Stone Age settlement found in Lake Kuolimojärvi

08 Aug 2018, 02:17

  DF Report

Archaelogists working on Lake Kuolimojärvi in Savitaipale. Press release Photo by University of Helsinki.

A prehistoric settlement found submerged in the Lake Kuolimojärvi provides a clearer picture of the human occupation in South Karelia during the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic Stone Age (about 10,000 to 6,000 years ago) and opens up a new research path in Finnish archaeology, says a University of Helsinki study report.

During the early Stone Age, water levels in the small lakes in southern Finland which today are known as Lake Kuolimojärvi and Lake Saimaa were several metres below the present levels, said an official press release.

After that period, the water levels started rising as a result of uneven land uplift and tilting of lakes and rivers. The rise in water levels ended with the outburst of the River Vuoksi through the Salpausselkä Ridge about 6,000 years ago, when water masses carved a new south-eastern outflow channel towards the Lake Ladoga.

With the rise in water levels, areas that were dry land in the early Stone Age were buried in the bottom of the lake and its littoral deposits.

The aim of the three-year study carried out by the University of Helsinki has been to find traces of early Stone Age settlements under water and from wetlands at the lakes Kuolimojärvi and Saimaa.

“This means that there is a huge gap in our archaeological knowledge of this particular area because we have not yet found the earliest Stone Age sites,” explained Satu Koivisto, a postdoctoral researcher who heads the project.

The oldest sites were settled after the breakthrough of the River Vuoksi (6,000 years ago and onwards). However, there has definitely been human habitation in this area for thousands of years before that, as is shown by the traces of more than 10,000 years old settlements discovered at Kuurmanpohja in Joutseno further to the south.

In June 2018, archaeologists carried out underwater excavations and equipment testing at the Kammarlahti Bay in Savitaipale in cooperation with Nordic Maritime Group (NMG) and the underwater unit of Finnish Heritage Agency. Archaeologists from Denmark and Sweden also took part in the work.