Monday 21 December 2015

Help welcome in cleaning neolithic excavation finds 9-10.1.2016 at Heureka

The cleaning and sorting of last summers neolithic excavation finds from Vantaa Jokiniemi will take place at Science Centre Heureka on Saturday and Sunday 9-10.1.2016 from 10-16. This is an excellent opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with a multitude of different types of neolithic stone age finds!

Picture from the 2015 cleaning session at Heureka.

No previous experience about cleaning and sorting excavation finds is required. All cleaning equipment and other materials are supplied by Heureka. The event is free of charge!

Comb ceramic potsherds from the excavations.

Please note that on Saturday (9.1) 16-17 PM there will also be a lecture about the 2015 excavation results (Jan Fast).

Wednesday 16 December 2015

First real case in Latvia where grave looters have been brought to justice!

It seems that some justice has finally been done in Latvia where grave robbing and illegal metal detecting is a huge problem! 

The Alūksne District Court in Latvia sentenced grave robbers who plundered a Late Iron Age cemetary in  NE Latvia in April 2016 in search for antiques.  The men were sentenced to 160 hours of forced labor each. This is the first time that a court sentence of this kind has been proclaimed in Latvia. 

According to personal communication with Latvian archaeologist Arturs Tomsons "This is the first time when grave looters in Latvia are brought to, at least, some kind of justice."

Link to the news annoncement (in Latvian)

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Traces of viruses found in the DNA of Finnish Second World War casualities

Graves of fallen soldiers in Tiiksi (Karelia). Photo SA-kuva.

"DNA in human skeletal remains represents an important historical source of host genomic information and potentially of infecting viruses. However, little is known about viral persistence in bone. We searched ca. 70-year-old long bones of putative Finnish casualties from World War II for parvovirus B19 (B19V) DNA, and found a remarkable prevalence of 45%. The viral sequences were exclusively of genotypes 2 (n = 41), which disappeared from circulation in 1970´s, or genotype 3 (n = 2), which has never been reported in Northern Europe. Based on mitochondrial and Y-chromosome profiling, the two individuals carrying B19V genotype 3 were likely from the Soviet Red Army. The most recent common ancestor for all genotypes was estimated at early 1800s. This work demonstrates the forms of B19V that circulated in the first half of the 20th century and provides the first evidence of the suitability of bone for exploration of DNA viruses.

The bones had remained in the battlefields of Karelia district, near the border of Finland and Russia at the time of WWII. The climate in this region comprises four divergent seasons, with sub-zero temperatures and snow-cover during winter and long day lengths (≤20 hrs) during summer. The soil is generally acidic, with regional and micro-scale variations. The remains were initially considered Finnish in origin based on visual inspection of vestiges of military uniforms, ID tags or personal belongings1 under the coordination of the Association for Cherishing the Memory of the Dead of the War. DNA extracts of altogether 106 bone samples from WWII casualties were obtained from the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki."

Toppinen, M. et al. Bones hold the key to DNA virus history and epidemiology. Sci. Rep. 5, 17226; doi: 10.1038/srep17226 (2015).

See also

Thursday 26 November 2015

25-26.11.2015 Lecturing about community archaeology

I love lecturing about ARCHAEOLOGY. But this time I felt like it almost got the best of me ;)

Very different atmospheres, very different spaces far away from each other both mentally and geographically and only 24 hours to do it... A challenge indeed, at least if you try to take in the audience and give it your best (and add the very short time of daylight in Finland this time of year).

First off was Hanko S Finland "Hangö Brankis"  where I was awarded a grant (for 2015) from Spabanksstiftelsen i Hangö for my conflict archaeology project of the German WWII camp in Tulliniemi. The welcome was overwhelmingly friendly with some 200 people participating.

As I had to prepare for my upcomng lecture in the town hall (an hour later) I was not able to participate for more than half an hour. I really would have liked to stayed to watch the program but...

"Hangö Brankis"

Lecture one in Hanko (Hangös stadshus Foajén) was for a very motivated group of some 50 locals (in Finnish) about the conflict archaeology of "Deutsches Lager Hanko". Two hours passed by in a flash with great discussions afterwards. Then a two hour drive home back to Espoo in the dark and (early) bedtime at 24hrs.

Hangö stadshus "Foajén".

The next morning I woke up at 06 a.m. and headed for Helsinki city centre  and the University of Helsinki were I was expected to hold  lecture about Science Education and Community Archaeology. Professor Hannu Salmi welcomed me in the wonderful late 19th century Auditorium.

