7th Experimental Archaeology Conference Abstract – Svein Vatsvåg Nielsen

Lithic experiments in rescue archaeology – a case from Southern Norway

Svein Vatsvåg Nielsen

Archaeology in Norway is development-led. Through the Cultural Heritage Act, no development initiatives can proceed without archaeological surveys in the areas, which are performed by the County Council. All monuments and other traces of people predating 1537 are legally protected in Norway. When in conflict with development initiatives, many of these are first surveyed and then excavated by one of the five district museums. How can lithic experiments improve local Stone Age surveys? How can these experiments create knowledge relevant to the research initiated rescue archaeology of the district museums? A case is presented from Southern Norway. A Stone Age survey related to the construction of a new road (E18) was conducted by Aust-Agder County Council during the fall of 2012. Sites dated to the Mesolithic were discovered, several of them characterized by fragmented quartzite.  Due to uncertain morphological and technological qualities, quartzite in Stone Age contexts is connected with much uncertainty in Norwegian archaeology. To prove the cultural historic significance of the discovered quartzite, experiments were conducted on imported flint and local quartzite by archaeologists working on the survey project. The temporary results from the experiments show (1) that a large amount of the discovered quartzite was formed by knapping, (2) possibilities to forming pragmatic criteria for detecting Mesolithic tool production in quartzite, (3) that preliminary lithic experiments can be useful for the subsequent excavations, and (4) a way to understand technological choices performed by prehistoric flint- and quartzite knappers in a specific time and region.

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