University of Oulu

Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Markus Fjellström, Tiina Äikäs, Marte Spangen, Milton Núñez, Kerstin Lidén, Zooarchaeological and stable isotope evidence of Sámi reindeer offerings, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 29, 2020, 102129, ISSN 2352-409X,

Zooarchaeological and stable isotope evidence of Sámi reindeer offerings

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Author: Salmi, Anna-Kaisa1; Fjellström, Markus2; Äikäs, Tiina1;
Organizations: 1History, Culture and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities, P.O. Box 1000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Archaeological Research Laboratory, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
3Department of Archaeology, History, Religious Studies and Theology, University of Tromsø, Box 6050 Langnes, N-9037 Tromsø, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-03-06


This paper presents new osteometric and stable isotope evidence of Sámi reindeer offerings. Previous archaeological studies have shown that reindeer domestication and intensification of reindeer herding transformed Sámi indigenous religion. However, because of the methodological challenges in the identification of wild and domesticated reindeer in the archaeological record, the exact nature of the relationship between people and offered reindeer has remained elusive. To address this problem, we analyze zooarchaeological and stable isotope data from thirteen Sámi offering sites situated in Finland and Sweden and dating to c. 1200–1700 CE. We employ zooarchaeological analysis of age, sex and size and explore the possibilities of these analyses to identify domestication and other characteristics of reindeer selected for offering. Analyses of stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur are utilized to identify human influence on reindeer feeding patterns and mobility. Our results show that many kinds of reindeer with different engagements with people were offered. The results confirm that people had different motives for giving offerings and that a simple dichotomy of wild/domesticated does not adequately reflect the range of relationships the Sámi had with reindeer.

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Series: Journal of archaeological science. Reports
ISSN: 2352-409X
ISSN-E: 2352-4103
ISSN-L: 2352-409X
Volume: 29
Article number: 102129
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.102129
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research was funded by European Research Council (ERC Advanced Grant 295458; ERC Starting Grant 756431), Academy of Finland (1122623; 285774; 294626; 308322), Stiftelsen Lars Hiertas minne (FO2015-0071) and Stiftelsen Konung Gustaf VI Adolfs fond för svensk kultur (A 199/2012).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 285774
Detailed Information: 285774 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
294626 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
122623 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (