Jakten på steinbruddene til middelalderens kirke og kloster på Hovedøya ved Oslo

Ruinene av Edmundsirken og en del av det middelalderske klosterkomplekset på Hovedøya. Foto: Per Storemyr

Ruinene av Edmundsirken og en del av det middelalderske klosterkomplekset på Hovedøya. Foto: Per Storemyr

I et aldeles praktfullt sensommervær var jeg siste uke Riksantikvarens utskremte på jakt etter de gamle steinbruddene som ble brukt til å bygge Edmundskirken og cistercienserklosteret på Hovedøya i Oslofjorden. Flere har gjort det samme før meg, men nå var det meningen å virkelig få kartfestet de gamle bruddene, og å prøve å tolke hvordan steinarbeidet kan ha vært organisert i gamle dager. Continue reading

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Moving to work with the Norwegian Millstone Centre at Hyllestad in West Norway

Torbjørn Løland showing one of the  millstone quarries in Hyllestad, at Otringsneset just by the fjord. Photo by Per  Storemyr

Torbjørn Løland showing one of the millstone quarries in Hyllestad, at Otringsneset just by the fjord. Photo by Per Storemyr

Suddenly it reached the local press, and so the news became very official: Our family will move from Switzerland to Hyllestad in West Norway by the end of July this year. This is not a move to just any kind of place, but to the little community far west in Norway that holds one of Europe’s largest and most long-lived millstone quarry landscapes, and the outdoor heritage museum Norwegian Millstone Centre (Norsk Kvernsteinsenter). Continue reading

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New paper: Ancient desert and quarry roads at Aswan

The Roman "el-Deir" road heading out from the West Bank at Aswan. It bypasses the whole First Cataract of the Nile and joins the preserved Roman roads in Lower Nubia. Photo: Per Storemyr

The Roman “el-Deir” road heading out from the West Bank at Aswan. It bypasses the whole First Cataract of the Nile and joins the preserved Roman roads in Lower Nubia. Photo: Per Storemyr

The long-awaited book on Desert Road Archaeology in Ancient Egypt and Beyond finally seems to be here! Edited by Frank Förster and Heiko Riemer of Cologne University, and with 25 individual contributions, it is the yet most complete survey of ancient desert roads in Egypt. My own contribution to the book is written with Elizabeth Bloxam, Tom Heldal and Adel Kelany; a chapter on the amazing ancient roads at the west bank of the Nile at Aswan, in the First Cataract region. We review the area’s complex network of long-distance Pharaonic and Roman roads, more recent camel trails, and not least the best-preserved quarry roads in Egypt; the 20 km paved and cleared network from the “quartzite” quarries at Gebel Gulab and Gebel Tingar. Read extended abstract, view paper at academia.edu, see maps and view image gallery! Continue reading

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Happy New Year with a cavalcade of stone images from 2013

Norway: My favorite quarry, a small gneiss quarry used for the Selja medieval monastery at the westernmost part of the country. From fieldwork with the Directorate for Cultural Heritage of Norway, Photo: Per Storemyr.

Norway: My favorite quarry, a small gneiss quarry used for the Selja medieval monastery at the westernmost part of the country. From fieldwork with the Directorate for Cultural Heritage of Norway, Photo: Per Storemyr.

I want to thank my readers for following my blog in 2013. Happy New Year to you all!

I really do appreciate your loyalty and I hope to be able to write more articles for you about stone – about quarries, monuments and rock art – in 2014 than I did in 2013. In the year that is soon coming to an end I had to focus on various projects and writing for other media than the internet. Many of the great places that I visited and worked at in 2013 may certainly turn up in future blog posts, so I hope you will continue to follow my writings in 2014. As for now, here’s a cavalcade of images from some of the quarries, monuments and rock art sites that touched me over the past twelve months. They span all of history from the Mesolithic to the Early Modern era. Enjoy the slide show! Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Norway, Old quarries, Rock art, Switzerland | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Burning rock! An update for German-speaking readers

Cracked chert from fire setting. Photo: Per Storemyr

Cracked chert from fire setting. Photo: Per Storemyr

Recently I posted a preliminary report on our successful experiments with fire setting in the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries in Northern Norway. For some curious reason German-speaking readers were not able to watch the attached video of the experiments, perhaps due to country-specific copyright infringements related to the music in the video. Sadly, “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash is obviously not for all! But here’s another version of the video, this time without good old Johnny: Burning Rock. Experiments with fire setting (without music). Continue reading

