Viking Age Relics Are Being Destroyed For Recycling

The following has been poorly translated from Swedish to English, but the situation at hand is clear.


Distorted market thinking causes archeologists to destroy objects from the Viking era. How are the politicians responsible for Sweden's cultural heritage thinking?

Samtidigt that the debate about the burning of books is raging in the media throws Swedish archaeologists amulettringar and other ancient antiquities. It feels wrong and sad to destroy thousands of years of ritual arts and crafts, and I'm not alone in feeling so.

This is a personally written text. Any views expressed are the writer's own.

"What you do is to waste our story! Says Johan Runer, archaeologist at Stockholm County Museum.

Amulet rings from the Iron Age, like Viking weights and coins, belong to the kind of bargain that, as far as Runer knows, was previously always saved.

He tried to make an alarm in a debate article in the journal Popular Archeology (No. 4/2016), showing how arbitrary thinning occurred. Especially in archeological studies before construction and road projects, the focus is on quickly and cheaply removing the heritage so that the machine tools can handle.

It's quite crazy, but this industry has had a marketplace. We play business.

He works for himself in this kind of excavations. Nobody in the exposed archeology industry wants to get reputation as an uncomfortable "bargain" but now he can not be quiet anymore.

"It's quite crazy, but this industry has had a marketplace. We are playing business, says Runer.

Often, especially in the case of minor excavations, it is a standing order from the county administrative boards that as few discoveries as possible should be taken.

If you think it seems unlikely, I recommend reading the National Archives Office's open archive, such as report 2016: 38. An archaeological preamble of settlement of bronze and iron age before rebuilt by Flädie on the E6 outside Lund.

In the bargain table, coins, knives, ornamental ink, a ring and a weight from the Viking Age or early Middle Ages have been placed in the column "Gallrade".

Just about the weights and weights, research is going on, "says Lena Holmquist, archaeologist at Stockholm University, focusing on the Viking era.

But that puzzle piece is gone.

At another digging in the millennial cultural village Molnby in Vallentuna, several amulet rings were dropped from the Iron Age. Amulet rings were ritual items used during the Vendel and Viking times.

Johan Anund, Regional Director of the Company Archaeologists at the State Historical Museums who made the thinning, say archaeologists at all times have to make priorities for not drowning in objects.

It is the county boards that make procurement of archaeological companies to carry out archaeological investigations. An easy way to lower the cost is to reduce the number of items to be preserved.

Ceramics require no preservation and are usually saved. However, iron and metal must be treated after perhaps a thousand years in the field. So if the company puts in its bid funds for conserving two metal objects but finding twelve then they have to throw ten. In metal recycling.

"It is provocative when in other countries everything is done to preserve the heritage and dare to live for it," says archaeologist Lena Holmquist.

The historical museum now only deals with objects that are preserved.

Gallring already occurs in a field, usually by an individual who will quickly decide: save or throw away? As a result, well-known objects are preserved.

Last year a little sensational little dragon was found in Birka. It looked the most like a rustle when it was taken up, but the archaeologists in Birka belong to the few who have time and space to research. On a missionary archaeological digging, the dragon would probably have been thrown.

"It is provocative when in other countries everything is done to preserve the heritage and dare to live for it," says Lena Holmquist.

Archaeologists do not give away or sell the bargain because they do not want to create a market for antiques and encourage robbers with metal detectors, says Runer. Thus: the bin.

Conclusion: If society no longer believes it can afford to take responsibility for Sweden's history, county councils should stop builders and developers from ancient civilizations. One alternative is to stop outsourcing the cultural heritage to the lowest bidder with the largest waste bin.

Now the question is what the riksantikvarie Lars Amréus, or the cultural minister, is thinking about? They are responsible for the cultural heritage of Sweden and the destruction of history takes place during their shift.