Click here and Here to check out free and open scientific journals on archaeology, anthropology, archaeometry, and conservation! Many of these will only be available until Nov 4th so download whatever you find interesting before then!
Mike reminded me that I took a few photos when I visited the Uppåkra excavation site! I completely forgot to post them for you. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any of the actual excavation site. I only took a few photos of the laboratory where they perform artifact conservation before transferring them to a local museum. Here are the photos:
Visiting the lab was an interesting experience because I was able to see how the conservator was removing the corrosion from a metal artifact. She was so incredibly sweet and allowed students to get a closer look at the objects. I asked what she was using (chemicals, methods, etc.) to stabilize the object and she either didn’t want to go into detail for some reason or she wasn’t employing methods about which I have read. It was a bit strange. First, she mentioned the object was “gold.” Gold is an inert metal and does not corrode or rust. It must have been an alloy; I’m just confused why she wasn’t clear about it. I admit that I am an amateur conservator with limited knowledge on the subject, but from what I have seen, there are a couple different chemical solutions and electrochemical methods that can stabilize metal objects in that state. It doesn’t have to do with funding, either; the methods are relatively inexpensive and can be set up at home! She said she was simply removing the corrosion with a pick, other small tools, and water. I hope it was deionized water! … Time for me to stop rambling about this. Honestly, the visit was very nice. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to see how excavation and conservation is done in Uppåkra. 🙂 I still have a lot to learn! Visits like these are important for students.
Now, I must get back to studying the Vikings, Swedish history, chemistry, and archaeology! We miss and love all of you…
Yesterday while Erin was in class, I got to spend time alone in the Archaeology Library at the university. I spent hours looking through books that were decades or even more than a century old while the rain pattered on the glass and the image of the cobble stone streets outside became distorted. Here are a few of the interesting books I found.
I assume the title means “History of Art from Antiquity – Assyria” because that’s what the book was. I couldn’t read a word of it but the cover was beautiful.
A book on runic inscriptions and standing stones in Denmark.
A peek inside…
A sketch of a rune stone.
Now this is interesting. While looking at a book about the mystery cults of ancient Greece, I found handwritten notes. I don’t know if they were corrections to the book or study notes from a former student, but I could tell they were old because…(Next photo)
…there was a post card inside. And on the back of the post card…(Next photo)
This one looked interesting. Perhaps next time.
For the Biblical archaeology buffs, “Excavation at Ephesus.”
I found a collection of Latin texts from different countries. Of course I grabbed the one from Switzerland.
Hm. Interesting. This critiques the handwriting of the Latin texts rather than the texts themselves.
“The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England.” This is the book I actually checked out and brought home.
And then I saw it…Do you see it? No, probably not. It’s at the very bottom of this stack of drawings, plates, and transcriptions of ancient scrolls. Let me zoom in a bit for you…(next photo)
This photo is actually upside down. This collection of Egyptian papyri transcriptions and translations was at the bottom of the pile. It took me a while to dig them out.
In fact, while digging them out, I got distracted by a collection of sketches of Greek scultpures.
This one in particular caught my eye.
But I finally managed to dig them out.
This is a photo of the scroll containing the Egyptian creation story. My note book is there for size comparison but I was also taking notes. No I can’t read Egyptian hieratic texts; I was taking notes on the translation provided a few pages earlier. The story goes like this.
In the beginning, the God Neb-er-tcher, “The Lord to the Uttermost Limit”, “The Universal Lord,” created himself by speaking his own name and then said “I am alone.” There was no ground for him to stand on, only the formless waters of the deep; the primeval ocean, “nu.” He uttered a word of power and created a soul body for himself to work through like a puppet. This makes me wonder if there is any connection with the Gnostics’ belief that God of the Abrahamic faiths is just a demiurge. Meaning they believe he is the creator but that there is a God, Abraxis, above him. The beliefs seem similar. I’ll have to look in to it. Anyway from there, Neb-er-tcher thought or spoke creation into existence by the force of his will. It’s interesting that all of the religions of the middle east have creation stories with similar details. And more interesting still that many cultures around the world have creation myths that start with water. There’s the Egyptians, as we just learned, and the Mesopotamian cultures. Even the Japanese and Viking creation stories begin with water.
