Uppåkra Produces Marvels

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Without much fanfare, the Department of Archaeology in Lund continues its excavations at the insanely large and wealthy 1st Millennium settlement at Uppåkra parish church outside Lund. This place was clearly a royal seat and the finds are unbelievably rich both in number and quality. A week-by-week fieldwork diary in Swedish is available here, and that’s where I’ve nicked the photographs of gold finds from recent weeks: one of two gold bracteates and a gold filigree cross pendant, all dating from c. AD 500. The two new bracteates are identical to each other and to one found at the site and published a few years ago.

At the start of excavations at Uppåkra, the wise decision was made to get urban archaeologists used to Medieval stratigraphy to do the dig. Therefore, the uniquely complicated and thick stratification at this prehistoric site is being teased apart by people who really know what they’re doing. Large burnt-down long houses are appearing, several sitting on top of each other, at least one still with fire victims inside, covered by remains of collapsed wattle-and-daub walls. Digs like these make most sites that Swedish archaeologists spend their time on look like a complete waste of resources!

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Via Arkland.


One more thing: I’ve got seven eight entries for the Your Nearest Site carnival now. Gimme two a single one more and it goes live!


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Pugh & Co Rock Stockholm

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Last night to Tantogården in Stockholm, an outdoor concert venue a stone’s throw from the hospital where my son was born, to hear Pugh Rogefeldt. As the long-term Dear Reader may remember, Mr Rogefeldt released Ja dä ä dä, one of the first and still among the very best Swedish psychedelic rock albums ever, back in 1969 when he was 22. The evening promised not only songs from Ja dä ä dä, but those songs played by the same band as on the record, with Jojje Wadenius on solo guitar and Jan Carlsson on drums, with the addition of Ulf Jansson on bass. Pugh played rhythm guitar and sang.

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With two recent sexagenarians and a septuagenarian drummer, there was no guarantee that they would be any good. But, in the event, they rocked! Really good drumming and blues guitar, tightly rehearsed, excellently engineered. Of course, the live versions weren’t as psychedelic as the album tracks since much of that style depends on studio gimmickry, but straight blues and blues rock ain’t bad either. The low points were a few dirgy numbers from recent years, but they were counterbalanced by a charming solo set by Wadenius where he played his 70s children’s songs including “Kalles klätterträd”.

Looking at the audience, their mean age was of course far greater than at an Arctic Monkeys gig, but the spread was considerable and a splendid time was had by all. Near the stage two 6-y-o girls were sitting on their dads’ shoulders and making heavy metal hand signs. A summer rain dispersed the crowd after the last song, but we came away happy.


The guys are touring Sweden this summer. Here’s the gig list.

13/7 Trollhättan – Spikön
14/7 Stockholm – Tantogården
27/7 Gränna – Folkets park
28/7 Kristinehamn – Mastmagasinet
3/8 Köping – Ögir
4/8 Kalix
10/8 Simrishamn – Viarps gård
11/8 Falkenberg – Hwitan


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Swedish Right-Wing Populist Receives Zionist Award

Starting in 2004, the Department for Zionist Activities of the World Zionist Organization has given the annual Herzl Awards to “outstanding young men and women in recognition of their exceptional efforts on behalf of Israel and the Zionist cause”. One of the prize-winners for 2006 is Swedish 26-y-o Ted Ekeroth, who was rewarded for his activities in Fidim, the Society for Israel and Democracy in the Middle East.

After giving the award to Ekeroth, the WZO realised that their net had caught a somewhat unusual breed of young political activist. Ekeroth turned out to be a core member of Sverigedemokraterna, a controversial political party on the brownish edge of the right wing. Sverigedemokraterna are nationalists and anti-immigration populists. Looking at the Fidim home page, it turns out that the organisation has a strong anti-Muslim bent. Unlike Muslims, Jews aren’t a problem for the Swedish anti-immigration crowd as few of them migrate here these days. Yet the WZO aren’t very enthusiastic about Ekeroth anymore.

Ekeroth himself made a pretty incisive comment on the whole affair. “Zionists are Jewish nationalists. As such they have to respect Swedish nationalism as well.” Indeed. The extreme right wing is equally charming regardless of creed and ethnicity.

Via Sydsvenskan and Dagens Nyheter.

Update 19 July: A blog run by a former member of Sverigedemokraterna is gloating that this blog entry is helping to spread news causing “an embarassment to Anglo-Saxon Jewry”. You just couldn’t make this stuff up!

Update 24 July: Sverigedemokraterna’s district chairman for Stockholm, Johan Rinderheim, writes me to say that the gloating blog is in fact run by an ex-member of the party who left in 2003. He then goes on to say that as the party has never made anti-Israeli propaganda, he feels it does not deserve to be called “brownish”. Well, dear Johan, I suppose it’s heartening to see that there is one foreign nation that Sverigedemokraterna aren’t overtly hostile against. You’ve got something good going on there, worth further development!

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Oh Man, Civilized Again

i-03d54569e2b07bc4eb03866d1bee05b8-200px-CivIVboxshot.jpgThat Myers character has snared me in his net again. Did I say Myers? Sorry, M e i e r. Sid Meier. The Civilization guy.

