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Society for American Archaeology

The European Mesolithic Author(s): T. Douglas Price Reviewed work(s): Source: American Antiquity, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Oct., 1983), pp. 761-778 Published by: Society for American Archaeology Stable URL: . Accessed: 24/11/2011 05:18
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T. Douglas Price
This brief review is intended to acquaint the reader with recent research and thoughton the European Mesolithic.The period is characterized by hunter-gathereradaptations between the close of the Pleistocene and the introductionof food production.A numberof developmentssupportan argumentfor a rapid intensification of humansubsistence and settlementpractices and organization, prior to the utilizationof domesticated plants and animals. The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth.
Jean de Bruyere (1645-1696)

The last fifteen years have witnessed a tremendous growth in research on the European Mesolithic. Two major international congresses have been held in Warsaw and Potsdam (Koztbowski 1973; Gramsch 1980) along with several smaller symposia (e.g., Actes du Congres 1977; Kozlowski 1976). Numerous regional and national syntheses have appeared in print (Aurora 1976; Biagi 1980; Boroneanj 1982; Brinch Petersen 1973; Clark 1976; Clark 1975; Cullberg 1975; Dolukhanov 1982; Gob 1981; Gob and Spier 1982; Gramsch 1973; Indrelid 1975, 1978; Jacobi 1976, 1978; Kobusiewicz 1975; Koltzov 1977; Koztowski 1972, 1975; KozFowski and Koztowski 1979; Mathyushin 1976; Maury 1977; Mellars 1974, 1978a; Mikkelsen 1975; Morrison 1980a; Newell 1973; Palmer 1977; Pankrushev 1978; Phillips 1975; Price 1980; Rozoy 1978; Sakellaridis 1979; Schild et al. 1975; de Sonneville-Bordes 1979; Starkov 1980; Straus 1979; Taute 1980; Tringham 1971; Vermeersch 1982; Welinder 1973, 1977; Whitehouse 1971; Woodman 1978; Zvelebil 1980, 1981). Site reports on major excavations appear almost monthly. Mesolithic Miscellany, a newsletter, appears twice a year with current information and research reports. An atlas of the Mesolithic in Europe has been drawn up by Koztowski (1980). A catalog of Mesolithic skeletal remains in Western Europe is available (Newell et al. 1979). A major statement on the nature and significance of human adaptation in early Postglacial Europe has been issued by the doyen of Mesolithic studies, Grahame Clark, in Mesolithic Prelude (1980). Clearly, there has been an information explosion in the investigation of this period of European prehistory. It is impossible even to outline the major developments in these few short pages. I shall attempt here to discuss only some of the highlights-a sort of Reader's Digest version-concentrating on the general nature of the Mesolithic, on several very significant research projects and

T. Douglas Price, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Copyright c, 1983 by the Society for American Archaeology





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their results, and, in conclusion, on certain trends and tendencies in the investigation and interpretation of the prehistory of prefarming Postglacial Europe. TIME AND SPACE The environmental situation of the European Mesolithic must be emphasized at the outset of this synopsis. Because of a long history of intensive investigation, northwestern Europe is perhaps the best known area in the world in terms of changes in climate, fauna, and flora at the close of the Pleistocene and through the early Postglacial. The scenario of ice, tundra, birch, pine, and oak forest succession is familiar to virtually every student of prehistory. Such "key" sequences, however, with detailed information and excellent preservation, tend to dominate our thinking, obfuscating our understanding of the landscape elsewhere in Europe during this period. The environment of southeastern Europe, for example, closely resembled that of the Near East, the heartland of many early domesticates (cf. Bottema 1974, 1978; Dennell 1978). The transition from Pleistocene to Postglacial conditions in the Aegean and Balkans was not dramatic. There is very little evidence for prefarming adaptations distinct from the late Paleolithic throughout much of the region. In only a few areas have Mesolithic horizons been recognized. Near the close of the Pleistocene, southern Europe including Spain, Portugal, Italy and much of France, was inhabited by many of the species of plants and animals that would later appear in the Postglacial environments of northern Europe. Large areas of northern Spain, for instance, were dominated by deciduous oak forest along with a wide range of temperate-zone fauna-red deer, roe deer, and wild pig-at the same time that reindeer were beginning to abandon the German Plain for points north. Indeed, one's perspective on the nature of the transition from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic depends in large part upon geographical and environmental considerations. Prehistorians in southeastern and southern Europe frequently designate Postglacial prefarming adaptations as Epipaleolithic (cf. Boronean; 1982; Rozoy 1978). In these areas, more subtle changes in environment and human adaptation, along with the relatively rapid introduction of plant and animal husbandry, serve to diminish the visibility of the Mesolithic and, often, the intensity of research on the subject. It is most conspicuously in northwestern Europe, where the consequences of Postglacial warming had the greatest impact, where tundra-dwelling reindeer hunters were replaced by communities exploiting forest and coast, and where agriculture was late in arriving, that the nature and vitality of the Mesolithic is more readily observed and recorded. Definition of the term Mesolithic, thus, has been a volatile and difficult issue. In spite of numerous characterizations of this word over the last 50 years, it has become clear that the term has significance only in a temporal sense (cf. Price 1981a). Archaeological remains exhibit a number of dimensions of variability, including time, space, and form (Spaulding 1960). It is futile to presume that each of these aspects will coincide neatly in readily definable chronological and cultural units (cf. Stoltman 1978). The Mesolithic is not associated exclusively with the utilization of microlithic tools, nor with the exploitation of forests and coasts, nor with the domestication of the dog. The Mesolithic is simply that period of the Postglacial prior to the introduction of agriculture. To attach more specific formal traits to the term can only reduce its utility. The date for the onset of the period can be fixed by convention at 10,000 B.P. (Mellars 1981). The date for the end of the period is geographically variable. The spread of food production across Europe was a time-transgressive phenomenon, beginning around 8000 B.P. in the southeast and reaching the British Isles and southern Scandinavia by approximately 5500 B.P. (Waterbolk 1982). In this context, in which I use the term Mesolithic only in a temporal sense with local connotations, it is perhaps more meaningful to refer to early Postglacial hunter-gatherers. Nevertheless, because of the long history of the term as part of a widely shared vocabulary, Mesolithic will be employed throughout this paper, with the caveat that the term refers only to early Holocene foragers in Europe-nothing more is implied or intended.



