• Svend Jørgensen


Kongemosen, Mesolithic, mesolitisk, Åmosen, Aamosen


Kongemosen - A Mesolithic Site in the Bog Aamosen, Zealand

In the summer of 1952 thoroughgoing drainage and reclamation schemes were carried on in "Kongemosen", a portion of the large bog area known as Aamose in West Zealand.

As a result of this work a number of scattered prehistoric objects came to light, and the present author identified, in a drainage ditch, an occupation layer about 25 cms. thick. This could be traced for a distance of about 30 metres and lay about 1 metre below ground level. The site was filled in again, but in the autumn of 1953 other portions of the same settlement, lying at a higher level and not previously known, were disturbed in the course of deep ploughing (to a depth of 40-50 cms.).

Excavation was now necessary in order to rescue the site, and a test excavation was commenced in the summer of 1954. Violent and continuous rainfall, however, flooded the bog and made excavation impossible. Not before the summer and autumn of 1955 did it prove possible to carry out the planned test excavation, and Fig. 1 is a plan of the settlement area as revealed by the excavations then carried out. A total of 305 metres of trial trenches of a width of 1 metre was dug, as well as an area excavation of about 45 sq.m.

The settlement was about 60 metres in length and about 20 metres in width. It had been sited on a fairly dry peat surface but its northern edge had run along the shore, of the open lake. In this lake lies a "rubbish-heap", running out in a tongue of gradually diminishing thickness for more than 50 metres from the shore.

On the actual settlement the occupation layer was 10-15 cms. thick and, before ploughing, was overlaid by about 30 cms. of alder wood peat. It lies upon a layer of lightly decomposed swamp peat. The flint from this area is patinated to a greater or less degree; bones and wood are poorly preserved, and traces of dwellings or hearths have not yet been found. The upper half of the rubbish-heap consists of nut shells, pieces of bark, small sticks and charcoal, while its lower half contains quantities of flint, bones and antler. The flint is unweathered, and objects of organic material are in very good condition. Closest to the original shore line the layer is about 30 cms. thick, rests on lake marl and is covered by a later deposit of swamp peat. Further from the shore the stratum lies up to 2 metres deep, is only a couple of cms. thick and is embedded in fine detritus mud, which allows the possibility of a good pollen­analytical dating.

Only one occupation level has yet been identified at the site, and the artifact material can be described as homogeneous. As it was a trial excavation only a small portion of the material was excavated systematically. This material was taken mainly from a strip, about 25 cms. wide, along the east wall of the longest north-south trial trench, between the points North 27.00 and North 34.00 (Fig. 1). In this stretch every trace of habitation was plotted in with three coordinates. With this technique of excavation 7417 items were obtained. In quantity, however, these objects fill only 14 bags from a total of over 400.

The material has still not been sorted, so that the following figures give only minimum values, and the rough evaluation must be treated with caution.

The flint material is dominated by the extremely large number of fine large blades and of the corresponding flaking cores, while the amount of swarf (chips and flakes) is extremely small. Fig. 2 shows a selection of typical blade tools. Nos. 1 and 2 are specimens of the large blades fashioned into daggers or spearheads, no. 2 having in addition incisions in the end for lashing. No. 3 shows the most usual type of scraper, a type which often has a scraping edge at both ends. A few small round scrapers of Maglemose type were, however, also found. Nos. 4 and 5 are type burins, which occur in hundreds. Blade knives, such as no. 6, are common, as are blade awls. But the most numerous class are the rhombic (asymmetrical) arrowheads, amounting to about 2500. Nos. 12-20 illustrate a selection. No. 12 is the specimen which, of all those found, most resembles a transverse arrowhead. Nos. 7-11 show the corresponding "burins".

The microlith incidence is slight - a number of micro-blades, two handles striking cores and a very few triangular microliths. These may possibly be intrusive from a nearby Sværdborg site containing a large number of microliths.

The asymmetrical (rhombic) axe dominates among the core tools (about 50 specimens, Fig. 3, no. 1); flake axes, on the other hand, do not occur. Fig. 3, no. 2 shows a fine core chisel or pick, while no. 3 illustrates the core awls which are found. Core and plane scrapers occur in large numbers, as well as a quantity of keeled scrapers, two of which are also handled striking cores. Finally three large picks of flint (25-30 cms. long, Fig. 4) were found, as well as several fragments of this class of artifact. Hammer stones and crushing stones of flint or granite occur in large numbers.

Fig. 5 shows the artifacts of greenstone which were discovered. No. 1 is a fragment of a polished round axe, while nos. 2 and 3 are fragments of maceheads with shaftholes. A number of sandstone polishing stones, as well as large quantities of cooking stones, pebbles of blackened and scorched granite as large as a cricket-hall.

