Skalk‘s February issue was not up to the Danish pop-arch journal’s usual excellent standard. I am always keen to read interesting news from Jelling and Lejre, the country’s proto-historic centres. But in this case the editors have devoted 17 of the issue’s 30 pages to articles about Harold Bluetooth’s Jelling despite the fact that nothing of interest has come up there recently. One reports on humdrum trial excavations and the other on the state of erosion on the hamlet’s rune stones. Denmark’s archaeology is extremely rich and there’s no reason to go on and on about early royal sites just because they were once royal. That only makes Danish archaeology look stupidly nationalistic. To me, the highlights of the issue were instead a piece on the drastic fate of 19th century German war memorials on Danish soil, and another one reporting that execution burials at a river crossing near the Vendel/Viking Period magnate farm of Tissø have been re-dated to the 13th century.
Populär Arkeologi’s first issue for 2010 offers thematically mixed fare as usual, much of it about northernmost Sweden. The pieces I like best are a summary of my old grad-school buddy Peter Bratt’s PhD thesis on great barrows and my old thesis supervisor Gustaf Trotzig’s opinion piece against the suggested new history curriculum for children aged 7-16, where everything before AD 800 is disregarded.
The Archaeological Institute of America’s Archaeology for March/April also ranges widely. My interest was mainly caught by a feature piece on the state of research into the Indus script. Is it a script? Or just a kind of heraldry? The inscriptions are extremely few and short, and since no archives of longer texts have been forthcoming, it looks like we may never know.
Magazines like Populär Arkeologi and Archaeology, not to mention global-scope academic journals like Antiquity and Europan Journal of Archaeology, always remind me of how different my perspective on archaeology is from that of the general reader. My curiosity about ancient cultures worldwide certainly isn’t limitless. While, for instance, the 12th century Salado pottery of southwestern US and northern Mexico is lovely to look at in the pages of Archaeology, I can’t really be bothered to learn much about that far-off world unless somebody pays me. Fishermen don’t go fishing in their spare time.
And don’t miss the latest Skeptics’ Circle!