Category Archives: Foundations

Rennes 2014 – Oslo 2016

Oslo, 2016

The Coastal Landscapes of the Mesolithic

International Workshop at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo

November 16th-18th, 2016

This international workshop aimed at exploring modes and strategies of using coastal landscapes in the Mesolithic, to understand more thoroughly how Mesolithic hunters and gatherers interacted with, used and depended on the coastal areas.

Most of Europe’s Stone Age coastal landscapes have been inundated or buried under beach sediments at the end of the Last Glacial period. In some parts of Northern Europe, as in the Oslo Fjord area, sites are preserved on dry land – due to constant land upheaval since the deglaciation. Within the last two decades, the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, has excavated many of these former coastal sites, providing a comprehensive body of data. There can be no doubt that the Mesolithic societies of the region were strongly related to the present shorelines, with coastal areas being vital for subsistence and communication across the water. Even though displaying clear technological and chronological traits, the sites differ in range of artefacts and in the raw materials used, and show a variety of distribution patterns. Also, different topographical settings can be distinguished. This data holds key-information for an understanding of the Mesolithic economic and social strategies, on movement, connections, land-use and taphonomic aspects both within the coastal areas and in their relation to the inland.

To address these issues the workshop focused on patterns and varieties within the use of coastal landscapes, and on the structure and infrastructure of the coast during the Mesolithic through case studies from different regions of Northern and Western Europe.

The following questions serve to better understand the long term relation between human populations and the sea/coast: What kind of activities can be traced at these sites? How did people interact within and towards a changing coastal landscape? Why was the coast attractive – and can we discern a change of relevance through time?

Topics that were discussed are:

– The social relevance of coastal sites: Spot, place, or living area?

– Lithics in coastal landscapes: Mobility and taskscapes

– The technology of Mesolithic coastal societies

– Coastal sites in the light of paleoenvironmental data

– Coastal landscapes – cosmological landscapes?

 – Taphonomic patterns/patterns of abandonment

The workshop was organized by the research group “Stone Age Coastal Landscapes” at the Museum for Cultural History, University of Oslo (Almut Schülke, Guro Fossum, Lucia Koxvold, Steinar Solheim).

For the publication of the contributions see



The significance of coastal areas in the Mesolithic

Peter Moe Astrup (Moesgård Museum, Denmark) – The role of coastal exploitation in the Maglemose culture of southern Scandinavia – Marginal or dominant?

Killian Driscoll (School of Archaeology, University College Dublin) – Revisiting old territories: models of coastal-inland mobility strategies in Mesolithic Ireland

Aivar Kriiska/Alar Rosentau (Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu) – Stone Age marine landscape and coastal society in Estonia

Valdis Bērziņš (Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia) – Transformations of coast and culture: a view from the Latvian shore of the Baltic

Harald Lübke (Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schleswig) – Geoarchaeological investigations on the early Mid-Holocene cultural development of the south-western Baltic coastal area

Coastal settlement, mobility and networks

Steinar Solheim (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) – Temporal variation in Mesolithic coastal settlement – a Nordic approach

Karen Wicks (School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading) – Regional gateways, vital hubs – exploring Mesolithic mobility and settlement using recent discoveries at Rubha Port an t-Seilich, Isle of Islay, western Scotland

Lucia Koxvold (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) – Chasing the perfect refit. The use and reuse of the Middle Mesolithic coastal area of Bommestad, Southeastern Norway

Grégor Marchand (CNRS, Université du Rennes 1) – Mesolithic Networks of Atlantic France (7th and 6th millennia BCE)

Astrid Nyland (Arkeologisk Museum, University of Stavanger) – Nodal points in a mobile coastal world? Entangled lithic procurement sites in the Mesolithic

Humans and coastal environments

Heidi M. Breivik (Museum of Natural History and Archaeology, University of Trondheim) – Dynamic relations between humans and environment in Early Mesolithic Norway

Guro Fossum (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) – Climate change and resource exploitation during the Middle Mesolithic/Late Mesolithic transition. Crisis, adaptation or business as usual? A case study from the Oslofjord area

Magda Wieckowska-Lüth/Wiebke Kirleis (Institute for Pre- and Protohistory, Kiel University) – Palaeo-ecological investigations on human-environment interactions during the Mesolithic – an example from Lake Skogtjern, Telemark

Coastal areas: Practice and perception

Charlotte Damm (Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Tromsø) – Mesolithic pyro-technology: practices and perceptions in coastal Norway

Søren A. Sørensen (Museum Lolland-Falster, Denmark) – Ritual deposits in coastal areas – reflections of the Stone Age Cosmology?

