Archaeological perspectives on cultural analysis – material culture and the transmission of knowledge

A STINT and NFR educational and research project

 Contact: Professor Kjel Knutsson,

STINT(The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education)

NFR (Norwegian Research Council)

This project is a case study in archaeological cultural analysis. The group of researchers behind this project has developed a long term joint research- and educational program between university institutions in states around the Baltic Sea (

The program has the general aim to raise the quality of research and education within the field of cultural analysis with a special focus on time as a crucial variable and the past as an arena for negotiations of identities. The project thus wants to enhance the consciousness among scholars of the political use of research results. By this also to foster a new generation of researchers who, based on both a solid scientifically defined cultural analysis of prehistory per se and a consciousness about the cultural construction of a collective memory in the present, will as knowledgeable scholars actively take part in the present day complicated debates on identity and ethnicity.

We thus want to see a development of archaeological research and education that takes both the past per se through the example of the pioneer settlement in Fennoscandia and the past in the present debates, seriously. In a public and academic world still structured by the historically coincidental borders of the nation states, conflicts over origins and rights to land and the construction of separate archaeological ”cultures” within nation states can only be solved by a well-researched and presented past and a consciousness of the place of this past in political and ideological struggles. Our aim is thus, besides the archaeological research into the origins of Fennoscandia, to develop a joint MA course on two topics, one relating to cultural analysis through material culture, the second as a specific example of archaeological cultural analysis. These courses will be given as a result of this project through financing by European University integration funds (ERASMUS) at the different institutions in our network and by teachers active within the network.

The pioneer educational and research project

The actual research on the pioneer settlement of Fennoscandia by students and teachers within the STINT project is implemented through a series of courses and workshops.The workshops are held at different universities and museums in northern Europe where archaeological collections from the pioneer period at the Late Glacial/Early Holocene transition are kept. We are focusing on the analysis complex lithic industries as proxies of culture in general analyzed within the concept of Chaine Operatoire.

The idea is to follow movements of people of different lithic traditions into the de-glaciated landscape and analyze how they coped with and adapted to different natural and social environments. One focus will then be how cultural knowledge is defended against change and thus how this knowledge is successfully transmitted between generations in the process of migration. But we are also interested to see how knowledge was transmitted between groups of people as encounters occurred during the settlement process. At the same time these groups had to cope with new material circumstances materialized as changes in the lithic industries, an adaptive response to these conditions.

The network

The network under the head of Professor Kjel Knutsson, Uppsala University, consists of PhD and Master level students at 6 universities in northern Europe.Based on grants from STINT (The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education) and NFR (The Norwegian Research Council) the project organizes series of workshops and courses for MA and PhD students during the period 2012-2015. The students come from Universities in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Poland and are financed through their home universities. The senior members and invited teachers come from universities in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Poland, France, Estonia, Latvia and Russia



A joint paper by some of the members of the research network has been published in the referee journal Norwegian Archaeological Review, where the general scope of the archaeological part of project is presented: The first eastern migrations of people and knowledge into Scandinavia: evidence from studies of Mesolithic technology, 9-8 millennium BC. (

Project Schedule:

Project schedule 2012-2015. Archaeological perspectives on cultural analysis – material culture and the transmission of knowledge

Course 1. The Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology:Dialogues with the Past. STINT and NFR financed research and educational project: Paris May 7-11th 2012

Workshop 1. Lithic analysis, Middle Mesolithic assemblages. IAHK in Oslo, Norway and Dalarnas Museum in Falun, July 29 to august 5 2012

Workshop 2. Lithic analysis, Late Glacial and Middle Mesolithic assemblages, Tver State Museum, Tver, Russia, 16th – 22nd October 2012

Workshop 3. . Lithic analysis, Late Glacial and Middle Mesolithic assemblages,Institute of Archaeology, Tallinn and Institute of Archaeology, Riga, Estonia and Latvia, 3th –9th March 2013

Workshop 4. Experimental session, construction of classification system. Ludvigsborg, Scania, Sweden, 19 – 25 August 2013

Course 2. Archaeology and politics in northern Fennoscandia, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, February 2014

Workshop 5. West meets East. Prehistoric assemblages from eastern Poland. Warszawa, Poland, May 2014

Workshop 6. West meets East, Butovo and Ahrensburgian asemblages. Tromsö, August 2014

Course 3. Approaches to cultural analysis in archaeology. Paris, May 2015