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Man and environment at the end of the ice age

Prof. Dr. Berit Valentin Eriksen

My research concern the overall question of how late glacial and early postglacial hunter-gatherer groups moved into frontier areas and coped with more or less extreme environmental situations. The approach emphasize various spatiotemporal issues, including perspectives on origins, colonization and migration, mobility, territoriality, organization of technology and settlement, subsistence economic adaptations and land use, as well as methodological issues.

Evidently, prehistoric hunter-gatherers were highly dependent on their ability to comply with whatever potentials or constraints the natural environment did offer. During the period in question they had to cope with extensive changes in climate and landscape as well as in available game fauna, plant food and other resources. They succeeded, but much remains to be known about how and at what costs.

In this approach, a comparative interdisciplinary analysis of relevant archaeological and palaeo-environmental data is crucial for our understanding of how the people interacted with the environment. First and foremost, we thus need to establish a reliable correlation of the relative archaeological and absolute geochronological frameworks for the late glacial and earliest postglacial. From a thorough discussion of the timing and nature of colonization in relation to the environmental preconditions, we may then proceed by examining variations in effective exploitation of resources (sensu lato) on a spatiotemporal scale and eventually make inferences from procurement strategies to certain socioeconomic structures.

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