Neolithic Pottery and Shore Displacement in Sweden

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gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
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Edinburgh
I'm sticking this in "Other chatter" as it's not really bushcraft, but I'm sure it'll be of interest to several here...

There's a fascinating post over on Aardvarchaeology called Pottery Styles and Shore Displacement, about some very impressive archaeological / geological research. As you may know, the coastlines of northern Europe have changed a lot since the last ice age, and most people in the Neolithic period lived on or near the coast. So, in theory, you can reconstruct a chronology by looking at how sea level has varied, which would then let you date pottery fragments quite accurately, which would then give you an insight in the development of pottery technology during the Neolithic and be invaluable in dating other sites. In practice, the matter is somewhat more complicated... But someone's finally done it:

Niklas Ytterberg has done something absolutely audacious. He started with Björk's level clustering concept and extended it to the entire Baltic coast of Sweden, looking at hundreds of sites. Everywhere, he found the same number of clusters, though the actual levels they sat on varied widely. Then he turned to quaternary geology, where people have been busy for decades refining regional shore displacement curves using radiocarbon. (They drill cores in lake sediments, identify the level where seawater diatoms are replaced by freshwater ones, and date organics from that level.) Using the geologists' regional shore displacement models, Niklas figured out which level clusters in the various regions' Neolithic site record are coeval. And in a final step, he sorted through insane amounts of pottery from each level cluster and identified traits that were shared all along the coast at that time. Presto -- we have an interregional Neolithic pottery chronology with stringent type definitions, absolute dates from radiocarbon and huge interdisciplinary relevance for quaternary geology. Thanks, Niklas!
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,697
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S. Lanarkshire
Wow :eek: Now that's work :35: :35: :approve:

I wonder how that would work here? An awful lot of our sites from that period are along the river floodplains.

cheers,
Toddy
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
47
Edinburgh
Very difficult I would imagine... Do we even have anything like the same volume of evidence available from British coastal sites? The settlements along rivers would surely be much harder to trace, as river movement is not nearly as "simple" as shore displacement!

I'd also love to see some comparisons between the distinctive characteristics of the Swedish pottery and contemporary material from Britain, particularly in the east... If we see common features changing simultaneously, that would provide very strong evidence for widespread cultural and trading links across the whole region.

[Jeez, here's me talking like I know what I'm on about... ;) Too much Time Team!]