RECENTINVESTIGATIONS Southeastern Europe The Mesolithic of southeastern Europe was virtually unknown less than 20 years ago. Although much of the area is still terra incognita for the early Holocene, results from several projects offer some perspective. Colonization of most of the islands in both the eastern and western Mediterranean did not begin until the Neolithic (Cherry 1981; Guilaine 1979; Lewthwaite 1981). Reports of Mesolithic artifacts and burials from the Cycladic island of Kythnos (Honea 1975) have been questioned by Cherry (1979). However, utilization of obsidian sources on the island of Melos (Dixon and Renfrew 1973) by mainland inhabitants as early as 12,000 B.P. (Perles 1979) documents the seafaring capabilities of late Pale olithicc groups in this region. This evidence and other information on the extensive utilization of the sea in this period comes from the site of Franchthi Cave in the Argolid of Greece (Figure 1). Investigations at this site since 1967 hae provided a detailed picture in the south of Greece over the last 20,000 years (Jacobsen 1976, 1981). of human occupation n the inhabitants at Franchthi were exploiting marine resouresources and a wide range By 10,000 B.P., of terrestrial resources. Evidence for the hunting of red deer and other large game animals, the collecting of marine molluscs and land snails, and the utilization of several species of wild plants including lentils, vetch, pistachios, almonds, wild oats, and barley (Hansen and Renfrew 1978) is present in the cave deposits. Seasonality data at the site suggest the possibility of year-round occupation (Jacobsen 1981). Mesolithic remains postdating 10,000 B.P. at Franchthi can be divided into two major stages on the basis of stratigraphy and typology (Jacobsen 1981; Perles 1976). Deposits in the cave indicate local extinction of certain terrestrial game by the Lower Mesolithic. However, no major changes in subsistence and settlement are observed from late Paleolithic conditions. The Upper Mesolithic remains do document significant modifications in diet, with a much greater reliance on marine resources, particularly tuna. This deepwater species reaches weights of up to 200 kg, and tuna bone comprises nearly 50% of all large animal bone in this level at Franchthi Cave. Carbonized plant remains increase in abundance, and an increase in the size of lentils has been used as evidence to suggest that the possibility of local domestication exists, prior to 8500 B.P. (Hansen 1980). The appearance of plants such as coriander (often associated with cultivars) and the presence of "sickle polish" strengthens an argument for more intensive utilization of plants (Jacobsen 1981:308). By 8000 B.P., both plant and animal husbandry are documented at Franchthi with the advent of the local Neolithic. Both continuity and change are observed in the transition to the Neolithic. Excavated cave and open-air sites in Yugoslavia exhibit strong resemblances to the early Postglacial deposits at Franchthi Cave. The layers at Odmut Cave in northwestern Montenegro are almost 1.5 m in thickness and contain a variety of stone and bone artifacts in addition to substantial faunal remains (Srejovic 1978). These layers date from approximately 9000 to 7000 B.P., corresponding roughly with the dates assigned to the Mesolithic at Franchthi. Animal remains at Odmut come primarily from ibex, red deer, and fish. Bone implements include awls and chisels, and a large number of small, flat bone harpoons, several of which exhibit finely engraved geometric designs. The sequence of lithic artifacts indicates a transition in the form of geometric microliths between the upper and lower levels, with trapezes replacing triangles after about 8700 B.P. Investigations at Vlasac, located on a low terrace of the Danube in the Iron Gates region, continue the sequence for the Balkan Mesolithic (Srejovic and Letica 1978). Of particular interest here is Layer I which predates 8000 B.P. The earliest settlement of the river terrace dates from this period and is represented by permanent dwellings covering an area of approximately 2,000 m2. In this horizon there are at least seven structures, roughly triangular in shape, with maximum dimensions of 4 x 4 m, often containing stone-lined hearths and graves. The structures face the river and are arranged in a semicircular fashion around what may be a circular rubble platform, approximately 5 to 6 m in diameter. At least 24 burials are known from Layer I, with both inhuma-



