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Friday, June 17th, 2005, 10:15 AM
The Earliest Settlement of Denmark
by Jørgen Holm

Abstract
The last twenty years have seen major growth in research into the
Late Palaeolithic in Denmark, which may well be the most significant
area of growth in the archaeology of this country. We can now
establish that practically all the cultures/industries associated
with the Weichselian Ice Age, which are known from other parts of
the North European lowlands, are also represented in Denmark: the
Hamburgian Culture, the Federmesser Culture and the Ahrensburgian
Culture. In addition, there is the Bromme Culture, which appears to
be a predominantly South Scandinavian phenomenon.



Introduction

The study of the earliest Palaeolithic in Denmark has never
attracted great favour among the archaeological establishment, and
accordingly it has received totally inadequate financial resources.
For years on end, Paleolithic and Mesolithic research has only
received approx. 10% of the funds that have flowed into
archaeological research. In spite of this unfair treatment, which
has gradually been supplanted by a little more understanding, a
couple of handfuls of enthusiastic professional and amateur
archaeologists have successfully achieved sensational results over
the last few decades, which certainly represent some of the greatest
advances in Danish archaeology.

Research history

The fact that Denmark was inhabited during the Palaeolithic had
already become clear i 1889, when a reindeer antler striking weapon
was found at the foot of a coastal cliff at Nørre Lyngby, on
northwest Jutland (Müller 1896). These cliffs were again the focus
of attention in 1915, when a tanged point made of flint was found in
a layer dating from the Younger Dryas (Jessen & Nordmann 1915).
Implements made of organic materials, including reindeer antler
striking weapons, which, on the basis of the raw material alone,
could be dated to the Late Glacial, were also subsequently found
distributed over the landscape (Mathiassen 1938 a; Mathiassen 1938
b; Mathiassen 1941).



Bromme Culture

A major research breakthrough occurred in 1944, when the
distinguished amateur archaeologist Erik Westerby successfully
identified a settlement dating from the Allerød Period at Bromme,
near Sorø, on Zealand (Mathiassen 1946; Westerby 1985; Fischer &
Nielsen 1987). The so-called "Lyngby Culture" was then superseded by
the more reliably authenticated "Bromme Culture", which is still
regarded essentially as a South Scandinavian, and, at a pich, North
German phenomen. Research activities then stagnated for a couple of
decades. It was not until 1970 that the first Bromme settlements
were discovered to the west of the great Belt, on Funen (Andersen
1973; Holm 1972) and on Jutland (Madsen 1983; Nilsson 1989). The
quantity of finds on Zealand increased steeply more or less at the
same time (Rasmussen 1970; Petersen 1974; Petersen 1994; Fischer
1976; Fischer & Mortensen 1977; Fischer 1978; Fischer 1990 b;
Jønsson 1984; Johansson 1996).



Hamburgian Culture

The next distinct breakthrough occurred in 1981, when a test
excavation at Jels, on South Jutland, confirmed that a site already
discovered by the amateur archaeologist Jørn Fynbo in 1968 belonged
to the Hamburgian Culture (Holm & Rieck 1983). Ever since Alfred
Rust, working during the 1930s, undertook his epoch-making
investigations in the Ahrensburg Valley, northeast of Hamburg, the
Hamburgian Culture has, in fact, been high on the list of topics of
particular interest to Danish archaeology. The view held for many
years, to the effect that the North German settlements were situated
quite close to the ice edge, and that most of Denmark was still
covered by ice at this time, weakened the belief that it might be
possible to find evidence of the culture in this country.
Nevertheless, in line with the growing conviction that South
Scandinavia (Denmark and southernmost Sweden) was ice-free at a very
early stage, even prior to the Bølling Period, there was increasing
optimism surrounding the possibility of making Danish finds from the
Hamburgian Culture. Preliminary indications had already ben given in
1968, with the publication by C.J. Becker of details of a typical
shouldered point from Bjerlev Hede (= heath), between Vejle and
Horsens in southeast Jutland (Becker 1970). The author himself,
however, pointed out that it could not be excluded that this
shouldered point had remained in a wounded animal that had arrived
here from the area to the south, and that it was not necessarily
evidence of the presence of a "Danish" hunter.

Research into these Late Glacial cultures has accelerated
considerably, in particular since the investigation of the site at
Jels (1981-83). Exploratory investigations conducted in 1983 at a
distance of only 30 m from this site, Jels 1, successfully revealed
yet another Hamburgian site, Jels 2, which was excavated in 1984
(Holm & Rieck 1987; Holm & Rieck 1992).

Settlements of the Hamburgian and Federmesser Cultures at Slotseng,
South Jutland

The most remarkable example of what can be achieved by a combination
of targeted investigation and good luck was discovered in 1985 * in
the archaeological specimen store at Haderlev Museum! This was
another Hamburgian artefact asemblage that had already been brought
to the museum by an former employee, Peter Lepik, in 1962. These
finds proved to originate from Slotseng, in the valley of the river
Nørre Å between the villages of Mølby and Neder Lert * only ca. 5.5
km to the southeast of, and linked directly to the Jels sites by the
valley. Reconnaissance was carried out in this area in the spring
and autumn of every year during the period 1985-89. It was
remarkable to note that the Late Palaeolithic flint could be found
over an area as large as 75 x 75 m * and yet without any distinct
concentrations. This was nevertheless taken as an indication that we
had to be dealing with several settlements. In order, amongst other
things, to shed light on this situation, a trial excavation was made
in the area in the autumn of 1989.

By using a large number of test pits, each covering only one quarter
of a square metre and arranged systematically at a distance of 5-10
m apart * incidentally, a method which had been instrumental in the
discovery of the Jels 2 site * we were able to isolate a find
concentration measuring some 60 x 20 m and extending to a cluster of
Late Palaeolithic settlements, at least three in number, which were
provisionally designated a, b and c. It is appropriate at this stage
to include the comment that the quarter-metre-square method makes a
convincing contribution to location and delimiting unspecified
concentrations of worked flint, but that it appears less suitable
for identifying the particular culture involved. It should be
supplemented by the excavation of larger holes at the centre of the
concentrations, since this will give a greater chance of recording
types of implement that are characteristic of the culture.



Federmesser Culture at Slotseng

One of the sites, known as Slotseng b, was excavated in 1990 by the
author of this paper in association with the National Museum. It was
a considerable surprise to discover that we might be dealing here
with a settlement from the Federmesser Culture. Neither the surface
reconnaissance nor the trial excavation had indicated the presence
of a Federmesser settlement on this site. A flint concentration
measuring ca. 6 x 8 m, forming an approximately star-shaped figure
with rounded points, was discovered within an excavated area of 111
square metres. A distinct concentration of burnt flint was
discovered at the centre of this figure, which indicates that the
hearth was located in this area. By far the major proportion of the
implements lay around this imaginary hearth, which again emphasizes
that the hearth was the focal point around which the settlement
activities were played out. In particular the backed points
(=Federmesser) were gathered quite distinctly around and in the
actual hearth. In all, just under 300 reliable implements, ca. 100
cores and slightly more than 10,000 flakes and blades were found.

The neighbouring flint concentration, c, was investigated in 1991,
and was found to be a settlement from the Hamburgian Culture. It
measured ca. 8 x 11 m. Remarkably little burnt flint was found (this
is a noticeable feature, that was also observed in conjunction with
the Jels sites), and it was accordingly not possible to identify a
hearth. The investigation yielded in total ca. 200 regular
implements, 70 cores and over 8 000 flakes and blades (Fig. 4). The
aforementioned two sites have already been described in greater
detail in earlier publications (Holm & Rieck 1992; Holm 1992; Holm
1993).

1993 was the turn of the major find concentration, a, the extent of
which had been established in the course of the trial excavation in
1989, and which was situated only ca. 30 m to the east of sites b
(Federmesser Culture) and c (Hamburgian Culture). Gradually, as the
excavation progressed, it separated into two sites from the
Hamburgian Culture and the Federmesser Culture respectively . The
designation a was retained and linked with the Hamburgian
settlement, whereas the Federmesser settlement directly to the
southeast, and partially overlapping, was given the designation e (d
is used for a small concentration of flint flakes, discovered in
1989 a short distance down the slope towards the northwest, and
presumed to be material that had been removed from the settlements
lying above it through a combination of geological processes and
ploughing).


By far the majority of the finds beneath the plough layer was found
to be lying on the southern periphery of the large concentration
that had been identified after the trial investigation in 1989.
Thus, to judge from all the evidence, there appears to have been a
displacement to the northwest of the uppermost flint material
situated in the plough layer. The terrain actually falls uniformly
in this direction. The displacement is presumably attributable to a
combination of geological processes * soil creep * and ploughing.

Hamburgian site a measured ca. 7 x 8 m and was highly irregular. It
consisted of 6-7 dense, small concentrations. Both flint waste and
implements followed this pattern. Also, strangely few pieces of
burnt flint were found on this Hamburgian site.

Federmesser site e appeared almost as an appendix to the Hamburgian
site, and lay directly adjacent to its southeastern part. In spite
of the fact that we were dealing here with a comparatively distinct
concentration, it must be pointed out that a little Federmesser
material also occurred in the southern part of the Hamburgian site,
and that individual reliable Hamburgian types were present in the
highly abundant concentration, measuring only approx. 4 x 5 m, which
could be associated with the Federmesser Culture by a good margin.
In conjunction with this concentration, archaeological remains were
discovered over an area of a couple of square metres from the top of
the plough layer and down to a depth of c. 1.5 m. The examination of
profiles lends most support to the belief that a large uprooted tree
was mainly responsible for the material being carried down to this
great depth, even if we are not able to exclude the possibility that
there was a small, natural depression here during the Late Glacial *
or even that the Stone Age people had dug down here. No structural
features could be identified at any of the sites.


