October Pieces Of My Mind #3

Toruń, Poland
  • What if the main purpose of your home is to produce wet and soiled toilet paper?
  • I post something soberly factual about gentrification in a Facebook group for local issues. Several people respond as if I had loudly criticised gentrification. Others, not reading my interaction with the first group, respond as if I had loudly endorsed gentrification. Before Internet access, you had to deal with your village idiot, but now you have to deal with every village’s idiot.
  • Emma Karlsson of the Östergötland County Museum has excavated the 10th century inhumation burial that Patrik Svantesson located in Aska’s ploughed-out East Cemetery a year ago!
  • Movie: Cabin In The Woods (2011). Five college students in rural isolation. A funny and smart send-up of slasher movie conventions: a horrific Truman Show. Grade: OK.
  • I study the Early Medieval elite, that organised young men in war bands to die pointlessly in battle against other war bands over very little. Young masculine violent idiocy still lives today. But young Einár no longer does. The futility, the waste.
  • Reading P.K. Dick’s 1977 A Scanner Darkly. Drug squad agent infiltrates junkie circle, takes lots of drugs, acquires split personality, forgets that the main junkie he’s reporting on is actually himself. 😃
  • Encountered a funny and sad street busker in Toruń. He had a huge sound system playing pre-recorded backing music, very professionally done with good musicians and sound engineering. But the busker himself was more like some karaoke dude who didn’t have much of a voice and didn’t know the lyrics very well. We got the impression that Mr. Big Voice Impressive Busker was having Sunday night off and his buddy had borrowed the setup.
  • 40 years later I suddenly understand a joke in ‘Allo, ‘allo. René’s mother-in-law is bedridden. Under her bed, downed English pilots are hiding with their radio transmitter. When they receive a message, the knobs on the old lady’s bedposts light up. And she shouts “I SEE FLASHING KNOBS!!!” I thought it was hilarious back then despite not understanding it. Must have been the laugh track.
  • Kvass is a really nice drink!
  • Uppsala Cathedral’s north tower has a Medieval bell looted from Toruń in Poland in 1703. According to an inscription it was cast in Chełmno. No larger Medieval bell survives in Sweden.
  • Packing For Mars is eleven years old! :-0
  • Old town churches in Poland are crowded in with houses. Small act of resistance: right across from the west main porch of one church, I saw a little rainbow flag on a balcony.
  • When a Swedish person says “an academic” while speaking English, they probably mean a uni graduate.
  • Many young Polish people don’t speak much English. A colleague of mine gave me a really illuminating perspective on this today. With regard to other languages, Poland (pop. 38 million) is like France (pop. 67 million), not like Sweden (pop. 10 million).
  • Tip: press ear to tree with woodpecker.

Author: Martin R

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

6 thoughts on “October Pieces Of My Mind #3”

  1. I suspect that an inhumation burial is not the burial of an inhuman. And reading the linked blog entry supports this (not especially unorthodox) interpretation.


    1. Exhumation means digging up the remains of someone who dies and was buried. So inhumation means the reverse process.

      It is something easily overlooked by a lay person like me, but the method of disposing of the dead is a very important factor in trying to reconstruct what happened in the distant past.

      For example, geneticists know when Beaker people started to migrate into Britain because they practised inhumation, and so the remains are available to obtain DNA samples from, and also the grave goods that they were buried with.

      But the Neolithic people who lived in Britain before the arrival of the Beaker people largely practised cremation (or else they left the remains out in the open to decompose and be defleshed by the birdies, beasties and little grubs – I forget what the word for that is now, but there is a proper word for it), at least for a fairly long period before the start of the arrival of the Beaker people.

      So they are really guessing at what the Neolithic population of Britain was before the Beaker people started arriving. There is a lot of indirect evidence, like abandonment of agriculture and people switching to animal husbandry, and that leaves lasting evidence in a lot of areas, so they can make an educated guess, but it still is a guess.

      What that guess looks like is that the Neolithic population of Britain plummeted over a period of a century or so before the Beakers arrived, and that was accompanied by an almost frenzied period of megalith building.

      The possibilities are intriguing to ponder, but the timing of various things cannot be nailed down so exactly that cause and effect can definitely be established in a case like that.


  2. “I study the Early Medieval elite, that organised young men in war bands to die pointlessly in battle against other war bands over very little. Young masculine violent idiocy still lives today. But young Einár no longer does. The futility, the waste.”

    I like this text. Not the actuality, but the reference. Needless to say, the debate is skewed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: