People of the dagger

General statements seldom correspond to local conditions. In Smaaland and Skaane the slab cists seems to have been individual graves mostly. On Dal the cists are single or in pair and spread over the province. They seem to have been made as graveyard for a settlement

Slab cist, Age of the Dagger, boat axe, battle-axe, ritual amulet, sickle, Beltane, ritual fire, May Day, manor of pairs, brotherhood, fellowship, rectangular slab cist, wedge shaped cist, dead-house, ritual bath, grave beer, entrance chamber cist, gable hole, prospecting copper, Alps, Caucasus, green stone, territorial claim, Old World, symbol script, god begotten, rock-carvings

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It seems that the cist fashion generally have been adapted in some regions in Scandinavia while there is few in others. That may depend on the fact that later generations have used the ready made slabs to their churches and houses as foundations and building bricks. Smaller cist and maybe for single burials are found even in Bronze Age and some of them contains only ash in some vessel. In this file I have analysed only the slab cist of Dal.

I remember from my youth in Denmark that they called the time and culture of Evenstorp the Age of the Dagger. In Sweden it was called the "Time of the Slab Cists" but now we should call it Late Neoliticum. I wonder how many in Sweden or elsewhere understand Latin? When I am interpreting ideas and myths I would put The Lady in front as it were those days.

 

These are normal finds in the cists, however daggers and sickles are mostly in pairs. Pieces of pottery are also found in the cists and in front of them like at passage graves. These are from Dal.

One may wonder why they call the boat axe a battle-axe. They do not connect other weapon such as double axes, daggers, baltas and late procession weapons to battle. They shaped a balta like a halberd and it becomes ritual weapon in Scandinavia during Bronze Age. All these were successively ritual weapons just as a reminder that they should protect your land against all evil Mights.

We will never get an answer from our ancestors, so our definitions are some results of our eyes and our imagination. And our story depends on which filters we use in our eyes or which factors we measure or analyses. The objectiveness is depending on how many areas we include in our analysis. The limit is set in how many aspects we may grasp at a time.

Our scientific analysis is totally depending on our attitude and how we define all questions. I have to discuss this since our preconceived ideas are a very frequent cause of wrong conclusions. Too often single evidence is generalised to be significant for the entire field in question. Many scientists want to find evidence that our ancestors were cannibals. And if they find some small evidence all our ancestors everywhere on earth were of the kind. Many Western archaeologists treat their ancestors like a different race.

To me it looks as if someone had made up evidence. It is like asking how many where shot with a pistol in World War II. And then use this as proof that only a few men shoved the guts to meet enemy face to face. To me there is no difference between a cannibal and those who by all other means destroy living conditions. We in last century have killed many of our own species and that is really a sort of cannibalism.

It may be a silly way of proofing our superiority to say that our ancestors were cannibals. I do not know whether in some place at some time there may have been cannibals. Nevertheless, often the methods of proof would not stay in court. If there have been, the interesting question is why they did it and for which purpose and what was the result. Too often single occurrence is made general truth.

The Indians in loving their ancestors show the opposite attitude. They do not want digging in the past. I do not think we ever will understand our ancestors and life without being on the same level and measuring their life with the conditions of those days. I know that our ancestors had the good taste to create a living culture that lasted for millenniums of years. Will our methods be successful for millenniums? I also know a lot of things about rituals. Friendly humanism in rituals and custom are plenty in ancient times too.

I see our ancestors known as naive, kind, intelligent people while some archaeologist tell that they were primitive aggressive especially against women when agriculture began. That is hard to believe and I wonder what kind of crystal globe they are bicycling with. As far as I see violence has escalated with technical culture. The latest "surgical wars" leaving radioactive remains for many generations to come seem to be the ultimate violence I would name some in our generation "wild beasts".

Ritual amulets decorated with signs of ear and fertility. Others have no decorations.

In this booklet the symbols and icons are the agenda and as far as possible I have compared them with what archaeology may tell us. Dal is more like an unexplored land when it comes to archaeology. Fortunately the neighbouring parish to Evenstorp and the parish Sundals Ryr is Fraendefors is the corner that have been well analysed and excavated.

