Research on Ice


Scientists from Kiel investigate the Meso- to Neolitihic transition in southern Norway. Wiebke Kirleis explains why a coring operation was conducted in stone-cold January and which first results were achieved.

The coring site on Skaugsjenna lake, Southern Norway.

Southern Norway is a marginal area if crop growing is considered. In 1985, only 0,5 % (=2260 km²) of the Norwegian land was under cereal cultivation. Arable land is limited to the South and there to particular regions, like the Oslo fjord area and one area in the Telemark district with cabrio-silurian bedrock, which offers best arable soils rich in alkaline.

Going back in time, we expect the beginning of agriculture and crop production to take place at the onset of the Neolithic. From an archaeological point of view, the Early Neolithic in Norway starts pretty late, around 3800 cal. BC. The starting point is marked by the absence of microblade technology and the introduction of thin-butted and point-butted axes of flint and local rocks, as well as a wide range of flint arrowheads and ceramic pots. Economy at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition however did not change dramatically. Judging from the archaeological artefacts, at the initial stage of the Neolithic, hunting and gathering still has played an important role. Site locations show the same settings as before: Settlements were situated at the shore to the fjords and oriented to the sea. It is not at all surprising that fishing and hunting of sea mammals has contributed much to subsistence.

Hot water served well for defrosting the coring equipment.

Core III from Skaugsjenna shows the laminated Holocene sequence and the Pleistocene greyish clay.

Text: Wiebke Kirleis; Photos: Wiebke Kirleis, Walter Dörfler