In today’s paper issue of main Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter is a news item headlined “Hobby Researcher Gives New Signs to Stones” (currently not available on-line, but here’s another relevant piece). It relays a few statements from museologist Ewa Bergdahl of the Swedish National Heritage Board regarding the Ales stenar visitor’s sign debacle. Bergdahl is head of the Heritage Tourism unit.
–There isn’t just one single truth. This place is so incredibly more complex than previously believed, says Ewa Bergdahl, unit director at the National Heritage Board.
The Heritage Board has long stood on the side of the academics. But now the organisation takes a more neutral stance.
–You have no privileged position with us just because you do research at a university, says Ewa Bergdahl.
To the dismay of professional scholars, both theories are now represented on the signs.
–Amateur researchers may feel that they have been vindicated somewhat. But that doesn’t mean that they are right.
–Det finns inte bara en enda sanning. Den här platsen är så otroligt mycket mera komplex än man tidigare trott, säger Ewa Bergdahl, enhetschef på Riksantikvarieämbetet.
Riksantikvarieämbetet har länge stått på akademikernas sida. Men nu intar myndigheten en mer neutral inställning.
–Man har inget företräde bara för att man forskar på ett universitet, säger Ewa Bergdahl.
Till de professionella forskarnas förtret finns nu alltså båda teorierna representerade på skyltarna.
–Det är möjligt att amatörforskarna känner att de fått en viss upprättelse. Men de har inte fått rätt för det.
Now, by far the most of the Board’s employees are university-trained archaeologists, and I’m sure they don’t share Ewa Bergdahl’s and the other top bureaucrats’ stale 80s post-modernist and anti-science ideas on this matter. There has long been a discussion about separating the Board’s regional contract archaeology units from the central administration and making them standalone organisations. The new evidence for anti-scientific hyper-relativism among the Board’s central directors shows that this separation is urgent indeed. And when it is completed, I hope the Ministry of Culture sends the Heritage Board through a radical pro-science personnel purge. It’s either that or close the outfit down. The Swedish Heritage Board clearly suffers from Mad Cow Disease.
Update same evening: In a short new piece in Dagens Nyheter, the head of the Heritage Board Inger Liliequist is quoted as saying “We pay attention to local historians and amateur researchers. But we don’t place them on a level with tested research. If that is how our message has been received, then we will have to adjust the signs.” Archaeology professors Herschend and Burström are quoted voicing severe criticism against the new signs, and I must say that both names come as a pleasant surprise to me.
Update 25 July: According to Aftonbladet, another bright star and non-archaeologist at the Heritage Board, comptroller and temporary press liaison Ulrika Salander, says “Regarding Ales stenar, there is not and may never be any absolute truth or any unambiguous ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.” And here’s a piece from today’s Sydsvenska Dagbladet where Ewa Bergdahl repeats her views. These people know absolutely nothing about the philosophy of science, nor about archaeology’s place in the larger landscape of science. Can’t Inger Liliequist put a muzzle on the clowns she employs?
Update 31 July: Touchingly, Ewa Bergdahl informs me that she is well within her rights to make public pronouncements about archaeology because she studied the subject for three terms 30 years ago.