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There is no agreement on the exact starting point of Russian sea mammal hunting on the Svalbard archipelago, although the question has been discussed for decades among Russian and Norwegian historians and archaeologists. After more than 25 years of archaeological research, the Russian archaeologist Vadim F. Starkov argues that Russian hunting in the Svalbard archipelago was initiated around 1550 (if not earlier), i.e. well in advance of Willem Barentsz' discovery of Svalbard in 1596. Starkov's chronology is first and foremost based on dendrochronological datings of remnants from Russian hunting stations. This author is critical of Starkov's interpretations, and argues that almost all of his dendro-datings can in one way or another be connected with re-used material such as ship planks or local driftwood. That means there is no direct correspondence between these datings and the period when the hunting stations were in use.