Tent, hut or house? A discussion on Early Mesolithic dwellings in light of the site Mohalsen 2012-II, Vega, Northern Norway
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Our research excavation of the site Mohalsen 2012-II on Vega in Northern Norway presented us with the remains of a pioneer-age dwelling believed to have been in use during the last part of the Early Mesolithic period, c. 9100 BP (8300 cal BC). Our review of other excavated Norwegian Early Mesolithic dwellings reveals (with some exceptions) that the observable remains are typically somewhat indistinct, context-dependent features; interpretations often involve areas cleared of stones and/or sharply defined lithic concentrations. Their characteristics fit a highly mobile lifestyle pattern and the use of fully portable tents. In contrast, the Mohalsen 2012-II dwelling remains showed a solid structure of 98 cobbles surrounding a distinct fireplace and a form of culture layer, but with few artefacts. Our excavation aimed at ascertaining the character of this dwelling in order to explore how the distinction between the remains of a tent and a more permanent dwelling might materialize in the archaeological record, and how the site related to the changes in logistics and settlement systems documented at Vega from the Early to the Middle Mesolithic.