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This paper discusses rock art in southern Scandinavia as a multisensory format, where both sight and touch would have contributed to the comprehension of the images. From a structural semiotic point of view, we suggest that rock art can be construed as an organised set of features, such as visual and tactile elements, organised into heterogeneous unities with dynamic relations between elements that can change over time with respect to how they are experienced. We argue that in order to understand the rock art medium, it is crucial to take into consideration the multisensory interaction between the perceiver and the qualities of the rock art surface. The reason for including tactile elements in our interpretation of the conception of rock art is the way it was created: by hands interacting with tools and rock surfaces, as well as the spontaneous human tendency to explore the physical world through touch. One can identify key features in the images that would arguably facilitate tactile recognition, as well as be better explained from a multisensorial perspective. This includes the position of the images on horizontal outcrops, the moderate size of the images, the application of an orthographic perspective, the use of ‘tactile markers’ (ie crucial features having a strategic function for understanding images by touch), and the occurrence of incomplete images. A multisensorial perspective on rock art furthermore has semiotic implications. Incomplete images, for example, can be understood as indexical stand-ins for the whole imagined picture, ie as iconic indices. A multisensorial approach to Scandinavian rock art thus allows for new explanations for certain design choices, as well as a new understanding of how the images could relay meaning to a perceiver.
We evaluate the timing and environmental controls on past rock-glacier activity at Øyberget, upper Ottadalen, southern Norway, using in situ 10Be surface-exposure dating on (1) boulders belonging to relict rock-glacier lobes at c. 530 m asl, (2) bedrock and boulder surfaces at the Øyberget summit (c. 1200 m asl), and (3) bedrock at an up-valley site (c. 615 m asl). We find that the rock-glacier lobes became inactive around 11.1 ± 1.2 ka, coeval with the timing of summit deglaciation (11.2 ± 0.7 ka). This is slightly older than previously published Schmidt-hammer surface-exposure ages. The timing does not match known climatic conditions promoting rock-glacier formation in the early Holocene; hence we infer that lobe formation resulted from enhanced debris supply and burial of residual ice during and soon after deglaciation. The results demonstrate that rock glaciers may form over a relatively short period of time (hundreds rather than thousands of years) under non-permafrost conditions and possibly indicate a paraglacial type of process.
Mental health literacy (MHL) refers to an individual's knowledge of mental disorders, including the ability to recognize psychopathology and being aware of help options. Most studies of MHL have focused on adults.
The purpose of this study was to examine levels of MHL among adolescents.
MHL was examined using two pre-established vignettes that presented an adolescent with symptoms of either depression or schizophrenia. The respondents were 426 adolescents (age mean = 16). Vignette data were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively.
The data showed that 42.7% and 34.7% of the respondents identified depression and schizophrenia, respectively. Depression was recognized more often by females than males. Professional help was suggested by a minority of the respondents for managing symptoms of depression (22.5%) or schizophrenia (32.6%). Altruistic behaviors, examined through the willingness to help an acquaintance with mental illness symptoms, were apparent among 58.2% of the respondents and to a greater extent in females than males. Answers following the schizophrenia vignette also revealed stigmatizing attitudes in 11.5% of the participants.
There are relatively low levels of MHL among teenagers in Sweden. Awareness campaigns and the implementation of psychoeducation in the school curriculum could increase MHL in this group.
Mountain passes have played a key role in past mobility, facilitating transhumance, intra-regional travel and long-distance exchange. Current global warming has revealed an example of such a pass at Lendbreen, Norway. Artefacts exposed by the melting ice indicate usage from c. AD 300–1500, with a peak in activity c. AD 1000 during the Viking Age—a time of increased mobility, political centralisation and growing trade and urbanisation in Northern Europe. Lendbreen provides new information concerning the socio-economic factors that influenced high-elevation travel, and increases our understanding of the role of mountain passes in inter- and intra-regional communication and exchange.
Even gods are not always above bureaucracy. Societies very different from each other have entertained the idea that the heavens might be arranged much like an earthly bureaucracy, or that mythological beings might exercise their power in a way that makes them resembles bureaucrats. The best-known case is the Chinese “celestial bureaucracy,” but the idea is also found in (to take nearly random examples) Ancient Near Eastern cosmology, the Hebrew Bible, Late Antiquity, and modern popular culture. The primary sources discussed in this essay pertain to an area of history where bureaucracy was historically underdeveloped, namely medieval Scandinavia. Beginning with the Glavendrup runestone from the 900s, I examine a way of thinking about divine power that seems blissfully bureaucracy-free. Moving forwards in time to Adam of Bremen’s description of the temple at Uppsala (1040s–1070s), I find traces of a tentative, half-formed bureaucracy in the fading embers of Scandinavian paganism. In the 1220s, well into the Christian era, I find Snorri Sturluson concocting a version of Old Norse myth which proposes a novel resolution between the non-bureaucratic origins of his mythological corpus and the burgeoning bureacratization of High Medieval Norway. Although my focus is on medieval Scandinavia, transhistorical comparisons are frequently drawn with mythological bureaucrats from other times and places. In closing, I synthesise this comparative material with historical and anthropological theories of the relationship between bureaucracy and the divine.
Among the most prominent prehistoric features in the boreal forests of northern Sweden are trapping pits or pitfalls used for hunting elk and/or reindeer. Even if often ascribed to the Viking Age and its trade in furs and other animal products, the chronology of these features has long been a matter of debate. In this article, a database of 370 dated radiocarbon samples from excavated pitfalls has been compiled and analysed using Kernel Density Estimation (KDE) modelling to create the most elaborate chronology of Swedish trapping pit systems so far. The analysis shows that the most intensive period of construction of trapping pits was in the centuries before the Viking period. This challenges previous interpretations of Viking Age resource exploitation but is in line with several other recently published studies concerned with resource exploitation, non-agrarian production, and trade connecting northern Scandinavia with inter-regional trade networks.
The point of departure for this article is the excavation of two burial mounds and a trackway system in Bamble, Telemark, Norway. One of the mounds overlay ard marks, which led to speculation as to whether the site was ritually ploughed or whether it contained the remains of an old field system. Analysis of the archaeometric data indicated that the first mound was related to a field system, while the second was constructed 500–600 years later. The first mound was probably built to demonstrate the presence of a kin and its social norms, while these norms were renegotiated when the second mound was raised in the Viking Age. This article emphasizes that the ritual and profane aspects were closely related: mound building can be a ritualized practice intended to legitimize ownership and status by the reuse of domestic sites in the landscape. Further examples from Scandinavia indicate that this is a common, but somewhat overlooked, practice.
The rock art of southern Scandinavia is characterized by depictions of watercraft. The majority are close to the coast, and they have been the primary focus of research. Less attention has been paid to similar representations associated with two large inland lakes in southern Sweden. In this article we present the results of fieldwork around Lake Vänern and Lake Vättern and consider the relationship of this rock art to the better-known images on the coast. We explore the practicalities of navigating between the sea and the interior and suggest that there was an important contrast between an early eastern sphere extending to Lake Vättern from the Baltic and a later western sphere connecting Lake Vänern with the Atlantic.
