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Title: The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia
Authors: Lewis, Jonathan P.
Ryves, David B.
Rasmussen, Peter
Olsen, Jesper
Knudsen, Karen L.
Andersen, S.H.
Weckstrom, K.
Clarke, A.L.
Andren, E.
Juggins, S.
Keywords: Oysters
Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
Diatoms
Foraminifera
Molluscs
Denmark
Coastal
Salinity
Shell midden
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: © Elsevier
Citation: LEWIS, J.P. ... et al, 2016. The shellfish enigma across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in southern Scandinavia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 151, pp. 315-320.
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 Mesolithic-Neolithic 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.
Description: This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.09.004.
Sponsor: This work was carried out under funding from the Carlsberg Foundation (ANS-1283/20 to DBR), the Danish Council for Independent Research-Natural Sciences and Humanities (grants 21-03-0510 and 25-03-0462 to PR), Loughborough University Development Fund (Ph.D. funding for JPL) and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (for funding of numerous 14C datings). The MOLTEN (European Union grant EVK3-CT-2000-00031) and DEFINE (Nordic Council of Ministers grant 04NUT9) projects and associated project members are also gratefully acknowledged.
Version: Accepted
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.09.004
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/24219
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.09.004
ISSN: 0277-3791
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Geography)

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