Cave Men

20 Jan 2018

Apparently, in Norway schools still teach pupils that in the stone age people lived in caves. I suppose the same is true in the UK and elsewhere. Go to ... smallbut ample earthen dwellings from the Mesolithic stone age in Norway were re-used over and over again - even after periods of abandonment. They were spruced up again and re-occupied. The Mesolithic in NW Europe was pretty similar in the first half of the Holocene. In Norway the Mesolithic is dated between 9500 and 4000BC. Earthen dwellings extended from the north to the south of Norway and are pretty consistent in appearance. The number that have survived is unique to Norway as in other locations, such as the UK, they have mostly disappeared - or are buried by agricultural ploughing. The survival rate in Norway is put down to post glacial uplift (falling sea levels rather than rising sea levels elsewhere). Basically, the Scandinavian block has been raised as a result of losing it's ice cap at the end of the Late Glacial Maximum. In other regions of NW Europe there has been considerable rising of sea levels - especially around the North Sea basin. Dwellings on the coast have thus been inundated.

In northern Norway where farming has been less prevalent it is possible to see many remains of Mesolithic dwellings. Evidence of portable tents have also been found. However, most easily recognisable are the pit dwellings - where the ground was dug out and the tent or earth dwelling erected, using wood and turf. We know that such dwellings also existed in the UK - but finding them is difficult. Pit houses could be up to 40 square metres in size. At the same time fishing became important - and the mobile lifestyle of following the reindeer herds less so (although hunting remained an important part of their activity). In other words, Mesolithic people had a tendency to settle down in one place (or remain in the vicinity of several seasonal locations).

Meanwhile, at ... archaeologists in the yukon have found an arrow blade made of copper when an ice patch melted (in the summer of 2016). The blade was significant as it was made of copper. For thousands of years caribou have spent the summer in the alpine zone in order to escape the scourge of mosquitoes and midges. This makes the ice patches a good area for humans to hunt caribou. Some of the arrows missed the mark and disappeared into snow and ice - and many of them were never found until archaeologists started to investigate the melting ice (in summer months). Copper first showed up in the Yukon just a thousand years ago - and the blade probably goes back at least 900 years. Not only that - the bow and arrow only replaced the atlatl (or throwing stick) around AD900. Why at that date? Presumably they came into contact with people using bow and arrows at that time as this was a restless period with evidence of migration in various parts of the world. 

   ... the blade is pure copper - as pure as it gets (being 99.9 per cent) which came from a copper nugget found in a local creek.