It goes without saying that the find material from these two
slightly overlapping settlements can only be attributed to the
respective cultures with considerable uncertainty. This can be done
with a degree of equanimity as far as the most reliable types of
implement are concerned, whereas the subdivision of cores and flint
waste is far more uncertain and, until demonstrated otherwise, can
only be based on the distribution pattern formed by the types of
implement that characterize the culture. Any future refitting
attempts and analyses of the raw material may perhaps resolve this
question to some extent. Typical Hamburgian implements included 62
zinken and 61 tanged points of the Havelte type. 77 backed points
(Federmesser) and 39 scrapers of the Wehlen type must be attributed
to the Federmesse Culture. More uncertainty surrounds the
affiliation of a further 50 scrapers and 109 burins.

Four Late Glacial settlements, lying together in pairs, have thus
been investigated at Slotseng until now, in such a way that a
Federmesser settlement at each location lies quite close to a
Hamburgian settlement. This is remarkable. This area during the Late
Glacial must have provided particularly favourable conditions, which
attracted groups of hunters with centuries in between. It is
informative in this context to mention the situation of a distinct
forced passage, a fairly large lake and a kettle hole, and the
abundant occurrences of unworked flint on the hillside immediately
to the east of the settlements. This could indicate common features
with regard to hunting strategy and utilization of raw materials.
Moreover, the high * yet at the same time strongly exposed * situation
of the settlements is only explicable if the landscape in both
cultural periods was still open and afforded a clear view in all
directions. This may well be an indication that the Federmesser
settlements are not much younger than the Hamburgian settlements,
dating from the Older Dryas or the start of the Allerød Period.

All the previously investigated sites at Jels and Slotseng are
strongly characterized and disturbed by periglacial processes,
bioturbations and ploughing (Fig. 6 & 7). A large proportion of the
find material lies in the plough layer, and the rest in apparently
random positions beneath it * as already mentioned, all the way down
to a depth of 1.5 m. Archaeological remains have been found
distributed in frost wedges, uprooted trees and on animal routes,
and fragments of flint blades and implements, which could be
refitted, clearly indicate that some of these archaeological remains
had travelled for at least 50 cm in the vertical plane. One feature
shared by all these sites is the fact that they lie at a relatively
high altitude * by Danish conditions * and in exposed parts of the
landscape, where no new sedimentation has occurred to seal and
protect the sites, and from where it is more likely for material to
have been transported away from the top of the slope and down into
adjacent hollows. As a result, these sites have been severely
exposed to erosion and frost phenomena, perhaps in particular during
the extremely cold Younger Dryas. Add to this the devastation caused
by bioturbations (uprooted trees, tree roots and the activity of
small digging animals) and, more recently, ploughing on the sites
near the surface. These processes are continuing, as can be
appreciated from the fact that quite recent artifacts, such as iron
objects and fragments of porcelain, can occasionally be found more
than 30 cm beneath the plough layer, without any indication that
they were ever buried there.

The situation that we are facing is thus far from an in-situ nature.
There is nothing to indicate that the flint artefacts are lying
where they were placed or lost at the time of settlement. A similar
situation has been established at numerous sites in this and other
countries, not only in conjunction with Palaeolithic settlements,
but also Mesolithic (Barton 1987; Barton 1992). It is a more
difficult matter to evaluate the horizontal movements. We have
documentary evidence from Jels 1 that the largest of the uprooted
trees had a diameter of 2 m, and we must not lose sight of the fact
that the horizontal displacement of the archaeological material
occurs to at least half this value, i.e. ca. 1 m. This rapidly
became clear to us at Jels, and we then organized our excavation and
recording methods accordingly. Thus, by far the major proportion of
the Jels sites was subjected to examination in quarter-metre units,
a method which was consistently applied in conjunction with the
Slotseng sites. From time to time, we excavated in 5-10 cm layers
within these units, as an experiment, although we had to conclude,
with the major vertical displacements in mind, that the results
achieved do not make any meaningful contribution to the following
analytical process. My own approach to the usefulness of such finds
in conjunction with fine-grained site structural analyses is
accordingly highly pessimistic and critical. I have also omitted
from the discussion at this point the additional complexity
and "interference" that may have resulted from reoccupied
settlements on the same site * a possibility that should be included
to a considerable extent in our desk considerations. My general view
is that some of the site analyses that have been presented in the
literature take either no account at all, or very little account of
the disturbances to which the archaeological remains were subjected
after the settlements were abandoned (Blankholm 1991). This is a
conspicuous weakness in the method.



