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Vinterbyar: ett bandsamhälles territorier i Norrlands inland, 4500-2500 f. Kr.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Archaeology and Sami Studies.
1997 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Winter villages : the territories of a band society in the inland of Norrland, 4500-2500 BC (English)
Abstract [en]

The main archaeological features studied in this thesis are semi-subterranean house remains in the woodlands of middle northern Sweden, east of the high mountains and some 100 km from the coast. The period during which they were occupied has been delimited to 4500-2500 BC.

The house remains consist of circular or sometimes rectangular depressions in the ground, surrounded by mounds of refuse and large amounts of fire-cracked stone. Eighty house remains of this kind have been discovered so far and 20 features have been excavated. They are found at 29 different localities that cover an area of more than 60,000 km2.

The question put forward is whether these house remains show patterning in site location, economy and material culture, suggesting that they belonged to one people sharing a similar language and values.

The majority of the locations include more than one house and because of the dug-out-floors and the large amounts of fire-cracked stone they are interpreted as winter villages. The distributions of the villages show a settlement pattern in which the locales are separated by a mean distance of approximately 35 km. In one of the regions, Vilhelmina parish, summer camps have been located by smaller lakes where the waterways from 3 different winter villages connect. Other possible summer camp sites are suggested, based on their location in areas where waterways connect two or three winter villages.

The winter sites were associated with local bands, according to the social structure of hunting societies in North America, suggested by June Helm. Several local bands form a regional band that camp together during certain periods of the year. All regional bands form the tribe or the language family. No traces of social differences between groups or families have been revealed in the material and it is therefore assumed that the remains of the houses represent a hunting/gathering band society.

Among the artifacts in the houses is a predominance of small scrapers of quartz and quartzite. There is also a very high representation of elk (moose) in the bone material from the house remains. Prehistoric and later pit-falls as well as paintings and carvings of elk are distributed within the same area. This shows that elk were a very important prey and this has been emphasized when discussing the explanations of the uniformity in house type and artefacts.

Finally the importance of the slate tools, in particular those of red slate, is briefly discussed. The manufacture of slate tools increase during the neolithic period. In the inland of middle Norrland artifacts of red slate dominate over the grey and black slate artifacts in most of the houses and on many other sites. The raw material is, in most cases, found close to the high mountains, but the red slate is otherwise rare compared to the black and grey, which suggests that it has been highly valued. The knowledge of, and access to, red slate is suggested as having symbolized the unity of this band society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1997. , 195 p.
Studia archaeologica Universitatis Umensis, ISSN 1100-7028 ; 8
Keyword [en]
social territory, local band, regional band, language family, settlement pattern, semi-sedentary, late mesolithic, neolithic, semi-subterranean house, winter sites, red slate, pit-falls, cooking pits, scrapers
National Category
History and Archaeology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-67020ISBN: 91-7191-275-4OAI: diva2:615094
Public defence
1997-05-07, Humanisthuset, hörsal E, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:00
Available from: 2013-04-08 Created: 2013-03-11 Last updated: 2013-04-08Bibliographically approved

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