This thesis has two overarching goals. One is to reconstruct human population dynamics in Stone Age Arctic Norway (12.000-2000 cal BP). The other is to explain the demographic changes as population ecological phenomena. Thus conceived, the project is fundamentally engaged in contributing to the Human Ecodynamic research agenda of investigating the co-evolution of human and natural systems. This agenda is operationalized as a set of objectives:
• Reconstruct relative population size changes through time.
• Compare with relevant palaeoenvironmental records.
• Provide detailed case studies of human adaptive responses to ecological change.
• Establish middle-range causal mechanisms connecting macro-scale climate forcing with micro-scale human risk reduction strategies, by way of aggregated demographic, technological and ecological effects.
• Track the evolution of maritime adaptation in the region.
The justification for the project is provided by the general lack of integrated socioecological research of Arctic Norwegian prehistory. As such, this project attempts to plug a marked knowledge gap concerning the causal role of environmental drivers in long-term cultural change. Equally important however, is the ambition of contributing to the general understanding of human ecology and adaptability by way of generalizable, empirical results, and case studies of causal mechanisms driving integrated socioecological change. An important premise of this work is that such is achievable only through the study the ecological and environmental drivers of change in human cultural systems.
The project has a marked interdisciplinary profile, relying on data and analytical tools provided by various palaeo-disciplines. It synthesizes large sets of proxy data concerning human demographic variation, environmental dynamics and technological mitigation capabilities – trying to get at the adaptive features of a high-latitude, maritime adapted foraging population. Past human demographic changes are modelled on the basis of the summed probability distribution method, applied to the North Norwegian Radiocarbon Record dataset newly compiled for this very purpose.
The outputs consist of four peer-reviewed papers and an extensive introductory text presenting important background information and analytical considerations. Result highlights are: 1) The demonstration of repeated and significant population cycles throughout the 10.000 year study period. 2) That both long-term population trends and shorter-term demographic events are shown to be strongly regulated by environmental drivers. 3) Detailed case-studies demonstrate how adaptive and technological changes are interrelated with the environmental and demographic changes. The various papers explore and attempt to explain the particular processes that produce correlated demographic and environmental dynamics. Consequently, a major result of this project is the developed a middle-range causal framework for tracing the impact of large-scale environmental drivers on human adaptive responses, as mediated through resource availability, risk reduction strategies and shifts in subsistence technologies.
Paper 1: Jørgensen, E.K. (2020). The palaeodemographic and environmental dynamics of prehistoric Arctic Norway: An overview of human-climate covariation. Quaternary International, 549, 36-51. Also available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2018.05.014.
Paper 2: Jørgensen, E.K. & Riede, F. (2019). Convergent catastrophes and the termination of the Arctic Norwegian Stone Age: A multi-proxy assessment of the demographic and adaptive responses of mid-Holocene collectors to biophysical forcing. Holocene, 29(11), 1782-1800. Also available in Munin at https://hdl.handle.net/10037/18080.
Paper 3: Jørgensen, E.K., Pesonen, P. & Tallavaara, M. (2020). Climatic changes cause synchronous population dynamics and adaptive strategies among coastal hunter-gatherers in Holocene northern Europe. Quaternary Research. Published version not available in Munin due to publisher’s restrictions. Published version available at https://doi.org/10.1017/qua.2019.86. Accepted manuscript version available in Munin at https://hdl.handle.net/10037/18241.
Paper 4: Jørgensen, E.K. (2020). Scalar effects in ground slate technology and the adaptive consequences for circumpolar maritime hunter-gatherers. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Also available in Munin at https://hdl.handle.net/10037/19457.