Toss Me A Bone

I feel like blogging but there’s not much going on over the summer and I don’t know what to write about. Toss me a bone, Dear Reader! Suggest a topic, ask me a question, gimme a link!

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45 thoughts on “Toss Me A Bone

  1. I was intrigued by the article about fictional networks, published last year by some physicists:

    http://iopscience.iop.org/0295-5075/99/2/28002/article

    They claimed to have found that the social networks described in the Iliad, Beowulf, and the Táin Bó Cúailnge, were like real world social networks, while Tolkien, Rowling, Shakespeare’s Richard III, and the Marvel comics, were not realistic.

    I don’t know what to conclude from that, as the Táin is supposed to be fiction, and the society of Richard III is obviously based on real people, albeit heavily spun by the Tudors.

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    • Yeah, I saw that! My thinking is that it primarily shows a difference between orally transmitted ancient poetry and modern written literature. Can’t really tell if it also says something about the historicity of that ancient poetry. It would be interesting if they also found some ancient poetry whose social network looked as unrealistic as Marvel comics.

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  2. The lack of graves in the iron age in full field contryside areas in Scandinavia?

    Is it OK to use norse sagas in modern archeology?

    Why are there almost no viking ships(long boats) found in current Sweden?

    Rich Iron age graves with women like Tuna Badelunda, What do we know about these women.

    Trade, war, differencies, simularities and family relationships between Uppsala, Mälardalen and corresponding places in South Scandinavia during the ironage?

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    • Why are there almost no viking ships(long boats) found in current Sweden?

      We’ve got lots along the west coast, e.g. Foteviken and Äskekärr. But we don’t have ships under mounds made from airtight clay like the ones in Vestfold, and so no complete ships.

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  3. A few ideas from a Danish perspective:

    Viking exhibition in Copenhagen at Nationalmuseet (but of course you would actually have to go to Copenhagen and see it to write about it).

    Alken Enge dig is on for at second season but haven’t heard anything new so I guess it’s “just” more bones.

    Not long ago four “edsringe” was found on a field and that means that the same field now has brought 10 of those to light over the years (http://www.sn.dk/Slagelse/Hans-Henrik-og-Christians-sensationelle-guldfund/artikel/337826#.UfUioY2-2So ) and not long from there six golden bowls from the same period was found long ago ( http://natmus.dk/historisk-viden/danmark/oldtid-indtil-aar-1050/bronzealderen/armringe-af-guld/skatten-fra-borgbjerg-banke/ ) – has to be rather special area.

    Then of course that was the viking silver treasure from Viborg ( http://viborgmuseum.dk/da_c/arkaeologi/soelvskat_/ ) and the Harald Bluetooth coins from Strandby ( http://www.nordjyske.dk/nyheder/strandbydrenge-gjorde-sensationelt-moentfund/4eacc309-75cc-412b-8d7a-18a732b45c8a/4/1513#/0 ). Can’t remember if you have dealt with some it earlier.

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  4. Martin, my big concern with that social network study is that if they applied their methodology to a history of the First Crusade, they would probably also conclude that it was too dense a social network to be real. But of course, the composer of any narrative selects which individuals and connections to mention based on some criteria, so any two individuals in that narrative are more likely to be connected than two random people. So they need an example or three of a historical narrative.

    I’ve also seen the claim that their model of ‘real social networks’ is Facebook. If true, I suspect that the anthropologists and proto-historians threw their heads into their hands and sobbed when they read that … agrarian societies are organized completely differently. But I don’t know how to read their references.

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    • Thanks Tenine, I hadn’t hard of neuroarchaeology before!

      From what I can gather it’s a nascent discussion of principles rather than an analytical tool for real-world archaeological situations, and largely directed towards questions about the ancestors and speciation of H. sapiens in the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. I shall happily adopt neuroarchaeology if one day it proves to offer useful tools for the study of Northern Europe in the past 8000 years or so.

      Note also that the term is contested — neurologists including Yehezkel Ben-Ari use it to refer to “pre-symptomatic architecture and signature of neurological disorders” without mentioning material culture or the distant past.

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    • There doesn’t seem to have been much reaction at all, I find when googling sista dagars heliga internet tvivel, Hans Mattsson sista dagars heliga and “Hans Mattsson” mormonerna. A pro-Mormon blogger comments on the issue, two or three anti-Mormon sites mention it. There are only about 9000 Mormons in Sweden and they find Scandinavians extremely hard to convert — because we’re so secularised.

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  5. My thesis “our Battered Planet” presents the most likely truth about our past and future. All over the world we find evidence for the existence of an ancient but highly developed civilization. Archaeologists deny these facts. But a Previous Civilization has left countless traces and knowledge that is useful for us. Legends tell us about natural disasters caused by a planet or a dragon that swooped close along the earth. Astronomers deny the existence of such a planet. But that planet exists. It is seen. There are pictures of it. Worldwide we find the same symbol. Legends, myths and the Bible tell us about the disasters caused by the recurring planet Nibiru. When will Nibiru return? In this book you find the unique Nibiru Cycle Chart that indicates when Nibiru has crossed our solar system and will return! We need to know the whole truth about our history although it is unpleasant. This book contains many illustrations and links to relevant websites. It is exciting and thrilling.

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  6. An interesting book?