The Kettle hole

One member of the team investigating Slotseng in 1991 was the
geologist Jette Lorentzen, from Aarhus University, one of whose
tasks was to take core samples in the hollow to the northwest of the
cluster of settlements. This work was carried out as part of a
landscape reconstruction exercise. One of the core samples (No. 7)
taken in August 1991 at the foot of the slope ca. 70 m to the
northwest of the closest settlements, yielded three bone or antler
stumps which originated from the top of an olive-green layer of clay
gyttja at a depth of ca. 4.40 m. Further "encircling" core samples
indicated that we were concerned here with a small kettle hole
measuring scarcely more than ca. 20 x 20 m. A trial trench covering
barely 2 m2 was dug around the core location, leading to the finding
of a reindeer antler and a further three bone fragments. As the base
of the trench was dredged out, a completely undamaged, zinken-like
flint implement was found close to the bones and at more or less the
same level (Fig. 8). The ingress of ground water prevented
excavation to a greater depth, and we had to resort to breaking off
and recovering the piece of the reindeer antler projecting from the
trench. The remaining bones were left where they were, possibly to
await more detailed investigation at some future date (Holm 1992;
Holm 1993).

An interim report, drawn up by curator Charlie Christensen, of the
Environmental Department of the National Museum (Christensen 1991),
states that all the evidence suggests that a complete series of Late
Glacial layers and large parts of a Postglacial (Holocene) series
are deposited in the kettle hole. Bones and flint were lying at the
top of a ca. 60 cm thick layer of clay and calcareous gyttja (mud),
which also contained well preserved pollen, the remains of insects
and * perhaps most interestingly * wood. The first evaluation already
favoured a dating to the Bølling Period. This has now been fully
supported by an AMS dating of the bone/antler fragments obtained
from core sample No. 7. The dating was performed by the AMS
Laboratory, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus
(AAR-906): 12, 520+/-190 BP.


Slotseng. Distribution of typical flint implements. a: settlement of
the Hamburgian Culture and e: settlement of the Federmesser Culture.
Computer graphics: J. Holm.

By far the majority of the finds beneath the plough layer was found
to be lying on the southern periphery of the large concentration
that had been identified after the trial investigation in 1989.
Thus, to judge from all the evidence, there appears to have been a
displacement to the northwest of the uppermost flint material
situated in the plough layer. The terrain actually falls uniformly
in this direction. The displacement is presumably attributable to a
combination of geological processes * soil creep * and ploughing.

Hamburgian site a measured ca. 7 x 8 m and was highly irregular. It
consisted of 6-7 dense, small concentrations. Both flint waste and
implements followed this pattern. Also, strangely few pieces of
burnt flint were found on this Hamburgian site.

Federmesser site e appeared almost as an appendix to the Hamburgian
site, and lay directly adjacent to its southeastern part. In spite
of the fact that we were dealing here with a comparatively distinct
concentration, it must be pointed out that a little Federmesser
material also occurred in the southern part of the Hamburgian site,
and that individual reliable Hamburgian types were present in the
highly abundant concentration, measuring only approx. 4 x 5 m, which
could be associated with the Federmesser Culture by a good margin.
In conjunction with this concentration, archaeological remains were
discovered over an area of a couple of square metres from the top of
the plough layer and down to a depth of c. 1.5 m. The examination of
profiles lends most support to the belief that a large uprooted tree
was mainly responsible for the material being carried down to this
great depth, even if we are not able to exclude the possibility that
there was a small, natural depression here during the Late Glacial *
or even that the Stone Age people had dug down here. No structural
features could be identified at any of the sites.


Slotseng. Profile section through the Hamburgian settlement c seen
from north. In a 0.5 m wide baulk, the featureless, soft, artefact-
bearing sand has been removed with a combination of digging and
hosing down. Remaining, in highly irregular relief, are remains of
the harder fluviatile layer series, disturbed by frost phenomena and
bioturbations. Photo: J. Holm.

It goes without saying that the find material from these two
slightly overlapping settlements can only be attributed to the
respective cultures with considerable uncertainty. This can be done
with a degree of equanimity as far as the most reliable types of
implement are concerned, whereas the subdivision of cores and flint
waste is far more uncertain and, until demonstrated otherwise, can
only be based on the distribution pattern formed by the types of
implement that characterize the culture. Any future refitting
attempts and analyses of the raw material may perhaps resolve this
question to some extent. Typical Hamburgian implements included 62
zinken and 61 tanged points of the Havelte type. 77 backed points
(Federmesser) and 39 scrapers of the Wehlen type must be attributed
to the Federmesse Culture. More uncertainty surrounds the
affiliation of a further 50 scrapers and 109 burins.

Four Late Glacial settlements, lying together in pairs, have thus
been investigated at Slotseng until now, in such a way that a
Federmesser settlement at each location lies quite close to a
Hamburgian settlement. This is remarkable. This area during the Late
Glacial must have provided particularly favourable conditions, which
attracted groups of hunters with centuries in between. It is
informative in this context to mention the situation of a distinct
forced passage, a fairly large lake and a kettle hole, and the
abundant occurrences of unworked flint on the hillside immediately
to the east of the settlements. This could indicate common features
with regard to hunting strategy and utilization of raw materials.
Moreover, the high * yet at the same time strongly exposed * situation
of the settlements is only explicable if the landscape in both
cultural periods was still open and afforded a clear view in all
directions. This may well be an indication that the Federmesser
settlements are not much younger than the Hamburgian settlements,
dating from the Older Dryas or the start of the Allerød Period.

