Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas conference

Last week it was the time of the Department's traditional Christmas conference, an occasion to either discuss important recent issues or developments or present current research at the Department at Stockholm. This time we selected few presented our current research projects. I myself was discussing defining group identities whereas the other topics were varied both chronologically and geographically. Sadly, there were few cancellations, but I am sure we will hear about Ann-Louise Schallin's research in Greece or Magnus Enquist's ideas about evolutionary transitions at a later stage. Maybe in the next Christmas conference.

A few of the presentations were discussing the current DNA work in the laboratories. These presentations included Aikaterini Glykou's many studies on Baltic seals in the mid- and late Holocene. Her and her collaborators many methods include also DNA studies. Naturally, Anders Götherström presented the surprises from the ATLAS 1 and 2 projects and some idea were the human DNA studies are venturing at Stockholm. In addition, Maja Krewinzka presented a new and exiting project studying the multiple burials from Sigtuna. There was also a short talk on plant DNA: Matti Leino is carrying out some experimental work with charred grains. It will be interesting to see if he will succeed in pointing out the conditions where the DNA could be preserved.

A couple of talks discussed attitudes in the past. To start with, Anders Andrén presented his project on An Archaeology of Absence. This is an ongoing study on the archaeology of disappeared and non-existing Jewish communities in central Europe and Scandinavia. In his talk Arne Jarrick did not touch upon only Annalistic history writing but also gave a retrospect of his whole career as a researcher, from the starting points to the future lines of resarch. Frederik, on the other hand, told us about his project Materiella bilder for which he has just got three-year funding and in which he will try to outline past image programmes from the Bronze Age Mälare area. It was refreshing to hear about the rock carving tradition of central Sweden that is less well known than the southern Scandinavian and Norrland traditions.

Some project were site-based. Jan Storå presented his and Jan Apel's almost finished project from Gotland. Their study of the pioneer settlements show different adaptations for aquatic resources at different kinds of sites. In the other chronological end of the Swedish prehistory was the presentation of Sanby borg - a 5th century ring fort on Öland by Gunilla Eriksson. We learnt about the interesting life and death of this Iron Age site.

Geographically, the most far-flung place was Egypt. Åke Engsheden from our Section of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology was presenting his infrastructure project during which he will create a digital catalogue of Coptic ostraka. His examples presented a reminder of how the humans had very human relations even in the past. A very suited reminder when we all from different Sections of the Department got together in order to hear the diversity and variety of the archaeological research at Stockholm.

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