Pieces of pyrites and the occurrence of touchwood show how fire was produced. Amber has not as yet been found.

Flat bodkins formed of the metatarsal of roe deer are common (35 specimens); two of these may be seen in Fig. 6, nos. 1-2, while nos. 3-5 show various forms of rounded bodkins. Fig. 7, no. 1 is a dagger, fashioned of a cubitus, while no. 2 is the typical striker or pressure implement from the site (about 25 specimens). 5 axes of deer antler were found, of which the finest is illustrated in Fig. 7, no. 3. The drawing in Fig. 7 a reproduces its ornamentation.

A number of single objects deserve special mention. Fig. 8, nos. 1 and 2 and the drawing Fig. 8 a show the pointed end of a flat slotted point with flint insets finely ornamented and still retaining one micro-blade in situ in each of the edge-grooves. The decoration on one of the sides (no. 1) is the same as that of the Monbjerg specimen. Two specimens of the rounded type were found, though here the flints have been lost. The object shown in Fig. 8, nos. 3 and 4, resembles to an extraordinary degree the "Schwirrgerät" from Stellmoor described by Rust. If a cord is attached to the hole and the object swung through the air a loud and ominous humming results. It is possible that it was of magical significance, or that it is a toy, while further possible explanations are a needle or a blinker for fishing; no certain fishing implement of any kind (trap, hook or leister prong) has, however, yet been found on the site, and fish bones are very rare among the material found.

The object shown in Fig. 9 is even more difficult to interpret. It is 35 cms. long, cut from a scapula (of aurochs or elk). It is carefully smoothed and richly decorated. All edges are furnished with groups of incisions, the articulation surface (no. 2) is scraped smooth, and its edge, too, is furnished with small incisions. The flat surfaces are covered with fine lines forming a variety of designs; a section (no. 3) shows a collection of tent-like figures. Nothing can yet be said concerning its employment, but a corresponding specimen is known from the Øgaarde settlement site, and Therkel Mathiassen suggests that it is a pointed weapon.

The decoration of the bone object falls into two groups: the common superficial Maglemose ornamentation; and a more deeply cut decoration. It is noteworthy that both types of ornamentation may occur on the same object.

Among objects of wood mention may be made of the blade of a paddle, 30 cms. long and elliptical. No pottery has been discovered on the site.

The large quantity of bones has not yet been identified, but bones of red deer, roe deer and wild boar dominate among those discovered. Beaver is also common, as are the bones of birds, whereas fish bones are surprisingly rare, and the few that do occur belong to large fish (sheat-fish and pike). Almost all animal bones are split for marrow-extraction, and in general the impression is given that hunting was the main means of livelihood, with fishing of negligable importance.

From the archeological viewpoint the Kongemose site shows so considerable a resemblance to the discoveries at Gislinge Lammefjord and at Carstensminde on Amager that without further speculation it may be attributed to the culture phase normally called the "Early Coast Culture". As the name implies it has been assumed by archeologists that this culture was associated with the sea-coasts and that it was a forerunner of the Ertebølle Culture. The lower level of Bloksbjerg and Vedbæk Boldbaner are other examples close to the coast. Various of its artifact types occur inland, for example on a number of settlement sites in the Aamose. Øgaarde (stage II), Magleø (stage I) and Skellingsted Bro are localities of this type, and Therkel Mathiassen defines Øgaarde II in particular as "Maglemose Culture with Gudenaa affinities and with traces of Early Coast Culture".

The Kongemose settlement site thus joins a series of already known discoveries, but nevertheless occupies a special position. Every previously known component of the so-called "Early Coast Culture" occurs on this very definitely inland site; but in addition the large flint pick (Fig. 4) is now with certainty associated with this culture complex, and new forms, such as the "bull-roarer" (Fig. 8, nos. 3 and 4) must be added.

Preliminary pollen analysis dates the Kongemose site to Pollen Zone VI, and it is already possible to say with certainty that it is generally speaking contemporary with the main Sværdborg settlement, as dated by Knud Jessen, while it is clearly earlier than the Gislinge Lammefjord settlement, dated by J. Troels-Smith.

Further pollen-analytical investigations will possibly be able to narrow down the period here given and, as the site contains particularly suitable material for C-14 analysis, there will in addition be a good possibility of obtaining an absolute dating.

Svend Jørgensen





Jørgensen, S. (1956). Kongemosen. Kuml, 6(6), 23–40. Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/kuml/article/view/97286