which describes the background of the discovery and the investigations,
was published for the first time in Swedish in Studia Archaeologica
Ostrobothniensia 1993-1997, Vasa 1999, ISSN 0782-3649. It is edited
for the WWW and republished with kind permission of Eva-Liisa Norrman
the wife of the late Ralf Norrman.
have we to thank for the Paleolithic find in the Wolf Cave to oversee
the beginning of an investigation?
answer is simple the credit is held by two people: partly by
the geological archaeologically interested Kalervo Uusitalo and partly
by geologist Dr. Heikki Hirvas. Both played an essential role, each
in his own way.
said (Vasabladet 19.10.1997) that he "nagged" himself to
an excavation of the Wolf cave. For several years he had attempted
to persuade experts to take a look at the Wolf Cave.
Photo: © Mikael Herrgård
archaeologists were not interested. Finally he got a nibble. Geologist
Heikki Hirvas visited the cave in January 1996. In May the same year,
the time (Jan. 1996) the visit almost didnt happen, said Uusitalo
in a Vbl interview. Hirvas later related that he was very doubtful.
If he had not already booked a railway ticket he would have backed
the results in hand, we can state it was on the verge of a catastrophy
here. The alternative to an archaeological and geological excavation
was not that the place would remain uninvestigated, but that it would
be destroyed. There was a plan to empty the cave of all the gravel
and earth and create some sort of commercial tourist trap.
had visited the Wolf Cave together with Kalervo Uusitalo in May 1995.
"The cave conceals traces of the Stone Age?" headlined a
Vbl report of 16 May 1995.
Find in Excavation
the first summer, work began to examine the excavation and a lucky
event happened during that phase. They began to excavate the cave
in 1996 and had uncovered about 64 square meters when an alert observer
noticed a worked stone tool in the excavated material. Work was stopped
and Hirvas contacted archaeologists who, up until then, didnt
have the slightest interest. Their opinion changed and they took over
the main responsibility for continuing the excavation.
Superintendent Paula Purhonen of the National Board of Antiquities
apologized in Vbl 16.10.1997 that they didnt take part in the
work from the beginning. "Archaeologists can be blamed for their
attitude that what is not known to us is the same as non-existent
", she said, and is thankful that geologists didnt follow the
example of the archaeologists.
who are involved with archaeology research can learn from this episode
that it is better to make one visit too much than too late and secondly,
that the amateurs interested in archaeology (and in this case interested
in geology), are a valuable resource that one ought to make good use
of. If Hirvas had not happened to decide to go to the Wolf Cave in
January 1996 despite everything else, perhaps the tool finds today
would lie among all the other filling in some parking place, forgotten
to Hirvas the Wolf Cave is Finlands largest cave (Vbl 16.10.1997).
Wolf Cave is Finlands largest cave, at least 400 square meters,
18 meters deep and 25 meters long. The crevice in the primary rock
is horizontal, and Hirvas assumes that it can extend to the top
of the Vargberget (The Wolf Hill). The cave opening can be up to
about a billion years old, but how old the cave is, no one can say."
the summer 1997 excavations about one hundred stone tools with various
flake scars were revealed. The predominant stone is Jotun sandstone;
objects out of quartz were not frequent. Hans-Peter Schulz wrote in
1998 that the encountered archaeological lithics were fine-grained
Jotun sandstone (c. 80 %), quartz, vulcanite and quartzite.
Photo: © Olle Haavisto
continued the summer of 1998 and the research team consisted of Section
Head Heikki Hirvas; FL. Pekka Huhta; Research Assistant Pentti Hakala
from the Geological Survey of Finland; Prof. Mikael Fortelius; FD
Juha-Pekka Lunkka; and FM Pirkko Ukkonen from the division for geology
and paleontology of the Department of Geology; Högne Jungner
from the C14 laboratory at Helsingfors University, also
Chief Superintendent Paula Purhonen and Hans-Peter Schulz, MA from
the National Board of Antiquities (Syd-Österbotten 9.6.1998).
the same time as the press conference that was arranged 8.6.1999,
the excavation leader Hans-Peter Schulz said the yield of found objects
for 1997 was ca 70, whereby 25 clearly were created by human hands,
which was determined through an artifact morphological investigation.
1997 they had examined an area of only 4.5 square meters. The discovery
was found in the lowest layer. They found a stratification in the
layers in the cave, and the three uppermost layers were empty. The
upper layers are considerably younger than the lower ones.
it was clear that the find was Pre-Ice Age, beginning speculation
from which interglacial they originated. The find must be at least
74,000 years old, but could it be older? And if so, how much older?
1997 there was speculation of a much earlier date, but the main candidate
now is the Eem Interglacial (130,000-120,000 BP). Also research still
has not eliminated the possibility that the find could be from Saale
I-II (220,000-200,000) or from the Holstein Interglacial (340,000-300,000
years ago). "The principal tool maker" is Homo neanderthalensis,
" also the tool does not represent the classic mousterien- and
levallois- technique, but more represents the pebble tools-implements,
in particular Clacton-tools."
of Neandertals by Eirik Granqvist
Photo: © Staffan Storteir
an article in Populär Arkeologi (Nr. 3 1998, 3-7) Hans-Peter
Schulz reports that a stratification in the deposit was found in the
cave. The deposit consisted of 6 different layers. In 1997 a pollen
test was taken from the 4th and possibly 5th
layers, wrote Schulz. Analysis of the pollen confirmed an old age
for these layers, because the pollen from such plants has not been
found in Österbotten since the Ice Age. Schulz mentioned copper
beech and a species of heath (Bruckenthalia) and meant that these
plants point to the Holstein Interglacial (340,000-300,000 BP).
