Ancient Beetles Will Date Mesolithic Shorelines


I got a great letter from Reggae Roger Wikell, which I publish in translation with the permission of Roger and Mattias Pettersson with the awesome metal hair. For context, note that these two scholar friends of mine are the area’s foremost authorities on Mesolithic sites that have ended up on mountaintops due to post-glacial shoreline displacement. The lithics there are mainly quartz.

Not all that glitters is quartz.

Yesterday we had a planning meeting with Dr. Risberg [quaternary geologist and the Stockholm area’s main shoreline displacement guy]. We’re going to core bogs at high elevations and target some critical bits of stratigraphy. Our goal will be to catch datable material (thank you, the Berit Wallenberg foundation, for generous funding). Thanks to Accelerator Mass Spectrometry [a radiocarbon method] we can now date birch pollen and the pretty little forewings of beetles. We know they’re there. I saw them myself in the 90s when we got our first cores from the bogs.

Isn’t it just too awesome to catch a glimpse of an Early Mesolithic summer — the glinting of the blue-green forewing that’s been resting in the sediment for 10 000 years. Those bugs buzzed for a summer and the sun glinted then too in their chitinous armour. A clear blue Ancylus summer whose sea-breeze soughed in the birches, the golden seeds of which are also common in the deepest sections of the sediment core…

Not all that glitters is quartz.

Let’s roll / Roger

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Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

9 thoughts on “Ancient Beetles Will Date Mesolithic Shorelines”

  1. I thought “God” was supposed to have an inordinate fondness for beetles? Now I find that beetles are apparently so scarce that they can’t find other beetles to date and they’re having to date shorelines? Or have I missed something here…?!


  2. Haha, yeah, I saw that interpretation too, as did at least one of my friends. Beetles aren’t picky, they’ll happily date a shoreline. You know, have a beer and a chat and a laugh, maybe go home and get it on. They’re easy fellows.


  3. Yes, it is just too awesome to catch a glimpse of an Early Mesolithic summer. I understand completely–abandoned subway stations aren’t quite in the same league, but they make my heart sing nonetheless.


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