The Haestefjorden Lake divided the ancient parish in two. However, the lake was lowered in the nineteenth century and as a result many finds from the new land were found. Archaeologists and amateurs got interested in the twenties and it its now the only area of great archaeological knowledge on Dal and fortunately much knowledge about the age of slab cists.

WE usually say that Dal is Miniature Sweden and then Fraendefors become a well-dug place like Maelardalen, Gotland, Oland where climates and possibilities are favourable for archaeology so to speak. The finds confirm the calendar and the rituals pictured in it. Let us have a look at the finds.

Finds in slab cists

They may have their leaning tower in Pisa.

On Dal we have our leaning steeple in Grindstad.

The axe with an eye covers a longer period of use than the ritual artefacts and most of them seem to have been for practical use. It is natural that many finds are from the village Fraendefors. On second place is Ekenaes, more like a hamlet with 56 axes. It is above average of 40 axes in each cist area. As they register 14 cists there must have been at least some more. For an example no one is found in the big village or in another nearby hamlet with many finds.

Marked on a map it may be seen that the cists each cover an area about three to six, kilometre in square. A cist area may be supposed to have been a hamlet with rituals and funerals in common. The places of bogs and of rocks are of course waste land.

Item

County museum

Parish book

Holm

Aanimskog

Axe w. eye

565

206

20

6

Daggers

147

68

2

1

Sickles

168

50

1

1

Amulets

11

3

3

-

Cupmark- places

3

2

11

16

Cists

14

12

13

7

Comparison between inventory made by the county museum, the Fraendefors parish book, the Holm parish book and that from Aanimskog. My home is in Holm and Aanimskog is my neighbouring parish in north. Just to show the difference in digging activity

The table above tells about 565 axes with an eye, 147 daggers, 168 sickles and 11 amulets. Amulets could be more because separating it from a hone is not easy. There are only three places with cup-marks besides the big rock-carvings at Evenstorp and finally 14 cists. This is the professional view.

Later figures shows that nearly 350 sickles are found on Dal and then mainly in southern part. There are many finds in from the neighbouring county Valbo in west. Our little province is in fourth place in Sweden when it comes to sickle finds.

Here we can remark that nearly half of the finds of sickles from Dal come from this area. Sweden is a big country and excavations are usually made were cities and roads are build. In fact we have no research covering the entire land so that we could make representative statistical valuing. Instead half of the finds and excavating is made in the small province Skaane and on Gotland and Auland and that is not really representative.

As we see we have many sickles and is fourth in the league among provinces and finds of sickles. But a recently published book has not a find of pollen from corn. I found a pollen curve from a book made by the Environment Department in our county. It shows the same pattern as a few other pollen analyses from different parts of Sweden. That is enough to tell that there seem to have a period of agriculture during the slab cist period.

The size of the approximate cist area is about what old folklore tells was a suitable size of land for a farm rising cattle. They tell that a young girl with a young cow should circle in the land from morning to sundown. It is supposed that they could walk about twenty-five kilometres that was the usual travel rate a day.

Someone has made the conclusion that these people preferred to live near bogs. That because the black soil was easily prepared land. So it was in my childhood in a field with far older long barrows than the cists of Fraendefors. But that is not always true as seen in Holm where the cists are in rocky places. Maybe because they easily got the slabs from the rocks. But we may presume that they did not need many acres for growing their corn and vegetables. Here a list of normal finds in a slab cist:

Ture Langer 1900

2 flint daggers

2 flint dagger-blades

A Julius 1908

3 saws or sickles of flint

1 flint scraper

1 fragment of pottery

2 flint dagger-blades

2 daggers of flint

9 scrapers

4 stone axes

1 axe with an eye

1 chisel of flint

1 hone

1 fragment of a hone

6 disc scrapers of flint

2 disc axes

1 amulet

1 V-boring, octagonal

Other loose finds

2 flint axes 1 dagger 2 flint blades

2 small disc scrapers

Material and pieces of axes with an eye

Finds in a cist at Trombaelgen, Fraendefors a village south of Evenstorp.

Important is, that a suite may be reconstructed from the artefacts to confirm what we see in the carving at Evenstorp. The Maiden wore the amulet and a pair of young men perhaps followed her with daggers, a pair with picks and also a pair of girls with sickles. It seems natural that the ritual suite should be young folks.

