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Stone Age settlement on Svalbard? A re-evaluation of previous finds and the results of a recent field survey

  • Hein B. Bjerck (a1)

Abstract

It is much easier to doubt than it is to believe in the existence of prehistoric hunters on Svalbard. Few researchers categorically deny the possibility of early settlers in this region, yet fewer still advocate the possibility. Since Christiansson and Simonsen (1970) presented artifacts discovered on Svalbard that may date from the Stone Age, no one has undertaken further serious survey work for prehistoric settlements on Svalbard.

In this article the research history of prehistoric archaeology on the archiepelago is reviewed, the artifacts from the Christiansson and Simonsen study are re-examined, and the results of field surveys conducted in Bellsund during the summer of 1997 are presented. The investigation produced a negative result. The test area was one of the richest and most stable contemporary hunting areas on Svalbard, and it is proposed, therefore, that this survey provides a qualified basis for concluding that circumpolar hunting groups did not settle in Svalbard.

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