Palaeo-oceanographic development and human adaptive strategies in the Pleistocene–Holocene transition: A study from the Norwegian coast
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonThe Holocene. 2014, 24 (11), 1478-1490. 10.1177/0959683614544061
The human colonization of Norway occurred in the Pleistocene–Holocene transition – one of the most abrupt and severe climatic shifts in human history. For 1500 years (9500–8000 bc), the whole coast was occupied by mobile, marine-oriented hunter-gatherers. This paper explores dynamic relations between human adaptation and marine environmental variations in this period. An updated record of archaeological sites and palaeo-oceanographic data suggests a correlation between marine productivity and site distribution and density. The data further demonstrate spatial and temporal differences in the environment. A cooling pulse at 9300–9200 bc (the Preboreal Oscillation) with widespread ecological consequences must have been noticeable to humans occupying Norwegian landscapes. A more gradual shift occurred around 8800 bc when the arctic climate gave way to warmer conditions: The Norwegian Atlantic current stabilized, all fjord systems became ice-free, and animal diversity increased. In the northernmost region, the impact of Atlantic water was less severe, and Polar conditions with more sea ice seem to have lingered throughout the period. Variations in the site pattern may be related to these fluctuations in the resource situation. Variations in the lithic industry, on the other hand, seem to be connected to technological choices or local traditions, rather than environmental dissimilarities. The archaeological record indicates that the lifestyle, which developed under arctic conditions, was maintained through a flexible mobility pattern and a versatile tool technology, but the Norwegian coast also provided a good base to uphold such a lifestyle.