Neolithic domestic goat found in Finland

Researchers found the first concrete evidence – fossilised hair in a soil sample – of a goat dated back to the Neolithic Corded Ware period in Finland. The find dates back to around 2800-2300 BC.

Scanning Electron Microscope image of the hair (by Krista Vajanto & Tuija Kirkinen)

The soil sample under investigation originated in a grave structure discovered in the 1930s in Kauhava, western Finland. The identification is based on images taken with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The fibres included in these images were identified on the basis of their structure, typical to goat hair. In the light of these new findings, it is reasonable to assume that domestic animals and a herder identity have constituted a significant part of the belief system of the Corded Ware culture. This interpretation is also supported by objects made of domestic animal bones and pottery that might have been used for storing and drinking milk found in Corded Ware graves.

In the field of Finnish archaeology, it has long been assumed that people kept domestic animals also during the Corded Ware period. This conclusion is based on the fact that during the period, people often lived in meadow environments suited to animal husbandry. Milk residues have also been found in Corded Ware pottery. According to Krista Vajanto of Aalto University Nanomicroscopy Center, the hairs found in the Corded Ware grave in Kauhava are the oldest animal hairs found in Finland and the first evidence of goats, and the finding proves that goats were known already at that early period as far up north as Finland.

(after EurekAlert!, Janne Ruokolainen, Marja Ahola, Krista Vajanto & Tuija Kirkinen)

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