Skeleton Printouts On The Ground

Here’s a novel way to present a cemetery excavation to visitors.

At Broby in Täby, one of the world’s most runestone-rich spots, is the 11th century inhumation cemetery of the famous Iarlabanki family. My colleague Lars Andersson of Stockholm County Museum’s archaeology service has been excavating it bit by bit for years. Many graves are exquisitely preserved. After finishing each piece of the site he covers it again with the original ploughsoil, leaving no visible trace of his interventions. How do you present such a site to the many visitors? (Täby is an affluent suburb of Stockholm.)

Lars has had photographs of the graves in their finest prepared condition printed onto tarpaulin fabric by a company that otherwise makes the rain-proof advertisements hanging from highway overpasses. Every time he opens a new piece of the cemetery he puts the printed tarps of all the graves of earlier seasons in their spots on the ground using an EDM total station. And so when outreach officer Jennifer Shutzberg shows the site she can walk from grave to grave and demonstrate to people just what they were like and where they were even though the bones and small finds have been in museum stores for years. Well done Lars!


  1. #1 Birger Johansson
    May 28, 2012

    Brilliant idea by Andersson!
    — — — — —
    (OT) Eurovision win:
    Loreen’s family is of Marocco-Berber origin. This means BOTH the mullahs’ and the xenophobes’ heads will explode! Win-win!

  2. #2 archaeozoo
    May 28, 2012

    What a good idea! So simple and yet so effective.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    May 30, 2012

    (OT) Martin, get yourself some scuba gear and go treasure-hunting 😉
    “Wreck of jewel-laden ship ‘found’ near Stockholm”
    “Greek experts find Roman wrecks nearly a mile deep”

  4. #4 Daniel J. Andrews
    June 1, 2012

    Clever idea indeed! Well done!

  5. #5 Matt
    June 1, 2012

    Great Idea. The only problem being of course that printing these probably costs as much as the budget of most smaller excavations. So you definitely have to find a sponsor!

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