Domestication in Action: Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction


Project description

The aim of the research is to create new methods and concepts for identification and interpretation of reindeer domestication among the Sámi of northern Fennoscandia. Archaeological identification of reindeer domestication is complicated due to the limited human control over reindeer’s life cycle in traditional reindeer husbandry, leading to difficulties in interpreting morphological and genetic data, as well as in using traditional concepts and definitions of domestication. As a novel approach, we propose a focus on interactional events between humans and animals. We will create methods aimed at identifying human-animal interactional events such as draught use and animal feeding. These methods will then be applied to archaeological reindeer bone finds to examine changing human-animal relationships among the indigenous Sámi. The new tools created in during the project will be relevant to domestication studies, human-animals studies, and colonial histories.

Project pages

Project videos

Introduction (in Finnish w/ English subtitles)

Research group (University of Oulu)

  • Anna-Kaisa Salmi, principal investigator
  • Markus Fjellström, postdoctoral researcher
  • Emily Hull, postdoctoral researcher
  • Sirpa Niinimäki, postdoctoral researcher
  • Maxime Pelletier, postdoctoral researcher
  • Oula Seitsonen, postdoctoral research
  • Matti Heino, doctoral student
  • Mathilde van den Berg, doctoral student

Project coordinator

University of Oulu


Co-funded by the Academy of Finland (400 000 euros).


Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Associate Professor, Academy Research Fellow