As always, all organic artefacts are gone. We may only speculate in other symbols as a forerunner with staff. Other symbols like our maypole may have been. Some have four rings and stands for four quarters or seasons. In Bohuslaen there are some details shoving what may be a sign of Beltane or ritual fire at May Day. The practical part of this was to remind about burn-beat or perhaps to burn grass and other waste in fields and maybe a warning against open fire in summer.

It is significant that we often see pairs of all kind on Dal. Not so that it would always occur. As examples we see it in several details on the carvings. The daggers are found in pair nearly every second and so the sickles too. Slab cists are found in pair and later stone circles too. From Middle Age we have the words of Gustav Wasa, who did not like that people of Dal where living in "farms of brothers". That because it gave less income in taxes. They call the manors at Dal from the eighteenth century onwards the manor of pairs. More signs of brotherhood occur, as we shall see in other chapters. Here folks use the word brotherhood while other nations perhaps would say fellowship.

Other artefacts like scrapers tell about work with skin and leather and we may assume they used fabrics because of finds of weights for webs. Chisels and saws show fine work made of wood. But then again you have all those invisible works using birch-bark, lime-bast, spruce-roots, sallow and so on. To this all the forgotten knowledge about to what everything should be used, as our ancestors perhaps would have told us.

Of interest is that in the same halves of the parish were found two pick axes. They are of the same kind as at the carving. We may ask were these ritual symbols of two parts of a land of brothers ... or of brotherhood?

Slab cist of Dal

The technology of making these cists was an innovation as they learned to make slabs out of rock. I found a quarry near the cists of Bramre Kari in Holm. They tell her to be a siren of the woods ... I believe in old folklore, because when I walked through the woods I heard bullets whine in my ears. She wanted to scare me off and to go home, I guess ... or could someone have taken my baldhead as the back of a roebuck?

The slabs come from the rocks only some 50 metres from the two cists. The biggest slab weigh approximately about 4000 kilos and 5 x 1,2 metres. Big stones our ancestors had handled before but the technique to blast off a slab was new.

We have three main types of cists among more than 100 cists on Dal. Only 75 can be defined and the rest are only noting that they have existed. Unfortunately we know nothing about the cist near the Law Rock at Haugsbyn, but the cists near Evenstorp are well documented.

Most frequent is the rectangular slab cist type of which we have 62 and 9 of them have entrance chamber and in 3 cases there is gable hole. We have 9 wedge shape slab cists and the special shapes are spread all over Dal. Naturally we know nothing about those "maybe"-cists that have been in the big villages Fraendefors and Mellerud. Anyhow we can speculate about different fashions and origin of the shapes.

Characteristic for Dal is that we have a dozen known pairs or every fourth are in pair. Some of them are near each other while others are within the same property. In every third pair one of them has been/ is covered with a mound. That can indicate it was meant to symbolise the earlier "go beneath"-temples or passage graves. Then it has been for the growers while the other has been for cattle people in the "brotherhood" of a parish of those days.

Another feature is that every third pair is oriented in 90-degree angle. NE to SW is maybe the extreme of the moon while NW to SE is midwinter solstice. N to S can also be the solstices while E to W is the equinoxes. Half of all cists are oriented NE to SW while around 15 % is N to S respective NW to SE. The orientation hardly has more than symbolic importance, however we do not know for sure how they looked in those days. There may have been additional features as for instance in Denmark we see some stone rows and maybe remains after poles in connection with passage graves.

There are no passage graves on Dal while in other places there may have been continuity to the slab cists. On Dal it looks like a totally new fashion. However the spread of the cists seem to follow earlier ritual "counties/ parishes" since there are finds of older ritual axes / chisels and picks as indication. The rectangular cist seem to have been used only as "dead-house" while the passage graves were temples for funeral and the growers. Both the big rock-carvings at Evenstorp and Haugsbyn tell about a new ritual. Maybe they practised ritual bath instead of "going beneath" as seen on the Law Rock.

Some cists have been fairly untouched and they have found the same kind of remains near them as in the front of passage graves. It tells about some feast or as we still say "grave beer" at the funeral. It is mainly black soil after meal, ceramics and broken flint. Maybe they ritually "broke the axe" or knocked the dead into stone = eternity. I think it is a beautiful thought when a member leaves the tribe and root.

