Marine Mammal Train Oil Production Methods: Experimental Reconstructions of Norwegian Iron Age Slab-Lined Pits
Seal hunting and whaling have played an important part of people’s livelihoods throughout prehistory as evidenced by rock carvings, remains of bones, artifacts from aquatic animals and hunting tools. This paper focuses on one of 2 the more elusive resources relating to such activities: marine mammal blubber. Although marine blubber easily decomposes, the organic material has been documented from the Mesolithic Period onwards. Of particular interest in this article are the many structures in Northern Norway from the Iron Age and in Finland on Kökar, Åland from both the Bronze and Early Iron Ages in which these periods exhibited traits interpreted as being related to oil rendering from marine mammal blubber. The article discusses methods used in this oil production activity based on historical sources, archaeological investigations and experimental reconstruction of Iron Age slab-lined pits from Northern Norway.
Manuscript. Published version available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11457-016-9153-8