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Earlier research

The research previously conducted on the Alvastra pile dwelling is described and made, in part,  digitally accessible here.


Hans Browall’s two books in Swedish on the Alvastra pile dwelling are the key publications for understanding the site. They contain comprehensive literature lists (2011: 422-432; 2016:169-173). The earlier book includes work on the pile dwelling, which is not referred to in Browall’s text, but which is associated with Mats P. Malmer’s project. This literature is marked by the term projektanknytning, i.e. project association in square brackets.


Where it has been possible to acquire copyright, some of the key published research on the pile dwelling has been made digitally accessible on this platform (chapter).  Other key research is already available online and links are presented here.

In his book on the Neolithic of South Sweden Mats P. Malmer included a nine-page special section on the pile dwelling (Malmer 2002). This is a concise summary of the pile dwelling in English, the last work on the site from the director of the 1976-1980 excavations.

Ebba During, osteologist at the Osteological Research Laboratory until her death in 2007, has published the assemblage of animal bones from the pile dwelling. Her book, The fauna of Alvastra. An osteological analysis of animal bones from a Neolithic pile dwelling, was her PhD thesis published in English in 1986 as a supplement in volume 12 of Ossa, the journal of the Osteological Research Laboratory (During 1986).  During studied primarily material from the Eastern trench. Ebba During also made a study of the human skull from Otto Frödin’s excavations, publishing her analysis in several articles. One of them is available here (During 1993). At the time of her death, During together with  Mats P. Malmer and Hans Browall was making a study of the human remains at the pile dwelling (Browall 2016:137f). The results of her work are available in a manuscript in Swedish here.

Birgitta Hulthén was involved in Mats P. Malmer’s excavation project and she made a specialist study of the ceramics from the site, focussing mainly on ceramic technology (Hulthén 1998). The study was published in English in a monograph series of the Museum of National Antiquities in 1998.

Hans Göransson was also part of Mats P. Malmer’s project. Hans Browall’s list of publications directly associated with the 1970s pile dwelling project includes twelve titles from the pen of the paleobotanist, Hans Göransson, seven of which are in English. Two are monographs and ten are articles in various journals or conference proceedings (Browall 2011:426). Here we present one of the monographs published in 1995. It is a study of the macrofossils from Mats P. Malmer’s excavations at the site. This monograph also contains Geoffrey Lemdahl’s study of the insect remains at the site and Birgitta Johansson’s work on the sub-fossil molluscs which are both published here.

Thomas Bartholin is the dendrochronologist who has studied the piles and wood samples from the pile dwelling. He constructed the floating chronology of 42 years on the basis of 180 oak piles. Hans Browall’s literature list figures seven articles on the dendrochronology of Alvastra pile dwelling (Browall 2011:423). One article is published in Fornvännen 1978 (Bartholin 1978). Another article published nine years later in the BAR International Series, is digitally available here (Bartholin 1987).  According to the publishers there are plans to make all the BAR journals available digitally during the second quarter of 2020. Here is a link to their website.  (mail from Birgit Thaller, BAR publishing July 2019).

In 2017 Nathalie Hinders published an article in the journal Fornvännen which is a direct result of her work on the ceramics of the pile dwelling in the present project. It contains a description of pottery decorating tools found at the site and a discussion on the function of pottery at Alvastra.

The following references cited on this page have no web links:

Browall, H., 2011. Alvastra pålbyggnad, 1909-1930 års utgrävningar. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. Handlingar. Antikvariska serien 48. Stockholm.  

Browall, H., 2016. Alvastra pålbyggnad. 1976–1980 års utgrävningar. Västra schaktet. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och antikvitets akademien. Handlingar. Antikvariska serien 52. Stockholm.