The type with entrance chamber slab cist has the simple ground-plan of the early temple. We find it in Sumer as well as in the late Bible. To that we can add the forecourt around the temple which in this case usually is the fence of small stone around the oval mound or enhancement around the cist. A few Danish places may have been a wooden temple in the same configuration.

The wedge shaped cist occurs for instance in the Alps, France and on Ireland. Probably the symbolic shape has been derived from the dagger of Isis in the Alps. For instance in Aosta, Italy and even the Skabersjau Vi have the shape of the dagger blade. In Aosta they have concluded that the place was used for funerals. There were signs of ritual ploughing however they found no signs of cultivating at the settlement.

We meet a few signs of ritual symbolism with daggers or axes oriented toward underground and the sky in the act of protecting the corn or life at the place. Maybe also the amulet is symbol for "going beneath". In the Alps are rock-carvings showing daggers for pure ritual use to be carried around. We have to understand their ritual symbolism by which they used the special items or shapes to show the essentials of the ritual act/ detail of coming work. They were foregoing the real work in season.

The wedge shape was natural also convenient for pointing at the right direction and also to the sky. We know that the orientations in the pyramids are against celestial objects as for instance toward Orion. That was the virtual place of Osiris and the KA-soul flies to that place. We can compare that with finds of bird wings in graves since the time of Neanthertals in some places. Natural our breath ends and seemingly fly away and the human thought need an end point and physical shape of that airy thing.

Around two kilometres south of the Evenstorp rock-carvings there is a pair of slab cists. One of them is wedge shaped 4,1 x 1,5 - 2, 0 metres E - W in 0,6 m high mound 7 m diameter. The " "brother" is on of the biggest on Dal 6,7 x 2,2 m NE - SW oval mound 7 x 11 m and height 0,6 m. We can speculate in a "settlement of brothers" and cultivators and cattle people. On the rock-carvings we also see a pair.

They think that the origin of the ordinary rectangular slab cist could be the Paris region in France. However the wedge shape can have been introduced from the Alps together with the dagger. We have a few rock-carvings of clear Alp style in East Gautland too. About 70 % of the slab cist with gable hole are found in West Gautland and most of the rest in Smaaland were we find very many cists. From the occurrence we can decide that that was an occasional fashion. The type can have roots in the Alps but even Caucasus is a possible source since we find the type of hole in both places.

Observe that the description of Dal's cist correspond to Dal only. Surely most of them have been used for a long time and they cleaned them for bones now and then. They have seen the same pattern on Jutland Denmark. They have also found that the boat axe was used as ritual weapon to second half of third millennium BC. They have found the axe in passage graves as well as in slab cists. In Skaane and Smaaland Sweden the pattern is mixed single graves and settlement graves.

The more I look at the remains of Dal I find it amazing how consistent and homogeneous this small province was from third millennium onward. In the Age of Dagger we see clearly the same customs and organisations in the most parts of the province.

We have only three or maybe four with gable hole and entrance chamber on Dal. They are situated in places where we can expect prospecting for copper. Making the slabs was new technique and we have to think about Egypt then building pyramids of big slabs. In sparsely populated Europe they could not afford to put much work on making the fine finish but used the new invention up to their needs. Another question is were some of the prospectors searching for metal since we find cists in the mountains?

Prospectors?

I have too little material about slab cists from other places in Europe. However I think it is difficult to conclude from where did the influence come. Maybe we see slab cist types from the Alps and Caucasus. In the later there have been a rich culture and it would be natural that they were influenced from their neighbours and in second stage from Egypt.

It was the "prospecting age" searching for copper and tin and Anatolia was one of the centres for metallurgy at that time. It is especially the cist with gable hole that is interesting. The hole gives the same artistic feeling in the Alps and in Scandinavia. In Caucasus the cist seem to be a "dead house" and some of them stand on the ground but some of them are covered with a mound. Some have been dated to around 2300 BC. We also find similar shapes in establishments as in Caucasus see also Slab cist and Unknown Europe for pictures and more

Calendar marks and territorial claim near the slab cist of Graunhult

The slab cist at Graunhult at Dal has an entrance camber and a gable hole. It is situated in the mountains in area with "green stone" of which they made axes. Maybe the stone looked like copper and that copper gives the colour.

