The cave Stora Förvar, excavated in the end of the 19th century, yielded a vast archaeological assemblage, providing great insight into the stone-age occupation of Stora Karlsö, an island a few kilometers off the west coast of Gotland. The bones of around ten humans dating to the Mesolithic have previously been identified among the four tons of faunal remains recovered from the cave. The human bone material featured cut-marks and split tubular bones. This, along with the apparent mixing of human- and animal bones in the cave, was interpreted as signs of anthropophagy. Later researchers have tentatively proposed that the individuals represented in the bone material might have been shamans, deviants, human sacrifices or low-status individuals. In the author’s opinion, this assertion is based on the dichotomies nature/culture and profane/sacred which produce a separation between the human bones and the animal bones. It is shown that defleshing and disarticulation were widespread practices during the Mesolithic, which could explain the marks found on the bones from Stora Förvar. Similarly, the mixing of human- and animal remains is a common feature of many Mesolithic sites across Europe. Employing a theoretical framework inspired by posthumanism and the ‘ontological turn’, the author argues that the assemblage should be understood through an alternative ontological premise where human and animal, hunter and prey, were not regarded as fundamentally different.
Mason N McLary
|Translated Title||"Ancient wildlife": Perspective on the relationship between animals and people in the cave Stora Förvar|
|Location of Publication||Uppsala, Sweden|
|Department||Department of Archaeology and Ancient History|
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