Ahrensburg culture
The Ahrensburg culture was a late Upper Paleolithic
Upper Paleolithic
The Upper Paleolithic is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. Very broadly it dates to between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, roughly coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity and before the advent of...

Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 during the Younger Dryas
Younger Dryas
The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief period of cold climatic conditions and drought between approximately 12.8 and 11.5 ka BP, or 12,800 and 11,500 years before present...

, the last spell of cold at the end of the Weichsel glaciation
Wisconsin glaciation
The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 10,000 years ago....

. The culture is named after village of Ahrensburg
Ahrensburg is a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, situated in Stormarn. Its population around 31,700 . Its outstanding sight is the Renaissance castle dating from 1595....

, 25 km (15.5 mi) northeast of Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 where wooden arrow shafts and clubs have been excavated. There archaeologists have found three important settlements:
  • Meiendorf from the Elder Dryas, ca 10000 BC– ca 9700 BC (uncalibrated), with finds from the so-called Hamburg culture
    Hamburg culture
    The Hamburg culture was a Late Upper Paleolithic culture of reindeer hunters in northwestern Europe during the last part of the Weichsel Glaciation and beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial...

  • Stellmoor with a lower layer from the Hamburg culture, and an upper layer from the Ahrensburg culture.
  • Borneck which also belongs to the Ahrensburg culture.

The settlements were in proximity to the rim of the Ice, and the landscape was tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

 with bushy arctic white birch
White Birch
White Birch may refer to:* Betula papyrifera* Betula pendula* Shirakabaha, Japanese literary group* The White Birch , Norwegian recording artists...

 and rowan
The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or small trees in genus Sorbus of family Rosaceae. They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies...

. The most important prey was the wild reindeer
The reindeer , also known as the caribou in North America, is a deer from the Arctic and Subarctic, including both resident and migratory populations. While overall widespread and numerous, some of its subspecies are rare and one has already gone extinct.Reindeer vary considerably in color and size...

, and the hunters ranged areas as large as 100000 km² (38,610.2 sq mi).

Stellmoor was a seasonal settlement inhabited primarily during October, and bones from 650 reindeer have been found there. The hunting tool was bow
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

 and arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

. From Stellmoor there are also well-preserved arrow shafts of pine
Scots Pine
Pinus sylvestris, commonly known as the Scots Pine, is a species of pine native to Europe and Asia, ranging from Scotland, Ireland and Portugal in the west, east to eastern Siberia, south to the Caucasus Mountains, and as far north as well inside the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia...

 intended for the culture's characteristic skaftunge arrowheads of flintstone. A number of intact reindeer skeletons, with arrowheads in the chest, has been found, and they were probably sacrifices to higher powers. At the settlements, archaeologists have found circles of stone, which probably were the foundations of hide teepees.

The relationship between the Ahrensburg and the Hamburg cultures is uncertain. The settlement at Jels in Sønderjylland, probably belongs to the Hamburg culture. Another culture of reindeer hunters, the Bromme culture
Bromme culture
The Bromme culture is a late Upper Paleolithic culture dated to the Allerød Oscillation, ca 9700 BC-9000 BC , a warmer spell between the Elder Dryas and the Younger Dryas, the last cold periods of the late Weichsel Glaciation....

, is known from several settlements in Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and from the settlement at Segebro, near Malmö
Malmö , in the southernmost province of Scania, is the third most populous city in Sweden, after Stockholm and Gothenburg.Malmö is the seat of Malmö Municipality and the capital of Skåne County...

, Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

's oldest known settlement.

The Bromme culture belongs to the warmer Allerød Age
Allerød Oscillation
The Allerød period was a warm and moist global interstadial that occurred at the end of the last glacial period. The Allerød oscillation raised temperatures , before they declined again in the succeeding Younger Dryas period, which was followed by the present interglacial period.In some regions,...

 between the Older and the Younger Dryas, ca 9700 BC–9000 BC, with white birch
White Birch
White Birch may refer to:* Betula papyrifera* Betula pendula* Shirakabaha, Japanese literary group* The White Birch , Norwegian recording artists...

 forests. The Bromme culture and the Ahrensburg culture are similar in that tanged points are found in both assemblages, but here the similarities end—although "Lyngby points" are found in both assemblages.

