Baked: Bread in the eastern Mälar Valley in the first millenium AD


This thesis examines the carbonised bread findings from sites and cremation graves dated to the first millennium AD occurring in the eastern Mälar Valley region. The finds have been analysed by various methods including cell-structure analysis, chemical analysis, experimental and reconstructive examination, 14C-dating and statistical comparison. An attempt is made to identify the different stages and actors in the bread-making process. The finds of different utensils and other equipment usually related to food preparation, bread-making and a vegetable diet are presented.

Bread was introduced into central Sweden at the same time that a series of food-technical artefacts turn up in the north-Germanic cultural sphere. When bread first appears during the Late Roman Iron Age it most likely is as a sign of power applied to official occasions. The introduction of bread seems to be connected with the rotary quern which is strongly associated with defended settlements in Scandinavia where finds of utensils and activities indicate a specialization of food-production and related processes.

Bread burial appears to have been reserved for specific individuals in society and this custom seems to have continued over several centuries in the same cemetery. Bread obviously served as a social marker in the burial ceremony, playing a role which was obvious to the participants but not meant to be visible to outsiders after the burial. This probably indicated a distinguishing quality of the deceased’s specific earthly status rather than a burial tradition of general use.

Bergström, Liselotte
Gräddat: Brödkultur under järnåldern i östra Mälardalen
(Baked: Bread in the eastern Mälar Valley in the first millenium AD)
Stockholm, 2007

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