Gollevarre Revisited – Reindeer, Domestication and Pastoral Transformation
The Gollevarre complex near the River Tana in Finnmark, Norway, consists of 2,685 pitfalls and a campsite with the remains of 16 turf dwellings, all dated to the period 1200–
1650 CE. The enormous amount of reindeer bones at the campsite testifies to both largescale hunting and production of bone artefacts for a market. Why did this activity end
and did its termination have any connection with pastoral development which took place at the same time? These questions were addressed through an expedition to Gollevarre
by the archaeologists Sven Donald Hedman and Bjørnar Olsen, the biologist Knut Røed and the anthropologist Ivar Bjørklund. With the aid of 281 DNA samples from Gollevarre
and other sites in Finnmark, we concluded that a) the emergence of pastoralism did not depend on the domestication of wild reindeer, since b) there were no genetic relations
between the old stock of wild reindeer and the current stock of domesticated reindeer. Thus, the emergence of pastoralism in the 17th century seemed to be the result of the
import of domesticated animals. Alternatively, but so far without DNA-proven facts, the current stock might reflect an old, but small, population of domesticated reindeer kept for transport purposes.