Major ERC funding for reindeer domestication research

Academy Research Fellow Anna-Kaisa Salmi from the University of Oulu has received major funding from the European Research Council (ERC) for research on animal domestication. The 5-year ERC Starting Grant funding is worth 1.49 million euros.

Salmi’s research is seeking new methods of researching animal domestication, with reindeer domestication used as an example in this particular study. The funding period starts at the beginning of 2018.

Anna-Kaisa Salmi is an archaeologist who focuses on archaeological research on the relationships between humans and animals. Salmi has specialised in animal osteology and especially on historical archaeology and Arctic archaeology.

The goal of Salmi’s ERC project is to find new methods for researching reindeer domestication. ‘We don’t have enough good methods available for researching reindeer domestication, and this project is trying to meet that need. The reindeer is an unusual animal in that the markers we currently use to study the domestication of other animals don’t work with reindeer because they are free-ranging and humans have a limited impact on their lives,’ explains Salmi.

The project has done preliminary development work on methods that can be used to identify the use and feeding of draught animals from archaeological bone material. Salmi is applying the new methods to research material consisting of animal bone material found at archaeological sites.

According to Salmi, reindeer domestication can serve as a model for the early stages of domestication of other animals. The methods developed in the project can also be used to identify the early stages of domestication in other animal species. According to the researcher, this type of transferable methodology is valuable and it also has an important impact on obtaining funding. Some of the methods are completely new.

Another aim of the project is to gain a broad understanding of what people think of animals. ‘The project focuses on the interaction between humans and animals, in other words, the equality of people and animals and the fact that people do not take a controlling position above the animal.’

Anna-Kaisa Salmi has researched Arctic domestication at the University of Oulu and in an ERC project at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland in 2014–2016. She is also currently involved in an Academy of Finland research project called Human-Environmental Relationships in the Colonial Contact (2016–2021).

Salmi will use this ERC funding to establish a five-person research group that requires expertise from several different fields, such as osteology, stable isotope analysis and genetics.

The funding was granted by a European Union programme that encourages researchers who have already demonstrated their ability to implement bold openings in their field of science. ERC Starting Grants are intended for researchers in the early stages of their career.



Last updated: 20.11.2017