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  • 1.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Bad Death at Sandby borg: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Intergroup Violence and Postmortem Agency of Unburied Corpses2018Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The subject of corpses from mass violence is surprisingly unexplored, even though the materiality of the corpse carries strong symbolic capital in conflicts. The aim of my PhD research is to create new knowledge about the implications of unburied corpses that stem from intergroup conflicts, and subsequently to add knowledge concerning how intergroup violence is organised to achieve desired social agendas.

    In the licentiate thesis presented here, I research the conditions for postmortem agency and how treatment of corpses can be studied in prehistory, specifically through the material remains of unburied corpses from the Sandby borg massacre. The Sandby borg case study is explored through a bioarchaeological perspective. Inside the Iron Age ringfort, the remains of at least 26 individuals have been recovered hitherto. Several of the dead display traces of lethal intergroup violence. By integrating osteology, archaeology, taphonomy and social theories, I show how bioarchaeological research can contribute to the understanding of past postmortem agency in relation to intergroup violence as a social process. The thesis is comprised of four articles.

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  • 2.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Forensic archaeology and forensic anthropology within Swedish law enforcement: current state and suggestions for future developments2021In: Forensic Science International: Reports, ISSN 2665-9107, Vol. 3, article id 100178Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Archaeological theories and methods are developed to reconstruct past human behavior from fragmentary material remains. The interrelated discipline of physical anthropology addresses questions related to skeletal remains while acknowledging taphonomic parameters. The benefit of integrating these disciplines in forensic investigations has gained increasing acknowledgement over the last decades, but the use of forensic archaeology and anthropology (FAA) remains limited in Sweden. The aim of this study is to analyze the field of FAA in Sweden in relation to outdoor and fire crime scenes where human remains are encountered. Based on qualitative interviews, the state and potential developments of FAA within the Swedish police and the National Board of Forensic Medicine are discussed. The results show that for ensic investigations and analysis of human fragmentary remains are not standardized in Sweden. A great responsibility is placed on the individual crime scene investigator who elects how to investigate these sites and who to contract for the analysis of osteological remains. This can endanger evidence collection and interpretation. This study shows that investigations of buried or fragmentary human remains in Sweden could be aided by a development of FAA. Key steps to further development of FAA within Swedish police involve 1) quantifying cases that could benefit from FAA, 2) establish FAA as an independent subject, 3) develop a national infrastructure, 4) offer professional education in the subject(s), and 4) develop best practice to advance evidence collection and legal security in investigations involving fragmentary human remains. An ongoing ISO accreditation of outdoor crime scene investigations within the Swedish police will hopefully benefit FAA development and collaborations with external partners.

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  • 3.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Social implications of unburied corpses from intergroup conflicts: postmortem agency following the Sandby borg massacre2019In: Cambridge Archaeological Journal, ISSN 0959-7743, E-ISSN 1474-0540, Vol. 29, no 3, p. 427-442Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A massacre took place inside the Sandby borg ringfort, southeast Sweden, at the end of the fifth century. The victims were not buried, but left where they died. In order to understand why the corpses were left unburied, and how they were perceived following the violent event, a theoretical framework is developed and integrated with the results of osteological analysis. I discuss the contemporary normative treatment of the dead, social response to death and postmortem agency with emphasis on intergroup conflict and ‘bad death’. The treatment of the dead in Sandby borg deviates from known contemporary practices. I am proposing that leaving the bodies unburied might be viewed as an aggressive social action. The corpses exerted postmortem agency to the benefit of the perpetrators, at the expense of the victims and their sympathizers. The gain for the perpetrators was likely political power through redrawing the victim's biographies, spatial memory and the social and territorial landscape. The denial of a proper death likely led to shame, hindering of regeneration and an eternal state of limbo.

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  • 4.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences. Bohusläns museum, Sweden.
    The Corporeality of Death: Bioarchaeological, Taphonomic, and Forensic Anthropological Studies of Human Remains2021Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this work is to advance the knowledge of peri- and postmortem corporeal circumstances in relation to human remains contexts, as well as to demonstrate the value of that knowledge in forensic and archaeological practice and research. This article-based dissertation encompasses papers in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, with an emphasis on taphonomy. The studies include analyses of human osseous material and human decomposition in relation to spatial and social contexts, from both theoretical and methodological perspectives.

