Becoming Modern: Hybrid Foodways in Early Modern Tornio, Northern Finland
This paper focuses on foodways in a small town in northern Finland between 1621 and 1800 CE. Tornio was founded in 1621in northern Finland, at that time a part of the Swedish kingdom. Tornio was a dynamic town where people of different ethnic origins came together, forming a new urban community and new urban foodways. Archaeological remains of the town’s foodways—animal remains, macrofossils, and ceramics—suggest that the food culture of Tornio was a hybrid of local indigenous and rural traditions and international fashions. The foodways underwent significant changes in the 18th century. The changes were related to modernization and changing human-environmental relationships.
KeywordsFoodways Hybridization Colonial contact Finland
1621 on the European periphery by the order of the King of Sweden, at a time and a place when the traditional agrarian ways of life, the indigenous Sámi culture, and modernizing European culture were interacting to form a new way of being urban. Tornio was situated in the periphery; it was the northernmost town of Europe in the early modern period, and the economy and the subsistence of its inhabitants still relied heavily on utilization of wild resources (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 49–50; Puputti 2008; Ranta 1981, pp. 53–57). Tornio was an extremely small town, with only a few hundred inhabitants, and its appearance and modes of subsistence remained agrarian in character until the eighteenth century (Almqvist 1949, p. 372; Herva et al. 2012; Mäntylä 1971; Puputti 2008; Ylimaunu 2007). Nevertheless, Tornio was a politico-commercial center during the era. The town, despite its agrarian appearance and small size, was also connected to a vast network of trade relationships, both in northern and southern directions, and was the springboard for new ideological and economical currents in northern Finland (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 46–50).
Early modern northern Sweden was an ethnically diverse and dynamic place. The Sámi, the indigenous people of northern Fennoscandia, traditionally subsided by hunting, gathering and reindeer husbandry. From the medieval period onwards, northern Fennoscandia was an object of interest to Sweden, Denmark and Russia. The relations between Sweden and the indigenous Sámi are best described as colonialism, although milder terms such as internal colonialism are sometimes suggested, especially for the early modern period when the northern areas were already formally a part of the kingdom (Lindmark 2013; Nurmi 2009). The Swedish crown aimed to strengthen its power in the north by taxation of the native population and establishment of the Christian Church, as well as by encouraging the establishment of agrarian settlements and a general policy of “civilizing” the natives by encouraging them to embrace Swedish culture (Kylli 2012; Lindmark 2013; Nurmi 2009; Vahtola 1991; Wallerström 1995). In addition to the Sámi, the population of seventeenth-century northern Finland consisted primarily of Finnish- and Swedish-speaking agrarian peoples. There were also people of German Hansa origin, especially in the town of Oulu some two hundred kilometers south of Tornio (Vahtola 1991). Peoples of Carelian/Russian origin may also have inhabited the region (Vahtola 1991). According to the fragmentary historical record, the population of the newly founded Tornio consisted of peoples from both northern and southern areas of the Swedish kingdom (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 33–36). The presence of Sámi people in Tornio is also possible, as the local agrarian community seems to have included numerous families of Sámi origin (Nurmi 2009; Vahtola 1991). Thus, the colonial situation and ethnic variety of the region were reflected in the population of early Tornio; it engendered a dynamic town with people of different geographic origins coming together, forming a new urban community and negotiating their identities in relation to others.
In this paper, we concentrate on the foodways of early modern Tornio between 1621 and 1800 CE. We analyze several archaeological sources that evidence foodways: faunal remains, macrofossils, and ceramics. Tornio, like northern Finland in general, had distinctly local food cultural features, many of which can be traced through the archaeological record. The urban center attracted visitors and tradesmen from foreign ports, and international fashions of food culture as well as other related aspects became known and available to the people of Tornio. In this study, we focus especially on the interplay of the different local food cultural traditions and the international fashions that infiltrated the town. We discuss the changing foodways especially in the frameworks of hybridization and increasing modernization. By modernization of foodways we mean essentially the effects of emerging capitalism, industrialization, rationalization and colonialism, growing urbanization, and the constant change that are understood to be at the core of modernity (Orser 1996, pp. 86–87; Thomas 2004, p. 3) with respect to foodways (cf. Amundsen 2011; Cabak and Loring 2000; Zierden and Reitz 2009). We maintain that studying the formation of foodways in places like Tornio can provide an insight into cultural contacts, and their interplay with material culture, in the early modern period, and can illuminate aspects of identity formation and colonial encounters in the globalizing world (cf. Cusick 2000; Lightfoot and Martinez 1995; Silliman 2005).