    In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion (Evolution and Cognition) [Paperback] http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Trust-Evolutionary-Landscape-Evolution/dp/0195178033/ref=pd_sim_b_1
    The author sees the origin of beliefs in the supernatural as stemming from a cognitive module predisposed to interpret environmental stimuli as coming from a potential predator. He strongly discounts “meme” theory.

    “The author explains that religion is not an “entity”, even though we publicly commit resources to it. Since it’s not an entity, religion itself cannot be an evolutionary adaptation. However, it does fit into an “evolutionary landscape”. That landscape he describes in a metaphor of hills and valleys, with certain behaviours following the path of least resistance. The supernatural, Atran contends, arises from a “cultural manipulation” of habits derived from the Pleistocene – fear of predators, death and the quest for nourishment. Since humans live in groups, the interactions of individuals within the group reinforces these habits. When natural phenomena are transformed into the supernatural conformity results.”

    BTW, my thesis “Bender Did It” explains everything . It involves Futurama and a time machine.

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  7. The inscriptions on the stone age Tågerup ax handle, decorations or messages? I know your opinion but is was said that it was analyzed by a Swedish defence encryption expert with aonther conclusion

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    • There’s a short paper in the Tågerup book where an information scientist looks at the pattern on the axe handle and draws the conclusion that it’s unlikely to contain any coded message, mainly because there isn’t very much information in the pattern.

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  8. Is that information scientist the same person as the Swedish defence encryption expert. I am also sceptic but still interested since I do not think that the IQ level was that low during the stone age.

    It can be that the assumed Swedish defence encryption expert s a hoax.

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  9. Ironically, I was going to suggest that you give us a primer on Vendel period archaeology for beginners. Like, instead of having an actual job. I think we can probably scrap that idea now.

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  10. Martin, Another question regarding Tågerup. Is it correct to say that this place was a settlement for many years during the Stone Age. Here in sweden it is usually said that permanent settlements appeared first around 700-1000 AD. Even this is questionable because of the Iron Age “town” Uppåkra in Southern Sweden that existed between 100 BC to 1000 AD. What is your opinion about permanent settlements?

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    • There were permanent part-year settlements in the Mesolithic. Thus the shell middens.

      Permanent all-year settlements began with agriculture.

      In the 8th century AD we got Sweden’s first town on Björkö. Uppåkra was a very big village prior to that.

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  11. “Uppåkra near Lund is Scandinavia’s largest 1st millennium settlement site and may (for some definitions of “town”) have been the first town north of Germany”

    So what is the definition of a town in the iron age? Was Ismantorp a Town?

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    • The definition of a town is the same for every period and usually includes a number of functions and a minimum number of inhabitants. We don’t quite know how many people lived at Uppåkra but Birka seems bigger. A lot of the floor space in Uppåkra was probably occupied by cattle. It was an enormous country manor. Birka was a centre for craft and commodities trade.

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  12. Was not Uppåkra a center for metal craft. with 30 000 non iron metal artifacts found so far in the Viking period layers? The first version of Lund, built in 990 AD had the same layout as Uppåkra.

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  13. I can be wrong but that figure is what has been found this far in the plow layer with metal scanning in Uppåkra. Older Iron Age layers have only been dug in a few spots, like the hall and the pagan temple.

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  14. Uppåkra’s ploughsoil contains metalwork from the site’s entire lifetime. Probably because the culture layer isn’t very thick over most of the site. The trenches that have been dug are in the thickest part.

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  15. I agree . The thinner layers can already have revealed their secrets. The soil survey will tell more about the site when it is published.. What I was confused about was when you said that Uppåkra was a settlemet with mainly cattle as the basis.

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  16. I didn’t say that. I said that a lot of the floor space was occupied by cattle. On Björkö, probably almost none was. This impacts each site’s likely human population size.

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  17. Early medieval towns were built like that in Scania. It is both true for Lund 990 AD and Malmö 1250 AD.It was farms within towns. Sorry about missing your point. about cattle in Uppåkra.

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  18. This might indicate that archeology in current Sweden is very local. A fact in Uppsala is not a fact in Lund and the reverse. An iron age Town i Scania is not defined as a Town in Stockholm or Uppsala. Why do this science have this issue of being locally biased in Sweden?

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  19. Lars Larsson calls Uppåkra a town in conversation, but I haven’t seen any publication of his where he does this or supports it with any argument. In e.g. the 6th century there were to my knowledge no towns anywhere north of the former imperial border.

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  20. Densely populated with at least 1000 people engaged mainly in craft and trade. My guess is that Vendel Period Uppåkra had only a couple hundred inhabitants. The true urbanisation begins with the move to Lund.

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  21. It does not seem that there is an angreement between leading archeologist in Sweden about what is a town in the Iron Age, What about the credibility for this science when there is one truth in Stockholm and Uppsala and Another i Lund?

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  22. I live in an area where several pre-contact American Indian ceremonial & burial mounds still exist. Have there been any American Indian artifacts found as trade items or plunder in Scandinavia?

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  23. No such finds, but a recent genetic study showed that an American Indian woman travelled to Iceland in c. the Viking Period and had children there whose descendants are still around. We can’t tell if she came voluntarily from Vinland after marrying a Norseman (as I hope) or if she was a slave.

    A somewhat redeeming quality of ancient Scandinavian slavery was that men would often recognise the children born to them by slave women and effectively manumit them on birth. I don’t think the sources comment on what would happen when free women had children by male slaves.

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