Almut Schülke (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) – Newly frequented or revisited? Diverging concepts of historicity in the changing coastal landscapes of Mesolithic Southeastern Norway

The resources of the sea

Aikaterini Glykou/Gunilla Eriksson/Kerstin Lidén (Archaeological Research Laboratory, University of Stockholm) – Seal exploitation in the Baltic Sea during the mid- and late Holocene

Knut Andreas Bergsvik (University Museum of Bergen) – Mesolithic fishing landscapes in western Norway

Axel Mjærum (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) – Stone Age fishing in Southeastern Norway

Rennes, 2014

Archaeology of maritime hunter-gatherers: From settlement function to the organization of the coastal zone

Rennes (France), 10th-11th April 2014

Catherine Dupont and Grégor Marchand

General topics

Maritime hunter-gatherers have been the subject of particular attention from anthropologists, due to the wide variety of social organization all over the world. The diversity of their technical system, whether to fish, food preservation or storage, also just caught their attention. Archeologists have meanwhile focused their consideration on the so emblematic shell middens. These coastal or estuarine sites often combine dumps, graves, homes and daily activities areas. The recent resumption of their exploration in Europe came to highlight all their informative potential to answer the question of relations between humans and the marine environment. This new dynamic research is also supported by the diversification of disciplines related to archeology, which deliver more attention on these so singular remains. The workshop of Rennes in April 2014 allowed archaeologists from several countries to make an assessment under all latitudes and along all the oceans. It appeared that these sites could not be conceived out of wider economic and social networks. The papers published in this book are also an opportunity to question the place of these so particular human groups during the Prehistory of our species.


The organization of this event also received financial support from a number of public bodies and research projects:  UMR 6566 CReAAH, the European “Arch-Manche” project (Interreg IVA 2 Mers, FEDER funds), the project “SeaMeso” from la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme en Bretagne, the CNRS (DR 17), the Rennes Observatory of the Sciences of the Universe (Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes, OSUR), the Ministry of Culture (Regional Archaeology Service) and the Brittany region. The University of Rennes 1 kindly let us use the Donzelot amphitheatre. Finally, we wish to thank the Société préhistorique française for accepting to categorize this event as a “French Prehistoric Society session”.

This conference has been published online for free since 2016 on the website of the French Prehistoric Society and can be viewed here.


Jeudi 10 avril 2014 (9h-18h)

Nuno Bicho – Coastal resources and its importance for early human adaptations in Southern Iberia

Jean-Marc Pétillon – Vivre au bord du golfe de Gascogne pendant le Tardiglaciaire : un nouveau paradigme

Esteban Álvarez-Fernández, Bárbara Avezuela, Joan Emili Aura, Inmaculada Barreram, Réné-Pierre Carriol, Katerina Douka, Catherine Dupont, Maria José Fernández, Sonia Gabriel, Alejandro Gómez Fuentes, Jesús Jordá, María Paz Villalba – Importance des ressources côtières dans le sud-ouest de l’Europe durant le Pléistocène supérieur et l’Holocène : espèces collectées et zone de collecte

Véronique Laroulandie – Sur l’exploitation des oiseaux marins par les chasseurs-collecteurs via le site de Santa Catalina en Espagne  (Pléistocène)

David Cuenca Solana, Igor Gutiérrez-Zugasti, Manuel R. González-Morales – Shell tool and subsistence strategies during the Upper Paleolithic in Northern Spain

Joan Emili Aura Tortosa, Jesús F. Jordá Pardo, Esteban Álvarez-Fernández, Manuel Pérez Ripoll; Domingo C. Salazar-García, Ernestina Badal, Adolfo Maestro, Juan Vicente Morales; Bárbara Avezuela, Maria J. Rodrigo, Ricard Marlasca, Josep A. Alcover, Maria P. Villalba Currás

Palaeolithic – Mesolithic Seapeople of the southern Iberian coast

Ana Cristina Araújo – Shells … as usual: understanding patterns of early Mesolithic organization

Pablo Arias – Transitions côtières : Les processus de néolithisation dans la vallée du Sado (Portugal) et la région Cantabrique (Espagne)

Pablo Arias, Miriam Cubas, Miguel Ángel Fano, Eneko Iriarte, Inés L. López-Dóriga, Christoph Salzmann, Carlos D. Simões, Felix Teichner et Luis C. Teira

