Around 8200 years ago, the gradual rise in Holocene temperatures was interrupted by a marked cooling period, which is referred to as the 8200 cal BP event. The event is detected as a significant fall in temperatures in multiple palaeoclimatic records in the North Atlantic region and is linked to the drainage of the proglacial Laurentide Lakes in North America. The cooling period lasted c. 150–200 years. In northern Europe, this cooling period has been linked to cultural changes in several regions. To investigate human responses to prehistoric climate changes, Chapter 8 provides a case study from the Oslofjord area in southeast Norway.
At the onset of the climatic cooling, the Oslofjord was populated by specialized hunter–gatherers who relied on marine resources, especially fish. Groups with specialized subsistence strategies, so-called specialists, are generally assumed to be vulnerable to climate-induced changes in resources. This study uses the temporal and spatial distribution of shore-bound sites dated within the timespan 9000–7600 cal BP to investigate if the specialized hunter-gatherers were affected by the 8200 cal BP event. The data set shows fluctuations in the frequency of shore-bound sites, but no distinct decline in the number of sites is documented corresponding in time to the climatic cooling. From 8000 cal BP there is a marked growth in the number of sites, which implies increased activity in the coastal area and perhaps an even larger dependency on marine resources in the course of the 8200 cal BP event. This suggests that although characterized as potentially vulnerable, the specialized hunter-gatherers in the Oslofjord area appear to be resilient to climate change.