All the previously investigated sites at Jels and Slotseng are
strongly characterized and disturbed by periglacial processes,
bioturbations and ploughing (Fig. 6 & 7). A large proportion of the
find material lies in the plough layer, and the rest in apparently
random positions beneath it * as already mentioned, all the way down
to a depth of 1.5 m. Archaeological remains have been found
distributed in frost wedges, uprooted trees and on animal routes,
and fragments of flint blades and implements, which could be
refitted, clearly indicate that some of these archaeological remains
had travelled for at least 50 cm in the vertical plane. One feature
shared by all these sites is the fact that they lie at a relatively
high altitude * by Danish conditions * and in exposed parts of the
landscape, where no new sedimentation has occurred to seal and
protect the sites, and from where it is more likely for material to
have been transported away from the top of the slope and down into
adjacent hollows. As a result, these sites have been severely
exposed to erosion and frost phenomena, perhaps in particular during
the extremely cold Younger Dryas. Add to this the devastation caused
by bioturbations (uprooted trees, tree roots and the activity of
small digging animals) and, more recently, ploughing on the sites
near the surface. These processes are continuing, as can be
appreciated from the fact that quite recent artifacts, such as iron
objects and fragments of porcelain, can occasionally be found more
than 30 cm beneath the plough layer, without any indication that
they were ever buried there.

The situation that we are facing is thus far from an in-situ nature.
There is nothing to indicate that the flint artefacts are lying
where they were placed or lost at the time of settlement. A similar
situation has been established at numerous sites in this and other
countries, not only in conjunction with Palaeolithic settlements,
but also Mesolithic (Barton 1987; Barton 1992). It is a more
difficult matter to evaluate the horizontal movements. We have
documentary evidence from Jels 1 that the largest of the uprooted
trees had a diameter of 2 m, and we must not lose sight of the fact
that the horizontal displacement of the archaeological material
occurs to at least half this value, i.e. ca. 1 m. This rapidly
became clear to us at Jels, and we then organized our excavation and
recording methods accordingly. Thus, by far the major proportion of
the Jels sites was subjected to examination in quarter-metre units,
a method which was consistently applied in conjunction with the
Slotseng sites. From time to time, we excavated in 5-10 cm layers
within these units, as an experiment, although we had to conclude,
with the major vertical displacements in mind, that the results
achieved do not make any meaningful contribution to the following
analytical process. My own approach to the usefulness of such finds
in conjunction with fine-grained site structural analyses is
accordingly highly pessimistic and critical. I have also omitted
from the discussion at this point the additional complexity
and "interference" that may have resulted from reoccupied
settlements on the same site * a possibility that should be included
to a considerable extent in our desk considerations. My general view
is that some of the site analyses that have been presented in the
literature take either no account at all, or very little account of
the disturbances to which the archaeological remains were subjected
after the settlements were abandoned (Blankholm 1991). This is a
conspicuous weakness in the method.



The Kettle hole

One member of the team investigating Slotseng in 1991 was the
geologist Jette Lorentzen, from Aarhus University, one of whose
tasks was to take core samples in the hollow to the northwest of the
cluster of settlements. This work was carried out as part of a
landscape reconstruction exercise. One of the core samples (No. 7)
taken in August 1991 at the foot of the slope ca. 70 m to the
northwest of the closest settlements, yielded three bone or antler
stumps which originated from the top of an olive-green layer of clay
gyttja at a depth of ca. 4.40 m. Further "encircling" core samples
indicated that we were concerned here with a small kettle hole
measuring scarcely more than ca. 20 x 20 m. A trial trench covering
barely 2 m2 was dug around the core location, leading to the finding
of a reindeer antler and a further three bone fragments. As the base
of the trench was dredged out, a completely undamaged, zinken-like
flint implement was found close to the bones and at more or less the
same level (Fig. 8). The ingress of ground water prevented
excavation to a greater depth, and we had to resort to breaking off
and recovering the piece of the reindeer antler projecting from the
trench. The remaining bones were left where they were, possibly to
await more detailed investigation at some future date (Holm 1992;
Holm 1993).

An interim report, drawn up by curator Charlie Christensen, of the
Environmental Department of the National Museum (Christensen 1991),
states that all the evidence suggests that a complete series of Late
Glacial layers and large parts of a Postglacial (Holocene) series
are deposited in the kettle hole. Bones and flint were lying at the
top of a ca. 60 cm thick layer of clay and calcareous gyttja (mud),
which also contained well preserved pollen, the remains of insects
and * perhaps most interestingly * wood. The first evaluation already
favoured a dating to the Bølling Period. This has now been fully
supported by an AMS dating of the bone/antler fragments obtained
from core sample No. 7. The dating was performed by the AMS
Laboratory, Institute of Physics and Astronomy, University of Aarhus
(AAR-906): 12, 520+/-190 BP.


