CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

Cluster B: “Complex Foragers”

Cluster Chronology
Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene developments in Northern Europe. A: archaeological CRC projects working on this time period and area; B: general archaeological classification; C: presence of archaeological groups in the southwestern Baltic region; D: approximate position of transformation phases; E: general climate development in the North Atlantic region based on oxygen isotope curve from NorthGRIP in the GICC05 chronology (cf. Grimm, in press, Fig. 29); F: general environmental development in the southwestern Baltic region; G: chronological position of the local study areas (yellow: 14C-dated periods; orange: stratigraphic and archaeological attribution).

Cluster B is divided in projects two sub-projects (B1, B2). Providing research about transformation in Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene populations, it is part of research focus 2, “Transformations of socio-economic formations”.

B1: Pioneers of the North: Transitions and Transformations in Northern Europe Evidenced by High-Resolution Data Sets

B2: Transitions of Specialized Foragers

Cluster B concentrates on complex foragers experiencing change, where rather similar social starting points can be traced that lead to very different results.

In the Late Pleistocene and the Early Holocene, marked changes of behaviour among human groups are noted. In Northern Europe, the transition from the archaeologically defined phase of the Late Palaeolithic to that of the Mesolithic marks a transition from specialised, highly-mobile big game hunters to broad-spectrum, complex forest hunter-gatherers and semi-sedentary coastal fisher-huntergatherers. These transformations express multiple drastic and threatening challenges to habits and routines of behaviour that are detectable at different scales and affect different components of society and everyday life (e.g. subsistence strategies). Complex hunter-gatherers are low-population communities totally relying on the availability of natural resources, but potentially very flexible in their mobility and coping strategies. The mobility type of these groups can change significantly as shown by the two projects in cluster B.

The Final Palaeolithic was characterised by at least occasional long distance movements that perhaps were seasonally constrained and led to the gradual colonisation of Northern Europe (B1). In contrast, Mesolithic groups roamed in well-established territo

This is more than just a difference of residential and logistic mobility. The territoriality was transformed to a large degree, an observation that is going to be analysed by the distribution of sites, the seasonality and duration of settlements indicated by the faunal and vegetation records, and by the variability and more precisely similarities in the material culture. Apart from the factor of a changing climate, it is conceivable that more complex processes and an interplay of several factors on different sectors of society must be taken into account to explain and understand such transformations. Changes of climate and the landscape were most significant during the Final Palaeolithic. Instability was the rule to which people adapted from open park tundra landscapes to light forests, coastal landscapes, and inland forested landscapes characterized by a myriad of small lakes and crosscutting streams – thus best exploited by the waterways. However, also with the onset of more stable climates in the Early Holocene, the landscape was constantly transforming, to a degree to which hunter-gatherers had to react/adapt. In fact, with increasing territoriality we may ask if they were more vulnerable to small, sensitive changes in their environment.

The main objective of cluster B is to study and compare processes, triggers and components of the aforementioned social transformations, including coping strategies associated with climatic and environmental stress, the role of innovative behaviour, and changes in subsistence strategies and social interactions.

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