    Taphonomic knowledge is vital to interpretations of the circumstances of peri- and postmortem deposition, with a concern for whether features were created by human hand or the result of decomposition processes and other factors. For example, taphonomic knowledge can aid interpretations of the peri- and postmortem sequence of events, of the agents that have affected human remains, as well as for estimations of time since death. When integrated with social theories, taphonomic information can be used to interpret past events. 

    In this dissertation, a combination of bioarchaeological and forensic taphonomic methods are used to address the question of what processes have shaped mortuary contexts. Specifically, these questions are raised in relation to the peri- and postmortem circumstances of the dead in the Iron Age ringfort of Sandby borg, and about the rate and progress of human decomposition in a Swedish outdoor environment and in a coffin. Additionally, the question is raised of how taphonomic knowledge can inform interpretations of mortuary contexts, and of the current state and potential developments of forensic anthropology and archaeology in Sweden. 

    The result provides us with information of depositional history in terms of events that created and modified deposits of human remains. Furthermore, this research highlights some limitations in taphonomic reconstructions. The research presented here is helpful for interpretations of what has occurred in the distant as well as recent pasts, to understand potentially confounding factors, and how forensic anthropology can benefit Swedish crime scene investigations. In so doing, the knowledge of peri- and postmortem corporeal circumstances and how it can be used has been advanced in relation to both the archaeological and forensic fields.

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  • 5.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Kjellström, Anna
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    A Taphonomic Interpretation of the Postmortem Fate of the Victims Following the Massacre at Sandby Borg, Sweden2020In: Bioarchaeology International, ISSN 2472-8357, Vol. 3, no 4, p. 262-282Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the ringfort Sandby borg (A.D. 400–550) on Öland, Sweden, remains of 26 unburied humans were excavated between 2010 and 2016. Several of the skeletons display traces of lethal interpersonal violence. This study presents taphonomic analyses of unburied bodies, a situation seldom encountered archaeologically. The depositional context allows us to investigate human taphonomy in interaction with natural agents both “indoors” and “outdoors.” A set of various techniques, including documentation of preservation via zoning, weathering stages, fracture analysis, and archaeothanatology, were applied to understand the perimortem and postmortem fate of the human remains. The results of the taphonomic analysis showed no indications of manipulation postmortem. Expected differences in preservation between in-and outdoor skeletons were not observed. Perimortem fire alterations were interpreted as the result of burning hearths and smoldering roofs. The analysis indicates that the bodies have decomposed in voids. New observations for “unconfined void” taphonomy are presented. The abduction of limbs could be the result of bloating and, hence, indicate a primary deposit of bodies. Atypical lack of splaying of bones might be caused by decomposition in unconfined voids, possibly allowing quicker drainage of putrefaction liquids than in confined voids such as coffins. These observations suggest that processes behind decomposition in voids are not completely understood archaeologically, and might challenge interpretations of mortuary treatment from human remains.

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  • 6.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences. Bohusläns museum.
    Kjellström, Anna
    Stockholm University.
    Evidence of an Iron Age Massacre at the Sandby borg Ringfort2017In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, ISSN 0002-9483, E-ISSN 1096-8644, Vol. 162, p. 97-97Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Kjellström, Anna
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    The Sandby Borg Massacre: Interpersonal Violence and the Demography of the Dead2019In: European Journal of Archaeology, ISSN 1461-9571, E-ISSN 1741-2722, Vol. 22, no 2, p. 210-231Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    During excavations of the Iron Age ringfort of Sandby borg (ad 400-550), the remains of twenty-six unburied bodies were encountered inside and outside the buildings. The skeletons and the archaeological record indicate that after the individuals had died the ringfort was deserted. An osteological investigation and trauma analysis were conducted according to standard anthropological protocols. The osteological analysis identified only men, but individuals of all ages were represented. Eight individuals (31 per cent) showed evidence of perimortem trauma that was sharp, blunt, and penetrating, consistent with interpersonal violence. The location of the bodies and the trauma pattern appear to indicate a massacre rather than a battle. The 'efficient trauma' distribution (i.e. minimal but effective violence), the fact that the bodies were not manipulated, combined with the archaeological context, suggest that the perpetrators were numerous and that the assault was carried out effectively. The contemporary sociopolitical situation was seemingly turbulent and the suggested motive behind the massacre was to gain power and control.