Slotseng. The completely fresh, Zinken-like flint implement from
the kettle hole. The piece shows wearmarks after work with bone or
antler. Measures 7.1 cm.

Converted into calendar years, this dating can be put at 12,750 BC.
If this dating is then projected into the timetable and the climatic
curve based on the Greenland Summit Ice Core (Johnsen et al. 1992;
Dansgaard & Steffensen 1992), it shows that humans were already on
the move in Denmark at the start of the Bølling.

Subsequent analyses have revealed that the reindeer antler from the
kettle hole bears traces of cutting marks (K. Aaris-Sørensen, pers.
comm.), and a microwear analysis of the zinken-like implement has
shown that it was used for working bones or antlers (H. Juel Jensen,
pers. comm.).



Discussion

As can be appreciated from the above, the last twenty years have
seen major growth in research into the Late Palaeolithic in Denmark,
which may well be the most significant area of growth in the
archaeology of this country. We can now establish that practically
all the cultures/industries associated with the Weichselian Ice Age,
which are known from other parts of the North European lowlands, are
also represented in Denmark: the Hamburgian Culture, the Federmesser
Culture and the Ahrensburgian Culture. In addition, there is the
Bromme Culture, which appears to be a predominantly South
Scandinavian phenomenon.

The Hamburgian Culture is represented by a casual find, the
previously mentioned shouldered point of the classical type from
Bjerlev Hede (Becker 1970), two sites at Jels (Holm & Rieck 1992),
two sites at Slotseng (Holm 1992; Holm 1993), and one comparatively
recently found cluster of settlements, totalling four, at Sølbjerg,
on southwest Lolland (to the south of Zealand) (Petersen & Johansen
1993; Petersen & Johansen 1994; Petersen & Johansen, this volume).
Jels 2 is one of the largest/richest Hamburgian sites ever found,
with regard to both the area of the settlement, ca. 11 x 8 m, and
the number of implements, ca. 700 (see Bokelmann 1978 for a
comparison between German and South Scandinavian settlements from
the Hamburgian, Federmesser, Bromme and Ahrensburgian Cultures).

Until 1990, the Federmesser Culture was known only from a series of
casual surface finds of Federmesser points (Andersen 1977; Madsen
1982; Fischer 1990a) and scrapers of the Wehlen type, and from a
single reliable site at Rundebakke, Knudshoved Odde, on South
Zealand (Petersen 1974; Petersen 1994). In addition there is a flint
workshop, consisting exclusively of cores and blades/flakes, at
Egtved on South Jutland. This has been attributed to the Federmesser
Culture solely on the basis of analyses of the underlying flint
technology (Fischer 1990a) * a method considered slightly doubtful by
the author of this article. The question is whether we * without any
typical implements to guide us * today possess sufficient knowledge
to enable us to distinguish, for example, between the Federmesser
Culture and the Bromme Culture. However, the presence of this
Culture in Denmark has now been reliably established with the
excavation of the Slotseng b and e sites (Holm 1993).

The Ahrensburgian Culture, of which only glimpses are known until
now through more or less uncertain individual finds * tanged points,
reindeer antler striking weapons and largebarbed harpoons with a
spade-shaped base (Taute 1968; Becker 1971; Skaarup 1974; Andersen
1974) * is now represented by an entirely reliable excavated site at
Sølbjerg, where, as mentioned above, settlements dating from the
Hamburgian Culture have also been identified (Petersen & Johansen
1993; Petersen & Johansen 1994).



Slow or rapid expansion?

The first settlement in Denmark can be traced back, via the C14
dating of worked reindeer antlers from the Slotseng kettle hole, all
the way to the beginning of the Bølling * immediately after the
noticeable, and almost rocketlike rise in temperature which marked
the end of Dryas 1 that is reflected inter alia in the Greenland ice
cores. We may presume that it was not until this time that the
climatic conditions and the natural environment became sufficiently
favourable to permit people to live so far to The north. Once these
living conditions were in place, however, the hunters rapidly
arrived in South Scandinavia. The author does not subscribe to the
idea of slow, gradual expansion, which did not bring the older
Hamburgian Culture any closer than North Germany, and in a younger
phase to southernmost Denmark, and the Federmesser Culture any
closer than the middle of Jutland, etc. (Fischer 1991). The distance
from North Germany to northernmost Denmark could have been covered
in two weeks at the most! The actual form of the current find
picture can presumably be attributed to the fact that far from every
region in Denmark and the rest of South Scandinavia has been
investigated with the same intensity. Rapid expansion, e.g. in the
form of hunting expeditions, on the extreme periphery of the area
which offered adequate living conditions, is not contradicted in any
way by the image that we have formed of dynamic and highly mobile
groups of hunters including with the support of ethnographic
observations. This view is also supported by the absence of finds
that pre-date the Dryas 1/Bølling transition in the more southerly
areas of the northwest European lowlands (Street et al. 1994).



