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Fishing for ways to thrive : Integrating zooarchaeology to understand subsistence strategies and their implications among Early and Middle Mesolithic southern Scandinavian foragers

Boethius, Adam LU (2018)
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate and deduce the varied lifeways of Early Holocene foragers in southern Scandinavia. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, zooarchaeological data have been applied to the study of different aspects of Early and Middle Mesolithic subsistence, in order to frame a discussion concerning our current understanding of culture and life in early north European societies. Three different sites/areas are the focus: Norje Sunnansund, Huseby Klev and Gotland/Gisslause. However, all available material from the chosen temporal and spatial frame have been incorporated to enable holistic discussions. The three focus areas combined comprise all available coastal settlements with well-preserved organic material from... (More)
The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate and deduce the varied lifeways of Early Holocene foragers in southern Scandinavia. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, zooarchaeological data have been applied to the study of different aspects of Early and Middle Mesolithic subsistence, in order to frame a discussion concerning our current understanding of culture and life in early north European societies. Three different sites/areas are the focus: Norje Sunnansund, Huseby Klev and Gotland/Gisslause. However, all available material from the chosen temporal and spatial frame have been incorporated to enable holistic discussions. The three focus areas combined comprise all available coastal settlements with well-preserved organic material from the Early Mesolithic period, which has led to discussions centred on the use of aquatic resources and the importance of fish.
To address the different aspects of Early and Middle Mesolithic subsistence, multiple approaches have been taken, whereby zooarchaeological methods have been combined with statistical, chemical, physical and ethnographical tools for analysis. The focus has varied between fish storage and conservation practice, by presenting evidence for delayed-return subsistence strategies through means of large-scale fish fermentation, and discussions concerning the evidence for a delayed-return lifestyle and sedentism, through the study of zooarchaeological assemblages. Furthermore, taphonomy is highlighted and discussed in order to address the many biases affecting the recovery of freshwater fish bones and the consequences for detecting a freshwater fish-based diet. Pioneer subsistence strategies are studied, and changes through time are highlighted in marine coastal regions. In addition, the reservoir effect in radiocarbon dating (14C) of human bones has been examined to evaluate the consequences of a freshwater reservoir effect stemming from a large dietary input of freshwater fish. Furthermore, stable isotopes values, δ13C and δ15N, in the collagen from all available Early and Middle Mesolithic humans have also been analysed and modelled, in order to evaluate the importance of each individual protein source in the diet.
The results from the different approaches taken indicate that humans relied on fish to a higher degree and from an earlier date than previously assumed. This has implications for how Early Holocene societies are interpreted; indicating the use of delayed-return subsistence strategies, diminishing mobility and emerging sedentism already existed during the Early Mesolithic period. Overall, the results of this thesis suggest a growing territoriality, which implies that the emergence of social stratification is conceivable at an early stage of Scandinavian prehistory and offers an insight into the lifestyle of Early Holocene foragers at latitudes around 55–59° N. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • professor Rowley-Conwy, Peter, Durham University, England
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Early Holocene, Mesolithic, Palaeodiet, Zooarchaeology, Scandinavia, Subsistence, Fish, Forager
pages
370 pages
publisher
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University
defense location
C126, LUX, Helgonavägen 3, Lund
defense date
2018-03-16 13:15
ISBN
978-91-88473-66-0
978-91-88473-65-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
923623c4-ca1e-4a29-8afb-6752731fabc8
date added to LUP
2018-02-06 14:45:31
date last changed
2018-06-20 08:31:49
@phdthesis{923623c4-ca1e-4a29-8afb-6752731fabc8,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate and deduce the varied lifeways of Early Holocene foragers in southern Scandinavia. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, zooarchaeological data have been applied to the study of different aspects of Early and Middle Mesolithic subsistence, in order to frame a discussion concerning our current understanding of culture and life in early north European societies. Three different sites/areas are the focus: Norje Sunnansund, Huseby Klev and Gotland/Gisslause. However, all available material from the chosen temporal and spatial frame have been incorporated to enable holistic discussions. The three focus areas combined comprise all available coastal settlements with well-preserved organic material from the Early Mesolithic period, which has led to discussions centred on the use of aquatic resources and the importance of fish.<br/>To address the different aspects of Early and Middle Mesolithic subsistence, multiple approaches have been taken, whereby zooarchaeological methods have been combined with statistical, chemical, physical and ethnographical tools for analysis. The focus has varied between fish storage and conservation practice, by presenting evidence for delayed-return subsistence strategies through means of large-scale fish fermentation, and discussions concerning the evidence for a delayed-return lifestyle and sedentism, through the study of zooarchaeological assemblages. Furthermore, taphonomy is highlighted and discussed in order to address the many biases affecting the recovery of freshwater fish bones and the consequences for detecting a freshwater fish-based diet. Pioneer subsistence strategies are studied, and changes through time are highlighted in marine coastal regions. In addition, the reservoir effect in radiocarbon dating (14C) of human bones has been examined to evaluate the consequences of a freshwater reservoir effect stemming from a large dietary input of freshwater fish. Furthermore, stable isotopes values, δ13C and δ15N, in the collagen from all available Early and Middle Mesolithic humans have also been analysed and modelled, in order to evaluate the importance of each individual protein source in the diet.<br/>The results from the different approaches taken indicate that humans relied on fish to a higher degree and from an earlier date than previously assumed. This has implications for how Early Holocene societies are interpreted; indicating the use of delayed-return subsistence strategies, diminishing mobility and emerging sedentism already existed during the Early Mesolithic period. Overall, the results of this thesis suggest a growing territoriality, which implies that the emergence of social stratification is conceivable at an early stage of Scandinavian prehistory and offers an insight into the lifestyle of Early Holocene foragers at latitudes around 55–59° N.},
  author       = {Boethius, Adam},
  isbn         = {978-91-88473-66-0},
  keyword      = {Early Holocene,Mesolithic,Palaeodiet,Zooarchaeology,Scandinavia,Subsistence,Fish,Forager},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {03},
  pages        = {370},
  publisher    = {Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Fishing for ways to thrive : Integrating zooarchaeology to understand subsistence strategies and their implications among Early and Middle Mesolithic southern Scandinavian foragers},
  year         = {2018},
}