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Book: Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe

Chapter: The Pioneer Settlement of Eastern Norway

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30736


The pioneer settlement of eastern Norway has been the subject of a long research history. The Post-Glacial colonisation as a social process, and the long-term social implications related to settling in new landscapes, has, however, received sparse attention. During the last decade, new excavations have provided source material of high quality from both the early and late pioneering phase of eastern Norway, corresponding to the Early (10,000-9000 BP/9500-8250 cal. BC) and Middle Mesolithic (9000-7500 BP/8250-6350 cal. BC) periods. Both inland and coastal settlements have been excavated, giving us opportunity to investigate the colonisation process in two very different ecological and economic settings. Whereas the earliest evidence of human pioneer settlement in the coastal areas of eastern Norway can be dated to c. 9900-9800 BP (9400-9300 cal. BC), the inland areas first became habitable after the ice retreated c. 8850 BP (8000 cal. BC) and groups moving into the area can be characterized as the last pioneers of eastern Norway. In earlier models on Mesolithic inland-coastal relationship, the interior of eastern Norway has been treated as resource caches for a coastal population and peripheral to broader concerns of understanding change during the colonisation process (Boaz 1999). With the purpose of contributing to a better understanding of the adjustment to regional circumstances and traditions in the enculturation of new landscapes, we study raw material and technological strategies as well as settlement strategies at coastal sites from the Oslofjord region and interior sites along the Rena River/Gråfjell area, Hedmark County. By using a multilateral approach we will argue that stable settlement can be seen at the coast and in the inland c. 2000 years earlier than previously suggested, and that the development in the interior regions must be perceived as a parallel to the increased regionalisation and general social development in Scandinavia during the colonisation process.

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