"The bear Cave of Velfjord" - an archaeological and faunal historical survey
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionVitark: Acta archaeologica Nidrosiensia. 2019, 11 134-150.
Karst caves have received little archaeological attention in Norway to date and little is known of their potential role in Scandinavian prehistory. The authors present the finds, observations, and analyses of an archaeological and faunal historical survey of a karst cave in Brønnøy Municipality in northern Norway. The aim of the survey was to assess the archaeological and faunal historic potential of the karst caves in the area. The authors focused on one of those caves, which contained some of the oldest known Holocene bear bones in Norway and large amounts of charcoal, but no other traces of human activity. Three samples of charcoal, from deep within the cave, were dated to three distinct events during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The authors discuss the site in relation to bear biology, rock art and other cave findings, and ethnographic sources. Although there is no direct link between the bear bones and the charcoal, the site is interpreted as a potential hunting site for cave dwelling bears or other animals, where smoke was used to force out the creatures. The practice of hunting of bears in dens is well known from various sources, but the sites themselves are rarely found. By seeing the examined site in a broader perspective, some aspects of prehistoric activities connected to caves and prehistoric bear hunting are highlighted. Karst Caves represent a largely unexplored type of site, which has the potential to reveal interesting new insights into poorly known prehistoric activities in Scandinavia.