“The Litanies of Seker,” a description of a religious ceremony.
“The beautiful chapters of the songs which drive away him that is in the water.” Spells for protection against crocodiles?
A description of a magic spell. The text reads:
The first chapter of enchantment for all kinds of water. It shall be recited by the man in authority, who hath understanding of it, against the Kaiu folk. It is a veritable mystery of the House of Life. “Egg of the water which is poured out upon the earth. Existing One of the Eight Gods of Khemenu (Hermopolis). Chief in the heavens. Chief in the Tuat. Dweller of the Nest. President of Mer-Tchestches.
“I have come forth with thee from the water. I have risen up with thee from out of the divine Nest. I am the god Menu of Qebty (Coptos). I am the god Menu of the Land of Coptos.”
Rubric: This Chapter shall be recited over an egg [made] of dung which shall be placed in the hands of a man [standing] in the fore part of a boat. If anything shall appear on the water, cast the egg on the water.
Hm. No indication of what it’s supposed to do. Not very helpful is it? 🙂
This is how Erin found me when she came down after her class. Time flew by while I was in the Library on my own. While I was in there, a man came in and opened that roll-up cabinet behind me. Inside it was full of clay, stone, and metal artifacts from who knows how many cultures. I couldn’t believe I had been sitting next to all that history the entire time! After a minute or two he locked it back up and left with a few artifacts. When Erin came down I told her about the man and she said, “Oh? Was he bald with glasses and a black hoodie? Yeah, that was my teacher.” Erin got to touch and hold the artifacts during her class. After all that, I was jealous of her adventure for the day.
Erin and I finally threw together our videos from our adventure at Ales Stenar. Frequent readers will remember that we got stranded at the monument until about 10pm and had to find things to entertain us and ways to keep warm. You’ll see some of that in this video.
Yesterday Erin and I went to her school’s libraries with the intention of actually looking around at the books.
After doing a quick lap of the inside, I headed straight for the history/archaeology section and Erin made a bee-line for the quiet study room to get a feel for the place in which she would be spending so much time.
After that we went to the archaeology department to view their specialized library. Inside, we explored the musty old leather-bound tomes containing knowledge about ancient forgotten cultures. We even found a shelf with books for sale. The sign said 10kr each. Hmm…10kr thats…let me see…divide by…..hm yes…now carry the 1….about $1.50. $1.50?!
So we bought 6 books.
The books we got are titled:
1. Children Lost and Found: A bioarchaeological study of Middle Helladic children in Asine with comparison to Lerna
This book is a scientific study on the graves of children in Greece. It seems to first focus on the physical anthropology side of the issue, meaning it talks about how long the femurs were and how big the skulls were at certain ages, etc. The second part of the book talks about the concept of childhood in that culture and the burial and mourning practices and rituals.
2. Natural Science in Archaeology in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden
This book deals with the hard sciences of archaeology, meaning the chemistry and dating methods used in the labs and in the field rather than the cultural interpretation and history. I think Erin will love this because it really focuses on what she wants to do, the nitty gritty conservation work.
3. Early Norland 11: Archaeological and Palaeoecological Studies in Medelpad, N. Sweden
This one is a little too technical and over my head. I’m sure Erin will get more out of it than I will. It SEEMS to be about dating using sediment layers and plant material in Northern Sweden but I can’t be sure…I’m not a scientist…unlike my wife. I love being able to say that! 🙂
4. The European Frontier: Clashes and Compromises in the Middle Ages
A collection of research papers in different languages on European identity in the Middle Ages.