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tions and cremations present (Nemesk6ri 1978). Grave goods are uncommon but do include ochre, fish teeth, and/or human and animal mandibles. zones: (1) Animal remains at the site indicate the exploitation of three major environmental beaver, waterfowl, tortoise, and especially huge catfish weighing up to 100 kg, from the Danube; (2) red deer, wild pig, and other large game from the wooded slopes of the gorge; and (3) aurochs from the forested hinterland above the valley (Bokonyi 1978).

Figure 1.

Location of sites mentioned in the text. 9. Jagerhaus-Hohle (Swabian Alb) Felsdach Lautereck (Swabian Alb) Zigeunerfels (Swabian Alb) Federsee (Swabian Alb) 10. Oronsay (Inner Hebrides) 11. Mount Sandel (Northern Ireland) 12. Star Carr (Yorkshire) 13. Duvensee (Schleswig-Holstein) 14. Aggersund (Jutland) Ringkloster (Jutland) Tybrind Vig (Funen) 15. Vedbaek Bpogebakken (Zealand) 16. Skateholm (Scania) 17. Wommersom (Ardennes)

1. Kythnos (Cyclades) Melos (Cyclades) Franchthi Cave (Argolid) 2. Odmut Cave (Montenegro) 3. Vlasac (Iron Gates) 4. Grotta dell'Uzzo (Sicily) 5. Balma del Gai (Catalonia) Balma de l'Espluga (Catalonia) 6. Liencres (Cantabria) La Riera (Cantabria) Los Azules (Cantabria) 7. Liesbergmuhle (Jura) Baume d'Ogens (Jura) Birsmatten (Jura) 8. Schotz 7 (Luzern)



There is an extensive industry for the production of bone, antler, and tusk weapons and tools, including picks and mattocks. Harpoons are rare at the site, in contrast to Odmut, and only a few examples have been recovered. Decorated objects include a variety of painted and/or engraved portable objects including small cobbles. Later levels at Vlasac suggest somewhat less permanent occupation, although the same general layout of the settlement persists (Srejovic and Letica 1978). Hydroelectric projects in the Iron Gates region over the last two decades have spurred the investigation of a number of important new sites on both the Yugoslavian and Romanian banks. resulting in a tremendous amount of new information on the Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation of the area. It is perhaps too soon to expect consensus, and disagreements are common in the interpretation of these data. Several researchers suggest that sedentary hunter-gatherers in the rich Iron Gates environment were manipulating their resources in the direction of domestication (cf. Srejovic and Letica 1978:157). Others argue that at some sites these levels are mixed with later materials and that the more spectacular remains are related to the earliest Neolithic (Starcevo) occupation in the area (cf. Clason 1980). Southern Europe The early Postglacial history of the south of France and of the Italian and Iberian peninsulae is not well known (cf. Phillips 1975). Recent work in France is summarized by de Lumley and Guilaine (1976), Rozoy (1978), and de Sonneville-Bordes (1979). Many of the investigations reported in this area continue to focus on stratigraphy, chronology, and environmental reconstruction. In Italy, investigations of the Mesolithic relative(Epipaleolithicc, Romanellian) are ly rare (cf. Barker 1975; Biagi 1975, 1976; Bietti 1980; Broglio 1972, 1973; Whitehouse 1971) in large part because of an inevitable concern with later periods of prehistory and the archaeology of the classical civilizations. Biagi (1980) provides a useful discussion of the Epipaleolithic of Northern Italy, and results from the excavations at the Grotta dell'Uzzo (Piperno et al. 1980) offer a good sequence for Sicily and the south of Italy. From Portugal only a few studies of the Mesolithic have been reported recently, dealing with shell middens at Moita do Sebastiao and its residential structures and cemeteries (Ferembach 1974; Roche 1975) and Asturian typology and chronology (Maury 1977). In Spain, on the other hand, several long-term projects have greatly clarified the picture of Postglacial adaptations. Major projects in Cantabria, Catalonia, and the Mediterranean littoral document the transition from late Glacial to early Holocene conditions. Fortea Perez (1973, 1975) has developed an elaborate typological sequence for the Spanish Levant. Excavations at a number of sites in Catalonia, including Balma del Gai and Balma de l'Espluga, document the succession of Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic industries in the area (Guilaine et al. 1982). Investigations at other sites in Cantabria, on the north coast of Spain, explore the relationship between Azilian and Asturian assemblages in this region (cf. Clark 1971, 1976, 1979, 1983; Clark and Yi 1983; Garcia Guinea 1975; Gonzalez Morales 1978, 1982; Straus 1979; Straus and Clark 1978). The excavations at Cantabrian sites such as Liencres, La Riera, and Los Azules have provided significant evidence on the nature of human adaptation in this mountainous coastal area. The Azilian is known primarily from inland cave contexts in this region and is characterized by large numbers of microlithic artifacts, small scrapers, and the like. The Asturian is typified as a coastal adaptation with extensive semipermanent shell middens (Clark and Lerner 1980) containing a variety of animal bones and the fossil directeur for the Asturian, the cobble pick. Bone and other organic remains indicate the utilization of a wide range of both terrestrial and marine resources. Oxygen isotope studies at the site of La Riera indicate the exploitation of shellfish in the winter months. Asturian middens have been dated from approximately 9000 to 7000 B.P. Azilian remains often date slightly earlier, but there is a clear period of overlap between these two manifestations in the period between 9500 and 8500 B.P. (Straus 1979). Later Azilian assemblages are well represented at Los Azules along with a rare Azilian burial of an adult male containing a number of painted pebbles (Fernandez Tresguerres 1976, 1981).



