Sperm Whales and Neolithic Whaling Socieites along the Coasts of Atlantic Europe

Author(s): Bettina Schulz Paulsson

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Supernatural Gamekeepers and Animal Masters: A Cross-Cultural Perspective" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Sperm whales played a central role in the cosmological world view of early megalithic societies (4700-4200 cal BC) in the Bay of Morbihan, Brittany, France. The whales were engraved as iconic signs on colossal standing stones, some of which were re-used to build megalithic graves. The largest of these standing stones, the Grand Menhir, was originally 24m high and weighed 330 tons and was erected in a collective symbolic act by these megalithic societies. The re-documentation of some of these whale stones" with new documentation and visualization techniques revealed boat engravings in association to the sperm whales. This paper discusses the possibility of the whaling of large whale species by Neolithic societies and with Neolithic technologies. We applied an agent-based modelling approach for Neolithic whaling societies along the coast of Atlantic Europe, taking into consideration factors such as whale reproduction rates, whale behaviour, seafaring risks, hunting strategies, Neolithic boat technologies, the bathymetry, etc. to address this question.

Cite this Record

Sperm Whales and Neolithic Whaling Socieites along the Coasts of Atlantic Europe. Bettina Schulz Paulsson. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450376)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25514