A couple of weeks ago I went over to Helsinki to meet with Elisabeth Holmqvist Saukkonen and deliver the battle-axe pottery sherds I had selected for analysis (see previous entry). I have primarily selected a few settlement sites in Eastern Central Sweden where the material found seem to exclusively belong to the earliest phase of Battle Axe culture. There are a few of these to be found, especially in this region of Sweden since there was a tradition of moving to a new spot in the landscape after perhaps a couple of generations, possibly connected with slash-and-burn agriculture (though this is conjecture with scant ecological evidence backing up at this point).
The sites I choose are situated in Södermanland (Barrsjö, Dunker parish and Lilla Malma, Hagtorp parish) and Närke (Vallby, Kil parish). I also selected sherds from a couple of Battle Axe burials found at Rötved, Fjälkestad parish in Skåne in the south of Sweden. In addition there are a few Funnel Beaker (TRB) sherds from the settlements included as well, in case we have time to compare them to the battle-axe sherds. It is a remarkably regular occurrence for early Battle Axe sites to be connected with Early Neolithic Funnel Beaker sites – with a 500-600 year gap between them (a subject for another post).
Elisabeth met me on a Saturday at the department, because us academics just don’t know how to separate work day from holiday. She showed me sherds from Finnish Corded Ware sites (e.g. Perkiö, Jönsas etc) that she was currently analysing. She also kindly took the time to show me the samples she cut from the sherds and the images and scans she had done on them, trying to explain the method to me in a manner that I could comprehend. Some of the sherds we are analysing have already been analysed with thin section analysis at the Ceramic Laboratory at Lund University. I find this to be an eminently usable method to study general craft practices and choices in most cases. What the scanning electron microscope can do however, is to really focus on specific spots in the sample, possibly revealing if the clay has been processed. It can also in the case of corded-ware pottery look at the inclusions of grog temper which is crushed brunt clay and/or pottery and potentially see if this deviates from the paste used.
Elisabeth will now continue her series of analysis on the Swedish sherds and hopefully we will have something of interest to present at the EMAC conference in Padua in September.