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Both Straus (1979) and Clark and Lerner (1980) suggest that the late Azilian and Asturian remains may be complementary facies of a single subsistence-settlement system involving both coastal base camps and more specialized extraction camps in the interior. A pronounced intensification in the exploitation of both terrestrial and marine resources occurs through the late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in this area. Diversification of the resource base may be closely correlated with increasing population (cf. Straus 1977; Clark and Straus 1982). Central Europe Excavations at Liesbergmiihle IV (Hofmann-Wyss 1978), Baume d'Ogens (Egloff 1965), and Birsmatten (Bandi 1963) along with other sites in the Jura region document a series of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic stone and bone industries in Switzerland. Nevertheless, in spite of a long history of intensive investigation, combined with good conditions of preservation, the chronology of the Swiss Mesolithic remains a rather tenuous construct. A variety of named periods (Azilian, Sauveterrian, Fiirsteiner, Ogens facies, "Notched Blades/Transverse Arrowheads/Antler Harpoons horizon") show little stratigraphic or chronological coherence (cf. Sakellaridis 1979). Wyss (1979) reports well-preserved bone and antler artifacts from the site of Schotz 7 in central Switzerland, including awls, chisels, points and harpoons dating from the later Mesolithic. The settlement, approximately 7,000 years old, was a seasonal encampment, occupied from December to May. The faunal remains from the site are dominated by red deer and boar. On the basis of antler evidence, Wyss suggests that the site, located on a former lakeshore, is a winter/spring camp of deer hunters. Curiously, domesticated dog is absent in the faunal assemblages of Swiss Mesolithic sites. And despite a deliberate, careful search for plant remains, under conditions of excellent preservation, only hazel nuts have been recovered from Mesolithic contexts in this area (Sakellaridis 1979). Investigations in adjacent areas of southwest Germany do provide a detailed chronology for the Mesolithic of Central Europe as well as further evidence on the nature of riverine and lacustrine adaptations in inland areas. The site of Jagerhaus-Hohle, in particular, provides an almost continuous record of human occupation from ca. 10,000 to 6500 B.P. in this area of the upper Danube drainage (Taute 1975, 1980). This stratigraphic sequence documents significant chronological variability in certain Mesolithic artifacts, permitting the division of the Early Mesolithic "Beuronian" into three phases. The Beuronian is distinguished from the Late Mesolithic (unnamed) by the replacement of triangular forms by trapezes after 8000 B.P. Jagerhaus-H6hle and other sites in the Swabian Alb such as Felsdach Lautereck (Taute 1967) and Zigeunerfels (Taute 1972) also contain large archaeofaunas indicating an emphasis on the exploitation of red deer, roe deer, and wild pig as major game animals, along with carp and a surprising abundance of pine marten, likely taken for pelts. Using data from these and other sites, Jochim (1976) has argued for the presence of a "dual focus" settlement system in the upper Danube drainage. Using characteristics such as site size, proximity to water, and the composition of stone tool assemblages-in conjunction with certain biological and behavioral aspects of the major economic species-Jochim developed a model in which cave and shelter sites along the Danube represent winter encampments; summer settlement likely occurred on the shore of neighboring lakes such as the Federsee. Investigations are currently underway to further test these hypotheses. Excavations at the site of Henauhof NW on the shore of the Federsee have produced antler evidence indicative of summer occupation (Jochim

British Isles The last 10 years have seen significant changes in the chronology of the Mesolithic of Britain and Ireland. Both Mellars (1974) and Jacobi (1976) have distinguished Early and Later phases of the Mesolithic in Great Britain. The Early Mesolithic (10,000 to 8500 B.P.) is characterized by broad blade industries, resembling those of the Maglemosian in southern Scandinavia. Later