Migration and communication routes

At least two obvious access routes to South Scandinavia can be
identified for the Hamburgian Culture. If we first examine the
spread of the culture in North Germany, there is a clear tendency
towards a westerly route leading from hill island to hill island.
The submerged North Sea mainland is an unknown, but particularly
interesting factor in this context. Its interest lies in the fact
that it is very easy to imagine that the valley of the river Elbe at
the time, and its continuation into the area that is now covered by
the sea, was a major life nerve and signpost for the reindeer, and
accordingly for the movements of the reindeer hunters. This means
that the hunting groups may have entered South Scandinavian
territory, including the hill islands of southwest Jutland, from a
predominantly western direction.

Another, perhaps even more obvious possibility is a more easterly
route - up towards the Jutland Ridge, the watershed, or to put it
another way: the Hærvejen (= military road) or the Oksevejen (=
cattle road), which, for the last thousand years at least, has been
the preferred route between North Germany and the northern part of
Jutland. In fact, by following this route, one would encounter a
minimum of watercourses and boggy areas. This gives food for
thought, although one should resist drawing excessively firm
conclusions to the effect that the find locations at both Jels and
Slotseng and Bjerlev Hede lie either on or in the vicinity of this
route.

Recent major finds of settlements from the Hamburgian Culture and
the Ahrensburgian Culture at Sølbjerg on Lolland make it necessary
to consider the possibility of a third, even more easterly route,
which is described in detail by P. Vang Petersen and L. Johansen
(Petersen & Johansen 1993). Whereas the author of the present
article prefers to use a broad brush in his description of
hypothetical migration routes and communication routes, his two
colleagues take the reader through every stick and stone of the
landscape * from the Ahrensburg valley, across Fehmarn and then on
via Sølbjerg, Knudshoved Odde and the Køge bugt (= bay) on Zealand,
to Scania. It is naturally always stimulating and refreshing to see
already established theoretical models developed further (see, for
instance, Holm & Rieck 1992), although this does not provide
reasonable grounds, either here or elsewhere, for outlining such a
detailed, almost concrete, route. If one really does wish to attempt
to define a route, then the starting point must be a fairly large
number of reliably dated sites from the same culture, situated at
regular intervals on the route * whereas Petersen and Johansen
justify their route with sites from no fewer than four different
Late Glacial cultures: the Hamburgian, Federmesser, Bromme and
Ahrensburgian. A further consideration is that, whereas we have some
idea of at least certain aspects of the hunting strategy of the
Hamburgian and Ahrensburgian Cultures from the finds made in the
Ahrensburg valley, we know practically nothing about the situation
in respect of the Federmesser and Bromme Cultures. The latter is
very often referred to, albeit on a particularly flimsy basis, as a
culture based on elk hunting and accordingly with a major reliance
on a permanent territory (Mathiassen 1946; Bokelmann 1978).



Situation of the Havelte group

It is appropriate and tempting to consider the reindeer bones and
the flint implement found in the kettle hole at Slotseng in relation
to the above sites, although the distance between them is no less
than ca. 70 m, as already mentioned, and we have no way of being
certain that coeval and cultural contact occurred. The flint
implement most closely resembles a zinken, although it is not
sufficiently typical in nature to permit us to attribute it without
further ado to the Hamburgian Culture. If we examine the C14 dating,
12,520+/-190 BP (12,750 BC in calendar years), i.e. the beginning of
the Bølling Period, we can confidently rule out the Federmesser
Culture, which does not appear before the Bølling - Older Dryas
transition. Most of the C14 datings fall in the Allerød, with a few
at the start of the Younger Dryas (Bokelmann et al. 1983; Houtsma et
al. 1984). On the other hand, this dating fits an early phase of the
Hamburgian Culture and aligns quite closely with the datings for
Poggenwisch (the Polish Olbrachcice site is slightly older
(Burdukiewicz 1986), and Meiendorf and Stellmoor (lower layer) are
slightly younger (Fischer & Tauber 1986). (Fig. 9). It is at this
point, however, that we encounter the next problem: I would place
both Slotseng a and c * in particular on the basis of the special
design of the projectiles (tanged points, rather than shouldered
points) * in the Havelte group, which is traditionally perceived as a
late phase within the Hamburgian Culture (Bohmers 1947; Tromnau
1975; Tromnau 1981; Stapert 1981; Stapert 1982; Stapert 1992), an
assessment which appears to be supported in the TL dating to
12,400+1,600 BP (calendar years) obtained on the basis of burnt
flint from Jels 1 (Huxtable & Mejdahl 1992), which is attributed to
the Havelte group together with Jels 2. In any case, this dating
appears to be too young, and it poses along series of problems; for
if we agree with it, then we must simultaneously accept that the
youngest phase of the Hamburgian Culture is younger than the Bromme
Culture! (Trollesgave ca. 11,100 BP in C14 years, calibrated ca.
11,000 BC (Fischer & Tauber 1986).

