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Ebba During

21st August 1937 - 15th May 2007

Appreciation by
Anna Kjellström and colleagues

Colleagues and friends at the department of Archaeology and Classical studies at the University of Stockholm are saddened by Ebba During's death on the 15th of May. Ebba is mourned by her children Cecilia and Carl.

Ebba started her career in the 1970s at the Osteological Research Laboratory in Stockholm under the supervision of the discipline's Swedish pioneer, Professor Nils-Gustav Gejvall (1911-1991). Her doctoral thesis in 1986 dealt with animal bones from the Neolithic pile dwelling of Alvastra near Lake Vättern. This is, for northern Europe, a unique site with artefacts connected both to the agricultural Funnel Beaker Culture and the hunter-fisher-gatherer Pitted Ware Culture. Ebba reconstructed the fauna and activities at the 5000-year-old site. She thoroughly discussed methodological problems related to the interpretation of animal bone assemblages. Her later investigations of human remains from the same site revealed exceptional information about Neolithic ritual.

In the late 80s and early 90s Ebba focused on the analysis of the victims from the seventeenth-century warships Vasa and Kronan. The former sunk in Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in 1628 and was raised in 1961. The latter exploded and sank during the Scanian War with Denmark in 1676. Ebba's analysis revealed new information about the crew of each ship in particular and about people in the seventeenth century in general. Her finds of perimortem sharp-force trauma on the remains from Kronan raised new questions concerning the events preceding the catastrophe.

In addition to her own research, Ebba taught, supervised research students and ran research projects. For almost 30 years she was the main teacher at the Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory. As head of the laboratory, she played an essential role, teaching at all levels and running the administrative work. In the 1990s she founded the Osteological Department at Gotland University College. Her many students during the years, both in Stockholm and Gotland, bear witness to her great commitment.

Ebba had a decided talent to communicate her research to a larger public through all sorts of media and she always drew a crowd. She was a multitalented scholar and teacher, but perhaps we remember her most for her vitality and wit, for her intellect and humour, for her thoughtfulness and good sense. She was loved by her students and deeply cherished by her colleagues.

  • During, E. 1986. The fauna of Alvastra. An osteological analysis of animal bones from a Neolithic pile dwelling. (Stockholm studies in archaeology 6). Stockholm: University of Stockholm.
  • During, E. 1994. De dog på Vasa. Skelettfynden och vad de berättar. (Vasastudier 16). Stockholm.