The prehistory of Finnmark

The prehistory of Finnmark is usually divided into three larger periods; Early and Late Stone Age, and Early Metal Age. The periods are characterised by the usage of different technology and the presence of different forms of social organisation. Through these periods the climate has been constantly changing.

The coast of Finnmark has been settled from the earliest periods and until today. However, who these people were and where they came from is uncertain. Two theories have been put forth: that the people came from the east, or, the people followed the ice-edge northwards as the glaciers withdrew from the coasts.

Artifacts and dwellings from the prehistory of Finnmark tell us that through all ages people in Finnmark have been in close contact with other people, and trade relations and social relations have encompassed large areas.

The prehistory at Melkoya

At Melkoya activites from large parts of prehistory are documented. The oldest remains seem to trace back to Early Stone Age, and are problably around 10 000 years old.

Since organic material such as leather, bone and wood are not conserved over such long span of time, the findings from Melkoya mainly consist of remains of dwellings in the form of depressions in the surface, stonetools and remains of the manufacture of tools.

Several dwellings from the transition from Early to Late Stone Age, i.e. ca 5000 BC, have been found. These are of varying sizes and shapes, but are all located along the prehistoric shoreline. This, in additition to the presence of many tools used in the hunting of sea mammals, indicate the importance marine resources had for people also in prehistory.

From the later periods the findings consist of ceramics, bark, amber and many arrowheads, but no dwellings.

Early Stone Age

Late Stone Age

Early Metal Age

Click the pictures to learn more about the different periods

Diagram showing the change in sealevel in the area around Melkoya and Meland during the last 13.000 years, from when the ocean stood 40 metres higher than today until today.





Tromsoe Museum-Universitetsmuseet, N-9037 Tromsoe, Norway
Telephone +47 77 64 50 00 Fax +47 77 64 55 20
Updated by Anja Roth Niemi

May 2, 2003

Editor: Stephen Wickler, Dept. of Archaeology, Tromsoe Museum