Studia Historica Septentrionalia 67


Jari Okkonen, Environmental constraints and the Baltic sphere of interaction during the middle Neolithic

During the middle Neolithic (40002000 BC) the cultures in the Baltic area went through both economic and social changes. In the southern areas the societies were adopting Neolithic way of life together with farming as the mode of subsistence while the northern areas continued hunting and gathering. Within the context of intensive interaction of communities around the Baltic the Neolithization of southern areas had also an impact to the societies in the North. It caused the long-term trend towards cultural and social polarization which emerged at the end of the Stone Age. From then onwards the interaction between the southern farming communities and the northern hunter-gatherer societies was transformed into a pattern which can be explained in terms of a centre-periphery model, whereas before that, during the middle Neolithic interaction between societies followed the peer-polity model. These changes in the Baltic sphere of interaction led to social and cultural polarization, resulting in an intensification of both hunting in the northern areas and farming in the southern areas. The hypothesis is put forward that the annual rhythm of seasons and especially the blocking effect of sea ice can be regard as the major environmental constraint for the social interaction. During the middle Neolithic it reduced the time available for communication and maintained the autonomy of the Northern hunter-gatherer societies but later it lead to the small-scale immigration and acculturation.

Takaisin Studia Historica Septentrionalia 67