University of Oulu

Salmi, AK. The Archaeology of Reindeer Domestication and Herding Practices in Northern Fennoscandia. J Archaeol Res (2022).

The archaeology of reindeer domestication and herding practices in northern Fennoscandia

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Author: Salmi, Anna-Kaisa1
Organizations: 1Archaeology, Research Unit of History, Culture, and Communication, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, 90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-12-14


Animal domestication is a profound change for human societies, economies, and worldviews. The shifting definitions of animal domestication reflect its varying and process-like nature. Reindeer is one of the species whose domestication is not easily pinned down using standard definitions and research methodologies of animal domestication. In recent years, advances in archaeological methodology and the conceptual understanding of animal domestication have opened new avenues for research on this topic. This review summarizes recent research on the archaeology of reindeer domestication among the Indigenous Sámi of northern Fennoscandia. It compiles a chronological framework of reindeer domestication with an emphasis on the development of reindeer-herding practices and human–reindeer relationships. I argue that while a major transition to reindeer herding occurred among the Sámi from the 15th century onward, small-scale reindeer herding characterized by interspecies sociality, cooperation, and care developed earlier during the Late Iron Age, with regional variations in the timing and details of the events. By focusing on reindeer-herding practices and the human–reindeer relationships embedded in them, I also argue that reindeer domestication, and animal domestication in general, is a relationship constructed and constantly renegotiated in everyday interactions with the animals.

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Series: Journal of archaeological research
ISSN: 1059-0161
ISSN-E: 1573-7756
ISSN-L: 1059-0161
Issue: Online first
DOI: 10.1007/s10814-022-09182-8
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This project received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No. 756431) and the Academy of Finland (project numbers 275635 and 308322). Open Access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
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: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit