The NOCUSO Archaeological Field School, 2007
This year's field school has set a high bar for itself. We have a number of interesting things to explore, some theories to consider, and even though we are only four days in, some unexpected finds to examine.
As usual, the field school's overarching goal is to reconstruct the development of social complexity along the Iijoki river. The Kierikki area offers us unique geographical circumstances that complement our focus well: as we excavate further west along the river, we move steadily forward in time. This is the product of a number of geological processes, beginning with the glacial melts of the early Holocene. Finland, once trapped under kilometres of solid ice, started to rise above and out of the ocean - much like a tightly packed spring, the entire region steadily surfaced. Flora and fauna were quick to exploit the new land, and humans followed. As the ocean receded, communities that relied on marine life for survival attempted to remain close to the coast, and so the further towards the gulf of Bothnia we explore, the more recent the materials are. This provides us a valuable insight into how group dynamics, reflected in the settlement patterns and artifacts left behind, changed over the Neolithic era.
Our strategy this year is to inspect the spaces between dwellings dated to about 5,800 BP. While previous sessions have worked to paint as accurate a picture as possible of what went on inside the dwellings, we have yet to consider the kinds of activities that may have occurred outside. Buildings during this time period along the Iijoki river are smaller and more clustered than the long row-houses that appear later in the archaeological record, and an important step in understanding why these row-houses were adopted may lie in the kinds of behavioral patterns we can infer from what we find between the various dwellings. This area was likely communal, and we speculate that the activities that occurred in this "between" space offer us clues about the ways that these early communities shared, resolved conflicts, interacted, and survived.
Updates on our finds and the status of the dig are forthcoming; we intend to post pictures (some of which are hopefully of interest) and keep a running log of the field school, even though we, apologetically, are considerably behind already. Any questions, comments, complaints, concerns, etc. can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's all for now,
The Field School