History

Category archives for History

If we look only at contemporaneous written evidence and disregard kings, Iarlabanki Ingefastson is probably the most copiously documented Scandinavian of the Viking Period. But his name does not occur even once on vellum. His memory lives entirely in the many rune stones he commissioned. Iarlabanki (Jarlabanke in modern Swedish) was a major landowner in…

Herbert Jankuhn Reads Selections From Mao

German archaeologist Herbert Jankuhn (1905-90) is a contentious figure. A passionate Nazi soldier and SS archaeologist up until 1945, he became one of the country’s most influential post-war archaeologists from the late 50s onward. Fornvännen 2011:3 has just come out containing a contribution on the younger Jankuhn’s heartfelt Nazi enthusiasm, as documented by recent archive…

Jane Austen LARP

Though I played a lot of tabletop role playing games in the 80s and 90s, I’ve never been much of a live action role-player (LARPer). Just seems to be way too much preparation for such short events. So the only real LARP I ever took part in was in May of 1992 (it was called…

Kalv’s Runestone

Driving through Hagby parish in Uppland on a tiny road Friday, I was lucky enough to cross the bridge at Focksta right at the moment when the afternoon sun hit this lovely runestone straight on. I didn’t even have to get out of the car to take the photograph. Dating from the early 11th century,…

No Sign of Cleopatra

I suddenly have this unaccountable urge to comment on the current issue of National Geographic Magazine. Maybe that isn’t so strange. I mean, after all, I like reading the mag and I’m on record as saying, in the Swedish Skeptics quarterly no less, that my ideal museum exhibition would be a 3D version of a…

I’ve written before (1 – 2 – 3) about the Kenyan village with a poorly supported and recently concocted origin myth involving Medieval Chinese sailors. Now my buddy Axel Andersson has alerted me to a similar case. But here it’s sort of the other way around: a Chinese village with a poorly supported and recently…

Chinese tourist sites follow a set of conventions that seem to go back hundreds or thousands of years, far into a past when tourism, as we understand it, did not yet exist. Essentially we’re dealing with named and inscribed sites. I have visited many in my Chinese travels, but since I can’t read the language…

Viking Period Drinking Bowl

My colleague Karl-Magnus Melin specialises in ancient and modern woodworking and has a major paper in Fornvännen’s summer issue about well fittings made from hollowed-out tree trunks. He’s kindly sent me some post-conservation pics of a Viking Period wooden drinking bowl. It’s lathe-turned unless I’m very much mistaken. The bowl was found sitting in a…

Journalist Geoffrey York has dug deeper for the Globe and Mail into the story about alleged descendants of Medieval Chinese sailors on the coast of Kenya that I wrote about once in ’07. He finds that not even the locals, who supposedly tell “legends” about their Chinese ancestry, believe any of it or indeed know…

Sankt Joachimsthal (“Valley of Saint Joachim”) is the German name of Jáchymov, a small town in the Czech Republic. It’s in the Erzgebirge mountains near the country’s north-western border towards Germany. This place currently has only a bit more than three thousand inhabitants, and yet its name is used daily by billions of people worldwide.…