This article tracks the formation of the rich and socially complex Nordic Bronze Age (NBA), c. 2000–1500 bc, by applying a scalar methodology and using the entrepôt and early metalworking site of Pile in Scania as its point of departure. By regarding the Bronze Age as an ancient example of globalisation, Island Melanesia at the outskirts of contemporary globalisation is first examined to provide an analogue to the Nordic entrepreneurial and maritime culture into which metallurgy was first adopted. How did this northern margin become ‘Bronze Age’, and what impact did its inclusion have? Various scales, from local to Bronze-Age-global were found to intersect in the Pile hoard, and in similar sites near and far. By c. 2000 bc, metals and other commodities travelled along well-established local, regional, and super-regional networks, which even incorporated the British Isles and Únětician hubs at the Middle Elbe–Saale. Back in Scandinavia, metal and metal-related culture provided a comparative advantage when navigating local competition for influence and leadership. The transculturally global was strategically appropriated locally, using the reinvention of tradition as a principal strategy. The first metal boom caused friction and slow social change, rather than a social revolution. The real tipping point came in 1600–1500 bc, when the nearly full-blown NBA emerged, through engagement with a considerably expanded world. By this time, large amounts of metal were in circulation. Seen from the non-urban north, this unprecedented expansion of their world brought new opportunities but likely also deep social tensions. Thus, the effects of adopting metallurgy permeated society and connectivity at every level, even at the outskirts of the Bronze Age world.
Human sacrifice is a well-attested and much mythologised phenomenon of human society, but what constitutes human sacrifice? Why is socially sanctioned violence considered sacrifice? And why are human lives sacrificed? New research uses archaeological case studies from Scandinavia to understand performative violence.
In 2017, eight runestones on Bornholm were scanned in 3D and the microtopography of the grooves was analysed by multivariate statistical methods. One of the stones was previously not known to runological research. The aim of this paper is to compare the carving technique of the Bornholm runestones with runestones from Swedish regions to shed light on old issues concerning Bornholm's links with other regions in and around the Baltic Sea. The rune carvers are important agents in this, as the runestones are often related to issues including landholding, Christianization, possible Swedish influences, and the inclusion of Bornholm into the Danish realm. In addition, rune carvers as native writers were intimately connected to the introduction of literacy. The results of this study indicate that the rune carvers did not cooperate much with carvers from the islands of Öland and Gotland, whereas Södermanland, among the Swedish mainland provinces, was their first choice.
The use of tar and resinous substances dates back far into Scandinavian prehistory. How it was produced, however, was unknown until recent excavations in eastern Sweden revealed funnel-shaped features—now identified as structures for producing tar. A new way of organising tar production appeared in the eighth century AD, leading to large-scale manufacture within outland forests. Intensified Viking Age maritime activities probably increased the demand for tar, which also became an important trade commodity. The transition to intensive tar manufacturing implies new ways of organising production, labour, forest management and transportation, which influenced the structure of Scandinavian society and connected forested outlands with the world economy.
The diversity of archaeological evidence for the adoption of farming in Northern Europe has led to competing hypotheses about this critical shift in subsistence strategy. Through a review of the archaeological material alongside ethnographic evidence, we reconsider the Neolithic Transition in Southern Scandinavia, and argue for both continuity and change during the early Funnel Beaker Culture (c. 4000–3500 cal BC). A new model is proposed for understanding the processes of regional transition—one which allows for compromise between the dominant explanatory frameworks. We conclude that the first centuries of the Scandinavian Neolithic saw cultural and economic negotiation between the last foragers and the first farmers. This has major implications for the understanding of agricultural origins in Northern Europe.
The Grönhögen-2015 core drilling on southern Öland, Sweden, penetrated 50.15 m of Cambrian Series 3, Furongian and Lower–Middle Ordovician strata. The Cambrian succession includes the Äleklinta Member (upper Stage 5) of the Borgholm Formation and the Alum Shale Formation (Guzhangian–Tremadocian). Agnostoids and trilobites allowed subdivision of the succession into eight biozones, in ascending order: the uppermost Cambrian Series 3 (Guzhangian) Agnostus pisiformis Zone and the Furongian Olenus gibbosus, O. truncatus, Parabolina spinulosa, Sphaerophthalmus? flagellifer, Ctenopyge tumida, C. linnarssoni and Parabolina lobata zones. Conspicuous lithologic unconformities and the biostratigraphy show that the succession is incomplete and that there are several substantial gaps of variable magnitudes. Carbon isotope analyses (δ13Corg) through the Alum Shale Formation revealed two globally significant excursions: the Steptoean Positive Carbon Isotope Excursion (SPICE) in the lower–middle Paibian Stage, and the negative Top of Cambrian Excursion (TOCE), previously referred to as the HERB Event, in Stage 10. The δ13Corg chemostratigraphy is tied directly to the biostratigraphy and used for an improved integration of these excursions with the standard agnostoid and trilobite zonation of Scandinavia. Their relations to that of coeval successions in Baltoscandia and elsewhere are discussed. The maximum amplitudes of the SPICE and TOCE in the Grönhögen succession are comparable to those recorded in drill cores retrieved from Scania, southern Sweden. The results of this study will be useful for assessing biostratigraphic relations between shale successions and carbonate facies on a global scale.
