Migration and integration on the Baltic island of Öland in the Iron Age

Helene Wilhelmson, Douglas T. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores a bi-isotopic approach to migration, adding δ18O values to samples with 87Sr/86Sr values for 109 individuals from the Iron Age (500 BCE–1050 CE) on the island of Öland, Sweden. Determining a local baseline for 87Sr/86Sr was complicated due to the wide range of variation in faunal samples so we divided the human values into three groups: local, non-local and undetermined. The addition of δ18O isotopes allowed identifying further non locals than the data from the 87Sr/86Sr alone provided. We found significant migration rates in both the Early period (500 BCE–400 CE) with 30% non-locals and in the Late (400–1050 CE), more than doubling to 68%. In both periods the non-locals appear to have diverse geographical origins. In order to study integration and migration patterns we use a bioarchaeological approach to these non cremated individuals who come from all types of contexts, i.e. not just burials. This allows discussing the cultural and social integration of non-locals. Integration is apparent in both periods and in the Late period, with a higher proportion of non-locals, there is both integration and diversity. The proportion of female non-locals suggest a mobility in both periods, especially the Late, that is relatively large. Our results of diverse non-local origins, female mobility and integration on Öland throughout the Iron Age add a new perspective, a Scandinavian multi-isotopic bioarchaeological perspective, to current discussions of Viking movement and expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Bioarchaeology
  • Isotopes
  • Migration
  • Oxygen
  • Strontium


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