The impacts of Sámi reindeer herders and Nordic farmers on the boreal forest landscapes of northern Sweden (AD 1-2000): a palynological study

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

Palynological evidence suggests Nordic agriculturalist settlement in the coastal areas of Västerbotten from ~AD 500. Until then these lands had been inhabited by its native inhabitants: the Sámi (semi-nomadic reindeer hunters/herders). Contact started relatively friendly but increasing Nordic colonisation forced Sámi assimilation in Västerbotten by AD 1300, although they maintained their semi-nomadic lifestyle. To exercise more control over the Sámi, winter markets were erected during the 17th century, where the Sámi traded with Nordic settlers, but were also taxed and educated. Little is known about Sámi and Nordic co-existence outside of these market places, mainly due to a lack of archaeological evidence relating to Sámi activity. This thesis presents the results of high-resolution pollen analysis and radiocarbon dating, applied to establish the impact of both Sámi and Nordic land use in the regions surrounding three market towns. The addition of coprophilous fungal spores, microscopic charcoal and sedimentology successfully allowed the reconstruction of vegetation and land-use changes from AD 1-2000. Small-scale human impact in the boreal forests of northern Sweden can be traced if activity was local to the sampling location, a high temporal resolution and robust chronology are achievable: impacts at a Sámi reindeer herding pen are visible in the pollen record, but are most obvious in the coprophilous fungal spore record, making multi-decadal phases of use and abandonment distinguishable. In the Lycksele region coprophilous fungal spores also suggest a possible link to archaeological evidence of Sámi hunter-gatherers. Pollen of natural sea shore meadows in coastal Västerbotten are recorded as late as the Early Medieval Period. Unfortunately it is impossible to separate out an anthropogenic signal due to similar indicator taxa (Artemisia, Rumex-type, Chenopodiaceae and Poaceae)
Original languageEnglish
TypeThesis
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Farmers
  • Reindeer
  • Forests and forestry

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