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Water and Cosmology in the Stone Age of Northeastern Europe

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2019.47.1.023-032

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Abstract

This paper explores water and watery places as sacred elements among the cultures of the northern boreal zone during the Stone Age, and especially the Neolithic period, through materials deriving from Northwestern Russia and Fennoscandia. The peculiarity and importance of water and certain watery environments, like rivers, lakes, bogs, waterfalls, and rapids, are discussed through depositional practices of material culture, mainly lithic artifacts. Rock-art provides further tools for approaching the topic, not only through its locations in the landscape but also through its motifs, which allow parallels to be drawn to later ethnographical sources and folklore, too. Finally, the paper briefl y touches upon the rationality behind making a strict separation between “sacred” and “mundane” when interpreting prehistoric cultural phenomena. Water was integral to human life in many different ways, but bodies of water and watery places could also be threatening and unpredictable. Therefore water would have been an ambivalent element, probably invested with signifi cant cultural meanings in the Stone Age world.

About the Authors

K. Nordqvist
University of Helsinki
Finland


V.-P. Herva
University of Oulu
Finland


S. Sandell

Finland


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For citation:


Nordqvist K., Herva V., Sandell S. Water and Cosmology in the Stone Age of Northeastern Europe. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2019;47(1):23-32. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2019.47.1.023-032

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