The earliest reliable traces of habitation in the northern territories of Norway and western Sweden date to the transition period from the Younger Dryas to the Preboreal. More favourable living conditions, and past experience gained through seasonal rounds, prompted increased maritime resource exploitation in the northern territories. The Hensbacka group on the west coast of Sweden exemplifies the cultural fragmentation process that took place within the Continental Ahrensburgian. Instead of new immigrations at the beginning of the Mesolithic, the discovery of deposited bones and new dating indicate that there was no (significant) break in settlement continuity. New knowledge provides aspects for a further autochthonous development, with a rapid climatic change stimulating a swift cultural change.


Ahrenburg culture belongs to a Late Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 and early Mesolithic
The Mesolithic is an archaeological concept used to refer to certain groups of archaeological cultures defined as falling between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic....

 (or Epipaleolithic
The Epipaleolithic Age was a period in the development of human technology marked by more advanced stone blades and other tools than the earlier Paleolithic age, although still before the development of agriculture in the Neolithic age...

) cultural complex that started with the glacial recession and the subsequent disintegration of Late Palaeolithic cultures between 15,000 and 10,000 calBC. The extinction of mammoth and other megafauna provided for an incentive to exploit other forms of subsistence that included maritime resources. Northward migrations coincided with the warm Bølling and Allerød events, but much of northern Eurasia remained inhabited during the Younger Dryas. During the holocene climatic optimum
Holocene climatic optimum
The Holocene Climate Optimum was a warm period during roughly the interval 9,000 to 5,000 years B.P.. This event has also been known by many other names, including: Hypsithermal, Altithermal, Climatic Optimum, Holocene Optimum, Holocene Thermal Maximum, and Holocene Megathermal.This warm period...

, the increased biomass led to a marked intensification in foraging by all groups, the development of inter-group contacts, and ultimately, the initiation of agriculture.

The different technolithic complexes are chronologically associated with the climatic chronozones. The re-colonisation of Northern Germany is connected to the onset of the late Glacial Interstadial between Weichsel and the Dryas I
Oldest Dryas
The Oldest Dryas was a climatic period, which occurred during the coldest stadial after the Weichselian glaciation in north Europe. In the Alps, the Oldest Dryas corresponds to the Gschnitz stadial of the Würm glaciation. The three “Dryas” periods are named for a marker species, Dryas octopetala,...

 glaciation, at the beginning of the Meiendorf Interstadial around 12.700 calBC. Palynological results demonstrate a close connection between the prominent temperature rise at the beginning of the Interstadial and the expansion of the hunter-gatherers into the northern Lowlands. The existence of a primary “pioneer phase” in the re-colonisation is contradicted by proof of e.g. an early Central European Magdalenian in Poland. Today it is commonly accepted that the Hamburgian, featured by "Shouldered Point" lithics, is a techno-complex closely related to the Creswellian and rooted in the Magdalenian. Within the Hamburgian techno-complex, a younger dating is found for the Havelte phase, sometimes interpreted as a northwestern phenomenon, perhaps oriented towards the former coastline. The Hamburgian culture existed during the warm Bølling
Bølling Oscillation
The Bølling oscillation was a warm interstadial period between the Oldest Dryas and Older Dryas stadials, at the end of the last glacial period. It is named after a peat sequence discovered at Bølling lake, central Jutland...

 period, the brief Dryas II
Older Dryas
The Older Dryas was a stadial period between the Bølling and Allerød oscillations during the Pleistocene glacial period of ~11,700—12,000 uncalibrated years ago...

 glaciation (lasting 300 years) and in the early warmer Allerød period.

A find-free zone in Northeast Germany suggests a natural barrier of unfavourable environmental conditions. However, the distribution of the Hamburgian east of the Oder River has been confirmed and Hamburgian culture can also be distinguished in Lithuania. Finds in Jutland indicates the expansion of early Hamburgian hunters and gatherers reached further north than previously expected. The Hamburgian sites with shouldered point lithics reach as far north as the Pomeranian ice margin. The younger Havelte phase has been proven for the area beyond the Pomeranian ice margin and on the Danish Isles after circa 12.300 calBC.

