Book: Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe
Chapter: Early Mesolithic Central Norway: A Review of Research History, Settlements, and Tool Tradition
This paper sums up the vast record from the Early Mesolithic (EM) pioneer period (c. 10,000-9000 BP, c. 9500-8000 cal. BC) in central Norway (Fig. 1). This region holds a significant place when it comes to Stone Age research. This is where the first (Early Mesolithic) Fosna pioneer settlements were located by Anders Nummedal in 1909. It is also the region with the highest density of EM settlements in the present archaeological record of Norway. In recent years, several large-scale excavations have been conducted, revealing new and interesting details of EM dwellings, settlement structure and tool tradition.
The quantitative analysis of 248 sites has the potential to put the former studies into perspective and investigate topics that have been less treated in the past. Since the EM record from the coastal areas of northern Europe are severely hampered by Post-Glacial inundations, this archaeological information is of great importance. The nature of the isostatic uplift in central Norway has preserved these ancient shorelines, and does, unlike most other places, allow for detailed studies of early marine foragers. There is also a possibility that the high density of settlements is a result of a perfect correspondence between subsistence pattern and environmental characteristics, where fjords represent efficient communication routes between a highly productive marine biotope along the outer coast and the reindeer populations in the adjacent mountain plateaus. Thus, the EM record from central Norway constitutes an interesting case in the understanding of the social and economic conglomerate of Mesolithic Europe.