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Book: Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe

Chapter: From Russia, with Love – Eastern Intruders in the North Norwegian Mesolithic

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30730


Interpretations concerning the nature of extant archaeological assemblages can sometimes change radically when the appearance of new information places them in a new context. This is illustrated by a number of Norwegian assemblages in the Varanger Sámi Museum, the Tromsø University Museum, and the Oslo Historical Museum, the peculiar character of which was not evident before the discovery of the Sujala site in northern Finnish Lapland and the chaîne opératoire analysis of its lithic assemblage. This analysis revealed the affiliation of the Sujala assemblage, not only with the aforementioned Norwegian assemblages, but also with a group of Early Mesolithic blade assemblages from northwestern Russia and the eastern Baltic. It also produced a set of technological criteria that can be used for identifying related assemblages even in the absence of traditional key artefact types. In this paper, we present the characteristics of the blade technology at Sujala and at the Russian sites Butovo 1 and Mikulino, and compare them to three excavated sites in the Varangerfjord area, Mortensnes 2/R10, Starehnjunni, and Sæleneshøgda, which are considered to represent the distinctive Phase 2 of the Finnmark Mesolithic. We also describe the surface collections from the unexcavated sites Fállegoahtesajeguolbba and Ovenfor Lossoa’s hus near Nyelv, as well as Nummedal’s finds from Prestestua II at Grense Jakobselv, and demonstrate their close affinity to Sujala and the Phase 2 finds mentioned above. It will be argued that these assemblages represent the first unequivocal evidence of an Early Mesolithic migration from the Post-Swiderian culture sphere in northeastern Europe into northern Lapland and Finnmark, and that they provide tools for understanding the development of the lithic technology in this area and beyond during the Middle Mesolithic.

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