Saturday, 23 May 2015

Hanko and WW2 conflict archaeology revisited, 1967 and 2015.

Today me and my parents travelled back in time and visited the places from my childhood and also the childhood of my father (born in 1933). Both of my fathers parents came from Hanko, Finland and during my early childhood we had a whole bunch of relatives there. As a result I spent almost all of my childhood summers in Hanko until the age of 18.

Learning to swim. In the backgroun ar the island of BroLo were heavy fighting took place in 1941 between Finnish and Soviet troops. This was treasure land, mostly off limits for me at the time the picture was taken.

Back then (in the 1960´s and early 1970´s) WW2 was only some 20+ years away and the debris of war, still visible on the surface, made a huge impact on me. Together with the assistance of a few local daredevils (the "Backman brothers") even I "the scared one" endeavored on  many treasure hunting trips, some of them with good results. It was here that I first got into archaeology.

Me and my younger brother Mikael close to "Deutsches Lager Hanko" in 1969. This time enjoying the beach ;)

It sure feels good to be back here again after all those years, and  now, as a professional archaeologist. I can tell you it feels safe and warm too. I hope that my "Deutsches Lager Hanko 1942-1944" project and the "Poetic Archaeology" project will contribute in many ways to the dramatic story of Hanko, it´s people and role in sea traffic, conflict, social history and war... through the ages.

The story we are about to tell is not a totally pleasant one but I feel it has an important role to play in contributing to peace in Finland and  of course also Europe in general. The pedagogic approach and the involving of locals in the project (memory history) has a very high priority too!

A forgotten railroad track in 2015, that once lead from the "Nordfront" to the German 1942-1944 transition camp in Hanko, Finland. 

The 1942-1944 journey starts tomorrow, welcome!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Jokiniemi 2015 dig is just a month away

And things are looking excellent at the moment. Yesterday we visited the site with representatives from the City of Vantaa, Vantaa City Museum and Heureka the Finnish Science Centre. We agreed on extensive co-operation and I would have to say that each and one of us were in an excellent mood. The wonderful spring weather contributed in making the day a perfect one!!

The 2015 excavation area photographed on the 19.5.2015. Green is the color of spring.

This year the excavation boasts a team of 5 archaeology students and one archaeologist (me) leading the whole event. Three more archaeologists will be participating in the excavation as the dig will be of interest for their dissertations. Their research topics include research on early agriculture, stone age graves and the study of food and other remains remains (especially starch) on pottery.

The plan.

The diggers who pay a daily 50 e participation fee will consist partly experienced amateur archaeologists, partly diggers from last year and last but not least many new faces ages 10 and up :). The fee includes a free one day ticket to Heureka worth 19 euros, a free lecture and everything you need to dig (and more). All My lecture to the team will take place on may 28th in the auditorium at Heureka. Soon it´s time for the dig of a lifetime, join us at


The site.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Girl Guides and Boy Scouts are excellent on archaeological excavations

They even camped on the 4300 BC stone-age dwelling site during the excavation! After a cold spring nite all were fit for action on the first excavation day.  The finds were excellent and so were the moods of the participants <3. Thank You so much archaeology student Anu Varjo from Helsinki University dpt of archaeology for helping me yesterday and today.

Scouts camp on a former stone-age dwelling site in Raseborg, SW Finland.

We started excavating the site in a traditional manner with amazing finds of pottery from day one. Other find included numerous fragments of polished stone axes and flakes of quartz and porphyry. We also found large fragments of burnt seal bone and bones from other mammals and possibly birds but no fish bones whatsoever. The potsherds will be subject to chemical analysis, hopefully we will be able to find out what they once contained. Remains of charcoal will be sent for C-14 analysis as well. These are two of the ten or so potsherds that were chosen to be analysed.

 Ka I:2 pottery (ca 4300 BC)


The excavation was carried out in wonderful spring weather. The ages of the participants varied from 11 to 16 years of age. Every one of them were excellent diggers!!!