Near the cist and in the cist there are rock-carvings. One separate part is the traditional territorial claim showing four seasons. The symbol on the footprint at rights means, "working" in/with something. It is placed at the winter season. In Egypt they worked with mining during the cold period and Hathor the cow goddess of that season protected the work.

The negative hands are underground and in symbolism they say "Ga up ma" or "Sesam open!" The symbol with the bow can means "working in the fork" and also "mother and child" then associating to the season under surface.

These rock-carvings are from the Furu Lake in the mountains near Haugsbyn and in the zone with known copper finding. Some kilometres to the north there is another territorial claim and also with a slab cist near it.

In Haugsbyn there have been a slab cist ca 200 metres from the rock-carvings. In south we have the Copper Forest where they dug for copper in medieval times. There are also several cists and rock-carvings in the neighbouring parishes near Lake Vaener.

We have good reasons to as, "Where they prospectors?" and "Was it mission and from where did they get knowledge and ideas?"

This rebus and ideogram says "working on metal" with semi-Sumerian symbolism.

This little detail we find at the Thing Place in Haugsbyn and in the "autumn corner" of the ritual place. There are some more symbols for "going beneath" on the same rock and the signs show Sumerian influence.

The "language" and style of the rock-carvings at Dal is quite an enigma. They show the same logic in all places with the only exception the Dalbergså pictures. Together with earlier double axes, boat axes and ritual axes that tells us about homogeneous culture and that the new influences have been adapted from outside in peace with mission or emigration.

These three rock-carvings are indications of metal work and prospecting. We have no physical evidence and the possible mines are surely used by later prospectors. We know about some "holes" when the state prospected and made some trials. Neither we have finds of copper artefacts. But we have some axes made of green stone that can have been made for instance in Graunhult. Still it would be a natural thing in the beginning Metal Age in Scandinavia.

Hair-silver from Kongsberg Norway

On a rock at Kongsberg there is an inscription "purest pure" in Minoan script. We can only guess that Aegean traders searching for metal have been there. Hair-silver is found at the surface of the rocks or were those days. It is so pure that the smith can work with at once. On the rocks in Southern Norway and Bohuslen Greek type ships is still sailing. We know from later Phoenicians that they kept their amber trade secret but maybe the Minoans told them about what they could find.

Culture shift

At that time they could look back around two thousand years of the ritual age. They had already used ritual axes. The earliest were double axes in fourth millennium followed by the boat shaped axe in some places for at least five hundred year. On Dal they seem to have imported big chisels from Skaane in third millennium BC. If they shafted them they could be used as ritual axe.

The slab cist, dagger and amulet was another culture shift and seemingly shaped after local conditions. The rough dating give according to pollen curves a period 2300 to 2100 as the heydays and with spin off several hundred years after that.

What happened in the "Big World" at that time? Mesopotamia was maybe the biggest source at that stage. Sargon I marked a phase shift in two senses. Firstly he is the first worldly leader in Mesopotamia. He was also the first "World Ruler" and extended his empire to the Mediterranean. Before that the Sumer - Babylonian consisted of separate city-states. On his seals we see that he was equal with the gods and not just the priest-king interpreter of gods will.

All this affected the entire Old World. Even in those days they knew something about the big culture sources. We can decide that from the early import of ideas and for instance the double axe. It is also natural to think that some people and preferably from upper classes could not stand and co-operate with the World Ruler. So we can expect a source of emigration even to Scandinavia and not only from Mesopotamia but also from Anatolia.

Egypt was almost like "another world". Long as Sweden around 1000 kilometres after expanding southward all the time. The ingenious "ideology" of two united lands woven into the yearly round kept it together. The Nile was the only main road and Horus = pharaoh = year-man visited his big land and bind it together. In time it was divided into 26 provinces and they had all their administration and leaders. This was the worldly nobility while the many temples with priests were the religious nobility. Together with the royal house they were three forces to be kept in balance.

We can se the universal development of a first stage of uniting to a state next supreme ruler then rising feudalism and maybe military rule and anarchy ... after that reconstruction. We see that development later in the Roman Empire too.