Archaeological Sites and Samples
The founding of Tornio in 1621 was an outcome of an urbanization boom that took place in seventeenth-century Sweden, a part of that country’s efforts to increase its power and wealth and control over the northern trade (Herva et al. 2012; Ranta 1981). Several towns, including Tornio and Oulu in present-day Finland, were founded at the site of earlier medieval marketplaces (Herva et al. 2012). The new towns were small and agrarian in character, which was typical of early modern Sweden where small towns typically had only a few hundred inhabitants; were immediately surrounded by agrarian landscape; and featured agrarian characteristics such as vegetable gardens, animal shelters and livestock (Herva et al. 2012; Lilja 1995, pp. 50–51).
This study is based on archaeological finds from the Keskikatu, Westring, Govenius, Rukoushuone, Aspio and Välikatu excavations in Tornio (see Fig. 1), dating to 1621–1800. Several archaeological excavations, mostly small-scale and small-budget rescue excavations, have been conducted in Tornio since the 1960s (Ylimaunu 2007). These excavations have mainly taken place in the central and southern parts of the town, primarily along Keskikatu Street.
The Keskikatu excavations have focused on two modern-day plots that correspond roughly to seven plots of the early modern town. All the descriptions and dates of features encountered in the Keskikatu excavations are from the reports of Herva (2003) and Nurmi (2005a). The archaeological contexts were dated with the aid of stratigraphy and typological analyses of the finds (Nurmi 2005). In excavation Area 1, the remains of two buildings, yard deposits, and pit fillings were studied. The building in the center of the area was interpreted as a residential building dating to the first half of the seventeenth century. In excavation Area 2, building remains, a timber-covered yard, three pits, and the remains of a timber-constructed cellar dating to the eighteenth century were found. In excavation Area 3, the remains of a building and two pits were studied. Also, a timber-covered ditch, probably a sewer, once ran through the excavation area. The building was interpreted as a residential building that dates to the beginning of the seventeenth century. In excavation Area 5, the remains of a residential building, with two rooms, a roofed pathway, two small cellar pits and a fireplace, were studied. The structure probably had two phases of construction and use, dated to 1620–50 and 1660–80, respectively. In the western part of the excavation area, the remains of a lightly built wooden building, dating to the latter half of the seventeenth century, were discovered. A large yard deposit was also excavated. In excavation Area 6, the remains of a rather large residential building which dates to the early seventeenth century were excavated. It is probable that excavation Area 6 has had two or three building stages. Additionally, the remains of a building were excavated in Area 8.
In the Westring excavations, a large area was opened, although only about 30 m2 of the total 100 m2 were properly studied (Ylimaunu 2007). The remains of buildings, possibly a smithy and a granary, and a sewer were found in this excavation (Ylimaunu 2000, 2007).
The Aspio excavations concentrated on building remains from the seventeenth century. One of the buildings was possibly an animal shelter (Ylimaunu 2007, p. 18). Remains interpreted as a scullery were also found (Nurmi 2011, p. 36).
In the Rukoushuone plot, excavations revealed the remains of two residential buildings, dating to the eighteenth century and late-eighteenth century to twentieth century, respectively, as well as a wooden cellar and the remains of a storage building, both probably dating to the eighteenth century (Nurmi 2011, pp. 39–49).
The Govenius excavations concentrated on two cellars dating to the mid-eighteenth century and late-eighteenth century, respectively (Nurmi 2011, p. 42).
At the Välikatu excavation, the remains of an eighteenth-century building were discovered (Nurmi, 2005b).
The animal bone material used in this study derives from the Keskikatu, Westring and Välikatu excavations. The material originates from different types of archaeological contexts: earth fill layers, refuse pits, and underfloor deposits. The material consists of 12,271 bone fragments weighing ca. 150 kg. Most of the material (95 %) was unburned. The bone material was in relatively good preservation condition with little or no surface erosion of bones. There was very little carnivore or rodent tooth-marks on the bones. However, the bones of large mammals in particular had been broken to extract the marrow. The breakage was analyzed and freshly broken bones identified according to the criteria of Villa and Mahieu (1990) and Outram (1999), and broken diaphysis and epiphyses were both recorded. Species identification was based on the comparative skeletal collection of the zoological museum at the University of Oulu. Reindeer subspecies identification was based on discriminant analysis of skeletal measurements (Puputti and Niskanen 2009). A detailed analysis of the animal bone material and description of methods can be found in Puputti (2010).
