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"Most beautiful favorite reindeer" – Life histories of reindeer offered at Sámi offering sites in northern Fennoscandia

Author(s): Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Year: 2017

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Animal offerings made at various sacred sites were an integral part of the ethnic religion of the indigenous Sámi people of northern parts of present-day Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia from ca. 800 AD onwards. The offering tradition was interwoven with subsistence patterns and human-animal relationships, as in the Sámi worldview, offerings were a means to communicate with gods and guardian spirits of animals to negotiate things such as success in hunting or reindeer husbandry. In this paper, I will focus on the life histories of the reindeer individuals selected for offering as they unfold by looking at age, sex, and size of the individuals, the stable isotope composition of their teeth and bones, and the offering site context where their bones were deposited. I will especially concentrate on two individuals offered at the Paddusas offering site in Northern Sweden in ca. 1170–1280 AD and 1445–1635 AD, respectively. I will discuss how the lives of these reindeer were tangled with those of humans and other animals against a backdrop of changing social and economic environment, colonial contact between the Sámi and Scandinavian state powers, and reindeer domestication.

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"Most beautiful favorite reindeer" – Life histories of reindeer offered at Sámi offering sites in northern Fennoscandia. Anna-Kaisa Salmi. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429566)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -178.41; min lat: 62.104 ; max long: 178.77; max lat: 83.52 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14548

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America