Jan Apel

Senior Lecturer in Prehistoric Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Osteology, Gotland University College

The pioneer settlements of Gotland

When the Island of Gotland was colonized during the Early Holocene (c. 7500 BC) it was one of the last places in Fenno-Scandia to be inhabited by humans. No doubt Gotland’s position in the middle of the Baltic Sea made it difficult to get there and the fact that the island never been a part of the mainland presented further challenges. In contrast to contemporary situations on the Scandinavian Peninsula and the east and south Baltic coast Gotland most likely lacked big terrestrial mammals and this forced the colonizers to adapt to an economy based on the hunting of big sea mammals and fishing that later on during the Atlantic period became common in coastal areas of the Baltic Sea.

In this project we look at different aspects of this colonization process. We will combine renewed analyses of older excavated materials with new archaeological excavations and focus on the social networks and the economic and technological strategies of the first pioneers. Concerning the lithic technology of the earliest population, more information on the choice of raw materials and technological strategies will potentially produce more knowledge on the social networks and possibly also the origins of the first population. Preliminary studies have for instance revealed that ground stone axes are present on most of the sites, indicating eastern contacts, while the flint technology, on the other hand, consist of a blade technology conducted with a direct, hard technique that is known within the south Scandinavian maglemose tradition.


1991  Uppsala University, Bachelor of Arts: Archaeology, Anthropology, History
2002  Uppsala University, Fil. Dr (Ph.D.) Archaeology (2002) Dissertation Title: Daggers, Knowledge and Power – The Social Aspects of Flint Dagger Technology in Southern Scandinavia 2350-1500 Cal BC

Professional Experience

  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Osteology, Gotland University 2008-11-01--
  • Post Doc/Research Associate (100%) Centre for the Evolution of Cultural Diversity, Inst of Archaeology, UCL London 2008-01-07 to 2008-10-06
  • Research Fellow (100%) Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis 2007-07-01 to 2007-12-31
  • Executive Director (100%) Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis 2001-12-01 to 2007-06-30
  • Lecturer (100%) Dept of Archaeology Uppsala University 2001-11-01 to 2001-12-31
  • Assistant (100%) Coast-to-Coast project Uppsala University 2001-09-01 to 2001-10-31
  • Lecturer/Assistant (100%) Dept of Archaeology Uppsala University 2001-03-01 to 2001-05-06
  • Doctoral Student (100%) Dept of Archaeology Uppsala University 2001-01-01 to 2001-01-31
  • Project Supervisor/Archaeologist (100%) Arkeologikonsult AB 1992-07-13 to 1996-09-30
  • Research Assistant (100%) Dept of Archaeology Uppsala University 1992-01-28 to 1992-06-31
  • Archaeologist (100%) Ålands landskapsstyrelse Finland 1991-06-03 to 1991-11-03
  • Archaeologist (100%) Ålands landskapsstyrelse Finland 1990-06-04 to 1990-08-24
  • Archaeologist (100%)  University Museum of Oslo 1989-09-04 to 1989-10-27
  • Archaeologist/Assistant (100%) National Heritage Board 1989-06-05 to 1989-09-01
  • Archaeologist (100%) University of Brno, Tjeckoslowakia  1988-07-04 to 1988-07-29

Research, Didactics and Assignments

  • 26 Scientific Publications, (1 Monograph, 23 Papers, 3 papers in prep and print) + 16 Archaeological Reports 4 Papers in Popular Publications 2 Edited Volumes
  • Outside Academic Supervisor for Ph D/Doctoral Student Kim Darmark, Department of Archaeology and Classical History, Stockholm University.
  • Faculty Opponent: 1 Ph D Degree, and 3 Master Degree Dissertations. Dept of Archaeology at Gothenburg and Oslo and Stockholm University.
  • Dissertation Committee Member: 1 Ph D Degree Dissertation and 1 Master Degree Dissertation at the Dept of Archaeology in Aarhus and Uppsala University.
  • Academic Supervisor: 5 Bachelor/Master Degree Dissertations at the Department of Archaeology and Classical History, Uppsala University.
  • Invited Moderator at:  Form, Function and Context. Material Culture Studies in Scandinavian Archaeology, Conference at Röstånga, Sweden 1997.
  • Late Neolithic Session at the 22th Nordic Archaeological Meeting in Oulu, Finland 20th of August 2004

 Other Archaeological Assignments

  • Active participant in “the Hand to Mouth project” administered by the Institute of Archaeology, UCL London with participants from the Universities of Paris, Bologna, Southampton and London.
  • Active participant in “the Dagger project” administered by Indiana University in Bloomington, USA and with participants from Lund, Aarhus and Uppsala Universities.
  • In the Scientific Advisory Board of “Structure and History” a research project administered by the Cultural Historical Museum, Oslo University and directed by Dr Håkon Glörstad.
  • SAU representative in the E4-council, coordinating the Archaeological excavations along the new E4 road Uppsala-Mehedeby between 2002 and 2007. Swedens largest Rescue Archaeology Project to date.
  • Member of the Committee for the yearly SAU award from 2005 to 2007. Chairman: Professor Emeritus Bo Gräslund.