Grassroots Archaeology Conference

I spent most of last weekend in Blankaholm, a small village on the Baltic coast of Sweden between Kalmar and Västervik. My colleague Michael Dahlin (who keeps the Misterhultaren blog) lives there, and this weekend was the fourth time that he headed the annual Blankaholm conference on Swedish east coast archaeology. There’s nothing quite like it that I know of: a true grassroots event, gathering amateurs with no formal training, amateurs with archaeology degrees, trained professionals and even a few pros without formal training. 25 hours of talks, discussion, book trade, communal meals and socialising among ~60 like-minded folks. Lovely!

Of the talks, I particularly enjoyed Kenneth Alexandersson’s about Early Mesolithic sites with organic preservation under a metre of sand from a sea-level transgression, Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay’s about Neolithic sites on Öland, S-G Broström’s and Kenth Ihrestam’s about the enormous and game-changing Casimirsborg rock-art finds they made last year (reported on here), Veronica Palm’s about a well-preserved 18th century tar production site and Joacim Wehlin’s about a furnished inhumation from the very earliest Iron Age on Gotland. The audience also received my own talk about my Bronze Age sacrificial site project enthusiastically.

I had the pleasure of renewing loads of old acquaintances and making new ones. I’d never met Michael Dahlin or Pierre Petersson of the AHIMKAR blog live before. Great guys! On Saturday night I played Thebes, the cynical archaeology game, with colleagues for the first time, while a bunch of lithics dudes were looking at quartz and drinking beer at the next table over. And I had Sunday breakfast at cozy Blankaholms gästgiveri with Magnus Reuterdahl of the Testimony of the Spade blog and other charming colleagues. It was my first Blankaholm conference, and the whole experience provided a great energy boost!

See also Magnus Reuterdahl’s blow-by-blow account.


  1. #1 Magnus Reuterdahl
    February 28, 2011

    It was a nice get together with games, archaeology, archaeologists etc. :)

    Magnus Reuterdahl

  2. #2 Birger Johansson
    March 1, 2011

    As I recall, the coast in that region is practically “fractal” (and presumably this was also the case when the sea level was higher). Could this have made the region richer in sites, as there may have been more natural harbors along the coast? Just speculating.

    The moon may have been too prominent for good “seeing” conditions, otherwise the rural setting would have given you and your colleagues a great chance to do a bit of stargazing not possible in your hometowns or cities.

    “a true grassroots event, gathering amateurs with no formal training, amateurs with archaeology degrees, trained professionals and even a few pros without formal training”
    -If only the same was possible for other branches of science!

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    March 1, 2011

    Somebody is off the meds again (sigh). By the way, has anybody ever been converted to a different point of view by the term “sh*thead”?
    — — — — — — — — —
    A more humoristic example of reality-is-bunk : “Glenn Beck: Teachers Unions = Muslim Conspiracy”

  4. #4 Birger Johansson
    March 1, 2011

    (Comment 3 was in response to a deleted post)

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