University of Oulu

Oula Seitsonen & Sami Viljanmaa (2021) Transnational Landscapes of Sámi Reindeer: Domestication and Herding in Northernmost Europe 700–1800 A.D., Journal of Field Archaeology, 46:3, 172-191, DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2021.1881723

Transnational landscapes of Sámi reindeer : domestication and herding in northernmost Europe 700–1800 A.D.

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Author: Seitsonen, Oula1; Viljanmaa, Sami2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Kierikki Stone Age Centre, Yli-Ii, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-04-19


This paper presents the development of Sámi reindeer domestication and pastoralism in northwestern Sápmi, the homeland of the indigenous Sámi people, based on recent surveys in the Gilbbesjávri region, Finland. We have documented about 99 percent of known sites in the study area and present the first radiocarbon dates from herding sites in this part of Finnish Sápmi. Since Sápmi is transnational, archaeological data from the adjoining countries are included in the analyses. The features connected to the early use of domesticated reindeer appear by the 9th century A.D. in a mixed hunter-herder economy and suggest a tethered residential but dynamic logistical mobility. Major changes in site locations and features link with the initiation of nomadic pastoralism by the 15th century A.D., with a high residential mobility. The expansion of both early herding and mobile pastoralism appear to have been conscious, indigenous Sámi responses to wider socio-economic and environmental developments.

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Series: Journal of field archaeology
ISSN: 0093-4690
ISSN-E: 2042-4582
ISSN-L: 0093-4690
Volume: 46
Issue: 3
Pages: 172 - 191
DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2021.1881723
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
616 Other humanities
519 Social and economic geography
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland grant 308322; European Research Council grant 2017 756431; and, Metsähallitus (Finnish state forest enterprise).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.