Three weeks with the skeletons

One of the individuals examined and sampled from.

I’ve spent the last three weeks in Trondheim and this post will be a quick summary of what happened. The purpose of being in Trondheim was to examine the skeletal material and to collect bone and teeth samples for DNA and isotope analyses.

Firstly, I want to say that I’m greatfull that Vitenskapsmuseet had decided to employ a person to assist with the work. Charles Utvik was easy to work with and as we shared the work between us, doing different tasks simultaneously, we managed to work very efficiently. If I would have had to do it on my own (as I originally thought) I am sure the work would have taken at least two weeks longer. It should also be said that having company also made the work more enjoyable.

Some of the teeth were too worn to be sampled from. This photo shows the right half of a mandible (lower jaw) and as you can see, the crown on first molar (the second tooth from the left) is so worn that there is no enamel left.

During the first week we looked through all the material to make the final decision about what skeletons to include. I ended up with a sample which was pretty much as I had decided on beforehand, but a few changes were made. As it turned out, we only managed to find 98 individuals worth including as opposed to the originally planned 100. This is, however, no major problem. A few of the skeletons also didn’t have all the teeth I wanted, or they were too worn to sample from. This means that I didn’t get a full set of samples from every individual. Although I would have liked a complete dataset, it is no surprise it worked out this way. This is basically how it is to work with archaeological material. This is also no real problem, it’s just a matter of working around these issues when doing the analyses.



The following two weeks were spent taking bone and teeth samples. All the DNA samples were taken during the second week, while the samples for the isotope analyses were taken during the last week.

Every skeleton was photographed to document what samples had been taken.

The containers with the samples were carefully labeled.














Bjørn Frengstad next to the water collector at NGU.

I also visited NGU when I was in Trondheim. Bjørn Frengstad has been collecting precipitation samples each month since January, and will continue for the rest of the year. I picked up the water samples for the first five months and they will be shipped off to the GNS Science laboratory in a few days.









The three cardboard boxes containing the bone and teeth samples.


When the work was finished, all the samples were securely packed and made ready for being shipped to Bergen.








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Immigration and mobility in mediaeval and post-mediaeval Norway
Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen

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