Something rotten in Scandinavia: The world's earliest evidence of fermentation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Large-scale food storage has been identified at an Early Mesolithic settlement on the east coast of Sweden, implying a delayed-return subsistence strategy. The excavation and analysis of the contents of a 9200-year-old construction, combined with ethnographic analogies and modern knowledge of microbial activity, suggest that fish was fermented at the site. The identification of a foraging economy fermenting substantial amounts of fish, and conserving it for later use, thousands of years prior to farming and urbanized communities and without the use of salt, has implications for how we perceive the Early Mesolithic, suggesting semi-sedentism, technological skill and the ability to adapt rapidly to changing environmental conditions. Evidence of a delayed-return practice in Early Mesolithic foraging contexts raises questions regarding the current models used to estimate demographic parameters, such as population density and birth rate, for that time period, as well as indicating the existence of a more complex society than previously realized.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • Delayed-return, Fermentation, Fish, Foraging, Mesolithic, Sedentism, Storage
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 1
Publication categoryResearch

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