Relations between man and reindeer – traces of reindeer herding


  • Kjell-Åke Aronsson


The transition from hunting and fishing to reindeer herding is one of the most important questions related to early Sami culture. Artifacts indicative of reindeer herding are very unusual as archaeological finds. The material remains of reindeer herding consist mainly of organic material, which is very sparsely preserved in the soil. Changes in settlement patterns and increasing frequencies of reindeer bones at dwelling sites have been used as indicators. However, the osteological reference material does not allow separating domesticated and wild reindeer.

Intrasite patterns related to the handling of reindeer bones may provide new information. This can be combined with a palaeobotanic survey of the impact of changing relations between man and reindeer on vegetation. This article presents new results from excavations in the mountain ridge of northern Sweden and discusses them in relation to more large-scale changes in socioeconomic relations.