Creative individuals travelled to the south Swedish inland 9,000 years ago


Share post:

Despite its good ecologic status, there were no permanent settlements in the south Swedish inland 9,000 years ago. Yet the area was visited by people who wanted to express their individuality and creativity and thereby gain status. This is found in a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg. 

Mesolithic Village in Alby on the island of Öland in Sweden [Credit: C_Michael_Hogan/The Megalithic Portal]

Carl Persson’s doctoral thesis in Archaeology is based on archaeological material discovered in connection with the construction of the E4 highway by Markaryd, Sweden. The finds consisted of a few very small pieces of flint that had been left behind in connection with visits to what used to be a small island in the outlet of a long-gone lake. The wear marks on the flint fragments reveal that they were used to carve meat, bone, wood and horn. The wear marks combined with computer-aided analyses of the phosphate levels in the ground and the distribution of the finds has yielded a detailed account of people’s visits to the site some 9,000 years ago. 

‘It is generally believed that conclusions about Stone Age life require large amounts of archaeological finds, but the results in my thesis contradict that notion,’ says Persson. 

To put the site in a larger context, Persson reconstructed the Mesolithic landscape through computer-aided analyses. It turns out that the landscape has changed dramatically – 9,000 years ago the now brown lakes were clear and full of nutrients and had a high pH level. The average temperature was much higher than today and the dense forests were full of lush broad-leaved trees. 

‘Yet despite the good ecologic conditions, the area didn’t attract many people in the first millennia after the Ice Age. Analyses show that the inland probably wasn’t permanently inhabited during the Mesolithic period (10,000-4,000 BC), but that people did come to visit,’ says Persson. 

Traces from the inland visits are almost always found near waterways and lakes, and analyses of the finds indicate that different groups have travelled to the inland with different ambitions. The visits are probably due to the fact that people moved across very large areas 9,000 years ago. The extensive travel had to do with the extremely low population density – in order to meet other people you had to travel far and have broad social networks. 

‘In a society characterised by a quest for equality, knowledge about foreign locations and other people was a way for people to distinguish themselves and gain status. Against this background, the trips to the inland 9,000 years ago can be seen as a natural consequence of people’s creativity and desire to express a sense of individuality,’ says Persson. 

Source: University of Gothenburg [June 16, 2012]



Related articles

Uncovering Punic remains in Malta’s Żejtun

High up on a flat ridge and tucked away behind a secondary school in Żejtun, in the South...

Sea change can forecast South American wildfires

Tiny temperature changes on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans provide an excellent way to forecast wildfires in South...

More on A relative from the Tianyuan Cave

The origins of humans have intrigued anthropologists for the longest time. Now an international group of paleoanthropologists has...

More on Antikythera Mechanism older than thought

The shoebox-sized chunk of bronze didn’t attract much attention when divers retrieved it from an ancient shipwreck off...

Remains of an ancient castle disappearing due to neglect

The Swat Valley attracts tourists not only because of its beauty but also because it has a rich...

Possible clouds on Pluto, next target is reddish

The next target for NASA's New Horizons mission -- which made a historic flight past Pluto in July...

Paleontologist finds that ligaments in some dinosaurs’ necks helped them graze more efficiently

Ligaments in the long necks of certain sauropods probably helped them graze more efficiently, according to a Montana...

Roman legion base camp found in Galilee

Israeli archaeologists have found ruins they believe are the site of one of the two Roman legions based...