Recent palynological research on subsistence transformations in the costal zones of Mesolithic Norway

January 08, 2018

Examples of settlement plans in Central and Southeast Europe.Based on previous palynological research, the new publication “Towards a refined understanding of the use of coastal zones in the Mesolithic: New investigations on human–environment interactions in Telemark, southeastern Norway” deals with transformations in prehistoric subsistence. In collaboration of Kiel University together with colleagues from Oslo, M. Wieckowska-Lüth, CRC 1266 subproject F3 researcher W. Kirleis, S. Solheim and A. Schülke, both Museum of Cultural History, Oslo University, could identify anthropogenic manipulations in Mesolithic woodlands in the costal hinterland of southeastern Norway. The joint publication tackles the question if early woodland management was an intended or unintended process and in which sense hunter-gatherer strategies of costal hinterland exploitation contributed to forest alteration. Besides evidence for the repeated use of the forested costal hinterland in Mesolithic times, a highlight of their research findings is the consistency of archaeological and palynological data, as both material culture and pollen proxies’ support the fact that the availability of the resource lime (providing timber for dug out canoes and bast for ropes) was one potential trigger for the production and use of Noestvet axes, as the number of sites with these artefacts increases with the onset and peaks in the Tilia pollen curve. Based on this data, as well changes in the woodland composition (occurrance of lime) as transformations in the site pattern (establishment of special workshop activity areas in the coastal hinterland) can be explained.

Figure: Summed probability distribution plot of all published 14C-dates (n = 57) from 18 sites containing Nøstvet axes and production waste in southeastern Norway plotted against the percentage curves of Tilia and Betula. The decreases in the Tilia curve represent opening up of the forest canopy and the potential use of the timber and bast of the lime e.g. for dug out canoes, whereas the increases in the Betula curve demonstrate the starts of the woodland regeneration phases with the pioneer species birch. Figure: Steinar Solheim/Carsten Reckweg (Institute for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archaeology, University of Kiel). M. Wieckowska-Lüth et al. 2018, p. 848, fig. 10

M. Wieckowska-Lüth, S. Solheim, A. Schülke, W. Kirleis, 2018: Towards a refined understanding of the use of coastal zones in the Mesolithic: New investigations on human–environment interactions in Telemark, southeastern Norway. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17 (2018) 839-851. DOI:10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.12.045

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    M. Wieckowska-Lüth, S. Solheim, A. Schülke, W. Kirleis, 2018: Towards a refined understanding of the use of coastal zones in the Mesolithic: New investigations on human–environment interactions in Telemark, southeastern Norway. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 17 (2018) 839-851. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.12.045

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