Aarhus Universitetsforlag

Smakkerup Huse

A Late Mesolithic Coastal Site in Northwest Zealand, Denmark

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288 pages ill.
ISBN 87 7288 959 4

Edited by

With contributions by
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About the book

Traditionally, the Mesolithic was regarded as a time of cultural regression in northern Europe, relieved only around 4000 BC when the enlightened villagers of the Neolithic arrived on the scene, bringing with them the beginnings of agriculture. But new evidence in the last 30 years has led archaeologists to think of the early postglacial foragers that lived in the Mesolithic as complex, sedentary coastal dwellers who lived in an era of innovation, interaction, and successful adaptation to a rapidly changing environment. The excavations at Smakkerup Huse help to elaborate and evaluate this revised perspective. Although the settlement on land was destroyed by wave erosion, submerged deposits adjacent to the settlement included a midden and a fishing and boat-landing area in excellent condition, with numerous organic materials surviving intact and dating from 5000 to 3900 BC. Deposits included fire-cracked rock, charcoal, oyster shells, amber and teeth pendants, a complete rack of antlers, pieces of dugout canoes and a bow, pointed wooden stakes, large pieces of bark and fungus, thousands of hazelnut shells and fish bones, a fish trap fragment, fishhooks, worked bone and antler tools, potsherds and more than 350 projectile points. The most intriguing artifact was a small painted cobble, a type previously unknown from the Danish Mesolithic. The site also yielded remains from some of the earliest domestic cattle in Denmark, raising important questions about foraging adaptations and the transition to agriculture.


Press reviews

Peter Bogucki  Princeton University, Journal of Field Archaeology

"I am pleased to report that Smakkerup Huse [...] runs against recent trends and is a classic site report in the tradition of archaeology's Golden Age. It is clearly written and well-illustrated to give the reader a full picture of the goals, methods, and results of an excavation project carried out over 18 weeks in 1989, 1995, and 1997 on a late Mesolithic site dating between 5000 and 3800 B.C.

It also provides a thorough discussion of the cultural context of the research and a concise review of knowledge about the Ertebølle culture...I am pleased to add Smakkerup Huse [...] to my library, and I also recommend it as a model of a site report for its organization, clarity, and economy of prose. The data reported in this volume provide an important benchmark for the comparison of the many late Mesolithic sites that will be excavated in the southern Baltic and the Danish Islands during the next several decades."

David Tomalin  HWTMA The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology

"This fine report demonstrates that public interest in past human habitation on Europe's changing coastline may be ahead of the game. Where this report reminds us that Denmark has some 50 local museums with qualified archaeologists on their staff, it appears that here is a European state in which an amalgam of professionals and local participants are leading the way. Elsewhere, it is often a very modest body of archaeologists that has turned attention to this new and uncertain boundary. Attractively presented and very reasonably priced, Smakkerup Huse offers us much more than a formal site report; it is a source of inspiration to all who are moved to meet the challenge of an advancing frontier."





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