The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia

J.P. Lewis, D.B. Ryves, P. Rasmussen, J. Olsen, K.-L. Knudsen, S.H. Andersen, Kaarina Weckström, A.L. Clarke, E. Andren, S. Juggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The well-known and widespread replacement of oysters (abundant during the Mesolithic period) by cockles and mussels in many Danish Stone Age shell middens ca. 5900 cal yrs BP coincides with the transition to agriculture in southern Scandinavia. This human resource shift is commonly believed to reflect changing resource availability, driven by environmental and/or climatic change at the MesolithicNeolithic transition rather than cultural choice. While several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the “Mesolithic-Neolithic oyster decline”, an explanation based on a sudden freshening of the inner Danish waters has received most attention. Here, for the first time, we test and refute this long-standing hypothesis that declining salinity explains the marked reduction in oysters identified within numerous shell middens across coastal Denmark at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition using quantitative and qualitative salinity inference from several, independent proxies (diatoms, molluscs and foraminifera) from multiple Danish fjord sites. Alternatively, we attribute the oyster decline to other environmental causes (particularly changing sedimentation), ultimately driven by external climatic forcing. Critical application of such high-quality environmental archives can reinvigorate archaeological debates and can aid in understanding and managing environmental change in increasingly impacted coastal regions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume151
Pages (from-to)315-320
Number of pages5
ISSN0277-3791
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Cite this

Lewis, J. P., Ryves, D. B., Rasmussen, P., Olsen, J., Knudsen, K-L., Andersen, S. H., ... Juggins, S. (2016). The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 151, 315-320.
Lewis, J.P. ; Ryves, D.B. ; Rasmussen, P. ; Olsen, J. ; Knudsen, K.-L. ; Andersen, S.H. ; Weckström, Kaarina ; Clarke, A.L. ; Andren, E. ; Juggins, S. . / The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia. In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 2016 ; Vol. 151. pp. 315-320.
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abstract = "The well-known and widespread replacement of oysters (abundant during the Mesolithic period) by cockles and mussels in many Danish Stone Age shell middens ca. 5900 cal yrs BP coincides with the transition to agriculture in southern Scandinavia. This human resource shift is commonly believed to reflect changing resource availability, driven by environmental and/or climatic change at the MesolithicNeolithic transition rather than cultural choice. While several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the “Mesolithic-Neolithic oyster decline”, an explanation based on a sudden freshening of the inner Danish waters has received most attention. Here, for the first time, we test and refute this long-standing hypothesis that declining salinity explains the marked reduction in oysters identified within numerous shell middens across coastal Denmark at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition using quantitative and qualitative salinity inference from several, independent proxies (diatoms, molluscs and foraminifera) from multiple Danish fjord sites. Alternatively, we attribute the oyster decline to other environmental causes (particularly changing sedimentation), ultimately driven by external climatic forcing. Critical application of such high-quality environmental archives can reinvigorate archaeological debates and can aid in understanding and managing environmental change in increasingly impacted coastal regions.",
author = "J.P. Lewis and D.B. Ryves and P. Rasmussen and J. Olsen and K.-L. Knudsen and S.H. Andersen and Kaarina Weckstr{\"o}m and A.L. Clarke and E. Andren and S. Juggins",
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Lewis, JP, Ryves, DB, Rasmussen, P, Olsen, J, Knudsen, K-L, Andersen, SH, Weckström, K, Clarke, AL, Andren, E & Juggins, S 2016, 'The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 151, pp. 315-320.

The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia. / Lewis, J.P.; Ryves, D.B.; Rasmussen, P.; Olsen, J. ; Knudsen, K.-L.; Andersen, S.H.; Weckström, Kaarina; Clarke, A.L.; Andren, E.; Juggins, S. .

In: Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol. 151, 2016, p. 315-320.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AU - Lewis, J.P.

AU - Ryves, D.B.

AU - Rasmussen, P.

AU - Olsen, J.

AU - Knudsen, K.-L.

AU - Andersen, S.H.

AU - Weckström, Kaarina

AU - Clarke, A.L.

AU - Andren, E.

AU - Juggins, S.

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AB - The well-known and widespread replacement of oysters (abundant during the Mesolithic period) by cockles and mussels in many Danish Stone Age shell middens ca. 5900 cal yrs BP coincides with the transition to agriculture in southern Scandinavia. This human resource shift is commonly believed to reflect changing resource availability, driven by environmental and/or climatic change at the MesolithicNeolithic transition rather than cultural choice. While several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the “Mesolithic-Neolithic oyster decline”, an explanation based on a sudden freshening of the inner Danish waters has received most attention. Here, for the first time, we test and refute this long-standing hypothesis that declining salinity explains the marked reduction in oysters identified within numerous shell middens across coastal Denmark at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition using quantitative and qualitative salinity inference from several, independent proxies (diatoms, molluscs and foraminifera) from multiple Danish fjord sites. Alternatively, we attribute the oyster decline to other environmental causes (particularly changing sedimentation), ultimately driven by external climatic forcing. Critical application of such high-quality environmental archives can reinvigorate archaeological debates and can aid in understanding and managing environmental change in increasingly impacted coastal regions.

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JO - Quaternary Science Reviews

JF - Quaternary Science Reviews

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Lewis JP, Ryves DB, Rasmussen P, Olsen J, Knudsen K-L, Andersen SH et al. The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2016;151:315-320.