Digitale Geschichte und Historiographie

Quantifying the shoreline connection of the Stone Age settlements in Southern Karelia (Finland)

The connection between settlement sites and water bodies has been the most prominent characteristic of the Stone Age settlement patterns in North-Eastern Europe. Geologist and archaeologist Constantin Grewingk stated already in 1865 that in the Eastern Baltic region “Stone Age people lived by the sea and rivers”. Although there was no empirical data at that time, the following discoveries confirmed this claim. The connection is so obvious that archaeological sites are effectively used as a proxy data for reconstructing past shorelines that have been changing due to isostatic land uplift and changing hydrological conditions.
The goal of current paper is to give a statistical description of the settlements’ position relative to the shoreline. The case study is based on the Stone Age settlement site locations in Southern Karelia, Finland. The region is characterized by several water bodies, including lake Saimaa, as well as several smaller lakes and rivers. A small amount of settlements in the south-eastern part of the study area is also located on the paleoshorelines of the Baltic Sea.
The following questions are asked: how many and what kind of Stone Age sites are shoreline-connected? How to statistically describe the distribution of distances from the settlements to the closest shoreline? Because of the abundance of lake shores in the region, it also has to be judged if the settlement pattern was formed by the economical/cultural lifeways of past inhabitants or was it just enforced by the landscape. To answer this question, it is analysed if the distribution of distances to shoreline of Stone Age sites significantly differs from the ones of later periods?

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