The critical period and probably with rising feudalism and nobility came seemingly after 7th dynasty around 2140 BC or maybe a little earlier. The Greek Manetho 200 BC tells about 70 days with 70 rulers. The succession of pharaohs was critical if no son and/ or no strong queen/daughter to make a bridge to next dynasty. Maybe this period also made refugees from Egypt?

Around this time several cultures seems to have appeared from nothing. This is naturally only an imagination since archaeology count only big buildings and many artefacts as cultural evidence. There have been cultures in Anatolia, on Crete and in Greece long before, but seemingly they bloomed from about 2000 BC. At the same time new symbol scripts appear and that is the ultimate sign of readable culture so to speak.

We have to be cautious when reading old texts, since their language was more poetic and not true history in our sense. They only wanted to write down the clue and sentence of moral as sometime to learn from in future. That is the way illiterate folk memory works. It lives all the time and change with the need of the time.

Generally people want to be equal and the nobility above the folks has to explain their superiority and right to be unequal. That is why we can read that the leading class came from somewhere else and other explanations about how they became god begotten. The story about the "bay in the basket" that became the ruler we find in several places and even in the early Danish kingdom.

These early "high cultures" borrowed naturally much from neighbouring higher cultures. For instance the Hittitian culture shows human images of typical Middle East people and surely the nobility rose from the people. Later around 1600 BC they conquered Babylon for a short period. Soon we see influence from Babylon and some of the symbolism is clearly old Sumerian from third millennium BC.

Mesopotamia and Egypt were cultures with millions of inhabitants and many cities and temples. Cultures like the Hittitians, Minoans and a little later the Myceneans borrowed from the two big cultures and from each other. Simultaneously the heydays of early bronze culture flowered in the mountains of Middle Europe. They adapted what they could afford according to population and the number of nobility and traders.

We will never get evidence but as soon as a settlement become city-like with several hundred inhabitants it has to buy or barter with supplies. Then it is just the market forces that decide who sell to them. Foreigners or neighbouring people are a matter of "price". But surely the foreign traders needed to be established with connections and guards to travel and trade in Europe.

Our figurative rock-carvings are mostly from middle of Bronze Age or later than 1500 BC so we can identify trade only from that time. From earlier Bronze Age we have only the bronzes and mostly ritual weapons. Some of them tell us from where they came since much of the metal had to be imported. Rock-carvings and imported things are the connection to cultures in south. From them we can derive some of European culture and get nearer the truth than pure speculation and theories.

Evenstorp and Haugsbyn are exceptional places since we have untouched big rock-carvings from around 2000 BC. They are mostly made with writing symbols and that tells us about the high level of culture at that stage. Cultures like the Hittitians and Minoans hardly were using that advanced symbol language at that time as far as we know at this moment. However in those cultures there are many layers of culture so it is hard to see the time around 2000 BC.

That age is otherwise like a dark hole in Europe. But when we draw the lines back from the clear rock-carvings on Dal to the early Inanna-myth and passage graves we can get the rough picture of continuity of Ritual Age with Time as leader. In Egypt it was from the beginning Horus = Pharaoh = yearman or "alderman" in Scandinavian language.

Using symbols tell also that the message was the important topic and not the shaping of the ritual. They just wanted to write down their ritual. They used symbol language since that is the way of catching and shortening the ritual year on the space of images and script. Try for yourself to picture the entire year in limited space and in a way that everyone understand.

Once it was written down they could use it for thousand years until new ideas were decided. Before these rock-carvings we have the ritual of grinding groves that must have gone on for around thousand years. Thousand years is as long as back to beginning of the kingdoms in Scandinavia!

This little cut is from Rock 6 Haugsbyn

On Rock 6 there is also a wavy timeline showing the year and in the same style as the Law Rock with wavy timelines in encircling the ritual year. But these rock-carvings are maybe more than thousand years younger than Evenstorp and the Law Rock. Symbol languages is the same but the motif is a little different. The main part of the big Rock 1 is maybe a few hundred years older than this.

Here it is a variant of the Isis-myth with the mourning mother in front of the bones symbolising the harvested corn to be spread to several purposes. Above the bone is "the little One" that was the corn sent away on the journey in Underworld. It is the same symbolism as more than two thousand years earlier. It is only natural since the ritual was the same and agriculture was carried our in the same way.