Category Archives: First meetings

Coast-inland mobility in hunter-gatherer societies

Workshop – University of Oslo – Museum of Cultural History

October 8th-10th, 2019

Outline of the topic

This workshop will explore the topic of hunter-fisher-gatherer mobility and how it can be studied archaeologically, with special focus on the coastal zone (WP 4 of the IRN). Topics such as the use of landscape or seascape, seasonal movement, linear movement as well as links and connectivity between people and groups will be central to the discussion. An important part of discussing mobility is the question of social organization and possible social hierarchies. Furthermore, movement of people or ideas are central for the transformation of Mesolithic societies in the course of the neolithisation.

Mobility can be studied from a variety of perspectives and can be approached with different archaeological, geographical, chemical and spatial methods. It reaches from empiric studies of the distribution of artefacts and raw materials, via studies of provenience and migration, to considerations of means of transport and bodily experience of movement. Furthermore, it includes perspectives on the character of seascapes and ways of using the sea for transport and communication and of the different coastal zones, including the hinterland, and their accessibility. By studying these aspects, and combining different parameters, more routinized behaviour, as well as pathways and routes might be understood more closely. Thus, the workshop aims at carving out limitations and future possibilities of the discussion of movement, on the basis of the Mesolithic coastal record.


Tuesday, October 8th

9.00-9.45        Coffee and informal welcome

10.00-12.00                Open seminar

10.00-10.05    Welcome

10.05-10.30    The PrehCOAST-network and coast-inland relations in Mesolithic Western France (Grégor Marchand, CNRS, University Rennes-1, France)

10.30-10.55    The relevance of PrehCOAST for Southeast Norway (Almut Schülke, KHM, UiO, Norway)                   

10.55-11.20    PrehCOAST and Northern Spain (Pablo Arias, University of Cantabria, Spain)

11.20-11.45    The Latvian coast of the Baltic Sea and its place in the story of prehistory (Valdis Bērziņš, University of Latvia, Latvia)

11.45-12.00    Questions and discussion

12.15-13.15    lunch

From 13.30 to ca. 17.00     Workshop

«Coastal mobility/coast-inland mobility in hunter-gatherer societies”

– Introduction to the Coastal mobility/coast-inland mobility in hunter-gatherer societies (Almut Schülke)

– Adaptation of the first afro-pastoral societies in the Ponant Islands (Yvan Pailler and Pierre Stéphan)

– Mobility and connectivity in Final Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic, NW-Europe (Inger Marie Berg Hansen)

– Mobility of the last hunter-gatherers of Atlantic France: but where have my tools gone?     (Grégor Marchand)

– Pablo Arias: to be announced

– Hinterland discoveries. Middle Mesolithic woodlan utilization and the case of the Eidsberg  site, Eastern Norway (Axel J. Mjærum)

– Coast-inland links in Latvia: rivers, amber and ceramics (Valdis Bērziņš)

– Miriam Cubas Morera: to be announced

Wednesday, October 9th

9.00-15.00      Excursion to Mesolithic coastal sites in the Oslofjord area

15.00-c.17.00  organizers’ meeting (at professorboligen) and possibility of studying artefact material (at St. Olavsgate 29)

Thursday, October 10th

9.00-12.15                  Continuation Workshop

«Coastal mobility/coast-inland mobility in hunter-gatherer societies”

– Raw materials on the move. Approaching Mesolithic mobility and networks through minimum analytical nodule analysis (Guro Fossum)

– Flint and knapping technology as indicator for coast-inland mobility in hunter-gatherer societies in the Eastern Baltic 6th-3rd millennium BC (Mārcis Kalniņš)

– Technical systems of the Holocene Maritime Hunter-Gatherers from Brittany: preliminary results through the lithic assemblage of Téviec (Jorge Calvo)

– The 82-Kilometer fit (Svein Vatsvåg Nielsen)

– How the shells followed Mesolithic and Neolithic human populations in western France? (Catherine Dupont)

– Quantifying coastal exposure – Applying viewshed and fetch analysis to locational patterns in the Norwegian Mesolithic (Isak Roalkvam)

– Modelling human movement in coastal areas: a visibility and mobility network approach (Elias Lopez-Romero/P. Fabrega Alvarez)

13.30-16.30                Plenum discussion on planned projects within/across work packages, articles, planning of future meetings etc.

