Scandinavian archaeology, history, skepticism, books and music
March Pieces Of My Mind #3
I know I’m supposed to isolate myself, but still I’ve been to the little local shopping centre three days in a row. Had to buy food for my mom, my ex and my family, and today I bought take-away lunches to help our local café-diner survive.
Through 24 years of archaeological fieldwork at more sites than I remember I have met with a great number of landowners and farming tenants. Everybody’s been at least polite and accommodating, many have been super nice and many have been interested in our work too. But there was this one farmer who got really angry with me once when I sent a team of metal detectorists onto his half-wasted early-April canola field without his permission. The land partition was complicated there and I had simply missed one of the many owners when I prepared for the fieldwork. I’m preparing for renewed fieldwork at that site now. I called one of the landowners, he was friendly, I got his permission. And then it turned out it was the same guy. “Oh, I certainly remember that!”, I said. “Good, good, I’m glad my message came through OK.”
Research by Caroline Ahlström Arcini has documented modified front teeth in Scandinavian men from the Viking Period: horizontal grooves cut into the enamel, which when filled with pitch would give you a highly characteristic striped smile. These guys played some central role in early Visby on Gotland, as seen by the prevalence of the custom at the Kopparsvik cemetery. But I recently learned something fascinating. Men who were murdered during burial rituals and deposited as grave furnishings in the Lake Mälaren area (both the Elk Man burial at Birka and one of the victims in the Bollstanäs burial) also have these modified teeth!
Heading out for the perfect socially distanced pastime: geocaching in the woods.
I was thinking this morning of everyone in Sweden who loses a parent or grandparent to the epidemic. Imagine knowing that this person’s life was cut short by a combination of Chinese cuisine / health superstitions and middle class skiing holidays. The world is silly and random.
My grandparents died when I was in my 20s. I’ve had this vague bad conscience for not keeping in touch with them after leaving home. Suddenly it struck me: they made no attempts either. I want to have tea & cake once a month with my grandkids.
A memory: in the mid-90s some guy who had worked briefly on a National Heritage Board contract excavation set up a web site for the Board on his private ISP account, and for ages that was the first hit on all search engines. Dude refused to take it down!
Polish spelling is really just cheating when miesiąc (month) is pronounced “myeshaNS”, not the expected “myeshaTS”.
So how about if we organise our societies a little more tightly instead of basing everything on “the economy” and treating it as something as inevitable as the weather?
You know why Christianity teaches that you go to heaven after death? Because in the Hebrew brand of West Semitic polytheism, Jahweh was the storm god. He lived at cloud level. When your soul went to Jahweh it literally went a kilometre vertically. Then they threw out the rest of their pantheon, leaving only one place to go.
I believe the US would be much better off if “the right to bear arms” was amended to “the right to bear guisarmes”.
Today is no long-johns day where I live!
Happened upon the first book I bought online, in June 1997, almost 23 years ago. It’s Lovecraft’s Miscellaneous Writings. Sadly they’re not as interesting as his fiction or letters.
Robbin Ask of the Swedish Metal Detectorist’s Association sent me a sweet 3D-printed replica of a flanged axe from the Pile find, some of the earliest locally made metalwork in Scandinavia! Probably 1800s BC.
28 March marks one month since the first Swedish coronavirus case. Me and my family have been lucky so far. (There was a single case two months ago, then nothing until 28 February.)
I’ve trimmed back all the tiny ground shoots from the lilac bushes. Looking forward to pruning the roses and buying two new bushes. Choosing by fragrance!
Let’s all stop using the word desperado in favour of the Polish word for bedsheet, prześcieradło.