University of Oulu

Seitsonen, O., Broderick, L. G., Banks, I., Lundemo, M. O., Seitsonen, S., & Herva, V.-P. (2021). Military supply, everyday demand, and reindeer: Zooarchaeology of Nazi German Second World War military presence in Finnish Lapland, Northernmost Europe. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 1– 15.

Military supply, everyday demand, and reindeer :zooarchaeology of Nazi German Second World War military presence in Finnish Lapland, Northernmost Europe

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Author: Seitsonen, Oula1,2; Broderick, Lee G.3; Banks, Iain4;
Organizations: 1Archaeology, History, Culture and Communications, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Independent researcher, Towcester, UK
4Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
5History, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Arkteekki Ltd., Hyvinkää, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-16


During the Second World War, in 1941–1944, Nazi German troops held the frontal responsibility of the Arctic front in Finnish Lapland. In this paper, we present the first zooarchaeological study of the wartime faunal remains from German military camps in Lapland. This illustrates the supply situation of both the German soldiers and their multinational prisoners. The official military supply was substantially supplemented with local food sources, namely, with the local semi-domesticated reindeer that dominates the bone assemblage. Bones of cattle, ovicaprines, and pig occur in lower numbers and appear to represent the German long-distance supply chain stretching from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean. The remains of reindeer and wild species remind of the close interactions with locals and of the prisoners’ hunting activities to supplement their meager diet. Even if the reindeer bones dominate both the soldiers’ and prisoners’ faunal assemblages, there are notable differences in the body parts, with bones from meatier portions always found in the soldiers’ food waste. Besides highlighting a tension between the military supply and everyday demands, the faunal remains can draw attention to wider anthropological questions that reach beyond the information available in historical documents, such as adaptations into an alien northern environment. This emphasizes the importance of zooarchaeological analyses of recent past faunal materials from superficially familiar contexts.

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Series: International journal of osteoarchaeology
ISSN: 1047-482X
ISSN-E: 1099-1212
ISSN-L: 1047-482X
Volume: In press
DOI: 10.1002/oa.3039
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
119 Other natural sciences
616 Other humanities
519 Social and economic geography
1171 Geosciences
Funding: This research is part of the projects Lapland's Dark Heritage (Academy of Finland grant 275497) and Domestication in Action (Academy of Finland grant 308322; H2020 European Research Council grant 2017 756431).
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 Authors. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.