About the Project

Domestication in Action project brings together researchers from various fields to create new methods and concepts for identification and interpretation of animal domestication, with a case study pertaining to reindeer domestication among the indigenous Sámi in northern Fennoscandia. In stead of traditional identification methods and definitions of domestication, we focus on interactions between humans and animals as markers of domestication. We will create methods for identification of human-reindeer interactions, such as draught use and feeding, in the archaeological record. The methodological package includes physical activity reconstruction through entheseal changes, pathological lesions and bone cross-sections, and analysis of stable isotopes as an indicator of animal diet. We also engage in participatory research among reindeer herders to understand human-reindeer interaction in the context of present-day racing reindeer training and racing. Finally, the methods and insights gained will  be applied to archaeological assemblages and the results will be checked against aDNA data to examine changing human-animal relationships among the Sámi.

The project is hosted at the University of Oulu and funded by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant 2017 756431) and the Academy of Finland (Project 308322).