  • 8.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Bohuslän Museum, Sweden.
    Papmehl-Dufay, Ludvig
    Kalmar County Museum, Sweden.
    Victor, Helena
    Kalmar County Museum, Sweden.
    A moment frozen in time: evidence of a late fifth-century massacre at Sandby borg2018In: Antiquity, ISSN 0003-598X, E-ISSN 1745-1744, Vol. 92, no 362, p. 421-436Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The European Migration Period (c. AD 400–550) was characterised by political, social and economic instability. Recent excavations at Sandby borg ringfort on the island of Öland in Sweden have revealed indisputable evidence of a massacre which occurred at that time. Osteological, contextual and artefactual evidence strongly suggest that the fort was abandoned immediately following the attack and was left undisturbed throughout antiquity. Sandby borg offers a unique snapshot of domestic life and abrupt death in the Scandinavian Migration Period, and provides evidence highly relevant to studies of ancient conflict, and on social and military aspects of Iron Age and Migration Period societies.

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  • 9.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Petaros, Anja
    National Board of Forensic Medicine, Sweden.
    Outdoor human decomposition in Sweden: A retrospective quantitative study of forensic-taphonomic changes and postmortem interval in terrestrial and aquatic settings2021In: Journal of Forensic Sciences, ISSN 0022-1198, E-ISSN 1556-4029, Vol. 66, no 4, p. 1348-1363Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper presents a quantitative retrospective study of gross human decomposition in central and southeastern Sweden. The applicability of methods developed abroad for postmortem interval (PMI) estimation from decomposition morphology and temperature are is evaluated. Ninety‐four cases were analyzed (43 terrestrial and 51 aquatic) with a median PMI of 48 days. The results revealed differences in decomposition patterns between aquatic, surface, hanging, and buried remains. While partial saponification and desiccation occurred in cases of surface remains, complete skeletonization was observed in all cases with a PMI over two years. Aquatic skeletonization was slower due to extensive saponification in cases with PMI higher than one year. Formulae for assessing accumulated degree‐days (ADD) from the original methods did not fit the study material. However, a regression analysis demonstrated that 80% of decomposition variance in surface remains could be explained by ADD, suggesting that a geographically adapted equation holds promise for assessing PMI. In contrast, the model fit was poor for aquatic cases (43%). While this may be explained by problems in obtaining reliant aquatic temperature data or an insufficient scoring system, aquatic decomposition may be highly dependent on factors other than ADD alone. This study evaluates the applicability of current PMI methods on an outdoor sample from a previously unpublished region, and represents the first scientific publication of human outdoor decomposition patterns in Sweden. Suggestions for future research are provided, including that scoring methods should incorporate saponification to fit forensic taphonomy in Swedish environments.

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  • 10.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Veltri, Megan
    The Pennsylvania State University, USA;Texas State University, USA.
    Crabb, Crystal
    Texas State University, USA.
    Wescott, Daniel
    Texas State University, USA.
    Human decomposition and disarticulation in a coffin: an experimental taphonomic study with emphasis on archaeothanatologyManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Högberg, Anders
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Bohusläns museum, Sweden.
    Dutra Leivas, Ivonne
    Kalmar läns museum, Sweden.
    Eboskog, Mikael
    Bohusläns museum, Sweden.
    Engström, Elin
    Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård, Sweden.
    Holtorf, Cornelius
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Jonsson, Kristina
    Jamtli, Sweden.
    Knutson, Charina
    Jamtli, Sweden.
    Smits, Vivian
    Västsvensk Konservering, Sweden.
    Svedin, Maria
    Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård, Sweden.
    Söderström, Ulrika
    Kalmar läns museum, Sweden.
    Uppdragsarkeologiska möjligheter: Nya sätt att tänka om en samtidsverksamhet i en framtidsbransch2021In: In Situ Archaeologica, ISSN 2000-4044, Vol. 15, p. 5-30Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this text we discuss how Swedish contract archaeology can develop its social engagement by creating new areas of relevance to society, beyond the general activities of disseminating results. We do so by giving concrete examples of how this can be done, using archaeological excavations as a starting point. The examples include engaging the local community in future planning for a social sustainable living environment, collaboration with the tourism sector, development of teaching materials for secondary schools, memory training for people with acquired brain damage, and school programs focusing on a socially sustainable and inclusive society. The purpose of the text is to inspire change, by showing development opportunities for future contract archaeology that will benefit both performers and recipients, and contribute to society’s multifaceted needs. 

