Earliest Mesolithic Site in Northern Norway? A Reassessment of Sarnes B4

H. P. Blankholm


One of the most striking results from the excavation of Sarnes B4 in 1993 was a radiocarbon date of 10,280 ± 80 B.P. – the earliest date associated with a north Scandinavian Early Mesolithic context. The date revitalized an old, but still ongoing, debate about the pioneer settlement of both the region and the country as a whole, and also generated international interest. Since then, researchers have cited this early date without undertaking a critical assessment of its nature, while a younger radiocarbon date of 8120 ± 75 B.P. from the same site has been largely ignored. This situation is problematic and this paper undertakes to reassess the evidence through a re-analysis of the site. First, the topography, climate, and vegetation are examined. Then, an examination of excavated materials reveals both the material culture and chronological homogeneity of the site as well as of its social and economic setting.

  • H.P. Blankholm, Institutt for Arkeologi, Universitetet i Tromsø, Breiviklia 15, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway