Genetics and Osteology

Many local people distinguish animal breeds by their own criteria emphasising colour, behaviour, or stance.  It has recently been discovered that these active qualities can leave material traces.  One objective of the project is to conduct a series of sampling trials to identify biological markers that have been associated with reindeer coat colour, or with the geographic location that the animal was raised. These markers can then be used to shed light on the history of domestication archaeologically.

 
 

 Further, the history of relationships between humans and animals can often be read from animal bodies, with relationships of care or of exploitation being carved into skeletons.  Members of the project team will experiement with identifying stress-markers of harnessing or signs of healing within the skeletons of reindeer and dogs. Genetical research will be conducted primarily in the Russian Federation with domestic reindeer. Samples will be required, for example, from shedded antlers. Osteological research will be conducted predominantly in the Russian Federation and also in museums in Canada.