First Week of 2021 Excavations at Aska: Three New Gold Foil Figures

Drone photo by Cheyenne Olander
Foil figure, find no 300
  • At Aska near Vadstena in Östergötland is a massive earth platform on which geophys has revealed an almost 50-metre mead-hall. Six radiocarbon analyses date its lifetime to c. AD 660-950.
  • Last year we opened a few square metres over the mead hall’s northern wall line and one roof-support, just east of the building’s centre, and found 22 gold foil figures. Now we have opened 42 sqm in that same area and found 3 more.
  • We only have to find two more foil figures to beat Helgö. But that is just because my dear old thesis supervisor Jan Peder was forbidden by his boss to wet-screen the spoil heaps there after they became aware of the figures.
  • Other interesting new finds from the north trench are a third whale-bone gaming piece and a heavily worn slate whetstone of possibly identifiable geographic origin.
  • The structures in the north trench are coming out beautifully, particularly the outer wall ditch.
  • We have also opened 42 sqm across the building over the south wall line, with many well-preserved structures and finds of our first two beads, both opaque glass.
  • This is my eighth fieldwork campaign with students. As usual we are getting along beautifully on site and in communal living, a source of great pride to me. Even though our numbers are record high! It’s a big project even compared to typical contract excavations. (I’ve had to say no to more volunteers than I can remember.) Everyone is super nice, and it is particularly fun to have seven Łódź students with us. I’m picking up bits of Polish and they’re feeding us potato dumplings. The villagers at Aska are also extremely kind and supportive.

Read about last year’s fieldwork on the Aska platform mound: week 1, 2, 3, 4.


Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

13 thoughts on “First Week of 2021 Excavations at Aska: Three New Gold Foil Figures”

  1. 50 meters – that’s a big building by any measure. How much do we know of the details of how it was used? How many people would be there; how did they get fed (is there food preparation space inside or nearby); how do it work socially – who got to come, what was the proportion of guests to workers – and so on?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How many people: don’t know. How did they get fed: the site is in the middle of one of the country’s best agricultural regions. Other buildings: difficult to investigate because of later land use. Social situation: see papers by Lars Lönnroth on the mead-hall as depicted in early literature.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is great that you manage to get along. Between crowding, extreme heat and hard physical work, that is plenty of stress factors.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It occurred to me, if the polish students are proficient in English, they will have no problem interacting with most Swedes. So if they get time for some recreation maybe you can show them the sights or something.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I realised, Polish schoolkids may still get to read excerpts of “Nils Holgersson”.

    That does not fit the concept of Swedish schools (every goddamn government has the new politicians wanting to set their mark on education. Lack of knowledge about the issues have never embarassed them, thus proving once again why knowledge is important. Quite Meta.

    My point being, they might know more about the geography of middle Sweden than Swedish kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m really impressed and amazed by the small golden men, I always wonder why they are so thin foils and if they in that case was stuck to or inside small wooden squares on the roof-bearing poles? (I’m thinking like one of those old lamps with four distinct glas windows) I suppose we will never know unless we find one in a swamp or fen.

    I hope you can show some pictures of the gaming pieces, perhaps put on a modern gaming board of sorts 🙂

    Keep up the good work and remember to stay hydrated!

    Liked by 1 person

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