Biography of a horse from a 19th century site in Southern Finland

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Research on historical animal burials has concentrated on modern pet cemeteries, with a focus on investigating ideas of human-animal relationships, the afterlife and remembrance. In contrast, remains of farmed animals are often seen as waste, whose disposal is guided by hygiene instructions. During the project “Interdisciplinary research strategies of biological cultural heritage – surveying, archiving, analyzing and sharing historical DNA from Finnhorses” we investigated horse carcass treatment in rural communities during the 19th century in Sannais, Southern Finland. To this purpose excavations were undertaken in 2020 and 2021 in the forested vicinity of a manor known to have housed tens of horses at the turn of the 20th century.
Many of the horse remains lay exposed or were only slightly covered by sand. In this paper we present the life history of one of those horses, which was excavated almost completely and investigated through a multi-proxy approach, including osteology, paleopathology and genetics.
Although the horse was buried, the skeleton was not encountered in anatomical order but with disjointed elements. It is unclear whether this reflects the original deposition arrangement or stands as a results of the decomposition process.
The context of the burial in combination with severe pathological markers on the skeleton make this individual
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventAnimal Life Histories - University of Basel, Dept. of Environmental Sciences und Dept. of Art, Media and Philosophy, Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 17 Mar 202219 Mar 2022


ConferenceAnimal Life Histories

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • 413 Veterinary science

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