Mesolithic Soapstone Line-sinkers in Western Norway: Chronology, Acquisition, Distribution, Function and Decoration
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Soapstone sinkers are commonly found at coastal Mesolithic sites in western Norway.The large majority of these sinkers weigh less than 10 g (small sinkers), and a few weigh between 150 and 200 g (large sinkers). They were used between c. 5900–4000 cal BC and have been found at residential sites along the entire coast of western Norway, from Romsdal in the north to Lista in the south. The main area of distribution is between the districts Nordfjord and Nordhordland. Large soapstone sinkers have only been found in Nordfjord. The sinkers were probably quarried by the users themselves in bedrock outcrops of soapstone, which are common in the main area of distribution. They are only found at sites situated in marine environments. The close match between the sizes of the small sinkers, the sizes of fishhooks and the main sizes of the fish caught strongly indicate that they were used as line sinkers for fishing with a rod or for trolling. A few of the sinkers are ornamented with notches or incised lines. These motifs are common among Palaeolithic and Mesolithic populations in a global perspective.