L’habitat asturien: une nouvelle approche pour un problème ancien

Igor Gutiérrez-Zugasti, David Cuenca-Solana, Manuel R. González-Morales – Shell midden formation by Mesolithic hunter-fisher-gatherers in northern Spain: old and new perspectives

Mariana Diniz – Between the Land and the Sea: debating Final Mesolithic and Early Neolithic site catchment areas in Southern Portugal

Raphaële Guilbert-Berger, Bernard Gassin, Isabel Figueiral, Viannet Forest; Lionel Gourichon, Berger Jean François – Premiers résultats concernant le statut du site de Laverune et son organisation spatiale

Ingrid Sénépart, Didier Binder, Nicolas Weyder – Économie d’un espace littoral : le cas des chasseurs-cueilleurs mésolithiques du bassin de Marseille et de ses environs

Grégor Marchand, Catherine Dupont, Nathalie Desse-Berset, Yves Gruet, Marine Laforge, Jean-Christophe Le Bannier, Camille Netter, Marylise Onfray, Guirec Querré, Pierre Stéphan – Beg-er-Vil revisited: new methodological approaches of the maritime hunter-gatherers in Atlantic France

Rick Schulting – Diet and territory at Téviec and Hoëdic, southern Brittany

Cyrille Billard, Vincent Bernard – Les barrages à poissons au Mésolithique : une économie de prédation ou de production ?

Vendredi 11 avril 2014 (9h-18h)

Søren Henning Andersen – Danish shell middens – new results on internal organisation and intersite relations between shell middens in Danish fiords?

Erik Brinch Petersen – Marine Adaptation of the South Scandinavian Population

Garry Momber, Lauren Tidbury, Julie Satchell – Flooded landscapes, human cultural divergence and the North sea basin

Lu Peng, Anne Tresset, Jia Xiaobing, Jin Yingxi, Yuan Jing – Holocene sea level rise, biodiversities and late prehistoric economies: a comparative approach of North-East China and North-West Europe

Hirofumi Kato – From “Okhotsk culture” to “Ainu culture”: maritime adaptation and human migration

Christine Lefèvre, Dominique Legoupil – Chasseurs-pêcheurs-collecteurs maritime de Patagonie australe : exploitation de l’espace littoral

Dominique Bonnissent, Nathalie Serrand, Pierrick Fouéré, Christian Stouvenot, Laurent Bruxelles, Sandrine Grouard – Archéoécologie des sociétés insulaires des Petites Antilles au Mésoindien : l’enjeu des ressources

Sandrine Grouard, Sophia Perdikaris, Dominique Bonnissent – Peuplements humains de l’Arc antillais : une chronologie précolombienne de la pêche

Nicolas Valdeyron – Entre permanences et changements : la collecte de coquilles marines dans la baie de Luanda (Angola), du début de l’ère à l’actuel. Données archéologiques et ethnologiques, réflexions méthodologiques

Robert Vernet – L’exploitation ancienne des ressources du littoral atlantique mauritanien (7500-1000 cal)

Sophie Méry – Le Totémisme est-il bien mort ? Les Dugong Bones Mounds du Détroit de Torrès (sub-actuel, Australie) et  d’Akab (Néolithique récent, Détroit d’Ormuz).

Jean-François Berger, Vincent Charpentier, Rémy Crassard, Federico Borgi, Philippe Béarez – Premiers chasseurs-collecteurs maritimes en Mer d’Arabie (XIe -IVe  BCE)

Antoine Zazzo, Olivia Munoz, Jean-François Saliège† – Diet and mobility in a late Neolithic population of coastal Oman inferred from radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis.

Paul Wallin – The Use and Organisation of a Middle-Neolithic Pitted Ware coastal site on the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea

Alexander Popov, Andrei Tabarev – Lords of the Shell Rings: Boisman Neolithic Culture, Russian Far East

Sergii Telizhenko – Stone assemblage of Copper Age shell midden of Ardych Burun site on Southern shore of Crimean peninsula


Claire Houmard – L’exploitation des ressources animales des premiers peuples maritimes de l’Arctique de l’Est canadien (~2500 B.C.)

Esteban Álvarez-Fernández, Inmaculada Barrera, Réné-Pierre Carriol, Marián Cueto, María José Fernández, Alejandro Gómez Fuentes – Nouvelles données sur les relations des groupes de chasseurs-cueilleurs avec la côte durant le Tardiglaciaire dans la Région Cantabrique : la grotte de El Cierro