Early Mesolithic Central Norway: A Review of Research History, Settlements, and Tool Tradition
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This paper sums up the vast record from the Early Mesolithic pioneer period (c. 10,000– 9000 BP, c. 9500–8000 cal BC) in Central Norway. This region holds a significant place when it comes to Stone Age research. This is where the first (Early Mesolithic) Fosna pioneer settlements were located by Anders Nummedal in 1909. It is also the region with the highest density of Early Mesolithic settlements in the present archaeological record of Norway. In recent years, several large-scale excavations have been conducted, revealing new and interesting details of Early Mesolithic dwellings, settlement structure, and tool tradition. The quantitative analysis of 244 sites offers the potential to put the previous studies into perspective and investigate topics that have received less treatment in the past. Since the Early Mesolithic record from the coastal areas of Northern Europe has been severely affected by postglacial inundations, this archaeological information is of great importance. The isostatic uplift in Central Norway has preserved these ancient shorelines and allows detailed study of early marine foragers here, in contrast to most other places. There is also a possibility that the high density of settlements is a result of a perfect correspondence between subsistence pattern and environmental characteristics, where fjords represent efficient communication routes between a highly productive marine biotope along the outer coast and the reindeer populations in the adjacent mountain plateaux. Thus, the Early Mesolithic record from Central Norway constitutes an interesting case in the understanding of the social and economic conglomerate of Mesolithic Europe.