• Scandinavian Models: Radiocarbon Dates and the Origin and Spreading of Passage Graves in Sweden and Denmark

      Paulsson, Bettina Schulz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2010-01-01)
      Approximately 2700 radiocarbon results are currently available from European megalithic contexts. The interpretation of these 14C dates is often difficult. It is not easy to connect many of them from their archaeological context to the construction or the burial phase of the graves. This paper focuses on the megaliths of Scandinavia--a special megalith region--as it is the only place in Europe with 14C dates directly referable to the construction of the passage graves, the graves have good bone preservation, and new dating sequences are available. Some 188 14C results are now available from Scandinavian passage graves. In Sweden, new data suggest that these graves were built from the first half of the 35th century BC onwards. The 14C dates from birch bark as filling material between dry walls make it possible to build a sequence for the construction phase of the passage graves in Denmark from the 33rd century BC onward. With an interpretative Bayesian statistical framework, it is possible to untangle the nuances of the differences for the origin and the spreading of the megaliths in the different regions, to define, together with the archaeological remains, possible cultural-historical processes behind these phenomena and to discuss diffusion versus convergence.