Here in Norrbotten, people have lived for nearly 11,000 years. The first people came when the ice sheet withdrew. The cultural influences have varied through the centuries, but in the archaeological material the exchange in east-western direction is apparent. The paths of communication, especially those across water, have been important, in summertime as well as in wintertime. They have brought people together across the North calotte, and also across even larger areas.
To many inhabitants of Norrbotten, our pre-history became known when the settlement in Vuollerim was discovered in the beginning of the 1980s. Today we know of many similar settlements, and also considerably older relics. For example the settlement in Aareavaara, which has made us rewrite both history- and geography books.
Archaeology deals with the knowledge about our common cultural heritages. Till well into the 20th century, the general assumption was that Norrbotten was not inhabited until medieval time, connected to colonization from the south. For a long time, this has built the view of our part of the country and our own identity as inhabitants of Norrbotten.
Archaeology also deals with bringing knowledge of where we come from. If we know our history and our origin, we appreciate the place where we live. It is also easier to find solidarity and similarities to other cultures.
In the beginning of the 20th century, archaeological research in Norrbotten was performed by a few individuals from southern Sweden. They worked on behalf of the Central Board of National Antiquities, Nordiska museet and Etnografiska museet. They focused on the Sami culture, as well as collection of ancient objects.
A new era started in 1942, connected to the development of the hydropower. Systematic inventories and excavations were now performed by educated archaeologists for the first time. These achievements constituted the starting point of the modern archaeological research in the region.
In the 1950s, the archaeological activities at Norrbottens museum began. Since then, year after year, the archaeologists of the museum have advanced the limits for the knowledge regarding the pre-history of the region. With new methods and a more accessible research exchange, the prerequisites have changed. As a result of this, new revolutionizing conclusions have emerged over the last decades.