 Young, but excellent in what they do!

 The crew.


The excavation area is situated on the edge of a sandpit. 6300 years ago this was a sandy beach by the sea. Due to the land upheaval the site is now situated some 30 m. above present sea level!


The dig will continue on june 5th so stay tuned for more pictures. It´s also possible to join us by contacting me over Facebook or by sending an email to jfarchaeology@gmail.com.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Långåmossarna dig video!

This wonderful video was made by Jonas Selenius, one of the students who took part in the "Archaeology class" excavation of the 4300 BC stone-age site @ Långåmossarna in Karis SW Finland. Enjoy!


Thank You so much Jonas! The link to the video is here!



Thursday, 14 May 2015

The role of voluntary assistants vs. professionals and archaeology students on community archaeology digs

When I started working in the field of  community archaeology in Finland in the late 1980´s,  digs were usually either very small or on a very large scale. All the large scale digs were conducted by the National Board of Antiquities and there was no possibility what-so-ever for volunteers to participate. A few of the small scale digs were reserved for "amateurs" working under the watchful eye of one or two "real" archaeologists.


In the 1990´s and the next decade the role of volunteers on digs changed rapidly. Volunteers were participating in more and more digs and many of the participants gradually gained considerable excavation experience. In the early 21st century I personally felt the first negative sides of the "evolution" of community archaeology. At times I felt caught up in the tangled web of friendship of professionalism and volunteers on digs. Occasionally... I felt like I almost lost control of my own excavations.

While preparing for the very big upcoming 2015 dig in Jokiniemi (funded by the Finnish Science Center Heureka) the role of volunteers became an issue with the 50 e daily participation fee. Some of the very experienced volunteer amateur diggers felt that they were needed to make the excavation a successful one (and without paying the mandatory educational fee). This although the excavation already boasted a team of five employed archaeology students and one professional archaeologist to direct and take personal care of the (daily)15 to 20 participants of the dig. 


I feel this situation deserves a serious discussion. Archaeological digs are, and should always be lead and organized by professional archaeologists and assisted by employed archaeology students. The fine line between friendship, professionalism and disaster still remains to be explored. How should we react to experienced volunteers and their claims to be part of the professional archaeological community and their disappointment when they can´t be.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Lecturing about WW2 conflict archaeology in Hanko

Today was a long but exciting 14 hour working day. First archaeological fieldwork and in the evening a lecture about the "Deutsches  Lager Hanko 1942-1944" project in Hanko Finland. Some 50+ people showed up despite the terrible weather. I love Hanko <3 .

Finnish SS men inside DLH in the summer of 1943 and the same spot photographed in 2015.


The "Baracke" in the background photographed by Jan Martti Kaila for "Poetic Archaeology" in 2015.


Monday, 11 May 2015

Långåmossarna stone age dwelling site 4300 BC rescue excavation

We started off slow today, mainly preparing for the dig main dig next weekend and the bigger one that starts in the beginning of june. The Långåmossarna site in itself  is a very  interesting and complex one with finds from the late mesolithic, the early comb ceramic culture, the corded ware culture and possibly even the early bronze age.

The gravel pit is the problem.

The main target of today was a stone-age hearth or refuse pit that was about to be destroyed due to erosion of the edge of the gravel pit. We are in for some very bad weather with heavy rain in the days to come so we concentrated on the documentation of the feature.

 One or two superimposed pits or hearths?

Our work force today consisted of students from Karis-Billnäs Gymnasium. and I have to say the students did an excellent job indeed!!! Not so many finds of course due to the nature of the fieldwork but what a wonderful team! Archeology student Jimena from  Helsinki University dpt of archaeology helped me out with a lot of stuff as always ;).

Student from KBG experiencing a different school day.

Archeology is for everyone, especially in the service of protecting and documenting the prehistoric heritage under threat, as in this case, erosion. 

Archaeology student Jimena "on the edge".