The "Backed Point" lithics of Federmesser culture are usually dated in the Allerød
Allerød Oscillation
The Allerød period was a warm and moist global interstadial that occurred at the end of the last glacial period. The Allerød oscillation raised temperatures , before they declined again in the succeeding Younger Dryas period, which was followed by the present interglacial period.In some regions,...

 Interstadial. Early Federmesser finds follows shortly or are contemporary to Havelte. The culture lasted approximately 1200 years from 11.900 to 10.700 calBC., and is located in Northern Germany and Poland to south Lithuania. Fishhooks were discovered in Allerød layers and emphasizes the importance of fishing in the Late Palaeolithic. A certain survival of late Upper Palaeolithic traditions similar to contemporary Azilian
The Azilian is a name given by archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithic in northern Spain and southern France.It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 10,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture...

 (France, Spain) becomes apparent, such as the amber elk from Weitsche that can be considered as a link to the Mesolithic, amber animal sculptures.

Bromme culture sites are found in the entire southern and southeastern Baltic, and are dated to the second half of Allerød and the early cold Dryas III period. The "classical" Brommian complex is typified by simple and fast, but uneconomical, flint processing using unipolair cores. A new development noticed in Lithuania introduced both massive and smaller "Tanged Points". In Bromme culture this technology is proposed to be an innovation derived from tanged Havelte groups. As such, derivation of Bromme culture and even migration of its representatives from the territories of Denmark and northern Germany have been proposed, although other sources hold early Bromme not to be very well defined in (late Allerød) Northern Germany, were it groups with Federmesser.

Ahrensburg culture is normally associated with the Younger Dryas
Younger Dryas
The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief period of cold climatic conditions and drought between approximately 12.8 and 11.5 ka BP, or 12,800 and 11,500 years before present...

 glacialization and the Pre-boreal
Boreal (period)
In paleoclimatology of the Holocene, the Boreal was the first of the Blytt-Sernander sequence of north European climatic phases that were originally based on the study of Danish peat bogs, named for Axel Blytt and Rutger Sernander, who first established the sequence. In peat bog sediments, the...

 period. The traditional view of the Ahrensburg culture being a direct inheritor of the Bromme culture in the late Dryas period is contradicted by new information that the Ahrensburgian techno-complex probably already started before the Younger Dryas, strengthening proposals to a direct derivation from the Havelte stage of the Hamburg culture. Some recent finds, such as the Hintersee 24 site in Landkreis Uecker-Randow, would contribute to the argument of an early Ahrensburgian in northern Germany. Alternatively, flint artefacts of Bromme tanged-point groups is considered to prelude the techno-complex of the Ahrensburg culture and would point to the provenience of Ahrensburg from Bromme culture. As such, the Grensk culture in Bromme territory at the source of the Dnieper River was proposed to be the direct originator of Ahrensburgian culture. However, the exact typological chonology of this culture is still unclear. Though associated with the Bromme complex, Grensk culture has its roots more defined in the local Mammoth Hunters' culture.

Another possibility derives from the observation that on a regional scale, the Hamburgian culture is succeeded geographically as well as chronologically by the Federmesser, or Arch-Backed Piece Complex. The existence of a genuine Federmesser occupation in southern Scandinavia is highly controversial, and there is wide, though not unanimous, agreement that some Federmesser types constitute an integral part of the early Brommean artefact inventory. Still, Federmesser types are also often found in close association with Hamburgian assemblages (e.g. at Slotseng and Sølbjerg) and tentative, dating from northern Germany shows some degree of contemporaneity between the late Hamburgian Havelte sites and the Federmesser ones. Therefore in southern Scandinavia the Federmesser may represent a brief transitory phase between the Hamburgian and the Brommean. This corresponds with the notion that "tanged point cultures" such as "Brommian" or "Bromme-Lingby" appear to be based on the Magdalenian
The Magdalenian , refers to one of the later cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in western Europe, dating from around 17,000 BP to 9,000 BP...

, during the Allerod and were closely associated with reindeer hunting.

See also

  • Late Glacial Maximum
  • Paleolithic Europe
    Paleolithic Europe
    Paleolithic Europe refers to the Paleolithic period of Europe, a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools and which covers roughly 99% of human technological history...

  • Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
    Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
    The synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures gives a rough picture of the relationships between the various principal cultures of prehistory outside the Americas, Antarctica, Australia and Oceania...

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