Here be Reindeer: Geoarchaeological Approaches to the Transspecies Lifeworlds of the Sámi Reindeer Herder Camps on the Tundra


  • Oula Seitsonen
  • Natalia Égüez


In this paper we present ongoing geoarchaeological research of Sámi reindeer pastoralist campsites. The discussion is based on three case study sites situated at the Lake Gilbbesjávri region (Finland) in northern Sápmi. All the sites are historical-period reindeer herder camps, likely used as temporary summer encampments by the nomadic herders in the 17th–19th centuries. The sites were prospected with systematic soil sampling and geoarchaeological analyses, which have been previously successfully applied in the study of Sámi habitation sites on both intrasite and intra-dwelling levels. The changes in the soil phosphate, pH and electric conductivity values were analysed and interpreted based on ethnographic analogies. These allow insight into the outwardly invisible taskscapes and spatialities of the herders and their animals at the campsites. The different geoarchaeological factors highlight differing aspects of the use of space at the historical Sámi reindeer pastoralist campsites, such as potential reindeer corralling areas, and provide comparative material for the analyses of prehistoric Sámi hunter-gatherer-herder sites.