Mesolithic assemblages, which date from 8500 B.P. to the arrival of Neolithic farming around 5500 B.P., are recognized by smaller, more geometric microliths, particularly scalene triangles. The true broad trapeze, which appears on the continent shortly before 8000 B.P., does not occur in Great Britain (Jacobi 1976:78). The shift from Early to Later Mesolithic is closely correlated with the transition to the oak-dominated forests of the Atlantic period and to the separation of Britain from the continent by the inundation of the English Channel (Simmons et al. 1981). With regard to Mesolithic subsistence in Britain and elsewhere, Mellars (1976) and Clarke (1976) both suggest that plant foods made a "substantial-if not dominant-contribution to the overall food supply" (Mellars 1976:376) and that plant foods have typically been underrated or ignored in the "meat" models employed by most prehistorians. Clarke adds a that number of different tools may have been utilized for plant food procurement and processing. Examples include antler mattocks as digging tools for acquiring roots and bulbs, microliths and microblades as inserts in vegetable graters, and the like. It should be noted, however, that to date there is very little primary evidence for the utilization of significant quantities or varieties of plant foods, with the exception of hazelnuts. A pattern of contrasting winter and summer settlement has been proposed for the British Mesolithic on the basis of presumed environmental and climatic variation and differences in lithic assemblages from a number of sites (Mellars 1976). In this scenario, the colder months would have been characterized by larger local groups in low-lying areas, exploiting either coastal or inland resources, depending upon location. Larger group size would have been fostered by the concentration of certain economic species (particularly red deer), by the nature of group hunting techniques when cervids are aggregated, by the practice of food sharing, and by the need for protection against predators. More abundant but dispersed resources (particularticularly plant foods) in the warmer months, alon g with a reduced need for sharing and mutual defense, would have encouraged smaller local groups and more frequent movement in the upland areas. The importance of coastal resources is documented by the abundance of shell middens and by the high density of Mesolithic the sites, particularly on thwest coast of England and Scotland (Bonsall 1980; Mellars and Payne 1971; Morrison 1980b). Investigations at Oronsay (Mellars 1978b) documented six shell middens on an island of only 5.8 km2. Midden contents, dating to approximately 5500 B.P., emphasized the importance of fish and shellfish in the diet. Strikingly, over 90% of the fish remains come from a single species-the coalfish. Crab, birds and seals, along with hazelnuts, complement the dietary staples. Evidence for seasonality from the analysis of fish otoliths and other data indicate that different middens were occupied at different seasons of the year and that the occupation of the island must have spanned a substantial part of the annual cycle of this coastal group (Mellars and Wilkinson 1980). Across the Irish Sea, excavations at Mount Sandel and elsewhere have provided new information on settlement and subsistence and have pushed back the date for the initial human colonization of Ireland by roughly 1,000 years (Woodman 1978, 1981). By 9000 B.P., large residential structures, up to 6 m in diameter, were in use at Mount Sandel. These features are defined by subsurface depressions, postholes, and various hearths and pits. Remains from the latter include various artifacts, burned animal bones, and carbonized fragments of hazelnut shell and the seeds of water lily and wild apple. The fauna is dominated by boar, but hare were also included in the larder. Fish and bird bones were numerous with sea bass, eel, salmon, duck, pigeon, dove, grouse, goshawk, and capercaillie also represented. Although Mount Sandel in the Bann Valley would have been some distance from the sea, marine resources (sea bass and flounder) were nevertheless incorporated in the diet. The substantial nature of the residential structures, along with both floral and faunal evidence, suggests that Mount Sandel was occupied on a year-round basis. In addition to new discoveries, reevaluations of "classic" earlier excavations continue. Star Carr, perhaps the best known Mesolithic site (Clark 1954), has been the subject of a series of such reviews over the last 10 years. Grahame Clark, the excavator, reconsidered the site himself in a case study in "bioarchaeology" (1972). Here he hypothesized that Star Carr represented a winter camp of red deer hunters and that smaller, summer camps were to be found in the nearby Pennine hills.



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In a consideration of hunting injuries evident on animal bone from the site, Noe-Nygaard (1975) pointed out that most of the Star Carr fauna had been deposited underwater, rather than within the boundaries of an actual settlement area. She later noted (1977) that a number of discrepancies in species counts at the site were due in large part to an overrepresentation of red deer antler. A. Wheeler (1978) remarked on the surprising absence of fish remains at Star Carr and concluded that the river temperatures and gradients at the onset of the Postglacial would probably have precluded the presence of freshwater species near the site. This argument is presented despite the fact that several birds represented in the faunal assemblage are fish eaters (cf. Simmons et al. 1981). An important article by Pitts (1979) suggested that Star Carr was a specialized locale for the processing of deer antler and skins. His argument is based primarily on the high proportion of scrapers and burins in the artifact assemblage and the presence of large quantities of antler in the water adjacent to the site. Pitts also questioned the proposed winter occupation of the site and reemphasized the fact that the evidence indicates that Star Carr could have been occupied at any time of the year. In addition, he observed that vegetal foods were probably important in the diet in light of the remains from the site. Andreson et al. (1981) also reassessed Star Carr but arrived at vastly contrasting conclusions. They argue that the evidence from the site indicates that it was primarily a hunting stand and butchering station used by small groups for very short periods at various times of the year. I would argue, au contraire, that Star Carr was not a settlement or station at all, but rather a dump containing the remains of waste materials deposited in water adjacent to a settlement that has long since disappeared (Price 1982). The abundance of heavy tools and other artifacts and the excellent preservation of bone, antler, and wood (indicative of anaerobic conditions) at the site support the suggestion of deposition in water. Similar patterns of disposal in water are observed at other shoreline sites throughout northern and central Europe (cf. Andersen 1974). Southern Scandinavia Discoveries and reinterpretations in the Mesolithic of northern Europe have come rapidly in the last decade. Two major summaries of this area (Brinch Petersen 1973; Clark 1975) already are in need of major revision and addition. In spite of a number of interesting projects in adjacent areas (cf. Broadbent 1979; Gramsch 1979; Zvelebil 1981), the following discussion will concentrate on investigations in southern Scandinavia. Environment and archaeology are especially well documented for the early Postglacial in this area. The chronology for the Mesolithic has been established through radiocarbon dating (Tauber 1972) and artifact typology (Becker 1952; 1972), pollen analysis (cf. Iversen 1937, 1973; Je%rgensen Brinch Petersen 1967). Three major divisions, with at least 10 subdivisions, are now recognized in the Danish Mesolithic (Brinch Petersen 1973). The Maglemosian period, dating from 9500 to 7700 B.P., is characterized by various microlithic armatures. Recent site reports document settlement remains from this period (Andersen et al. 1982; Henriksen 1976, 1980; Larsson 1978; Skaarup 1979). Most of these sites are summer lakeshore settlements with abundant fish bone and occasional floors of small huts. Duvensee I, in Schleswig-Holstein in north Germany, may represent a small autumn camp from the Maglemose period. The site has a preserved hut floor (3 x 5 m) associated with large quantities of hazelnut shells (Bokelmann 1971). The Kongemosian period (7700 to 6600 B.P.) is defined in part by the presence of rhombic arrowheads, which were succeeded in the Ertebolle period by various forms of transverse projectile points. Kongemose sites are known almost exclusively from the coast and contain the remains of both marine and terrestrial faunas. Recent excavations at the site of Segebro in southwest Scania, Sweden, document the nature of these coastal Kongemose occupations (Larsson 1982). The Erteb0lle (6600 to 5300 B.P.) represents the culmination of a number of trends observed throughout the Mesolithic of this region. Differences in site types are most pronounced in this period: (1) large, coastal perennial occupations, containing both marine and terrestrial faunas with or without associated shell middens; (2) smaller, seasonal coastal sites with a more specific procurement focus-generally deep-water fishing, sealing, or fowling for migratory species such



as swans (e.g., Aggersund [Andersen 1978]); (3) inland trapping stations with large numbers of intact carcasses of fur-bearing animals (especially pine marten); (4) large inland sites that appear to be summer occupations; and (5) large inland year-round settlements on lakeshores. Investigations at Ringkloster in central Jutland have documented this last type (Andersen 1974). Year-round occupation at coastal and inland sites is common during the Ertebelle period. The presence of recently discovered cemeteries in Zealand and southern Scania complement the picture of more sedentary residence and argue for increasing social and ritual complexity (Albrethsen and Brinch Petersen 1977; Larsson 1981). The graveyard at Vedbaek B0gebakken in northeast Zealand dates to 6100 B.P. and contains the graves of at least 22 individuals. The contemporary cemeteries at Skateholm in southern Scania include over 40 graves, with variable body placement, and several interments of dogs. An intensification in food procurement activities can be traced through the Danish Mesolithic. The appearance of shell middens in the Kongemosian, the diversity of extraction camps, the faunal remains of a wide range of marine fish and mammals, including seals, dolphins and whales, and the utilization of "species-specific" trapping stations, all combine to demonstrate an increasingly diverse subsistence base. The number of species represented at Erteb0lle sites increased by approximately 50% compared to the earlier Maglemosian. Many of the new species come from marine habitats and deeper waters. Carbon isotope analyses of human bone from the Vedbaek cemetery indicated a diet comparable to that of the Greenland Eskimo, who subsisted primarily on products of the sea (Tauber 1981). Technological elaboration clearly accompanies the development of the Mesolithic in southern Scandinavia. More artifact types and facilities, and more complex facilities, are known from later than from earlier periods; previous forms become more functionally specific, and completely new forms, materials, and techniques appear. A tremendous array of wood, bone, and antler tools are in use by the Erteb0lle. The appearance of ceramic vessels in this period provides rather dramatic evidence of such innovation. Watercraft in the form of dugout canoes up to 10 m in length provide for the movement of peoples and materials (cf. Andersen 1980). Technological changes of such magnitude undoubtedly reflect an intensification in resource procurement and utilization. Contrary to the historical picture of the Mesolithic as "artistically bereft," decorative art and ornamentation appear throughout the Danish Mesolithic. Amber figurines and pendants are well known. The classic geometric designs that occur on a variety of materials and implements persist throughout the period. By Erteblile times, however, distinct zones of distribution can be defined for certain motifs, covering areas less than 100 km in radius (Andersen 1981). In addition, a totally new nongeometric decoration, executed in a distinctive technique and in a new medium-woodhas recently been discovered at the submerged site of Tybrind Vig (Andersen 1980). Exchange in exotic materials is indicated by the presence of locally unavailable goods-ornaments from the teeth of animals extinct on Zealand as well as "shoe-last" axes of amphibolite, originating in a Danubian context in Silesia in Poland (Fischer 1982), appear in an Ertebolle context. The arrival of domesticates around 5300 B.P. marks the end of the Ertebglle and the beginning of early Neolithic village farming in southern Scandinavia. The nature of the transition from hunting-fishing adaptations to agriculture remains one of the major questions in the prehistory of northern Europe. RETROSPECTAND PROSPECT Forty years ago V. Gordon Childe stated: "By contrast to what has passed away, the Mesolithic societies leave an impression of extreme poverty" (1942:36). Less than 20 years ago, two eminent European prehistorians wrote that "over much of western Europe, and also of central Europe and south Russia, the onset of Neothermal climate, however favorable it may appear to us, was one of cultural decline down to the time of the spread of the Neolithic" (Clark and Piggott 1965:142). Today such statements regarding "cultural degeneration" or gaps in the prehistoric record are no longer meaningful for our understanding of the early Postglacial. Indeed, the argument has come full circle. Some authors today suggest that the Mesolithic is "the most important epoch in



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history" (Mathyushin 1976) or that "the Mesolithic, so far from being a dead end, was in fact an essential prelude to fundamental changes in the development of culture" (Clark 1980:7). While these statements tend to minimize a number of significant innovations already underway by the Upper Paleolithic, there is no question that the Mesolithic witnesses a significant portion of the prehistory of Europe and that it is not a hiatus or period of "quarantine" between the Old and New Stone Ages. Several interrelated themes dominate the following discussion of the dynamic character of human adaptation during the European Mesolithic. Changes in technology, settlement, subsistence, demography and organization can be traced in a number of areas. Technology develops toward greater efficiency in transport, in tools and in subsistence procurement. Subsistence equipment, both implements and facilities, becomes more diverse in form, more specialized in function, and more abundant in number. An incredible range of fishing gear, including nets, weirs, leisters, hooks, and harpoons, is known. Ground stone artifacts appear for the first time as axes, celts, plant-processing equipment, and other tools. Large canoes and snow sleds (cf. Burov 1981) are known from this period in northern Europe. Projectile weapons are armed with a vast array of specialized tips, made of bone, wood, antler, and stone (cf. Oshibkina 1982). Other chipped stone implements begin to take a secondary role in many activities, becoming tools to make tools of wood, bone, and antler that are used directly in food procurement. Settlements are larger, of longer duration, and more differentiated, both in terms of the internal organization of the settlement and in the number and variety of sites and locales in use. Large co-resident groups and permanent occupation are hallmarks of Mesolithic settlement in several areas. Although only a few residential structures have been dated to this period (Newell 1980), a variety of facilities and other constructions suggest greater specialization in activities. Settlement location, clearly related to the nature and distribution of resources, most frequently exhibits a coastal, lascustrine, or riverine orientation and is associated with a greater reliance on aquatic resources. Subsistence activities appear to be greatly intensified during the Mesolithic. Resource procurement becomes more specialized and diversified-more specialized in terms of the nature, technology, and organization of foraging and more diversified in terms of the numbers and kinds of species and habitats exploited. The number of species incorporated into the diet is much greater than that documented for the Upper Paleolithic in almost all areas (cf. Clark and Yi 1983). Certain nuts and shellresources become much more visible as well in the Mesolithic-particularly fish-but this visibility reflects a greater variety in the diet rather than a change in dietary staples (cf. Bailey 1978). Additions to the diet do occur and generally (1) come from lower trophic levels in the food chain, and (2) require more complex processing techniques. Demography and social organization are notoriously difficult aspects of human behavior to monitor archaeologically. Images of these phenomena, however, may be reflected in the nature of boundaries and in the size of prehistoric social groups. The evidence for boundaries and group size in northern Europe is most provocative. At the end of the Upper Paleolithic, three major "social territories" can be defined in the large area bounded by the Netherlands, Poland, and southern Sweden (Clark 1975). The Ahrensburgian, Swiderian, and Bromme "cultures" cover areas averaging approximately 100,000 km2. Through time in the early Holocene, these social territories can be seen to diminish in size. By the Atlantic period, 15 or more such units, defined by distinctive attributes of artifact style or raw material, can be observed within this same area. Evidence for the size and location of these units comes from the distribution of surface-retouched points in the Low Countries (Newell 1973), the limited dispersal of Wommersom quartzite in Belgium and southern Holland (Gendel 1982), design motifs in the Ertebelle art of Jutland (Andersen 1981), distinctive types of barbed bone points in the German Democratic Republic (Gramsch 1973), variations in the form and size of microliths (Koztowski 1972), and the distribution of source-specific "chocolate flint" (Schild 1976) in Poland. By the later Mesolithic, these "style zones" are on the order of 15,000 to 20,000 km2 or smaller. The decreasing size of these units through time may well reflect changes in the size, density and organizational characteristics of human populations (cf. Cohen 1977; Harris 1978; Price 1981b; Wobst 1976).



