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Hunter-Gatherer Findings: Pigs Found Reindeer-Eaters in Scotland

Oct 07, 2015 07:23 PM EDT
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Pigs rooting for food in Scotland recently turned up stone tools dating from 12,000 years ago, which has changed scientists' assessments of the earliest settlements in the area.
(Photo : Pixabay)

Pigs rooting for dinner along the coastline of Scotland also snuffled up evidence of a population of hunter-gatherers that dates back 12,000 years ago. Along with being remarkable on its own, this discovery contrasts with previous information dating the earliest area settlement at 9,000 years ago, after the Ice Age had ended.

The findings were stone tools, and they were found -- with sharp points, probably used for hunting large game -- on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, on its eastern coast.

University of Reading archaeologists Steven Mithen and Karen Wicks were already in Scotland on a project when they heard about the pig's tool findings. After looking at the site, Rubha Port an t-Seilich and nearby areas, they found artifacts from different time periods. Among these were antlers, spatula-type objects, tools made from crystal quartz, animal bones, and a much-used fireplace.

The researchers believe the people there were from the Ahrensburgian and Hamburgian cultures and arose in central Europe, mainly Germany.

"They emerged primarily as reindeer hunters on the Ice Age tundras, most likely targeting migrating herds," Mithen explained, according to D News.

Twelve thousand years ago, Europe and Britain were joined by land called "Doggerland," as Mithen and Wicks said, noted D News. It is now beneath the North Sea.

At that point, Islay was likely a frozen tundra, mixed shrubs and grasses, some very small birch. It would have been like the far north today. The hunters would have sought out reindeer, which flourished there, as Mithen noted, said D News.

In addition to that type of deer, the hunters likely tracked down meaty seals, Basking sharks, otters and other animals that are still in that area.

The findings were recently published in British Archaeology.

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