Signals of sedentism: Faunal exploitation as evidence of a delayed-return economy at Norje Sunnansund, an Early Mesolithic site in south-eastern Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Delayed-return foraging strategies connected with a sedentary lifestyle are known from Late Mesolithic Scandinavian settlements. However, recent evidence from the archaeological site of Norje Sunnansund, in south-eastern Sweden, indicates the presence of sedentism from the Early Mesolithic. By analyzing the faunal assemblage from Norje Sunnansund, patterns of delayed-return strategies were examined for five categories of faunal exploitation/interaction: seal hunting, fishing, ungulate hunting, opportunistic hunting and rodent intrusions. The evidence suggests selective hunting strategies, large catches of fish and all year round seasonality indicators as well as evidence of commensal behavior in non-typical commensal species. The data were related to ethnographic accounts and sedentary foraging societies' modes of subsistence. The evidence suggests an expanding, sedentary, aquatically dependent Early
Mesolithic foraging lifestyle in southern Scandinavia, which, it is argued, came to dominate the mode of subsistence, implying larger settlements and a larger prevalent population. This process may have been going on for millennia prior to the rise of the Late Mesolithic Ertebølle culture, implying much larger Late Mesolithic populations than previously realized, perhaps comparable with the native cultures of the north-west coast of America.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Archaeology


  • Sedentism, Delayed-return, Mesolithic, Foraging, Selective hun, Commensalism, Subsistence strategies, Holocene, Scandinavia, Zooarchaeology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-168
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 7
Publication categoryResearch

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Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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