excavation in the summer of 1998 samples for thermoluminescense analysis
were taken. With the method of thermoluminescence one can determine
when the particles of earth had last been subjected to sunlight.
of fauna were found in layer 1 (the surface layer) and were accordingly
younger than 8000 years. According to Vbl 9.6.1998 Pirkko Ukkonen
was amazed that the seal bones (some with C14 dates to
2500 BP) were preserved so well in the upper layer. According to her,
this indicates that the cave has preserved animal bones well.
archaeological finds are from layers IV-VI, wrote Schulz. One of the
most interesting finds indicated that, as a result of trampling by
humans or animals , there is a pavement in layer IV. Through trampling
the stones are tightly aligned to each other which has been noted
in Central European caves.
the Wolf Cave adjacent to the edge of the stone floor was found a
deposit layer with "flakes, charcoal and small bits of burned
stones, which indicates human activity". (p.6). Four likely hearth
remains were discovered, of which only two are reliable.
have sought to date the archeological finds through an analysis of
the platform remnants. Schulz wrote:
A rapid, aimed blow results in a platform remnant at the tool which
cannot be formed as an effect of sediments, pressure, frost, fire
or weathering and which can be verified by the traits:
platform remnant with point of percussion
bulb; reflection of the percussion at the ventral surface
concentric ripples, Wallner-lines
tool finds from the Wolf Cave can be divided into tools of pebble(9%
whereof 3 are possible one-sided chopping tools), retouched flakes(21%),
cores (10%) and flakes (60%). Prominent is that 80% ofthe flakes have
a primary dorsal surface and that only 20% exhibits negative dorsal
surfaces. This holds true for both the retouched as the rest of the
number of tool finds from the Wolf cave is too small to allow a statistical
comparison, says Schultz.
comparison with the starting point from the structure of percussion
points and flakes (after a method by D. Schäfer 1997. Development
of blankattributes of preupper paleolithic flakes) clearly shows conformity
with the Central European older paleolithic finding inventory from
Bilzingsleben, Clacton on Sea, Memleben, Verteszöllös, Wallendorf
and Wangen. With this comparison, the so-called "trend-structure"
has been used, that is, determining the thickness of the flakes, the
form of platform remnants, angle of blow , primary/faceted platform
remnants, occurrence of primary/negative dorsal surfaces.
there is still a problem with the dating, Schulz points out. Also,
if the working technique points to oldest paleolithic time we have
to remember that finds are few. The Wolf Cave is a geograhically isolated
place concerning such early inhabitants, and the Jotun sandstone as
a raw material is new for researchers. "The old" technique may have
persisted longer here in the North than in Central Europe.
closed his article in Populär Arkeologi by pointing out that
many years ago people in Central Europe found the remains of a neanderthal
man who lived more than 250,000 years ago. "With this background one
can perhaps guess that these visitors to the Wolf Cave were an earlier
edition of the neanderthal man."
Since the summer of 1998 visitors to the cave have not been allowed.
(Interview with Hans-Peter Schulz, Vbl 7.7.1998, see also Vbl 8.12.1998).
The National Board of Antiquities justifies this as a risk because
the great amount of material carried away from the cave has created
the risk of a collapse of the cave's roof. (The roof of the cave
was reinforced in 2002/ed). Also there is a
risk of contamination (the excavation relies on scientific methods,
such as for dating and they are worried that visitors could hazard
Hans-Peter Schulz said in an interview in Vbl (7.7.1998) that in 1997
the cave was visited by 5,000 tourists and that the numbers in 1998
"Svårtolkade fynd från Varggrottan: Inga gäster
får längre gå i Grottmannens hem" ("Difficult to
interpret finds from the Wolf Cave: Visitors can no longer go into
the caveman's home.") Vasabladet 8.12.1998.
Mats. "Här är den ´riktiga´grottmannen: Kalervo
Uusitalo tjatade tills geologerna kom till Varggrottan. Tror stenfynden
bara är början." ("Here is the "true" caveman: Kalervo
Uusitalo nags untilgeologists come to the Wolf Cave. Thinks the
stone find is only the beginning.") Vasabladet 19.10.1997.
"Grotta döljer spår av stenåldern?" ("Cave hid
traces of the Stone Age?") Vasabladet 16.5.1995.
Johan. "Stenarna är en världssensation. Människor
tillverkade verktygen I Varggrottan för minst 74.000 år
sedan. Forskarna entusiastiska." ("The stones are a world sensation.
People made tools in the Wolf Cave at least 74,000 years ago. Researchers
enthusiastic.") Vasabladet 16.10.1997.
Helge. "Varggrottan får inte bli turistfälla: Arkeologerna
betackar sig för Grottmannens stugby och Visitors Center."
("The Wolf Cave will not be a tourist trap. Archaeologists say that
Caveman's Cottage Village and Visitors Center are not for us." )
Linda: "Neanderthalare I Varggrottan: Nu är forskare säkra."
("Neanderthals in the Wolf Cave: Now researchers are sure.") Syd-Österbotten
Hans-Peter: "De tog skydd I Varggrottan: De första spåren
av människor i Norden är mer än hundratusen år
gamla." ("They took shelter in the Wolf Cave. The first traceof
humans in the North is more than 100,000 years old.") Populär
Arkeologi Nr. 3 (1998).
by June Pelo 2002
for WWW by Staffan Storteir