Helsinki University (Pengerkatu 1)

To my great surprise university students just kept coming and coming, finally filling the whole Auditorium (some 150 places), a lot more than I had expected! After professor Salmi´s almost 90 minute lecture it was my time to hit the stage in front of a a somewhat stressed out croud. The original seats in the very old auditorium are from "h-ll".

Science Centre Education in HEUREKA.

Not at all prepared for such a large academic audience I really had to "go for it" in the beginning but after about 20 minutes I felt I got contact and at the end of my presentation we finally had some lovely constructive discussions with the students. Phew... :)

Clay Idols (and Conflict Archaeology) with University students.

Home again after all this, feeling good. "Learning by Doing"...  Me too :)

Friday 13 November 2015

Planned community archaeology digs in 2016!

A few community archaeology digs are already planned for 2016! No previous knowledge of archaeology or fieldwork is required! More info as things progress. The number of participants/day is limited. Letters of interest are most welcome  email !

Raseborg Malmkulla 16-22.5.2016.

Trial excavation of an early comb ceramic dwelling site (ca 3900 BC) near the town centre in Karis SW Finland. . Organizers are probably Karis Musei- och Hembygdsförening and Sällskapet Natura and possibly local shools and other local institutions.

Ka I:2 pottery of the same type found during the earlier small scale excavations of the Malmkulla site by archaeologist Anja Sarvas in 1979.

"Deutsches Lager Hanko" 27.6-17.7.2016.

Conflict archaeological excavation of the former German WWII transition camp in Hanko, Tulliniemi. Arranger Hangö Sommaruniversitet.

The excavation in Hanko is probably the largest community archaeology excavation in S Finland in 2016!

Monday 9 November 2015

Jokiniemi 2015 revisited

Finally,  it´s time to start sorting and cleaning last summers amazing finds from the neolithic dig in Jokiniemi, Vantaa S. Finland!

The cleaning and sorting of the finds  will take place during two days (a weekend) in december 2015 at HEUREKA the Finnish Science Centre. All participants will be informed about the event in the very near future!

It´s time to meet Your wonderful findings once again and give them the perfect clean.


Wednesday 4 November 2015

Tomorrow it´s back to "Deutsches Lager Hanko" again

This time the visit is about tourism, safety of visitors participating  on guided tours on site, and the WWII heritage of the German transition camp in Hanko in general. I would like to add the question of ethics when organized guided tours of the area are being planned. What is the history we would like to put forward to the visitors and what are the relevant questions that need to be addressed before putting a guided tour together.

German Gebirgsjäger in Hanko in 1944. Photo SA-kuva.

From the start of my conflict archaeology project in Hanko I have emphasized the need to reach out and to give the general public access to all the data that the project might bring. The idea has all the time been to involve schools and local institutions in the work to uncover their WWII heritage.

Excavating Deutsches Lager Hanko with history enthusiasts. Photo Japo Knuutila.

The town of Hanko has been very supportive to the idea from the very beginning, an exhibition displaying the finds from the excavations will be shown in Hanko in 2018 among other happenings commemorating the dramatic WWII history in the area. I´m very hopeful we can reach an agreement on how to present the remains of the camp to the general public, safety first.

German troop carriers, carrying German soldiers back to the Reich on so called "Heimaturlaub". Photo SA-kuva.

I will post fresh phtos of the site tomorrow!

Monday 26 October 2015

Back from the 7th Baltic Archaeological Seminar BASE-7 in Latvia

Home again after three days of lectures in Latvia. It was so much fun meeting all the wonderful people from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland. Not a single uninteresting lecture or session!! A big thanks to every single one of you for making this an event to remember <3 :).

The visit was especially rewarding for me personally as (with the help of the arrangers) I was able to visit the superb stone age sites of Purciems and Gipka on the last day of the seminar. It was in this area that anthropomorphical clay figurines very similar to those found in Vantaa Jokiniemi were discovered by Latvian archaeologists E. Sturms and I. Loze in the 20th century.

Happy archaeologist on the neolithic dune settlement site of Purciems, Latvia. Photo Gabriele Gutaitiene.

We also visited the dramatic find site of a large bronze age hoard on the beach near the harbour town of Ventspils.

 Ventspils beach, nearby the place were a large bronze-age hoard was found in 2001.

On the way to the find site.

We also visted the fantastic museum housed in the restored castle in Ventspils. There is a very neat archaeology exhibition in the castle!

Sunday 11 October 2015

Deutsches Lager Hanko 11.10.2015

This was the final day of the excavation of the site in 2015. Icy roads on the way south and -2 C when I reached Hanko at 09.00 am. During the day the temperature gradually rose to about +4 degrees  C.

Many nice finds this day too :). A couple of them illustrating the Finnish-German "Waffenbruderschaft".

