4 500 - 1 800 BC

From Early to Late Stone Age several changes take place. The technology for the manufacture of stone tools changes, and now we also find many grinded tools of slate. At some places ceramics enter the daily lives of people, and many tools of bone are being found in the settlements from this period. Much of the archaeological research has focused on the Late Stone Age, and this is one explanation to the fact that we know more about this part of the Stone Age than the earlier period.


The rising of the sealevel, which began around 6500 BC, ceases around 4000 BC, but the rising of the land continues. Thus, the shoreline is sinking. This happens much more slowly now than in the later parts of the Early Stone Age. The warm period that came towards the end of the Early Stone Age ceases around 4000 BC, and the climate is gradually cooling during the Late Stone Age. As a consequense, a de-forestation takes place in the outer coastal areas. In the interior of Finnmark the large forests disappear, and around 1800 BC the vegetation is approximately like it is today. A further consequense of the worsening climatic conditions is that terrestric ressources like elk and reindeer become more unpredictable. On the other hand, marine resources are more stable.

During the Late Stone Age new rawmaterials are being utilized. At the coast, red, green and grey slate eventually become the the most frequently used rawmaterial for stone tools. The usage of fine grained stone like chert and fine quartzite is far more rare now than earlier. These are replaced by coarsegrained types of stone, like coarse quartzite and quartz. The changes occur due to new tecniques in the manufacture of stone tools, i.e. techniques for grinding and pressure flaking. Slate seems to have been more in use at the coast than in the interior, which can be explained by the slate tools mainly being used in connection with hunting on marine mammals, like seal and whale. From the Late Stone Age we also find artefacts made of bone and antler conserved, like fishinghooks, harpoons, needles, arrowheads, combs and awls. Ceramic is in use at the southern side of the Varanger-fjord, but in the other parts of Finnmark it is only introduced at the end of the period.
In the Late Stone Age remains of larger dwellings along the coast of Finnmark are more frequent than in the Early Stone Age. The houses vary in size, but now areas with many and easily recognizeable dwellings, as for instance Gressbakken in Varanger, are found. Many dwellings have two hearths, and in the later Late Stone Age sunken-floored houses with several entrances and thick walls appear. This, in addition the the artefacts found in the contexts of the settlements, indicate a sedentary or semi-sedentary pattern of settlement with a distinguished orientation towards marine subsistence. In the interior parts there are no indications for sedentarity. On the contrary, a continued high degree of mobility is presumed to have been the case. In the early Late Stone Age there seems to have been an extensive movement between interior and coast, while this is not the case for the later Late Stone Age. The transition from Late Stone Age to Early Metal Age is characterised by a strong dichotomy between (semi)sedentary coastal groups and mobile interior groups.
At Melkøya





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