At the same time that certain expressions of "stylistic" variability or territoriality are becoming more constrained, other types of "information" apparently are being more rapidly disseminated across the whole of Europe. At the beginning of the Mesolithic, a variety of rather simple projectile points, derived largely from late Upper Paleolithic forms, are found throughout the continent. These early forms are quickly supplanted by triangular microliths in most assemblages, during the Boreal climatic phase. Subsequently, trapezes spread equally rapidly around 8000 B.P., appearing perhaps slightly earlier in southeastern Europe. Trapezes are often the diagnostic artifact for the later Mesolithic in many typological schemes. Although recent claims have been made for in situ cultivation or herding in Mesolithic contexts in Europe, no substantial evidence for indigenous domestication yet exists (Waterbolk 1982). Rather, the end of the Mesolithic is marked, in part at least, by a process of rapid dissemination, somewhat analogous to the spread of the projectile point types, but in this case of the products of Southwest Asia (Jarman et al. 1982; Schwabedissen 1972). Ceramic-using farmers appear in the Aegean and the Balkan peninsula by about 8000 B.P. (Tringham 1971). Cardial-impressed pottery and ovicaprines appear almost simultaneously along the northe north coast of the Mediterranean at about this same date, always in immediate association with otherwise Mesolithic levels of occupation (Guilaine 1979). Further spread of agricultural economies, however, is rather convulsive and sporadic. Central Europe does not experience an "agricultural revolution" until 6500 B.P., and domesticated plants and animals do not reach Britain or Scandinavia until after 5500 B.P. In reality, the striking fact about the movement of agricultural economies into Europe is not their rapid spread but rather the delay in appearance in certain areas. The Neolithic begins later in central, Atlantic, and northwestern Europe not because of a suspension of the schedule of onrushing farmers but because the success of hunting-gathering adaptations in these areas resisted a more labor-intensive form of subsistence until the end of the optimal conditions of the Hypsithermal. In virtually every area of Europe, the transition from Mesolithic foraging to Neolithic farming witnesses distinct aspects of continuity in human adaptation (cf. Madsen 1982; Newell 1970; Whittle 1977). The end of the Mesolithic is not brought about by an advance of invading farmers but rather reflects a period of readaptation and adjustment to changing environments and new subsistence practices, often within the context of existing societies. Acknowledgments. An essay such as the above is in manyways an exercise in frustration.Muchof what I have discussed will be revised or supplantedby new informationvery shortly,in some instances before this article reaches the printed page. Moreover,it is simplynot possible to cover adequatelyall of the important areas of research. My summaryof the EuropeanMesolithichas been rather geographicallyoriented,moving fromthe southeast to the northwest,with stops only at a few pointsof interest. I did not deal with the manyexciting investigations taking place on the North European Plain and in northern Scandinavia, nor have I considered in detail the early Holocene of much of Central or Eastern Europe or European Russia. There is simply too much to be told and too little space in which to do so. I have focused on those areas better known to me, as

one might expect, and have relied on a literature that is presumablymore accessible to the readers of this
journal. My groveling apologies for any errors and/or omissions and to those individuals whose important contributions to the study of the Mesolithic I have failed to relate. My thanks must go to a number of people who provided vital assistance in the construction of this synopsis.

Three individuals deserve special mention. James B. Stoltman made several insightful comments on the manuscript and forced me to clarify my discussion of temporal models and of the definition of the Mesolithic. G. A. Clark made available his considerable editorial talents, carving a rough stone into what is hopefully a patterns in the Mesolithic and his help with the Iberian data were of great use. This summary is likely to be weaker in those sections where I did not follow the advice and suggestions of the above individuals. Finally, while cursing him sotto voce for the pain of its birth, I must sincerely thank Gene Sterud for conceiving such an article and for giving me the opportunity to produce it.

Albert Ammerman,Seren Andersen, Mike Jochim,Beth Prinz, and Barbara Voytekoffered critical information regardingareas of their own special expertise. Peter Gendel,Beth Prinz,Peter Vang Petersen, and Barbara Voytek(along with the outside reviewers) read the manuscriptin detail and providedseveral important suggestions.Much appreciationis due Peter ChristianVemmingHansenwho drafted the map of site locations.

polished resume of early Holocene humanadaptationin Europe.His thoughtson the general developmental



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