This Finnish Spoon-Fork item was found buried deep down in the German dump. The date on it correlates with other dated finds from the site.

Int. (19)42

The other finds consisted of bottles, cartridges, coins, smoking utensils, tubes etc. etc. This nice medicine bottle can be attributed to E. Merck Darmstadt.

I will be updating more of the finds as I clean them during the next couple of weeks!

Final day of the 2015 field season, thanks

to the ever so changing Finnish summer weather. I will post an overview of this fantastic field season in the next couple of days.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank each and everyone of you who participated in my digs (there were 222 of You in all). Hope to see you all again in 2016!

Thanks to all the devoted archaeology students from Helsinki University dpt of archaeology. Olli, Nelli, Janne, Anu and Jimena <3. Not forgetting Max, Enni and Tuomas. Swedish archaeologist Anders Wikström helped me out while things looked bad with my foot in Hanko in  june.

Thank You to all the arrangers. Heureka, Uniarts, Karis Musei- och Hembygdsförening, Sällskapet Natura, Karis-Billnäs Gymnasium, Ekenäs Gymnasium, Kimito Vuxeninstitut, Hangö Gymnasium and  Hankoniemen Lukio.

Thanks to the NBA (especially Teija and Satu). Thank you City of Vantaa, Kimitoön, Raseborg and Hanko. Vantaa City Museum (Andreas Koivisto) and Hanko Museum (Laura Lotta Andersson).

Thanks for the much needed financial support to Sparbanksstiftelsen i Hangö, Vetenskapsådet (Sweden), Svenska Kulturfonden and Kulturfonden för Sverige och Finland.

Finally a big thanks to my sponsor Leica Geosystems for helping me out in Jokiniemi. Looking forward to 2016 already.

Best from Jan&Jan and Japo.

Saturday 10 October 2015

Gebirgsjäger pin, pipes and bottles and more

Excavating the last layers we rather surprisingly ran into a multitude of different objects (again). Combs, rifle shell casings, bottles and pipes, only to name a few. The single most beautful thing so far must be a gilded Gebirgsjäger pin with a pickaxe and an Edelweiss (to the right). The pin is missing it´s needle, it´s 3 cm:s in length.

 Gebirgsjäger, Edelweiss pin.

What was particularly great about this beautiful find was that it was found by the youngest participant of the day in a totally whole and untouched context. He also found some wonderfully preserved wine bottles!

German wine bottles.


Tomorrow we will round up this years excavations. Kinda sad really but as soon as the snow melts next spring we will be back ad this time with at least a full one month scientific archaeological excavation!

Friday 9 October 2015

A friday well spent digging under clear autumn skies

Ruska over the "Ukrainerlager".

Today I supervised the digging by a group of students from Ekenäs Gymnasium. The finds were once again excellent and covered a wide variety of objects including the first Sovjet related item (a green enamel mug). The German finds consisted of bottles, different boxes (soap bx and an aluminium container for shoe polish), an aluminium mug and different articles related to personal hygiene such as a razor handle.

 Sovjet enamel mug, by the location of the find this could have been used by one of the Ukrainian prisoners of war.

 The inside of a standard German soldiers soap box.

 An aluminium mug.

Razor handle.

While we were excavating archaeology student Anu Varjo and amateur archaeologist Esa Kukkola continued and completed the documentation of the barracks in the "Entlausungsdorf". A very good day indeed. 

"Sauna, Entlausungsdorf".

Tomorrow we will continue the excavations of the western part of the WWII German transition camp.
Different sizes of German food ration cans lined up to be counted and measured.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Documenting the buildings of "Deutsches Lager Hanko"

Trial excavations.

Not so much digging today but instead we concentrated on the documentation of the "Baracke"  in the "Entlausungsdorf" area of the camp. The documentation is part of the scientific research of the surviving buildings of the camp.

The general idea is to study which parts of the buildings have survived in an original state after their construction in 1942/1943. We chose the "Heeres Betriebstoff 64 Baracke" as starting point as it appeared to be the best preserved one of the "Baracke" in the area.

HBK 64 Baracke, Entlausungsorf 8.11.2015.

HBK 64 Baracke, Entlausungsorf, detail.

HBK 64 Baracke, Entlausungsorf, detail.

When looking more closely at the largest of the buildings several later modifications and additions to the buildings could easily be detected. For instance in the largest building in the area the roof had been raised and original window openings closed.

There used to be a window here...

A new window has been inserted in one of the barracks.

The sauna seems to be the most authentic of all the buildings in the area with only very minor modifications having been made  since 1944 :).

Sauna, roof detail.