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Otterböte Brotnz Age settlement

Otterböte Bronz Age settlement

At the bottom of the Otterböte hill, there is a unique settlement of seal hunters from the early Bronze Age (about 900 BC). It consists of the remains of nine round huts, several rubbish heaps and a little well. You'll get to Otterböte through a 600 m long footpath from Hamnövägen. Sturdy shoes are recommended.

Otterböte was populated by seal hunters from the south, who came north for seal hunting in springtime. We know this due to numerous findings of potsherds found during excavations. The clay of these potsherds comes from the southern shores of the Baltic Sea; northern Poland and the island of Bornholm. The walls of the vessels also have imprints of cultivated plants, showing that they have been manufactured in an agricultural environment.

Otterböte – a three thousand year old oil well in the sea

Just over half a mile south of the road between Överboda and Vervan's villages in Kökar lies a bronze-age place hidden between the mountains.

The Bronze Age fell between the Stone Age and the Iron Age, 1800-500 BC. It is named after the metal bronze, a mixture of copper and tin used before man learned to make iron.

Here, the seal hunters lived three thousand years ago - about 1,000 BC. The settlement was found by the farmer Erik Gustav Öberg in 1918. He spoke with the author Hugo Ekholm who later wrote an article about the findings, that led to the site being excavated by archaeologists between 1946 and 1950.

Nine households , 25,000 potsherds and 1,670 bones (total 10 kilos of bone). 450 of the bones could be identified: seal 367, eider 64, horse 1 (a small pacer), hare 11, sheep 13, pig 1, cow 3. Note that no fish bones were found - did they not fish?

In the well an almost whole pot of the same pattern was found, the same clay as the contemporary lisutanic culture in Poland and on Bornholm.

The huts consist of a round stone ring with a fireplace in the middle and a front. They had wooden ceilings,reed or straw. There are no leftovers on the floor because they were covered with hides. We think the seal hunters were hunting teams of 50-60 men or less, who came in the autumn, wintered and chased seals to manufacture seal.


Read also: from seal hunters to monasteries


Source: Kenneth Gustavsson (1997) Otterböte - New Light on a Bronze Age Site in the Baltic, Theses and Papers in Archeology B: 4, Stockholm University

In the magazine Skärgård 2/2005, Kenneth Gustavsson has written a summary.

Read about the Bronze Age on the Finnish National Museum's website

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