Participants: Jorge Calvo Gomez, Catherine Dupont, Grégor Marchand, Elias Lopez-Romero, Pablo Arias, Miriam Cubas Morera, Valdis Bērziņš, Mārcis Kalniņš, Inger Marie Berg-Hansen, Guro Fossum, Axel Mjærum, Svein Vatsvåg Nielsen, Isak Roalkvam, Almut Schülke, Steinar Solheim

Exploring the coast, sounding out the past: the methods and practices of maritime prehistory

International workshop (IRN PrehCOAST / French Prehistoric Society)

Organizers: Grégor Marchand, Yvan Pailler and Pierre Stéphan

Location: University of Brest / IUEM

WARNING: due to the current epidemic, the round table is postponed from 2 to 4 December 2020

Rescue excavation of a Neolithic structure on the foreshore of Soulac-sur-Mer, Gironde, France (@Florence Verdin)

When prehistoric archaeology dips a toe cautiously into the sea, it starts to lose sight of its landmarks. Human occupation at the interface between the maritime and landward domains is a complex research topic that can be hard to grasp, for three reasons. First and foremost, the position of the coastline has fluctuated over time as a result of marine transgressions, erosion, sedimentary inputs or isostatic recovery. Revealing these habitats and other traces of human activity on the foreshore requires a wide range of techniques that is constantly evolving: geophysical surveys, Lidar, coring, etc.

Secondly, the multiplicity of environmental domains that people exploited means that a very wide range of archaeological and archaeozoological evidence is left behind, requiring a wide range of approaches. The study of mammals, fish, birds and shellfish enhances our knowledge and provides a better understanding of how the natural cycles – seasons or tides – were managed (or rather, adapted to) by fishermen and by agro-pastoralist communities. Particular attention needs to be paid to the interdisciplinary nature of the investigation, and to the differing time-frames involved in acquiring different kinds of data. The degree to which this work can be intermeshed will determine the success or failure of these scientific programmes.

Thirdly, prehistoric coastal settlement should not be regarded as a kind of tightrope walk on the edge of an ecotone, but rather as the starting point of economic and social networks that extend far into the land beyond the coast, as well as linking coastal areas: for example, some whalebone paddles or shell ornaments ended up far inland, travelling along such networks. Once again, the study of these artefacts involves the use of state-of-the-art scientific methods.

Finally, we cannot ignore the regulatory aspects that weigh on archaeological and Paleoenvironmental interventions in coastal environments: the diversity of regulations on human or natural heritage and the multiplicity of institutional stakeholders can generate significant bottlenecks in research, even though marine erosion continues in its unrelenting way.

The workshop “Exploring the coast, sounding out the past: methods and practices of maritime prehistory” therefore offers a comprehensive assessment of these new methods of exploring prehistoric habitats in the maritime domain, opening up scientific perspectives. This meeting, which focuses on the methodological and technical aspects of prehistoric coastal land use – a topic that is currently undergoing a transformation in our understanding of it – also aims to address the heritage, ecological and political problems encountered by scientific research when dealing with prehistoric societies on the world’s coasts.

This international round table is supported by the European Research Network (IRN) project “Coastal-inland dynamics in prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies” (PrehCOAST), supported by the Institut Ecologie et Environnement of CNRS since January 2019. It also benefits from the scientific dynamics of the ArMeRIE programme (Maritime Archaeology and Interdisciplinary Environmental Research) and the “Brest-Iroise” Workshop Zone (LTSER France).

The language of the event will be English. Proposals for papers (only in English) should be sent to:

gregor.marchand at

pierre.stephan at

yvan.pailler at

More information on Société Préhistorique Française Website (in french)