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  • 12.
    Rodriguez-Varela, Ricardo
    et al.
    Centre for Palaeogenetics, Sweden;Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Moore, Kristjan H. S.
    deCODE Genet AMGEN Inc, Iceland.
    Ebenesersdottir, S. Sunna
    deCODE Genet AMGEN Inc, Iceland;Univ Iceland, Iceland.
    Kilinc, Gulsah Merve
    Hacettepe Univ, Türkiye.
    Kjellström, Anna
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Papmehl-Dufay, Ludvig
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Cultural Sciences.
    Alfsdotter, Clara
    Bohusläns Museum, Sweden.
    Berglund, Birgitta
    NTNU Univ Museum, Norway.
    Alrawi, Loey
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Kashuba, Natalija
    Stockholm University, Sweden;Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Sobrado, Veronica
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Lagerholm, Vendela Kempe
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Gilbert, Edmund
    RCSI, Ireland.
    Cavalleri, Gianpiero L.
    RCSI, Ireland.
    Hovig, Eivind
    Oslo University Hospital, Norway;University of Oslo, Norway.
    Kockum, Ingrid
    Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
    Olsson, Tomas
    Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
    Alfredsson, Lars
    Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
    Hansen, Thomas F.
    Copenhagen Mental Health Services, Denmark;Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.
    Werge, Thomas
    Copenhagen Mental Health Services, Denmark;University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
    Munters, Arielle R.
    Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Bernhardsson, Carolina
    Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Skar, Birgitte
    Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.
    Christophersen, Axel
    Norwegian Univ Sci & Technol NTNU, Norway.
    Turner-Walker, Gordon
    National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan.
    Gopalakrishnan, Shyam
    University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
    Daskalaki, Eva
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Omrak, Ayca
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Perez-Ramallo, Patxi
    Max Planck Institute for Geoanthropology, Germany.
    Skoglund, Pontus
    Francis Crick Institute, UK.
    Girdland-Flink, Linus
    University of Aberdeen, UK;Liverpool John Moores University, UK.
    Gunnarsson, Fredrik
    Kalmar County Museum, Sweden.
    Hedenstierna-Jonson, Charlotte
    Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Gilbert, M. Thomas P.
    University of Copenhagen, Denmark;Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway.
    Liden, Kerstin
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Jakobsson, Mattias
    Uppsala University, Sweden.
    Einarsson, Lars
    Kalmar County Museum, Sweden.
    Victor, Helena
    Kalmar County Museum, Sweden.
    Krzewinska, Maja
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Zachrisson, Torun
    County Museum of Uppland, Sweden.
    Stora, Jan
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Stefansson, Kari
    deCODE Genet AMGEN Inc, Iceland.
    Helgason, Agnar
    deCODE Genet AMGEN Inc, Iceland;Univ Iceland, Iceland.
    Götherström, Anders
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    The genetic history of Scandinavia from the Roman Iron Age to the present2023In: Cell, ISSN 0092-8674, E-ISSN 1097-4172, Vol. 186, no 1, p. 32-46Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    We investigate a 2,000-year genetic transect through Scandinavia spanning the Iron Age to the present, based on 48 new and 249 published ancient genomes and genotypes from 16,638 modern individuals. We find regional variation in the timing and magnitude of gene flow from three sources: the eastern Baltic, the British-Irish Isles, and southern Europe. British-Irish ancestry was widespread in Scandinavia from the Viking period, whereas eastern Baltic ancestry is more localized to Gotland and central Sweden. In some regions, a drop in current levels of external ancestry suggests that ancient immigrants contributed proportionately less to the modern Scandinavian gene pool than indicated by the ancestry of genomes from the Viking and Medieval periods. Finally, we show that a north-south genetic cline that characterizes modern Scandinavians is mainly due to the differential levels of Uralic ancestry and that this cline existed in the Viking Age and possibly earlier.

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