Submerged Landscapes in the Hanö Bay: Early Holocene shoreline displacement and human environments in the southern Baltic Basin

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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During times of lower global sea level, vast areas of the coastal shelf were exposed and converted into ecologically diverse coastal landscapes that were
attractive for human occupation. The landscapes were subsequently flooded during the deglaciation, but well-preserved remains of these landscapes and
their inhabitants can today be found on the seafloor. In the southern Baltic Basin, where the complex relative shoreline displacement history exposed
large coastal areas, many submerged landscapes can be found. However, in Swedish waters, the research interest in these landscapes has been limited.
The Hanö Bay area in southeastern Sweden, where well-preserved remains of early Holocene coastal landscapes can be found off the coast at Haväng in
eastern Skåne and in the near-shore waters in western Blekinge, is an exception. The overall aim of this thesis is to increase the understanding of these
coastal landscapes, their inhabitants and the water level changes that formed, and later inundated, the landscapes.

High-resolution bathymetry data, organic sediment sequences, surveillance and sampling of wood remains and archaeological artefacts by divers and
GIS-based palaeogeography modelling were used in this multidisciplinary project to investigate the shoreline displacement, coastal environments and
human resource exploitation in the Hanö Bay region during the early Holocene.

Based on the depth and age of submerged rooted stumps and organic sediments from Haväng, the early Holocene shoreline displacement in the area
has been refined. The Yoldia Sea lowstand level was determined to 24–25 m b.s.l. and the subsequent Ancylus Lake transgression lasted approximately
500 years, from 10,800 to 10,300 cal BP, with a mean rate of 4 cm yr -1. The maximum Ancylus Lake level was determined to about 5 m b.s.l., while the
lowstand level of the subsequent Initial Littorina Sea Stage was determined to approximately 10 m b.s.l. The maximum level of the Littorina Sea Stage in
the area was determined to about 4 m a.s.l. at c. 6000 cal BP.

During the Yoldia Sea and Ancylus Lake Stages, the Haväng area was a pine-dominated open woodland with a slow-flowing nutrient-rich stream characterized by ponds and wetlands. Recovered bones with slaughter marks show that aurochs and beaver were hunted in the area. During the subsequent
Initial Littorina Sea Stage, the river mouth developed into a productive lagoon surrounded by a more closed forest with both coniferous and deciduous
trees. The findings of several stationary fishing constructions, dated to 9000–8400 cal BP, indicate that the subsistence was focused on large-scale fishing, which suggests a development towards a sedentary lifestyle and year-round presence in the coastal landscape. The area was finally inundated during the Littorina Sea transgression phase, at about 8000 cal BP.

The preservation of the submerged landscapes and their artefacts in the Hanö Bay region is dependent on generally sheltered conditions, either by covering
organic sediments in a river-mouth or lagoonal environment and/or little or no exposure to extreme wave activity. Even though these landscapes have
survived for thousands of years, their future is uncertain. By introducing marine nature reserves, these valuable archives can be better protected for future

This study shows that submerged landscapes can be excellent natural and cultural archives and that a geoarchaeological approach can maximise the
research output, providing detailed information on shoreline displacement, landscape dynamics and coastal human societies.
Translated title of the contributionUndervattenslandskap i Hanöbukten: Tidig-holocen strandlinjeförskjutning och mänskliga miljöer i södra östersjöbassängen
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Quaternary Sciences
  • Hammarlund, Dan, Supervisor
  • Rundgren, Mats, Assistant supervisor
  • Linderson, Hans, Assistant supervisor
  • Björck, Svante, Assistant supervisor
  • Nilsson, Björn, Assistant supervisor
Award date2018 Jun 15
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-87847-42-4
ISBN (electronic) 978-91-87847-43-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2018-06-15
Time: 13:15
Place: Lecture hall “Pangea”, Geocentrum II, Sölvegatan 12, Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Jensen, Jørn Bo
Title: Dr.
Affiliation: Department of Marine Geology, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology
  • Archaeology


  • Submerged landscapes
  • Baltic Sea
  • Southern Sweden
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Mesolithic
  • Early Holocene
  • Environmental reconstruction
  • Shoreline displacement


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