The plant foods were analyzed with the aid of macrofossil analysis. During summer 2010 a plot in Tornio at Keskikatu 12 was excavated (Hyttinen 2011). The studied households represented the late seventeenth century and eighteenth century. The plot belonged to a burgher named Anders Murberg and later to Carl Wipo, another burgher (Tamelander 1941). Altogether 18 soil samples weighing 200–2,000 g were taken from different deposits. The sampled deposits consisted of compost heaps, ditches and building remains. Soil samples were water-floated and the float was sifted (0.125 mm) to separate the seeds from fine debris. The organic matter was examined under a stereo microscope (Leica S4E, 6.3–30× magnification). The fossils were identified with the help of the collections of the University of Oulu Department of Biology and the Environmental Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Umeå. In addition, literature (Hämet-Ahti et al. 1998; Hiitonen and Kurtto 2002; Väre et al. 2005) was consulted. In addition to macrofossil analysis, pollen analysis (Alenius 2011) and insect fossil analysis have also been undertaken (Tranberg 2011); the results of these analyses are used as a comparison to the macrofossil finds.
Table setting and food storage and preparation were examined by analyzing the remains of ceramic and glass vessels and cutlery. The red earthenware ceramic material used in this study derives from the Keskikatu excavations and consists of 747 ceramic vessels that can be identified as being used for serving or preservation purposes. The assemblage consists of 203 rim sherds, 471 wall sherds, 115 base sherds and 28 handles, weighing approximately 18 kg. These ceramics date from the period 1620–1720. A more detailed analysis of the material can be found in Pääkkönen (2006). The faience and majolica assemblages consist of 926 fragments that weigh approximately 3.45 kg. White earthenware material also included 142 fragments (440 g) of industrial stoneware and 46 fragments (130 g) of porcelain. The third group of ceramic vessels in the research assemblage is stoneware, which comprises 150 sherds weighting 1.25 kg. The glass vessel assemblage consists of 768 pieces of various drinking vessels that weigh 1.25 kg and 709 pieces of bottle glass sherds weighting 7.5 kg. A detailed analysis can be found in Nurmi (2011).
Faunal Assemblage: Meat and Dairy Consumption
The analysis of the faunal assemblage revealed some distinctly local features in the food culture of Tornio. Here we focus especially on consumption of reindeer and game, marrow consumption, dairy production and fish consumption. Bones of wild animals are very common in archaeological assemblages from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century northern Finland and Sweden, in contrast with the central and southern parts of the Swedish kingdom (Salmi 2011). The percentage of wild animal bones in the seventeenth-century assemblage from Tornio was also very high, ca. 30 % of NISP, and even 70 % of MNI and meat weight (Salmi in press).
Faunal assemblages dating to 1621–1660, 1650–1721, and 1721–1800 AD. Numbers of identified specimens (NISP)
Ovis aries/Capra hircus
Sus scrofa domesticus
Willow grouse/rock ptarmigan
Lesser white-fronted goose
Waterfowl, such as geese (Anser sp.), whooper swans (Cygnus cygnus), Anas species and Mergus species were consumed especially in the seventeenth century, while they are rare in the eighteenth-century deposits. The percentage of wild animal bones was less than 15 % in the eighteenth-century deposits, whereas their percentage was around 30 % in the early seventeenth-century assemblages. The number of hunted species also decreased from 21 in the early seventeenth century to 11 in the eighteenth century (Puputti 2008, 2009).
Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) meat was commonly consumed in early modern northern Finland and reindeer bones are frequent finds in faunal assemblages from the area (Salmi 2011). In the faunal assemblage from Tornio, ca. 5 % of the domestic animal bones belonged to reindeer (see Table 1). The reindeer bones from Tornio seem to originate mostly from semi-domesticated reindeer (R.t.fennicus), with a few fragments from wild forest reindeer (R.t.fennicus) (subspecies identification was based on multivariate analysis of long bone measurements, see Puputti and Niskanen 2009). The consumption of reindeer, especially the semi-domesticated kind, suggests influences from and connections to the Sámi. The reindeer was domesticated by the Sámi in the medieval period, and reindeer husbandry became increasingly common from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries onwards, being in full swing in the seventeenth century (Bjørnstad et al. 2012; Mulk 2009; Sommerseth 2006; Wallerström 2000). In Tornio, it is known that the wealthiest merchants owned small herds of reindeer (Mäntylä 1971, p. 109). They were used as draught animals in trade journeys to the northern marketplaces where the merchants traded with the Sámi in the wintertime. During the summer months, the animals were placed in the care of (usually Sámi) reindeer keepers (Mäntylä 1971, p. 109).
