Oslo settlements date to the Stone Age

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New discoveries by archaeologists indicate that some of Oslo’s history may need to be re-written. Field research on the Ekeberg Plateau, which rises above Oslo’s eastern harbour, has unearthed evidence of settlements from 8,000 BC, much older than those previously found.

“This is the most exciting and complex work I’ve been involved with in my seven years at Byantikvaren (the city’s cultural preservation agency),” archaeologist Kristine Reiersen told newspaper Aftenposten .

She and her colleagues have been working on the Ekeberg Plateau and have found many more signs of Stone Age life than expected. Until now, most historians and archaeologists traced Oslo’s earliest settlements to around 8,000 years ago, or 6,000 BC.

Now they have found evidence of settlements from 8,000 BC, 2,000 years older. They found what they claim are remains of a place where eight to 10 persons lived on what at the time was waterfront property. The land was pushed up from the sea around 10,000 years ago, after the last ice age, Egil Mikkelsen of the Museum of Cultural History told Aftenposten .

Among the evidence are pieces of flint, used for tools at the time, along with tools made from stone, pits used for cooking and for offering food to gods of the time. Remains of stone fencing also suggest ancient farming activity.

Asked why the evidence of settlements in 8,000 BC weren’t discovered earlier, Mikkelsen replied: “Because we didn’t search well enough. But if we dig down 100 to 150 meters, you’ll often find items from long back in time.”

The current archaeological work is receiving funding from high-profile investor and businessman Christian Ringnes, who own the nearby Ekeberg Restaurant and has plans for a sculpture park in the area. Marte Boro, head of Byantikvaren, sees no conflict between a sculpture park and the archaeological discoveries.

“It’s important that people use the area,” Boro said, and Ringnes plans to highlight the area’s history for residents and tourists alike.

“With sculptures and archaeological discoveries I think this will be a very interesting area for the public,” Ringnes told Aftenposten . “It can make for exciting wandering through history to the present day.”