14. Seal and Reindeer: Immediate and Continuous Utilization of Coast and Mountain in the Early Mesolithic of North-Western Norway
Ecology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe - Conditions for Subsistence and Survival (Volume 1) - Per Persson
Frode Svendsen [+]
Telemark County Council, Skien, Norway
A recent study covering Early Mesolithic sites in a coast-to-mountain section of northwestern Norway documents that a predominantly marine settlement- and subsistence pattern was practiced along with maintenance of certain continental traditions; explicitly evident in the appearance of seasonal reindeer hunting sites in the mountains. This link is particularly evident considering the exploration and utilization of both the outer coast and the mountains seem to have begun virtually instantly during colonization.The study shows how the combined knowledge of site distribution, geographical data and natural history data; indirectly can generate a significant wealth of knowledge about subsistence and how people have lived in the Early Mesolithic. It is argued that the settlement pattern alone is a very strong indicator that specialized hunting for sea mammals, preferably seal, were the key strategy. A combination of a series of favourable circumstances seems to have made the outer archipelagos particularly attractive for people during the Early Mesolithic. However, in contrast to this very obvious marine lifestyle, the mountain sites indicate that hunting for reindeer (still) had a very special importance.