The Empty Quarter? Identifying the Mesolithic of Interior Finnmark, North Norway

Bryan C. Hood

Abstract

Archaeological research in northern Finland has identified a Mesolithic inland occupation extending back to 8500–8000 cal. B.C. Until recently adjacent areas of interior north Norway only revealed evidence for a late Mesolithic occupation post-dating 6000 cal. B.C. This discrepancy can be attributed to lack of research, typologically ambiguous assemblages, lack of radiocarbon dating, and neglect of paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Reassessment of previously collected materials, new AMS dates, and recent fieldwork indicate a Mesolithic occupation of interior Finnmark County by at least 7300 cal. B.C. and considerable late Mesolithic activity 5500–5000 cal. B.C. Current interpretations positing coast-inland cultural dichotomies are problematic given the sparse data from inner Finnmark, a limited understanding of functional variation, and the possible presence of three Mesolithic techno-cultural traditions.

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