Reindeer migration routes during the Late Glacial period: an interdisciplinary study
Dr. Mara-Julia Weber, Prof. Dr. Berit Eriksen, Prof. Dr. T. Douglas Price, Dr. John Meadows, Dr. Elena Nikulina, Dr. Ulrich Schmölcke
© Illustration: Bodil Bratlund
Some years ago, T. Douglas Price, Klaus Bokelmann and Anne Pike-Tay published a scientific article in which, for the first time, results were presented of analyses of strontium isotopes in Late Ice Age reindeer bones recovered from the localities of Stellmoor and Meiendorf (Price, T.D., Bokelmann, K., Pike-Tay, A.: Late Palaeolithic reindeer on the north European plain. In Z. Sulgostowska & A.J. Tomaszewski (eds.): Man – Millennia – Environment. Studies in honour of Romuald Schild, pp. 123-131, Warsaw 2008). As this pilot study produced promising results, and the Sr-isotope analyses demonstrated a potential to provide far-reaching insights into the migration behaviour of an animal species that was so very important to Late Ice Age people, consolidation and extension of these investigations is currently being carried out at the ZBSA. Against the background of the current general archaeological interpretation of Late Glacial cultures in Central and Western Europe, and using a combination of several methods, it is aimed to arrive at a precise reconstruction of the migration behaviour of the reindeer and of their environment. For this purpose, reindeer mandibles have been analysed for their strontium, carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in tooth enamel and their carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotope ratios in dentine and bone collagen. Radiocarbon dating and dental wear analysis have equally been applied to them, the latter also to further reindeer molars from the same sites. The synopsis of the results will benefit moreover from published isotope ratios on reindeer bone and newly obtained ones on horse bone. A second project line consists in aDNA analyses of reindeer teeth and antler.