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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences eTheses
Title: Casting No Shadow: Overlapping Soilscapes of European-Indigenous Interaction in Northern Sweden
Author(s): Green, Heather F.
Supervisor(s): Simpson, Ian
Keywords: soil
thin section
chemical analysis
magnetic susceptibility
cultural indicators
reindeer husbandry
hunter gatherer
Scanning Electron Microscope
Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The Sámi’s past activities have been documented historically from a European perspective, and more recently from an anthropological viewpoint, giving a generalised observation of the Sámi, during the study period of AD200-AD1800, as semi-nomadic hunter gatherers, with several theories suggesting that interaction with Europeans, through trade, led to the adoption of European activities by certain groups of the Sámi (Eiermann, 1923; Paine, 1957; Manker and Vorren, 1962; Bratrein, 1981; Mathiesen et al, 1981; Meriot, 1984). However, there is almost no information on the impact the Sámi had on the landscape, either before or after any adoption of European activities, and none investigating what cultural footprint or indicators would remain from Sámi or European occupation and/or activity within the typically podzolic soils of Northern Sweden. Consequently the thesis aims to contribute to the gap in knowledge through the formation of a podzol model identifying the links between anthropogenic activity and the alteration of podzol soils, and through the creation of soils based models which identify the cultural indicators associated with both Sámi and European activity; formed from the identification of cultural indicators retained within known Sámi and European sites. The methods used to obtain the information needed to achieve this were the pH and magnetic susceptibility from bulk soil samples and micromorphological and chemical analysis of thin section slides through the use of standard microscopy and X-ray fluorescence from a scanning electron microscope. The analysis revealed that the Sámi had an extremely low impact on the landscape, leaving hard to detect cultural indicators related to reindeer herding in the form of reindeer faecal material with corresponding phosphorous peaks in the thin section slides. The European footprint however, was markedly different and very visible even within the acidic soil environment. The European indicators were cultivation based and included phosphorous and aluminium peaks as well as a deepened, highly homogenised plaggen style anthropogenic topsoil rich in ‘added’ materials. An abandoned European site which visibly and chemically shows the formation of a secondary albic horizon within the anthropogenic topsoil also provides an insight into the delicate balance of cultivated soil in northern Sweden, whilst reinforcing the outputs identified in the podzol model. Due to the almost invisible Sámi footprint on the landscape, areas of overlap were impossible to identify however, there was no evidence of the adoption of European cultivation activities at any of the Sámi sites investigated. The only known area of interaction between the two cultures was an official market place which had been a Sámi winter settlement prior to its use as a market site. This site showed none of the reindeer based Sámi indicators or the cultivation based European indicators, but did contain pottery fragments which could be linked to trade or occupation. Overall, the thesis reinforces the low impact expected of the semi-nomadic Sámi and sheds light on the underlying podzolic processes influencing the anthropogenically modified soils of Northern Sweden. The podzol model is reinforced by several findings throughout the thesis and the soils based cultural indicator models for both Sámi and European activity have been successfully tested against independent entomological and palynological data and therefore provide reliable reference material for future studies.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences
Biological and Environmental Sciences

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