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Find of traces of Norway’s first inhabitants – Part 2 of 2

This article continues from part 1: Finds from archaeological excavations of 11000 years old dwellings in Norway give unique insight in how people lived in the past. What are the finds, and what new have these finds brought to the Norwegian history?

The biggest archaeological excavation in Norway ever is now completed this year. This excavation would never been started if there were not plans for carrying out the second biggest single industrial project in Norway.

Photo. Button and a jewellery of Amber. Copyright: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norway.


Jostein Gundersen, who is the editor at the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Trondheim in Norway, says to Travel Explorations (18 August 2004) that it's too early to say something about what the finds from Aukra means. At the time they are going through the finds, classifying and analysing, examine nature scientific samples etc.


According to him, it's a big puzzle that has to be worked out. They have of course already achieved much knowledge already, but it's too early to be specific about the results now. The continuing research work is estimated to take 2 years, but they will start to publish information and results on their website during the autumn.


Some information is already revealed about some of the finds.

So far archaeologists have been found remains of stone axes, flint and slate artefacts (example slate arrowheads and spearheads), jewelleries, fireplaces, graves, fragments of human bones and sculls.


Photo. Stone axe found the area.

Copyright: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norway.


Amber (showed on the photo on below), which is also called Scandinavia's Gold, was a valuable and much sought-after material used in jewellery, figures and the like throughout prehistory as well as in historic times themselves. Even though amber is often described as a precious stone, it is in actual fact an organic product. Amber is formed when a tree is damaged and resin seeps out to protect the exposed wood. Under certain conditions, in the course of at least 20 million years, the resin is transformed to amber as the plant fluid is transformed and the oil content is reduced.


Photo. Button and a jewellery of Amber.

Copyright: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norway.


Amber is not a product that is native to Norway. Therefore the amber found at Grynnvika probably originates from the Baltic Sea region that stretches from the Baltic coast in the East to the coast of Denmark in the West. During the Stone-age, amber was a precious material, so the buttons that were recovered have probably adorned the robes of a person with high status at important events such as festivals or ritual-ceremonies. One interesting parallel to the Grynnvika Amber is the discovery of 40 similar buttons at Skatestraumen at Bremanger. These were found in a Middle-Neolithic context that has been interpreted as a burial.


Photo. Grave chamber with stone circle in the middle.

Copyright: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norway.


Archaeologists have estimated that there are more than 1,6 million stone objects under ground. So it will take a time to excavate the area totally, but so far they have a lot of interesting finds to examine.


Finds from the middle of the Late Stone-age

Field-supervisor Heming Hagen has done post-excavation work which has consisted, among other things of the washing and classifying some several thousand lithic artefacts. Heming reports that the particularly elegant material points to an exciting site from the middle of the Late Stone-age. The finds includes flint and slate artefacts however 10 amber fragments stand out amongst this material.


In the middle of the Late Stone-age (3300-2300 BC) there were increased contacts between Western Norway and other regions to the South and East. An illustrative example of such cultural-contacts between the coast of Møre and the Southern-Baltic region was discovered at site 63 or Lille Grynnvika here at Gossen during the winter. The discovery consists of 10 beautiful amber fragments. These were found in or around a series of characteristic stone rows consisting of fire-cracked stones and ‘rosettes' overlain with slabs. These structures have now been dated to the Middle-Neolithic period.


Photo. Fragment of a part of the lower jawbone: the chin-bone of a child that was probably between two to four years old when he/she died.

Copyright: Museum of Natural History and Archaeology (Vitenskapsmuseet), Norway.


Graves from the Stone-age are extremely rare in Norway. Form the Early Stone-age, there are only 5 previous finds of human-bone. From the Late Stone-age, there are more finds of this sort, but a clear child-grave like this is not amongst this material.


It will be interesting to find more about the past in Norway. Will these finds set the Norwegian oldest history in a new light? People who are interested in this part of the history have to be patient to wait for the results from the ongoing research work. Perhaps the Norwegian oldest history has to be rewritten? One thing is sure: these finds will be a real great tourist attraction when they will be displayed!


Stein Morten Lund, 18 August 2004


Additional information

For more information, read about the excavation on the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology's (Vitenskapsmuseet) website www.vitenskapsmuseet.no/ormen (here you find an English version too). It's also possible to view pictures of a selection of the finds from the excavations at Nyhamna and other places. You can find links here to other excavations in Norway too.


The Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren - www.riksantikvaren.no/english):

Protection under Cultural Heritage Act: The purpose of cultural heritage management is described in the Cultural Heritage Act, which lays down that it is a national responsibility to safeguard archaeological and architectural monuments and sites and cultural environments "as part of our cultural heritage and identity and as an element in the overall environment and resource management". Riksantikvaren (in Norwegian language - main site): www.ra.no


The UNESCO World Heritage List contains areas or objects that are an irreplaceable part of the world's cultural or natural heritage. The World Heritage Convention adopted as its aim in 1972 to give special protection to places that because of their universal value must be regarded as part of the world heritage for future generations.


Norway ratified the convention in 1977, and has the following four sites on the list:

- The Mining Town of Røros

- Bryggen in Bergen

- The Rock Carvings at Alta

- Urnes Stave Church    


Norway member of the UNESCO Committee:    

Norway has been elected as a member of the World Heritage Committee. The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention) was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. To date, more than 170 countries have adhered to the Convention. Nils Marstein, Director General of the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage since 1995, will represent Norway in the Committee.


The Ormen Lange project:

orsk Hydros subsea solutions are taking technological developments on the Norwegian continental shelf a significant step ahead. Nothing will be visible on the surface when the enormous gas field Ormen Lange comes onstream in 2007. The field will be developed with seabed installations at depths of between 800 and 1100 metres, and will be linked to a processing plant on land at Nyhamna in Aukra municipality, from where the gas will be exported. When it reaches full production, the field will meet 20 percent of the UK demand for gas.


The Ormen Lange field is located in the Norwegian Sea, 100 kilometres north west of the coast of Møre, Mid-Norway. It is Norway's largest gas field, and was proven through drilling by Norsk Hydro in 1997. At most there will be up to 2,500 people involved in the development of the processing plant. This is twice the population of Gossen, in the municipality of Aukra. For more information click on the link: www.ormenlange.com/en

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