Halland Archaeology Journal

i-e3fa17d0b53adcc1b9736987d0893d5d-nmc33367av-lores.JPGUtskrift is a book-format archaeological research journal put out roughly biannually by Kulturmiljö Halland, the heritage management section and excavation unit of the Halland County Museum in Halmstad. The language is Swedish, with English abstracts and summaries. The first issue appeared in 1991, the eleventh in 2010, and that latter issue was generously sent to me by my buddy Leif Häggström who happens to be Utskrift's current editor.

The journal has a funny title: Utskrift means "printout", and I don't know why they chose this. Possibly as a reply, another regional journal was once called Tidskrift. This simply means "periodical" but also more literally "writing on time". It was a neat pun, but understandably they changed it - for the same reason as there is no soft drink named "Soft Drink". These days that other journal's name is Urminne, "beyond living memory" or "ancient memory".

Turning to the editorial craftsmanship, I like Utskrift's layout, the images and the print quality. I must however say with regret that Leif Häggström, a man who knows how to do almost everything in this world and does it well, cannot copy-edit, least of all his own contributions. This task should be entrusted to someone's retired school-teacher aunt next time.

Utskrift 2011 offers nine archaeological papers and two obituaries of Halland archaeologists. The editor has written three of the contributions, Linn Mattsson two, Per Wranning one and a quarter. Most contributors are employees of Kulturmiljö Halland. It's largely an in-house affair and involves no external reviewers.

The longest contribution (34 pp.) is right up my street thematically speaking. Lena Bjuggner et al. report on their work with the 1st millennium precursor of the town Laholm, an elite settlement and trading site of the kind that I've been chasing around Ãstergötland for years. They have found (p. 62, fig. 12) an 8th century domed oval brooch of the kind I've written about, closely similar to #540 in my catalogue (pic above). That brooch (Copenhagen NM 33367) was found at Humlebakken in Nørre-Tranders near Ãlborg in Jutland. It's not far by boat from Laholm. The size and decoration of these brooches indicate a date in the early-to-mid 8th century.

The find from Laholm calls to mind something that I wrote in my brooch paper (p. 172): "As the brooches under study do not form standardised types and as we have small groups of closely similar brooches (variants) from separate sites, any assignment of unique status must be provisional. Chances are that today's unique piece may in the future be revealed as a member of a small cohesive group. This is particularly likely in areas such as Götaland [and Halland, I might add] where few brooches have been found at all."

The second-longest paper (27 pp.) by Anders Håkansson and Christina Rosén is both archaeology and historical geography, treating the Medieval development of the village of Träslöv. This place has been eclipsed in the public mind by its old fishery site, Träslövsläge, which was Halland's main fishing port in the past century. A solid study with good maps.

Linn Mattsson's paper (20 pp.) treats a huge Early Bronze Age long-house, 45.5 by 11 m, that she excavated on the outskirts of Halmstad. I heard her present this site at the Nordic Bronze Age Symposium in Helsinki in 2009. Cool stuff.

The volume also offers shorter papers surveying wood anatomy and osteologically analysed animal bones, presenting Bronze Age and 19th century metalworking finds briefly, and a series of photographs from the 2008 excavation and conservation of the Skrea backe cauldron burial (previously covered here on Aard).

All in all I find that there's a lot of interesting stuff being done by smart and capable people in Halland's archaeology. I look forward to reading the next issue of Utskrift.

Update 7 February: Erik Rosengren, head of field archaeology at Kulturmiljö Halland, explains,

"The name 'Printout' came about because we had a lot of unpublished manuscripts lying around, and in 1991 there weren't a lot of venues where we could publish them. So we simply put a number of WordPerfect documents together and pressed the 'print' button, and out came issue #1 that we photocopied and stapled together! Quite a few things have changed productionwise since that time, but the basic idea remains. The contents have never necessarily been about Halland or written in-house.[Also see this excerpt from Rosengren's preface to the first issue.]

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Oh my, that physics paper is really clueless. It fails to take into account that those northern hunters could choose at any minute to become farmers. It's not a question of an unchanging farming population expanding to displace an unchanging hunting population.

And BTW farming would need to be continuously re-invented to fit the local conditions. A decade ago I read in American Scientist that the farmers came along the loess earth belt through the Danube valley to central Germany... and then farming spread no further for a millennium. Relying on a mixture of farming, animal husbandry fishing etc there would be no need to rely on intensive farming unless a crisis such as a long spell of bad weather forced them to rely exclusively on farming to increase reliability of food resources.

The diffuse "front" between farming and hunter-gatherers was a dynamic thing, even though farming itself did not move much geographically for a long period. Incidentally it seems that the "front" coincides with early megalith structures along the coast, but that may be a coincidence.

Genetically we have more in common with the original hunter-gatherers than with Anatolian farmers, even if the dominant language group is indo-european (and travelled with the farmers). So we switched a lot of genes back then, along with languages.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 04 Feb 2011 #permalink