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Earliest Humans (Part 4: The Last Hunter-Gatherers)

by J L Putman & M Soenen

In the more varied, heavily overgrown-to-densely wooded landscape of the Mesolithic (10,000-4,400 BC), which followed the end of the most recent ice age - part of the Holocene which dates from 10,000 BC to today - hunting weapons had been adapted to the changed scenery.

Vegetation, game species, and fishing opportunities had all changed with the warming temperatures. Now established in hunter-gatherer communities, archery played an important role in this expanding food-gathering process.

In terms of lithic material this has left traces in the form of miniaturisation which focused on improving arrow armaments. Such finds come from a fairly well-defined zone at the top of the Kemmelberg.

Mistletoe leaf point between two other point types
Photo © H Maertens

Mistletoe leaf point between two other point types, in these prospecting finds from the Kemmelberg.

Reconstruction of a hafted and barbed arrow, plus two points
Photo © H Maertens

Reconstruction of a hafted and barbed arrow next to two unearthed points, from the Kemmelberg.

Typical of the Mesolithic period are small scrapers such as this thumbnail scraper, below.

Thumbnail scraper from the Kemmelberg
Photo © H Maertens

Thumbnail scraper from the Kemmelberg.

With the arrival of agriculture and livestock farming in Heuvelland around 4,000 BC, the hunter-gatherer age gradually came to an end.



Text copyright © Archeo Kemmelberg. An original feature for the History Files: Kemmelberg.