Dr Helen Farr on Tybrind Vig

Hello and welcome to Week Four. This is a question and answer session which normally we have lots of the
facilitators and educators here altogether in the same room, but this
week lots people are out in the field and so what we’re going to do is record a few questions individually and hopefully we can then answer them in the same way that we did last week. So, the first question I’m
going to answer is about Tybrind Vig and a question
came in about why we think they had hearths on the canoes found at Tybrind Vig. I
think this is a really really interesting question because the most obvious answer, of course, is that people wanted to transport
fire from place to place. You know it’s really really difficult to
light a fire and you’re not going to just let it go out if you could possibly
transport it and save yourself the effort. So, from moving from one settlement to
another, for example, from the summer settlement to the winter settlement or a different activity zone you would take that fire with you. However, there have been lots of different hypotheses that have been put forward.
Another one is that people perhaps needed it for warmth whilst on board longer journeys and for
cooking fish. We can see this in ethnographic
accounts, for example, the aboriginals in Australia quite often
use fires on board bark canoes and they
use that for cooking and for warmth as well when doing longer trips and we have archaeological evidence to support this from and late Neolithic site in
Scandinavia which has a hearth on board the log boat
and in this hearth we have charcoal, but we also have burnt fish remains as well so we know that people were cooking fish on these fires. Another
hypothesis was put forward by Anderson which suggested that perhaps these fires
were used as fishing lures and you can see fishing lures and lights being used at night for eel-fishing in
the same region, so it’s quite a possible hypothesis.
Another question that’s been put forward is why were these boats abandoned? Now obviously this is something we just don’t really know know. But, I think I
would wonder whether this is something to do with the changing climate, changing
environment because there’s lots of effort put into
these boats and if you imagine a 10 metre long boat, you wouldn’t just abandon it for no reason. So perhaps
the region slowly began to silt up. We know it was a lagoon, it was a muddy sort-of-lagoonal area, perhaps the conditions were just slowly changing and it just wasn’t viable to use them anymore. Or perhaps the people were just moving to a different
area and they got left there. So, we just don’t know.

Comments 1

  • it would be great with references in the comments or description section regarding the sites mentioned as references. Just a thought ­čśë

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