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

See: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780203730942


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