View Full Version : Finnland: Ice Recedes — Man Arrives

Monday, December 12th, 2005, 10:56 AM
The process which finally led to the present-day settlement of Finland began just over 10,000 years ago as the last Ice Age came to an end and the Finnish land surface began to emerge from under the receding ice. At that time a large part of what is now southern and western Finland was still under the sea. The weight of the ice sheet had depressed the earth's crust, which now began to rise, freeing land from the sea. As we know the pace at which the land rose — and continues to rise — the phenomenon can be used to date prehistoric sites in the area.

The first signs of postglacial settlement in Finland are from the Mesolithic period (c. 8300-5100 BC). The oldest find so far is the famous willow-bast fishing net complete with stone weights, bark floats and stone, bone and antler artefacts discovered at Antrea on the Karelian Isthmus (an area that Finland was forced to cede to the Soviet Union in 1944). A discovery of similar antiquity is the Mesolithic dwelling site at Ristola in Lahti. These and many other of the oldest sites show that the pioneers of settlement in southern Finland came from two main directions, from the south across the Gulf of Finland from Estonia, and from the southeast, from central Russia. Their descendants subsequently spread out, gradually extending the area of settlement into northern Finland.

The Mesolithic population lived by hunting, and the animals most important to their economy were the elk, the seal and the beaver. Their tools were fashioned out of stone and the skills of pottery-making were still unknown. Of their artefacts, their skilfully fashioned slate spearheads and spherical mace heads in particular tell us of the already highly developed stoneworking skills of these people, who were also capable of producing handsome stone sculptures of animal heads. However, we have no definite knowledge of the language they spoke.

Source (http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=25918)