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Burning rock! Experiments with fire setting at the Stone Age Melsvik chert quarries in Northern Norway

Bonfires to crack up stone in the Melsvik chert quarry. Photo: Per Storemyr

Bonfires to crack up stone in the Melsvik chert quarry. Photo: Per Storemyr

In the Melsvik Stone Age chert quarries near Alta in Northern Norway there are dozens of extraction marks that are difficult to explain by other ancient techniques than fire setting. Hence within the Melsvik archaeological project, run by the University Museum of Tromsø, last week we experimented with fire in order to substantiate that it actually formed an important method of breaking loose small and big pieces of stone. The idea was that it is not necessary with big fires and high temperatures, but that small, controlled “bonfires” are enough to create high shear stress and cracking. In this way high temperatures greatly reducing the quality of the chert for tool making are avoided. It works! Here’s a preliminary report with video. Continue reading

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New paper on the unique Epipalaeolithic geometric rock art at el-Hosh, Upper Egypt

The unique geometric rock art motif at location ATB 14 at el-Hosh in Upper Egypt. Photos: Per Storemyr

The unique geometric rock art motif at location ATB 14 at el-Hosh in Upper Egypt. Photos: Per Storemyr

A year ago Dirk Huyge and I published a paper in the Sahara journal on a unique rock art “masterpiece” found among the Epipalaeolithic “geometric” (c. 5-9000 BC) assemblage at el-Hosh in Upper Egypt. Recently, we published another version of the discovery in Ancient Egypt Magazine. Continue reading

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Would you have liked to live here, at Kropfenstein medieval cave castle?

Pinned to the cliff: Kropfenstein medieval cave castle. Photo: Per Storemyr

Pinned to the cliff: Kropfenstein medieval cave castle. Photo: Per Storemyr

Switzerland is renowned for its castles and castle ruins, remnants of the feudal Middle Ages. A time when we may not have wanted to live! At least not as common people. But sometimes we may question whether life was much better for the nobility, for society’s elite. Take a look at the remains of Kropfenstein castle, pinned to a vertical cliff in Surselva (Grisons), difficult to access, away from the nearest village. Great place for a special holiday, you might think – but would you have liked to reside here, year in, year out? Continue reading

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An update after months of inactivity at my website

Overgrown quarry pits and raised spoil heaps in the old Riniken millstone quarry landscape by Brugg in Canton Aargau, Switzerland. Photo: Per Storemyr

Overgrown quarry pits and raised spoil heaps in the old Riniken millstone quarry landscape by Brugg in Canton Aargau, Switzerland. Photo: Per Storemyr

I’ve been busy over the last several months and so little has happened at the blog and website of my firm. A simple equation may provide a good explanation: Family and kids + professional responsibilities = no blogging! The first part of the equation ought to be pretty obvious. As regards the second part this is probably evident, too: Suddenly finding yourself confronted with deadlines and tenders! Continue reading

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The little-known archaeology of Gharb Aswan, Upper Egypt

Aerial view of the First Nile Cataract in 1936. The Old Aswan Dam in front, by then tiny Aswan City top right and the desert at Gharb Aswan at left. Source: Library of Congress.

Aerial view of the First Nile Cataract in 1936. The Old Aswan Dam in front, by then tiny Aswan City at top right and the desert at Gharb Aswan to the left. Source: Library of Congress. Image enhanced.

Gharb Aswan – or West Aswan – is the home to some 50.000 Nubian peoples on the west bank of the Nile, by the first cataract opposite the city of Aswan. Among archaeologists and tourists the area is renowned for the Tombs of the Nobles at Qubbet el-Hawa and the Coptic St. Simeon’s monastery, both on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But Gharb Aswan is much more than this, for here it is possible to follow human interaction with the landscape for millennia, almost throughout the history of humankind. With a focus on the unique stone working traditions, here’s a synopsis of the “unknown” archaeology of this beautiful desert area – with slideshow, map, bibliography and an overview of missions that have worked here. Continue reading

Posted in Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Old quarries, Rock art | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments