History of Finland between 4000 BC - 1501 BC
Around 5300 BCE, - probably - pottery was present in Finland. The earliest samples belong to the Comb Ceramic Cultures, known for their distinctive decorating patterns. This marks the beginning of the neolithic period for Finland, although the subsistence was still based on hunting and fishing. Extensive networks of exchange existed across Finland and Northeastern Europe during the 5th millennium BCE. For example, flint from Scandinavia and Valdai Hills, amber from Scandinavia and the Baltic region and slate from Scandinavia and Lake Onega found their ways into the Finnish archeological sites undes excavatons today and asbestos and soap stone from e.g. the area of Saimaa spread outside of Finland. Rock paintings - apparently related to shamanistic and totemistic belief systems - have been found, especially in Eastern Finland, e.g. Astuvansalmi.
From 3200 BCE onwards, either immigrants or a strong cultural influence from south of the Gulf of Finland settled in Southwestern Finland. This culture was a part of the European Battle Axe cultures, which have often been associated with the movement of the Indo-European speakers. The Battle-Axe - or Cord Ceramic - culture seems to have practiced agriculture and animal husbandry outside of Finland, but the earliest confirmed traces of agriculture in Finland date later, approximately to the 2nd millennium BCE. Further inland, the societies retained their hunting-gathering lifestyles for the time being. The Battle axe and the Comb Ceramic cultures merged, giving rise to the Kiukainen culture which existed between 2300 BCE and 1500 BCE, featuring fundamentally a comb ceramic tradition with cord ceramic characteristics.
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.