Knowledge from the ancient sea: a long-term perspective of human impact on aquatic life in Mesolithic Scandinavia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Lately, evidence for early-Holocene emerging sedentism has been suggested among foragers in Northern Europe. The core of this suggested sedentism lies in the increasing dependency on large-scale fishing and mass consumption of fish and a territorial behaviour associated with access to the best fishing locations. This territoriality might also be associated with increasing numbers of people settling and living in Northern Europe at this time. In this article, we review the evidence for forager sedentism and territoriality and relate it to large-scale fishing, during a time of global warming, in early-Holocene Scandinavia. We explore the requisites of using the archaeological record to study the long-term effect of intense fishing on some of the best-preserved Stone Age sites in the area of study. We suggest that the archaeological record can enable a discussion of how aquatic life varies corresponding to human exploitation and climate change. In addition, we discuss how these changes might be traceable through temporal fluctuations in species composition, within species size reduction/increases, temporal fish age changes and within species dietary changes. In the end, we suggest that the archaeological record holds one of the keys to predict future impact on life below the surface, by offering a long-term perspective on aquatic exploitation in a period of climate change. At the same time as we acknowledge the potential hidden in the archaeological record, we also raise the dire warning that this record might be rapidly disappearing, because of an accelerated deterioration of archaeological organic remains in areas previously known for their good preservation.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Bergen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-645
Number of pages14
JournalThe Holocene
Volume30
Issue number5
Early online date2020 Jan 5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes