Animal remains in burial contexts in Mesolithic northern Europe. Occurrence, taphonomy, documentation and interpretation.

Projektin yksityiskohdat


Animal bones in prehistoric human graves are common in northern Europe, but compiling studies of their occurence is still lacking.
Typically, unworked and worked animal bones and teeth have been identified and catalogued in publications and reports. This research
aims in providing new data and assessment of the worked and unworked animal remains and their contexts in the nine major Mesolithic
inhumation cemeteries (c. 9000-6000 cal BC) in northern Europe (Yuzhniy Oleniy Ostrov, Popovo, Petchanitsa, Kivisaare, Zvejnieki,
Duonkalnis, Spiginas and Skateholm 1 and II).
The chronology of Mesolithic cemeteries has been a subject researched by international research groups since the 1980’s. However, for
a long time the focus has often been in dating and interpreting human bones. This study would provide a synthesis of animal bone finds,
a critical assessment of find contexts, and large amount of new dates for animal bones. The study will be a large coopearative project with researchers of the sites studied. We will interpret all assemblages within a common
methodological and theoretical background, and make a synthesis of materials in a rather large but still restricted geographical, cultural and chronological sphere. The principal methods used for investigating and interpreting the materials are osteological (the taxonomic and anatomical analyses as well as sex and age assessments, and investigations of butchery marks and fractures), archaeological (analysis of contextual and depositional history of finds), physical (AMS dates and stabile isotopes of animal and human bones) and
ethnographic (testing historical analogies). The material will be used in making interpretation on different animals’ roles in burial practices and in the ideology of the Mesolithic societies. The study will provide major new data on chronological and contextual connections between the human skeletons and animal bones adjacent to them. The principal research objective is to produce a wide synthesis of the roles of animals in burial practices in northern Europe, also critically interpreting possible similarities between Stone Age burial practice and historical cultures in circumpolar areas. The study will provide a database of animal bones (mammals, birds, fish, amphibia) in the major Mesolithic inhumation burials in northern Europe, also to be made available to other researches.
Eläinosteologia, Mesoliittinen kivikausi, Osteoarkeologia, Kivikautiset haudat, Luiden radiohiiliajoitus
Mesolithic Stone Age, Animal bones, Osteoarchaeology, Burial Archaeology, Mesolithic Burial Practices, Prehistoric
Todellinen alku/loppupvm01/09/201331/08/2016


  • Academy of Finland: 351 615,00 €


  • 615 Historia ja arkeologia
  • mesoliittinen kivikausi, haudat, pohjois-eurooppa., eläinluut, osteologia, hautakulttuuri