Have you ever wondered when reindeer were first domesticated?
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Photo by Robert Losey
The earliest archaeological evidence for domesticated reindeer use among the Sámi dates to the 14th century (Salmi et al. 2021) –
“The domestication of the reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) and the development of reindeer herding among the Sámi of Northern Fennoscandia was a gradual and regionally variable process, probably beginning in the Late Iron Age and intensifying in the 15th to 17th centuries AD. It has been suggested that early reindeer herding in Fennoscandia was small-scale and that reindeer herding was supplemented by other means of livelihood such as hunting, fishing, and gathering. This kind of mixed subsistence pattern prevailed among the Sámi of Northeastern Fennoscandia into the 17th century and later, when large-scale reindeer nomadic reindeer pastoralism had already been established as the basis of the economy and society of the Sámi in Western Fennoscandia.”