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Study Tracks Population Changes in Late Neolithic Norway

Friday, December 14, 2018

OSLO, NORWAY—Science Nordic reports that researchers led by Svein Vatsvåg Nielsen of the University of Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History analyzed hundreds of radiocarbon-dated artifacts from archaeological sites across Norway in order to track changes in the country’s Late Neolithic population. Nielsen said the study identified an increase in human activity in eastern Norway some 6,000 years ago, which could signal the arrival of early farmers from the east. DNA analysis of human remains could reveal whether migrant farmers replaced the hunter-gatherers who lived there, he explained. Archaeologists usually track the spread of farming in the area with a certain type of stone ax, he added, because the preservation of artifacts in the region’s acidic soil is poor and it has been heavily plowed for centuries. The new study also supports the idea that Norway’s Late Neolithic farmers reverted to hunting, gathering, and fishing. Farming was eventually reintroduced during the Bronze Age. “The settlement pattern changes very clearly when we approach 5,300 years ago,” Nielsen said. “Coastal sites fall out of use, and long houses and grains begin to show up.” For more, go to “Letter from Norway: The Big Melt.”

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