Impulses of agro-pastoralism in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC on the south-western coastal rim of Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHøgestøl, M. & Prøsch-Danielsen, L. (2006) Impulses of agro-pastoralism in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC on the south-western coastal rim of Norway. Environmental Archaeology, 11(1), 17-32
A review of the available archaeological and palaeoecological evidence from the coastal heathlands of south-western Norway was compiled to reveal the processes of neolithisation proceeding from the Early Neolithic towards the generally accepted breakthrough in the Late Neolithic, 2500/2350 cal. BC. South-western Norway then became part of the Scandinavian, and thus the European, agricultural complex. Three phases of forest clearance are recorded — from 4000–3600 cal. BC, 2500–2200 cal. BC and 1900–1400 cal. BC. Deforestation was intentional and followed a regional pattern linked to the geology and topography of the land. In the first period (4000–2500 cal. BC), forage from broad-leaved trees was important, while cereal cultivation was scarcely recorded. Agro-Neolithic (here referring to agriculturally-related Neolithic) artefacts and eco-facts belonging to the Funnel Beaker and Battle Axe culture are rare, but pervasive. They must primarily be considered to be status indicators with a ritual function; the hunter-gatherer economy still dominated. The breakthrough in agro-pastoral production in the Late Neolithic was complex and the result of interactions between several variables, i.e. a) deforestation resulting from agriculture being practised for nearly 1500 years b) experience with small-scale agriculture through generations and c) intensified exchange systems with other South Scandinavian regions. From 2500/2350 cal. BC onwards, two distinct environmental courses are noticeable in all pollen diagrams from the study area, indicating expansion in pastoralism, either towards heath or towards grassland and permanent fields.
Made available with permission from Maney Publishing / Environmental Archaeology. www.maneypublishing.com/journals/env and www.ingentaconnect.com/content/maney/env.