It’s been years since I spent any significant amount of time on computer games. The other day, however, I picked up a copy of the 2005 hit Civilization IV cheaply on eBay, and now I’ve gotten sucked into it. I used to play the board game, I used to play it with house rules, I’ve even played it with house rules and a home-made alternative map, and I played the original PC game a lot too. I quit when I realised that the outcome of a game was largely determined by the size of the continent you started on and how many other Neolithic tribes you shared it with. Start alone on a sizeable continent and you win.

Myself and 9-y-o son have been finding our way around the new system, which has loads of new parameters that take some learning. I started out on the “Noble” level of difficulty, which turns out to be challenging: I’m more n00b than nobleman. The nasty Japanese just conquered one of my cities using war elephants (!), but luckily my other neighbour is Peter the Great of Russia who is proving uncharacteristically peaceful. I am of course the High Inca.

Like several games I’ve looked at in recent years, Civilization IV is loaded with graphics frills that you can barely see when you zoom out enough to get the big picture. I feel sorry for the people who designed and coded all that animation. Maybe with practice I’ll feel secure enough in the empire-building department to zoom in and savour the minute goings-on.

Dear Reader, are you or have you ever been a Civ fan? Let’s hear some stories and strategic tips and general comments!

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Carnival Knowledge

Alun at Clioaudio has done an excellent job of tracking down good archaeo & anthro material for the 18th Four Stone Hearth blog carnival.

The 19th 4SH will appear at Sherd Nerd on Wednesday 18 July. Submit good stuff (your own or somebody else’s) to Amanda.

Bloggers with archaeo and anthro interests are invited to volunteer for Four Stone Hearth hosting duty. It’s a good way to market your blog and make new blogging friends!

I’m hosting the Carnival of the Godless here on Sunday 22 July. Submit here.

Left On Shelf, Not Six Feet Under

i-36d662220081811ca88c2796f5da28be-urna533.jpgHere’s something for my fellow burial aficionados to ponder. The news item’s headline is overstated (“Woman Grieved for Seven Years at Empty Grave”), but the actual occurrence is kind of interesting.

A Gothenburg woman grieved for seven years at her mother’s grave, but the urn with the mother’s remains had never left the crematory.

“This shouldn’t be allowed to happen. That’s why you turn to an undertaker’s, otherwise I could have done the work myself”, says the woman to Swedish Radio Gothenburg.

An urn should by rights be buried within the year. At crematories, urns occasionally remain for longer periods. In such cases, the staff usually ask undertakers to contact the family and make sure the urn is buried. Sometimes there is no family. Then a communal grave for abandoned urns is used. In this case there was a family plot, but despite having been contacted by the crematorium, the undertakers did nothing.

Clearly, modern Swedish society cultivates an intricate practice regarding unclaimed corpses. First there may be forensic investigations and an autopsy, the corpse is refrigerated for weeks or months, then a brief funeral service is held, the corpse is cremated and the rough bone chunks-and-gravel ground to a fine powder, then the bone powder is urned and stored on a shelf for a year, and finally it’s buried in a communal grave. As I’m fond of saying: there is no natural way to handle a corpse. Everything we do with them is culturally contingent. A grave is a work of art.

(Via Dagens Nyheter.)

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Hurried Robbers

Last Saturday morning an armed robbery was attempted at the Nacka Forum mall not far from where I live. Two masked robbers went in just as staff were arriving to work, dragged a woman into her workplace, gaffer-taped her to a chair and demanded that she turn off the alarm and tell them when her co-workers would arrive. After receiving confusing replies, the two men left, running, and minutes later the woman worked herself loose of the tape and called the police. She is physically unhurt.

The robbers had gone into a cashless realtor’s office, Svensk Fastighetsförmedling, instead of the post-bank office next door, Svensk Kassaservice.

(Via Nacka-Värmdö-Posten)

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Merovingian Motorway at Grez-Doiceau

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Belgian Dear Reader Bruno is one of the astronomy buffs behind Blog Wega (in Dutch). A piece about Bruno’s nearest archaeological site wouldn’t fit that blog, but I’m happy to have it as a guest entry. Rich 1st Millennium graves, what more can you ask for? This is the sixth entry I receive for the Your Nearest Site carnival. Gimme three more NOW, people, and I’ll put it on-line!
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Carrot-Eating Video Game Zombies

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I’ve embarked on three weeks of summertime solo fatherhood as my wife works for a cookery mag in town. Today I sent the kids and their friends out to the overcast playground for an hour, listened to the Pixies and re-boxed my computer odds-and-ends, discovering innumerable useful cables and connectors, three old Sportster modems and five or six mouses, most of which have no scroll wheel.

Parenting tip: to get kids to eat veggies, hand them out while they play video games. Zombie-like and unfazed, they will chomp carrots and cucumber as they stare at the screen. Anything that isn’t directly vile-tasting will disappear into their maws. The ones playing eat the stuff at top speed just to free their hands, while the ones waiting for their turn appreciate the diversion.

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