A relatively late position for the Havelte group is similarly
supported by the C14 datings, of between 11,470 BP and 11,810 BP
(Stapert 1992) obtained on the basis of charcoal from the Dutch
Oldeholtwolde site, which is attributed to this group by the
excavator on the basis of a morphological/technological analysis of
the projectiles. However, the view of the author of the present
paper is that these projectiles exhibit few similarities with the
points from the eponymous locality of Havelte Holtingerzand, and the
Dörgener Moor, Ahrenshöft, Jels and Slotseng sites. One should also
exercise a degree of care with the dating of charcoal from Late
Glacial occupation layers, even if it was found in the vicinity of a
hearth. If it were to emerge that, together with the dating of the
organic material in the Slotseng kettle hole, we had simultaneously
obtained a dating of the Hamburgian sites a and c lying above it,
then this would naturally have drastic consequences for our
perception of the Havelte group as a late phase within the
Hamburgian Culture. It lies rather at the early end of the culture,
and we must look for an alternative explanation for the typological
differences in the implements which emerge in relation to the
Poggenwisch/Meiendorf groups. For example, are these differences of
a regional, ethnic or functional nature? This brings me back to the
question of shouldered point against tanged point of the Havelte
type. Could it be conceivable, for example, that the asymmetrical
shouldered points were used predorninantly in conjunction with
lightweight throwing spears, whereas the symmetrical Havelte
projectiles functioned as arrowheads? Could it be, in a particular
set of circumstances, that only a functional difference * i.e. not a
chronological difference * to do with hunting strategy and technique
distinguishes the two groups apart? A Danish engineer and amateur
archaeologist, Jan Friis-Hansen, arrived at the same theory
independently from the author of this paper.

As already stated, however, there need not be any connection between
the finds in the kettle hole and the Hamburgian settlements. One
possibility which must certainly not be excluded is that a site in
its own right, either a settlement or a special site (a kill site,
for instance) is situated * deeply buried * in the immediate vicinity
of the kettle hole. Perhaps we have one fragile clue in the form of
a flint flake, which was retrieved from a depth of ca. 2.70 m in
conjunction with core No. 16 ca. 15 m northeast of the kettle hole.

It is hoped that some of these questions will be resolved in
conjunction with future investigations, which will involve further
studies of the kettle hole and its immediate surroundings and the
taking of core samples in the Late Glacial lacustrine deposits
further to the north.



Hamburgian Culture vs. Federmesser and Bromme Cultures

There appears to be broad agreement that the Hamburgian Culture must
be regarded as a northern, highly specialized offshoot of the
Magdalenian technocomplex. In foreign countries to the south,
including the central Rhine area, major organizational differences
are found between the Magdalenian and the slightly younger
Federmesser groups. During the late phases of the Magdalenian,
associated with the Bølling, the subsistence strategy was based on
the exploitation of a limited number of animal species (primarily
the wild horse and reindeer), whereas the Federmesser people engaged
in hunting the full range of mammals that existed during the
Allerød. Similarly noticeable differences can be seen in the use of
lithic raw materials by the two cultures: whereas the Magdalenian is
characterized by high selectivity and economy in the use of the raw
material, the Federmesser people, who lived largely in the same
geographical area, appear to have had a generous attitude towards
the economic use of raw materials, quality and standardization (G.
Bosinski, pers. comm.). It is possible that similar differences will
emerge once we have carried out a more detailed examination of the
Hamburgian Culture on the one hand, and the Federmesser Culture and
the Bromme Culture on the other. The best indication of the southern
roots of the Hamburgian Culture, in the Magdalenian, is perhaps to
be found in the highly selective hunting strategy, which was
additionally restricted to reindeer here, and in the economic
utilization of the lithic raw materials. In spite of the fact that
these people came to South Scandinavia where an abundance of flint
of excellent quality is available, they retained their original
technology. I also regard the frequent use of combination implements
and double implements ("Swiss Army pocket knives") as a contributory
factor to this economic approach to the raw material. This is not
because it was necessary, but because it was "genetically"
programmed into the underlying technology. The Federmesser and
Bromme Cultures are to be found in diametrical opposition to this,
with their obvious waste and extravagance with the flint. The far-
ranging migrations appear to have been superseded by a more
territorially reliant lifestyle, which appears to have been
interrupted with the onset of the Ahrensburgian Culture during the
Younger Dryas, where it is possible to identify a return to a
lifestyle and a hunting strategy based on reindeer, which in many
respects resembles that of the Hamburgian Culture.

Source (http://www.doggerland.dk/PUBLIKATIONER/artikelystad.html)