University of Oulu

Matti T. Heino, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Tiina Äikäs, Kristiina Mannermaa, Tuija Kirkinen, Mikhail Sablin, Minna Ruokonen, Milton Núñez, Jari Okkonen, Love Dalén, Jouni Aspi, Reindeer from Sámi offering sites document the replacement of wild reindeer genetic lineages by domestic ones in Northern Finland starting from 1400 to 1600 AD, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 35, 2021, 102691, ISSN 2352-409X,

Reindeer from Sámi offering sites document the replacement of wild reindeer genetic lineages by domestic ones in Northern Finland starting from 1400 to 1600 AD

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Author: Heino, Matti T.1,2; Salmi, Anna-Kaisa1; Äikäs, Tiina1;
Organizations: 1History, Culture and Communication Studies, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland
3Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 59, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
4Department of Archaeology, Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu, Jakobi 2, 51014, Tartu, Estonia
5Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya nab.1, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russia
6Centre for Palaeogenetics, Svante Arrhenius väg 20C, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
7Department of Bioinformatics and Genetics, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, 10405 Stockholm, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 8.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-08


Reindeer herding emerged among the indigenous Sámi of Northern Fennoscandia between ca. 800 and 1500 CE. While the details of the reindeer domestication process are still actively debated, it has been hypothesized that the transition to reindeer herding affected Sámi ritual practice, especially animal offerings given at various sacred sites. To explore this hypothesis, we analyzed DNA from reindeer bone samples dating to ca. 1200–1700 CE from Sámi offering sites located in present-day Northern Finland as well as from samples originating from ancient dwelling site in Southern Finland and Kola Peninsula, Russia. The results show that haplotypes related to wild Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) began to be replaced by haplotypes common in modern domesticated reindeer in the faunal assemblages from offering sites starting between 1400 and 1600 CE. The results suggest that, although the role of reindeer herding in the economy of the Sámi communities varied greatly, the transition to reindeer herding may have affected ritual practices, testifying to a shared way of reciprocating with the land and animals.

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Series: Journal of archaeological science. Reports
ISSN: 2352-409X
ISSN-E: 2352-4103
ISSN-L: 2352-409X
Volume: 35
Article number: 102691
DOI: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102691
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
615 History and archaeology
Funding: This work was carried out with the support of the Centre for Material Analysis, University of Oulu, Finland. This research was financially supported by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant 756431) and the Academy of Finland (Grants 1122623; 285774; 294626; 308322). The research was made with the participation of ZIN RAS (state assignment № AAAA-A19-119032590102-7). Matti T. Heino acknowledges funding from the Emil Aaltonen Foundation.
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: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (