During the early Holocene the Mesolithic campsites at Friesack in northern Central Europe were located on
an island amidst a wetland landscape: a swampy valley rich of reeds with generally slowly flowing water
(with the exception of spring), forests dominated by birch and pine, sandy hills covered with pine, and open
grasslands. Due to excellent preservation conditions thousands of mammal remains could be excavated in
the refuse areas of the site Friesack 4 by B. Gramsch and his team between 1978 and 1989. 826 identified
mammal remains derive from the oldest, mid-Preboreal layers of the station, 1200 bones from the following
late Preboreal layers, and further 3082 remains from the subsequent early Boreal horizons.
The main game species of the inhabitants of Friesack 4 were red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. Based on the
bone weight, red deer was the most relevant and important species in all the Mesolithic stages of occupation.
In the course of the c. 1500 years of habitation investigated on this site the economical relevance of wild boar
increased gradually, whereas in particular elk lost its importance. Significantly, red deer hunting always
focused on older juveniles or young adults.
Based on the number of identified specimen, remains of roe deer dominate the mammal bone assemblage
in all the occupation stages, and their frequency continuously increases from the oldest to the youngest
Mesolithic horizon. Roe deer hunting occurred especially in May and June and was purposefully dedicated to
young females. Similarly, hunting red deer was not focussed on strong, older deer, as at some contemporaneous
sites, but on young adults. Both species show that the hunter’s strategy at Friesack 4 was in these cases not
to get a maximum of food resources per hunting expedition, but rather to secure a successful hunt. In wild
boar, in contrast, the analyses give evidence of a selective hunting of full-grown and quite old individuals,
thus of wild boars for meat. Remarkably, the hunter’s wild boar prey was nearly all female.
A résumé of all seasonal indications concerning the mammal bones shows that Mesolithic people stayed at
the location nearly exclusively in the months between May and October. There is no evidence for human
presence during late autumn and winter/early spring.
The portions of the body parts of the different game species show concordantly that the animals were
slaughtered elsewhere. Friesack 4 was only the place of consumption. Partly, however, some valuable parts
of the prey are missing at the campsite – potentially these parts were reserved for the successful hunters, who
consumed them already at the kill site.
Schmölcke, U.: Early Mesolithic hunting strategies for red deer, roe deer and wild boar at Friesack 4, a three-stage Preboreal and Boreal site in northern Germany, in: Gross et al. (edd.), Working at The Sharp End at Hohen Viecheln, Untersuchungen und Materialien zur Steinzeit in Schleswig-Holstein und im Ostseeraum, Vol. 10, pp. 239–254, DOI: 10.23797/9783529018619-8.