Tag Archives: experimental archaeology

Burning rock! An update for German-speaking readers

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 following the video. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash is, sadly, obviously not for all! In this post there is a link to another version of the video, this time without good old Johnny. And there is more for my German-speaking readers; link to a recent article in Spiegel Online, based on my original story. The fire setting experiments were carried out within the Melsvik archaeological rescue project/excavations, headed by Anja Roth Niemi of the University Museum at Tromsø Continue reading

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

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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Experimental archaeology: The traditional way of quarrying soapstone

Experimental archaeology in old building stone quarries is a rare activity. But not so for Norwegian stone carver Eva Stavsøien. She asked herself how soapstone was extracted in the Middle Ages. Bringing handmade pickaxes, she went to an abandoned quarry … Continue reading

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