a1 Tromsö University Museum, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway Email: email@example.com
An examination of meanings associated with bears among early hunter-gatherer-fisher populations in northern Fennoscandia, based on beliefs and ritual practices in the ethnohistoric record, indicates that they were an animal attributed multiple meanings in prehistoric as well as historic times. They were clan ancestors, spirit masters and symbols of power and reincarnation such as rebirth and the change of seasons. The evidence indicates a pattern of local variation and identities rather than a uniform regional pattern, and some large-scale differences from the coastal area of Norway in the west to Karelia in the east.
(Received September 09 2011)
(Accepted December 07 2011)
(Revised March 05 2012)
Knut Helskog is Professor of Archaeology at Tromsø University Museum, Tromsø University, Norway. Responsibilities include the management of the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act, salvage archaeology, archives, collections, museum exhibitions, popularization and research. His research interest is oriented towards hunter-fisher-gatherer populations in northern Fennoscandia with a special focus on the interpretation of rock art.