The domestication of reindeer moved a thousand years into the past

On the Yamal Peninsula discovered the earliest evidence of domestication of reindeer — items harness the age of about two thousand years. According to modern Nenets reindeer herders interviewed by the researchers, these details were used to teach young animals to carry the sleigh. In an article for journal Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory , the authors notethat the discovery shifts the expected date of domestication of the reindeer for thousands of years in the past.

The lives of many peoples of the Arctic depends on the breeding of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). However, the history of domestication of this species remains poorly understood. According to the most popular hypothesis, the first reindeer began to tame the inhabitants of southern Siberia, which was inspired by the example of its neighbors — the Central Asian nomads who raised horses and cattle. It happened only about a thousand years ago. Then the herders gradually spread across the North of Eurasia.

This scenario is based on linguistic reconstructions, as well as the similarity between the harness deer and Central Asian horses. While archaeological and genetic evidence is too scarce, in order to use them to judge about the main stages of domestication of the reindeer.

In search of an answer to the question, when and where they were domesticated this species, a team of researchers led by Robert losey (Robert J. Losey) from the University of Alberta carefully studied the artifacts found at the ancient sanctuary of Ust-Poluy. This archaeological monument is located four kilometers from the modern Salekhard and applies to Ust-poluyskoe culture that existed from the fourth century BC to the second century of our era. In addition, the analysis included findings from the settlements Are VI and Tita Salle I.

Most detected objects were parts of the dog’s harness. However, some of these L-shaped parts of the antlers, according to the authors, was used to control the driving of the deer. To confirm this interpretation, the researchers turned to the Nenets are the current inhabitants of Yamal who continue to breed reindeer.

Modern herders identified unusual items age about two thousand years of the head harness, which is used to teach young deer pulling a sled. In addition, for continuous use, these elements are not suitable because they are too uncomfortable. According to the Nenets, once the deer will learn to listen to the person, parts of a harness is replaced with a more simple.

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