A Discovery of Quite Exceptional Proportions: Controversies in the Wake of Anders Nummedal’s Discoveries of Norway’s First Inhabitants
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Around the beginning of the twentieth century archaeologists believed that Norway was not inhabited until the Late Stone Age. In 1909 two pieces of flint, found by the school-teacher Anders Nummedal, launched an extensive debate about the prehistory of Norway, which in time led to the acknowledgement that there was an Early Mesolithic (9500–8000 BC) settlement of the country. However, Nummedal’s lack of archaeological education worked against him when he tried to date the many flint sites he found later on, and well-established researchers found his theories about Stone Age settlements unconvincing. He was regarded as an unskilled teacher who did not know the first thing about archaeological methods and terminology. Today, Nummedal is considered to be one of the most influential participants in Norwegian Stone Age research, and his discoveries are well known and widely recognized. This paper describes Nummedal’s fight to transform his reputation from ridiculed amateur to respected professional. The resistance he met when presenting his sensational theories is detailed through an extensive review of letters, newspaper articles and eulogies written by his colleagues.