Epistemology and research history significantly shape scientific understandings, debates, and publication strategies, albeit often implicitly. In Palaeolithic archaeology in particular, these factors are rarely examined in depth. Here, we present a historiographic analysis of how research history has influenced the debate concerning the possible Neanderthal occupation in Scandinavia. We provide a qualitative discussion of this contentious research field as well as a citation network analysis that visualizes, quantifies, and hence clarifies some of the underlying conceptual, geographic, and temporal patterns in the development of the debate. Our results show significant regionalism as a structuring principle driving this debate as well as a basic rift between professional and avocational archaeologists in how they interpret and publish the available data. We also identify a troubling lack of cross-referencing, even when taking language barriers into account. We argue that the debate about Neanderthal occupation in Scandinavia has been shaped (negatively) by the following phenomena: regionalism, nationalism, lack of research and researchers, non-cumulative work, publication in Nordic languages, science by press release/sensationalism, and a lamentable trend towards arguments ad hominem. In order to take this research field forward, we propose an epistemological turn towards a cumulative, international, and hypothesis-driven agenda based on renewed research efforts and novel citizen science tools.
A massive tenth-century AD ring fortress was recently identified at Borgring, south of Copenhagen in Denmark. The combination of high-resolution LiDAR mapping, geophysical survey and targeted small-scale excavation has demonstrated that the site belongs to a rare class of monuments—the Trelleborg-type ring fortress. Borgring is the first such monument to be found in Denmark in over six decades, and provides an opportunity to investigate a type-site of Viking Age military organisation and conflict. The authors argue that Borgring complements a varied group of fortification structures in late Viking Age Denmark, part of a military network close to contemporaneous European ideas of military kingship and defence.
This article examines a small group of artefacts of the Viking Age that may have been perceived as animated objects. These specific weapons and pieces of jewellery appear in narratives in the Old Norse sources as named, as having a will of their own, as possessing personhood. In archaeological contexts the same types of artefact are handled categorically differently than the rest of the material culture. Further, the possible links between these perspectives and the role of animated objects in early medieval Christianity of the Carolingian Empire are examined through studies of the reopening of Reihengräber and the phenomenon of furta sacra. By linking studies of the social biographies of objects with studies of animism, the article aims to identify aspects of Viking Age ontology and its similarities to Carolingian Christianity.
The Scandinavian landscape is littered with postglacial outcrops, many of which carry engraved motifs. Although drawings of ships are most often discussed, this paper focuses on representations of feet. In Northern Europe ship motifs are often associated with cosmologies based on the movement of the sun. This paper investigates whether drawings of feet could have been associated with the same worldview. A number of interpretations are offered of the images at two sites in different parts of Sweden: Järrestad 13:1 and Boglösa 138:1.
In 2013, one of Sweden’s largest archaeological excavations started in association with the building of the European Spallation Source (ESS) multidisciplinary research center in Lund. The 160 radiocarbon dates that were produced for the project represent the most exhaustive dating program for a Scandinavian site so far and provide evidence for the human impact and activities on the site from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age. This article presents the results within a Bayesian statistical framework for the 70 14C dates from the Early Neolithic settlement (object 1) and a burial site with dolmens and wooden façades. For the first time, a highly precise chronology provides deeper insight into the Neolithization processes and the early settlement strategies in southern Scandinavia from ~3800 cal BC onwards.