September Pieces Of My Mind #3

The most complete gold foil figures of 2021 from the Aska platform longhouse. Unfolded by Eddie Herlin, photographed by Björn Falkevik, edited by Cheyenne Olander.
  • Reading about Nordenskiöld’s July 1883 expedition onto the inland ice of Greenland. Sleds full of food and equipment pulled across extremely uneven ice by men, sweating from their exertions despite the cold. After 17 days they turn around because of hopeless ice. But Nordenskiöld asks two men to don skis and backpacks to go a little farther still. In one day they ski twice as far as the expedition has managed to pull the sleds in seventeen. Then they return to the waiting expedition at the same clip. These two are the Sámi expedition members Anders Rossa and Lars Tuorda.
  • The Polish term for an embossed credit card translates as “convex card”.
  • Imagine being a member of Culture Club and getting annoyed with the singer. And you’re like “He’s such a fucking primadonna, queening around and swanning about!”. And everybody’s like, “Um, yeah mate, can’t really argue with that…”
  • I really hate gratuitous plurals in academic writing. Exhibit A: “archaeologies”.
  • Melancholy Wikipedia chore: killing old bands you like. They may have released their last album and played their last gig in 2013. At some point you have to change the tense in the article’s lede from present to past.
  • Reading Chesterton’s Father Brown detective stories from 1911. Cars have handles instead of steering wheels.
  • Yay! Michael Chabon liked my tweet about Robert E. Howard!
  • Reading on about expeditions onto Greenland’s inland ice, I come across the Sámi members of Fridtjof Nansen’s 1888 expedition that made the first successful crossing of Greenland from one coast to the other. Like their compatriots on Nordenskiöld’s expedition five years previously, Samuel Balto and Ole Nielsen Ravna proved solid team members. The difference was that these men first had to get through the marine pack ice along the mini-continent’s east coast. Here too Balto and Ravna performed well. But they were convinced that they were going to die at sea, an unfamiliar element to them. During one risky camp night on an ice floe Nansen found the pair hidden away under a tarp, one reading to the other from the New Testament in Sámi.
  • On Machen and Chesterton: already in their day it must have created quite a silly effect with many readers that their big horrific reveals tend simply to consist of sin against the teachings of the Church.
  • I have long made a habit of ordering used books from the UK. Now they take ages to arrive. Well done, Brexiters. Most recently, 17 days from order placed to book received. During this time, the book travelled from Goring-on-Sea in Sussex via Austria (!) to my home in Stockholm.
  • In the 1960s the Americans dug an artificial cave in the middle of Greenland’s inland ice and put a nuclear reactor in it to avoid transporting kerosene there.
  • Here’s a magical love charm directed towards women and recorded from 1840s Sindh (Pakistan) by Sir Richard Burton. It’s called agathu chinnanu, breaking of the trouser string. You recite the charm over 7 (or 9) threads of raw cotton spun by a little girl, then roll them up and tie 7 knots on them. You then inform the woman that you are performing agathu chinnanu and she’d better just go to bed with you right away. If she refuses, you untie one of your knots, and her trousers drop by magic. If she pulls them up and refuses, you untie another knot, etc.
  • Movie: The Wicker Man (1973). Policeman goes to remote Scottish island to seek a missing child, discovers neo-Pagan sex cult. Lots of gratuitous breasts and Golden Bough references. Grade: OK.
  • One reason I didn’t think The Wicker Man was great is the big nude posing & butt shaking scene in the middle. I really don’t like having my porn and my storytelling mixed. Don’t yank my randy reflexes (not insignificantly developed) while trying to get me invested in your narrative. I lose track and I feel cheaply manipulated. (Of course, no moviegoer in 1973 had infinite amounts of internet porn available on their home and workplace desks.)

Author: Martin R

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

8 thoughts on “September Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. Maybe you prefer the Iron Maiden version of The Wicker Man:

    Many or most of their songs are based on themes from books, films, history, and so on. Not much butt-shaking. In contrast to most of rock music, it is story-telling, so the proper frame of mind for appreciation is similar to that for opera.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. O where would we be without the internet?

      Truth is stranger than fiction (from the above URL, mainly about the identity of the arse):

      Hardy yesterday disclosed further details of the long-awaited follow-up to The Wicker Man, Cowboys For Christ. Joan Collins, who introduced Ekland to her former lover Rod Stewart, has joined Christopher Lee in the cast, replacing Vanessa Redgrave in the role of Lady Delia Morrison.

      Although the new film is not a conventional sequel, there are more than passing similarities to the The Wicker Man. The film is about a gospel singer and her cowboy friend, both virgins, who set off from Texas to enlighten Scottish heathens about the ways of Christ. They are welcomed on the estate of a genial laird, again played by Lee, whose intentions turn out to be less than honourable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the gold leaf figure photos Martin. Do they portray divine or demigod ancestors claimed
    by the lord of the Viking meadhall/manor, stuck
    on tar coated posts?

    Are the figure’s names (such as of Nordic gods
    or heros) known or speculated, with evidence?

    I like that you give credit for the work of your collaborators.

    I am going to reproduce them on gold leaf.
    I will give credit to you and your collaborators
    and available information.

    Is there evidence of cultural contact between
    Vikings and Scythians?


  3. Do they portray divine or demigod ancestors claimed by the lord of the Viking meadhall/manor, stuck on tar coated posts?

    That is a common interpretation, yes. I find it likely.

    Are the figure’s names (such as of Nordic gods or heros) known or speculated, with evidence?

    There is no iconographic link between the gold foil figures and any particular character in mythology or protohistory.

    Is there evidence of cultural contact between Vikings and Scythians?

    There’s 1300 years and thousands of kilometres between them. Not even those Pre-Roman Scandinavians who were contemporary with the Scythians seem to have had visible contact with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am pretty sure I can construct scenarios in which I would accept “archeologies” as useful. But, I would probably mostly try to write “the archeology of A”, “the archeology of B”, … In some sort of layman’s understanding that “archaeology” refers variously to the field of study as well as specific finds at specific sites.


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