Huseby Klev and the Quest for Pioneer Subsistence Strategies: Diversification of a Maritime Lifestyle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


The bone material from three archaeological occupation phases at Huseby Klev provides the best source of evidence currently available about the subsistence strategies of pioneer settlers in Northern Europe. The results from Huseby Klev indicate that the pioneer settlers initially relied heavily on marine mammals for their sustenance. This subsistence strategy changed during the second and third occupation phases of the site, during which fishing became the most important part of the diet. These changes in subsistence strategy are interpreted as arising from different factors. A highly nutritious ocean on the west coast of Scandinavia at the end of the last ice age resulted in large numbers of available marine mammals in the ocean, which supported a large human population able to base its economy on them. As the ocean became less nutritious with
the cessation of freshwater mixing, the marine mammals suffered a natural population decline, while humans still relied upon them heavily, resulting in a marine-mammal collapse. This forced the human populations to change their subsistence strategy, and fish became dominant in the diet. The bone material from Huseby Klev implies a good knowledge of fishing methods and seafaring, in addition to which it highlights the ocean as the main source of sustenance during the time from the Preboreal–Boreal transition to the mid Atlantic chronozone. The hunting of terrestrial mammals, also found on the site, is interpreted as mainly being undertaken to supply raw material. Finds of reindeer imply the presence of reindeer in Mesolithic western Scandinavia, but they were not prioritized in the diet, possibly only being exploited during yearly migrations. Birds are common in the bone material, and a large number of bird species with a low number of identified fragments from each species implies opportunistic hunting of all but auks, which were hunted in large numbers. The bone material from Huseby Klev is the oldest and best-preserved Atlantic coastal material in Europe, and the results indicate an advanced knowledge of utilizing aquatic resources and suggest a boom in aquatic reliance that is earlier and more widespread than previously known.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ecology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe
Subtitle of host publicationConditions for Subsistence and Survival
EditorsPer Persson, Felix Riede, Birgitte Skar, Heidi Mjelva Breivik, Leif Jonsson
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherEquinox Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781781796030
ISBN (Print)9781781795156
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 28
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameThe Early Settlement of Northern Europe
PublisherEquinox Publishing

Related research output

Adam Boethius, 2018 Mar 16, Lund: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University. 370 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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