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Book: Technology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe

Chapter: Continuity and Change in Late- and Post-Glacial Social Networks: Knowledge Transmission and Blade Production Methods in Ahrensburg and Early Mesolithic Northwestern Europe

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30719


At the end of the last Ice Age, Northern Scandinavia was colonized from the north European mainland by groups of hunters and gatherers. It seems that the entire coast from Bohuslän to Finnmark was settled within only a couple hundred years. At present approximately 550 sites dated to this period are known in Norway alone. However, we don’t know the character of these groups, how they were organized or the size of the population.

Felix Riede has pointed out that isolation of population groups was a major threat to the survival of Late Palaeolithic societies in Northern Europe. This must have been of equal importance to the pioneer settlers of the Scandinavian Peninsula in the early Mesolithic. To the settlers their technology was decisive for their survival in an unfamiliar landscape. Maintenance and development of the technology would therefore be crucial to their success.

Technology is closely connected to social and cultural practices, and communication and transfer of knowledge is thus both part of and essential to technology. Joseph Heinrich has argued that maintenance and development of technology is closely connected to population size and organization. Following this, and on the basis of recent studies of Fosna, Hensbacka and Ahrensburgian technology, I will discuss the implications for the population size and organization in Preboreal Northern Scandinavia.

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