5. Some German archaeological book that I can barely read the title on because it’s in a weird German Blackletter font. It’s full of old maps and drawings of celtic bronze age artifacts. I’ll likely never be able to read this hefty tome but it’s enough that I just get to say that I own it.
6. A Dendrochronological Investigation of the Monk Chairs in the Cathedral of Lund: The Methods and Preliminary Results.
This is the one erin seemed most excited about because she can read this book about the dating methods used on these chairs, and then she can literally walk 100 yards from her classroom to the Cathedral and see the chairs for herself!
Yesterday, Erin and I had quite a misadventure. We were planning to visit Lund to go shopping for a winter coat for Erin but at the last minute we decided to go on a romantic date instead. Of course, “romantic date” for Erin and I means that we went to a 1,400 year old archaeological site and got stranded in the boonies at night. But we’ll get to that.
First stop, Ystad. It’s about an hour’s train ride from our apartment. When we got there we grabbed lunch at MAX, a Swedish fast food place. We didn’t realize it was fast food until we went inside but we were too lazy to find something better. From there we walked a couple blocks to the St. Maria cathedral. It wasn’t quite as big as the one in Lund but the over the top baroque style made it impressive in its own way. Here are a few of our favorite shots from the cathedral.
From there we hopped on a bus and drove 20 minutes to Kåseberga to see the Ale’s Stones. The Ale’s Stones are a Stone Ship from the Viking Iron Age. Stone ships are sites where important people were either buried or cremated. Scandinavian folklore says that the legendary King Ale is buried there, however no graves have been discovered at the site. There is some speculation and study into the idea that the Ale’s Stones were intended to be a calendar, with the sun setting over different stones depending on the time of the year.
Don’t ask me what the cow was doing in that last picture.
After spending about an hour looking around, we decided it was time to head back to the bus stop, vowing that we would one day return to spend more time with the stones. Here’s a shot of Erin walking back down the trail…
While waiting at the bus stop, we saw a bunch of people playing soccer on a slip-n-slide in orange jumpsuits. One of them told us they were Engineering and Physics majors from Lund University (Erin’s school) who are going through some sort of initiation.
So that’s what we did while waiting for the bus. Only the bus didn’t come. After waiting half an hour, Erin called Skånetrafiken (the company that runs all the buses and trains) to ask them where our bus was. They informed us that way out in the boonies where we were, we have to call 2 hours in advance if we want the bus to come. The next scheduled stop was 4 hours from then, at 10:06pm.
You’ve gotta be kidding me. Oh well…BACK TO THE STONES!
So that’s what we did. Instead of ordering a cab (which would have cost $100) we decided to wait it out with King Ale. And besides, we really wanted to see the sun set over the stones. When we got there, the sun was already low in the sky.
To pass the time, Erin meditated around the site, we collected rocks, hiked up and down the giant cliff to and from the ocean shore, ran laps around the stones, did jumping jacks to keep warm, and hunted frogs.
And then we waited…
The sun was a vivid red like I haven’t seen before. The camera couldn’t capture the true color. It was amazing. But it was also very cold and windy and we didn’t bring jackets because we didn’t intend to stay that late. So we headed down the hill to get out of the wind. At the bus stop we still had an hour to wait and our phones were both at about 8% battery life so we were starting to get worried about what would happen if our driver didn’t show up and we were unable to call for a cab. Hunger, boredom, and cold make for hilarious antics. We have tons of video of what we did to pass the time and we’re currently editing it all together. So keep an eye out for that. Eventually our driver did show up, right at 10:06pm. Then it was a 20 minute ride to Ystad Station (with an fun conversation with our driver), a 1 hour train ride to Malmö Central, another 20 minute ride to our apartment and then the longest walk up two flights of stairs of our lives. We had been out for 14 hours, we had walked miles, many of which were up hill, we were freezing and hungry, and it was our BEST day in Sweden so far. We are so happy to have experienced this little adventure!
I just found this link today. It has tons and tons of video documentaries on archaeological digs from around the world. Check it out!