for museums with a colonial past. Human remains looted from Aboriginal Australian cemeteries were for instance recently repatriated from a Swedish museum. But not only indigenous peoples in the usual sense of the word are making demands. The Guardian reports that British neo-Pagans are increasingly starting to demand reburial of prehistoric human remains. These adherents of newly constructed paganesque belief systems claim a special affinity with, and thus right to, the remains of selected ancestors.
Saw three art exhibitions Sunday with the ladies of my family.
The Culture House, Kulturhuset, in central Stockholm shows US photographer Sally Mann‘s work, mainly selected from three collections: 1980s pictures of her kids (very controversial in the US back then because of child nudity, an issue few Swedes are able to get worked up about), 1990s landscapes from the southern US, and huge recent portraits of her grown-up kids where any documentary ambition is completely abandoned for out-of-focus fogginess. Absolutely wonderful stuff, and no photoshoppery, only analog chemical photography, much of it done with 19th century equipment.
Readers of my blogging over the past 14 months will have come across many references to, and tidbits from, the work with the archive report for 2005’s Viking Period boat grave excavation at Skamby in Östergötland. Howard Williams and myself directed the excavations of the first boat inhumation in that county and the third Pre-Roman Iron Age bronze casting site identified in all of Scandinavia.
I am very happy to announce that the report is now complete, on-line and available for free in English with lots of pics! Get it here, tell me what you think, ask me if anything is hard to understand.
It took less than a year and a half from the close of the dig to an on-line report. Not too bad!
[More blog entries about archaeology, Sweden, vikings, vikingperiod, graves; arkeologi, Östergötland, vikingar, vikingatiden.]
The incomparable net-head archaeologist Ulf Bodin directs the highly successful work to put the collections of the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm (Statens Historiska Museum) on-line. Off and on over the past year, I’ve worked through the scanned catalogues of two centuries, searching for source material relevant to my work with Late 1st Millennium elite manors in Östergötland. To do this, I only needed to visit the museum once, looking in the flesh at some early acquisitions that weren’t described well in the catalogue. So I could have done almost all of the work from anywhere in the world.
Ulf just blew my mind yet again with an e-mail. He tells me the museum has acquisitioned the finds my metal detectorist friends from the Gothenburg Historical Society made at Skamby in Kuddby in April of 2003, when we were prospecting in advance of 2005’s boat grave dig. And get this: there’s an RSS feed for each province of Sweden, so you can have timely news of every new find the museum acquisitions.
Good times for Swedish finds scholars and armchair archaeologists, good times!
[More blog entries about archaeology, museums, Sweden; arkeologi, museum.]
A new Swedish study on rats suggests that there is a physiological reality behind the idea that relatively innocuous cannabis may act like a gateway drug, leading on to heavier drugs.