Levänluhta jewellery links Finland to a European exchange network

Our results, the first-ever lead isotope (LI) analysis of copper-based archaeological artefacts found in the region of Finland, have received national and international media coverage.

Eight metal objects recovered from the Iron Age water burial site of Levänluhta in western Finland were analysed via multi collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) and portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) in order to attain geochemical and LI data. The majority of the objects are Merovingian period (ca. 550–800 CE) jewellery, displaying domestic Iron Age artefact styles, and were probably cast by local workshops in Finland.  Comparisons between the LI data of the analysed objects and published ore databases exclude the possibility of a domestic or Scandinavian copper source for the metals. Instead, it appears
likely that the copper originated from southern European ores. The metals were transported for long distances, and it appears that the pan-European metal circulation network also crossed the Baltic Sea to reach coastal Finland.

Holmqvist, E., A. Wessman, I. Mänttäri and Y. Lahaye 2019. Lead isotope and geochemical analyses of copper-based metal artefacts from the Iron Age Water burial in Levänluhta, Western Finland. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.05.019

New book published on Byzantine and Islamic ceramic traditions in southern Jordan and Israel

My new book entitled Ceramics in Transition: Production and Exchange of Late Byzantine – Early Islamic pottery in Southern Transjordan and the Negev is published by Archaeopress, Oxford and available both in print and open access.

This book is based on my work in the field of Near Eastern archaeology and especially on Byzantine and early Islamic ceramic assemblages excavated in southern Jordan and Israel. This book presents geochemical and microscopic analyses of pottery finds from Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid period contexts (c. 6th–9th centuries CE) from five archaeological sites, representing different socio-economic contexts: the Jabal Harûn monastery, the village of Khirbet edh-Dharih, the port city of ‘Aqaba/Aila, the town of Elusa in the Negev, and the suburban farmstead of Abu Matar.

This ceramic finds were typo-chronologically categorised and subjected to geochemical and micro-structural characterisation via X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (ED-XRF) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDS) to geochemically ‘fingerprint’ the sampled ceramics and to identify production clusters, manufacturing techniques, ceramic distribution patterns, and material links between rural-urban communities as well as religious-secular communities.

The ceramic data demonstrate economic wealth continuing into the early Islamic periods in the southern regions, ceramic exchange systems, specialized manufacture and inter-regional, long-distance ceramic transport. The potters who operated in the southern areas in the formative stages of the Islamic period reformulated their craft to follow new influences diffusing from the Islamic centres in the north.

Travelling pots (and potters?) across the Baltic Sea in the Neolithic period

News links on my recent research project on Neolithic Corded Ware Culture in the Baltic Sea region, funded by the Academy of Finland. The results were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science:

Holmqvist, E., Å. Larsson, A. Kriiska, P. Pesonen, V. Palonen, P. Kouki and J. Räisänen 2018. Tracing grog and pots to reveal Neolithic Corded Ware Culture contacts in the Baltic Sea Region (SEM-EDS, PIXE), Journal of Archaeological Science 91: 77–91.

Read more in English at Science Daily and in Finnish at YLE web.