Category Archives: Ruins

Geoarchaeology of the famous ancient amethyst mines in Wadi el-Hudi, Egypt: Desert heritage at risk

This fall I joined the Wadi el-Hudi expedition to the famous Middle Kingdom amethyst gemstone mines in the Eastern Desert south-east of Aswan. The expedition is led by Dr. Kate Liszka of California State University San Bernardino (US), and over the last few seasons it has excavated and documented the ancient mining settlements in very high detail. My task was to take a closer look at the geoarchaeology – to try and understand relationships between geology and mining. It is hugely important to document what is left, for the ancient mining area is now at high risk from looting, modern gold mining and stone quarrying. Continue reading

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Happy New Year! With a cavalcade of images from 2015

I wish to thank my clients, partners, colleagues and followers of my website for a fine year! The very best to you all for 2016! With a cavalcade of images, I would like to recapitulate a few 2015 events. First of all, I was finally able to finish my book on the history of stone quarries, which was published jointly by The Restoration Workshop of Nidaros Cathedral and the Geological Survey of Norway. But my work took me to many parts of Norway, from a Mesolithic quartz quarry near Arendal, deep down south, to the fascinating rock art at Alta, far in the north. Though I was not able to visit Egypt last year, I’m still publishing papers on the geoarchaeology of desert quarries down there, together with good colleagues. Read on! Continue reading

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

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 … Continue reading

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

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), hardly accessible, 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? – With photo gallery. Continue reading

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Alpine heritage impressions from a summer in Grisons (Graubünden, Switzerland)

Grisons – or in German Graubünden – is the largest canton in Switzerland, in the middle of the Alps, bordering Italy and Austria. It is renowned for its magnificent nature and countless medieval castle ruins. But Grisons has a truly … Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Old mines, Old quarries, Rock art, Ruins, Switzerland | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Standing at the edge of the abyss: The castle ruin at Cartatscha in Graubünden (Switzerland)

Working as a conservation scientist I care for cultural heritage. My “problem” is that I’m also interested in the history of decay, including catastrophic events; just these phenomena that turn old masonry to rubble. But I’ve never seen it “live” … Continue reading

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The Mauerzahn at Grünenfels castle ruin (CH) revisited after massive snowfall

Ten days ago winter arrived in the Swiss Alps with massive snowfall. Subsequent temperature increase and intensive rainfall led to major floods, avalanches and destruction of infrastructure such as villages and roads. Such events sometimes also affect old buildings and … Continue reading

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Impressions from summer fieldwork in Norway

Over the last few weeks I’ve been back in Norway for projects on conservation of medieval castle ruins, as well as on provenance of medieval and more modern building stone. Here are some impressions!*

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A Mauerzahn at Grünenfels castle ruin (CH): Surviving 2011?

Switzerland has a wealth of medieval castle ruins. In the Canton of Graübunden they are particularly numerous with, for example, the valley of Vorderrheintal (Surselva) displaying no less than about 50 ruins. Some are almost gone, others are kept in … Continue reading

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Stone weathering at the westernmost coast of Norway

As probably one of only very few monuments globally, the ruined Selja medieval abbey off the westernmost coast of Norway is built from a metamorphic olivine stone (dunite) rich in talc. The combination of a hard olivine matrix and soft … Continue reading

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