Saturday, May 20, 2006

Christian Lindqvist 1948-2006

Dr Christian Lindqvist is dead. Suss, his wife, just called me and told me the news. Brain tumor, three weeks ago.

Christian was an archaeologist, an osteologist, a fauna historian and an expert on the rock art of early hunters in Northern Scandinavia. We became friends in 1999. Having read an excellent paper of his about Mesolithic animal bones from the Stora Förvar cave, I invited him to collaborate on Neolithic finds from under the Late Iron Age cemetery I wrote my thesis about. He joined me and my draughtsman-friend Stefan Kayat in one of the the old cavalry stables at the Museum of National Antiquities, and we had a lot of fun together. I visited him for the last time in late January and found his spirit unbroken.

Christian was a productive and painstaking scholar with a natural-science bent similar to my own. It's said about the excavations at the Alvastra pile dwelling in the 1970s and 80s that despite the team's efforts to produce uniform documentation, the results suffer somewhat from the "Christian Lindqvist effect". The excavation squares where he did the sieving somehow produced far more finds, mostly very small fragments, than any other squares.

It speaks volumes about Christian's generosity that we never had any conflicts. He was a sensitive soul, prone to brooding over old differences, often doubting people's motives. I, on the other hand, am loud, undiplomatic and somewhat lacking in social and emotional finesse. He took it all with the best of humour. Perhaps my level of open uncouthness was such that any hidden motives couldn't possibly be any worse than what he got shoved in his face whenever we met.

In addition to wife and son and mum, Christian loved animals. I visited him a few times at his summer hangout on the shore of Lake Båven, admiring his rabbits and chickens, all of rare old country breeds with gene bank status. In January, he regaled me with the story of a homicidal midget rooster that he was forced to kill and cook in order to keep his eyesight, gene bank or no gene bank.

Christian Lindqvist's one of the best people I've met through archaeology. The fact that he was forced to quit working 30 years too early just testifies to the mindless randomness of the universe. But the good thing about this randomness is that it also allows rabbits, chickens, Mesolithic hunters and archaeologists like Christian to evolve.

  • Lindqvist, C. 1978. Älghuvudmotivet i nordeuropeisk plastik och hällkonst. Det nordeuropeiska jägarsamhället under sten- och bronsålder. Xeroxed BA thesis. Dept of Archaeology, University of Stockholm.
  • Lindqvist, C. 1994. Fångstfolkets bilder. En studie av de nordfennoskandiska kustanknutna jägarhällristningarna. Theses and papers in archeology, new series A5. Dept of Archaeology, University of Stockholm.
  • Lindqvist, C. 1997. About the importance of fine-mesh sieving, stratigraphical and spatial studies for the interpretation of the faunal remains at Ajvide, Eksta parish, and other Neolithic dwelling sites on Gotland. Burenhult, G. (ed.). Remote sensing 1. Theses and papers in North-European archaeology 13a. Dept of Archaeology, University of Stockholm.
  • Lindqvist, C. & Possnert, G. 1999. The first seal hunter families on Gotland. On the Mesolithic occupation in the Stora Förvar cave. Current Swedish archaeology 7. Stockholm.
  • Rundkvist, M.; Lindqvist, C. & Thorsberg, K. 2004. Barshalder 3. Rojrhage in Grötlingbo: a multi-component Neolithic shore site on Gotland. Stockholm archaeological reports 41. Dept of Archaeology, University of Stockholm. [Christian is the author of section 9, "Bones and radiometric analyses".]

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Blogger Martha said...

I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend. I'm always attracted to eccentric, learned and eclectic people like the man you describe. And brain tumors are awful; I lost my grandfather and an uncle to cancer of the brain.

24 May, 2006 18:00  
Blogger Martin said...

Thank you, sweetie.

Christian underwent surgery that cost him part of his brain's optic centre. So bits of his field of vision just vanished and he lost the ability to read. During his last year he instead listened to loads of audiobooks. I read to him once, and now I wish I'd done it more.

The funeral service was today. It was not a very tragic event. Irritating priest though.

24 May, 2006 18:21  
Anonymous Yours forever said...

How beautifully written, my darling.

30 May, 2006 13:17  

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