Ingrid Fuglestvedt

Meetings make history. Hunters' rock art and lands of identity in mesolithic northern europe

Research interests within the blade network project

The issues addressed by the Blade Network touches two main areas of my research interest within the Mesolithic of northern Europe, namely the pioneer phase and the periods after. Viewed with coarse mesh the Mesolithic can be divided into two main phases, the Late Upper Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic pioneering phase and the Middle and Late Mesolithic established phase. The first phase could be regarded as a phase in which groups residing on the Scandinavian Peninsula are still typical mobile and characterized by close social bonds with groups on the European Continent. This is a time of pioneering, in the meaning that social groups are not so much associated with a specific landscape which “defines” the group. From the Middle Mesolithic onwards a development towards groups being more or less established within such confined areas, or “social territories” can be witnessed in the archaeological record. This development runs parallel to the gradual flooding of the formerly dry land of the North Sea, i.e. the disappearance of Doggerland.

Interestingly, throughout the whole of the pioneering phase blade manufacture is immensely similar in all of northern Europe. This stands in contrast to the later periods of the established phase. Concerning the established phase the image is of a northern Europe that divides into regional and local techniques for production of blanks; in these phases blade manufacture becomes more heterogeneous. One main objective of the Blade Network is to investigate the diachronic and synchronic similarities and changes in blade manufacture throughout the region.

Threads of cultural impulses and developments of regional and local traditions can be studied through Mesolithic blade technology. The Blade Network Project is thus involved in my two main research interests. The first interest concerns the pioneer phase in northern Europe (e.g., whilst the second adheres to my early interest in the Late Mesolithic, and to my upcoming research project called Meetings Make History. Hunters’ Rock Art and Lands of Identity in Mesolithic Northern Europe. Social contacts are always at work, and this may also be studied through rock art. Results from studies of figural elements in rock art will benefit greatly when compared to the dispersion of similarities and differences in blade technology and its raw material. Social developments is now based on different types of contact; within this more established and semi-sedentary life way of the established phase, contacts would not have been of the same tight and close nature as in the pioneering phase. As observable through the archaeological record in general – and at great rock art sites in special – groups from distant areas have occasionally met and probably exchanged ideas, gifts and marriage partners. Thus a dynamics between the inter-regional, regional and the local knowledge as well as between the genders is a relevant way of approaching the historical conjunctures of the Mesolithic.