5. Huseby Klev and the Quest for Pioneer Subsistence Strategies: Diversification of a Maritime Lifestyle
Ecology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe - Conditions for Subsistence and Survival (Volume 1) - Per Persson
Adam Boethius [+]
University of Lund
The bone material from three archaeological occupation phases at Huseby klev provide the best source of evidence currently available about the subsistence strategies of pioneer settlers in northern Europe. The results from Huseby klev indicate that the pioneer settlers initially relied heavily on marine mammals for their sustenance. This subsistence strategy changed during the second and third occupation phases of the site, during which fishing became the most important part of the diet. These changes in subsistence strategy are interpreted as arising from different factors. A highly nutritious ocean on the west coast of Scandinavia at the end of the last Ice Age resulted in a large amount of available marine mammals in the ocean, which supported a large human population able to base its economy on them. As the ocean became less nutritious, when the freshwater mixing ceased, the marine mammals suffered a natural population decline at the same time as humans still relied upon them heavily, resulting in a marine mammal collapse. This forced the human populations to change their subsistence strategy, and fish became dominant in the diet. The bone material from Huseby klev implies a good knowledge of fishing methods and seafaring as well as highlighting the ocean as the main source of sustenance during the Preboreal–Boreal transition to the mid-Atlantic chronozone. The use of the terrestrial mammals, also found on the site, is interpreted as mainly being hunted to supply raw material. Finds of reindeer imply the presence of reindeers in Mesolithic western Scandinavia but they were not prioritized in the diet, possibly only being exploited during yearly migrations. Birds are common in the bone material and a large number of bird species with a low number of identified fragments from each species implies opportunistic hunting of all but auks, the latter having been hunted in large numbers. The bone material from Huseby klev is the oldest and best preserved Atlantic coastal material in Europe and the results indicate an advanced knowledge of utilizing aquatic resources and suggest a boom in aquatic reliance that is earlier and more widespread than previously known.