All the reindeer bone epiphyses found in Tornio were fused, which indicates that mainly older animals were consumed for food. All the body parts of reindeer were present in the animal bone assemblage, suggesting an emphasis on local butchery (Puputti 2010). The humerus was, however, overrepresented in the assemblage in comparison with other anatomical elements, which may suggest a trade in reindeer meat (Puputti 2010). This suggestion is backed by the observation of Lahti (2006) who noticed that reindeer humeri were underrepresented in animal bone assemblages from two marketplaces where the merchants of Tornio traded with the Sámi, and argued that the Sámi may have sold the better meat cuts to merchants visiting the marketplaces.
The most common domestic species identified was cattle (Bos taurus) (ca. 60 % of NISP) (see Table 1). The age profiles of cattle indicate that mostly old dairy cows were slaughtered for meat in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There are also indications that ca. two-year old bulls were slaughtered for food. (Puputti 2010, pp. 18–20) The cattle age profiles thus indicate that dairy production was important in Tornio, and we know from historical records that dairy production was commercially important in northern Finland, and that butter was exported (Virrankoski 1973, p. 239). Unripened cheeses made of cow’s milk were also produced, as was sour milk (Vuorela 1975, pp. 263–265, 265–270, 1976, pp. 112–113). Pork consumption was relatively low in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as 5–11 % of faunal remains belonged to pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) (see Table 1). Mutton was consumed more than pork, ca. 18–28 % of the assemblages being ovicaprid (Ovis aries/Capra hircus) bones (see Table 1).
It has been claimed, based on historical records, that fish had an important role in folk food culture in Finland and in Tornio as well (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 121–122; Vuorela 1975, pp. 239–242). In Tornio, salmon could be found in abundance in the Tornionjoki River (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 121–122). In the archaeological deposits from Tornio, fish bones were found in small quantities. The lack of sieving in most excavations, together with the poor preservation of fragile fish bones, has probably led to an underrepresentation of fish bones in the archaeological assemblages. Among the taxa identified from Tornio were salmon (Salmo salar), Salmonidae, and Cyprinidae (see Table 1).
Macrofossils in soil samples
Plant remains/sample no.: stratum
food, spice, medicine, tobacco substitute
animal food substitute
Rubus idaeus (charred)
Many of the plant species encountered in the soil samples were used as spices, herbal infusions and medicines in northern Finland, making it difficult to draw a distinction between uses. For instance, juniper (Juniperus communis) and field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) were used as spices (Klemettilä and Jaakola 2011; von Linné 1969, 1991). Bride-wort (Filipendula ulmaria), lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla) and marsh woundwort were used as medicine. Some local wild plants were used in Finland as substitutes for medicinal plants commonly in use in central Europe. For instance—due to translation error, where the original texts of C. Plinius Secundus and Isaac Judaeus were mistranslated—myrtle was substituted for bog myrtle (Myrica gale). Bog myrtle is a local medicinal plant and therefore easily accessible (Ruoff 2002). Marsh Labrador tea was also used as a substitute for myrtle because of its similar appearance (Ruoff 2002). Marsh woundwort was a local substitute for lousewort, wild hops and wood betony, as they have the same essential chemicals. It is possible that people used marsh woundwort as medicine in the fifteenth century (Häkkinen and Lempiäinen 2007, p. 63). Linné mentions that tansy was dried for medicine in almost every house in Tornio in the eighteenth century. Also wormwood was possibly used for some, possibly medicinal, purposes (von Linné 1991, p. 189). Herbal infusions were traditionally consumed in Finland (Hiitonen and Kurtto 2002) for alimentary and medicinal purposes alike. Juniper was also used to flavor beer and spirits. Therefore, the idea of brewed drinks was not entirely new when tea was introduced to Finland in the eighteenth century and infusions were very popular until the middle of the century (Klinge 2002, p. 38) Tea was simply a new plant species used in a familiar way. Edward Daniel Clarke (1838, p. 39) writes how he was offered flavored tea in Lapland. This tea was spiced with carnation and other spices.
Berry seeds, such as wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), raspberry (Rubus ideaus) and stone bramble (Rubus saxatilis) discovered in the soil samples relate to berry consumption. Historical and ethnographic evidence also suggests that the use of raspberry was common in northern Finland and Ostrobothnia (Klemettilä and Jaakola, 2011), and raspberry seeds are among the most commonly identified macrofossils in soil samples from northern Finland (e.g. Lempiäinen 2006; Tranberg 2012). The northern climate produced quantities of berries with high vitamin levels. Cloudberry and lingonberry were eaten as preserves or mashed. Bilberries were also picked and eaten. Berry picking was common among people in northern Finland, particularly among children and women. Some berries were also of economic importance. Cloudberry and arctic raspberry, for example, were picked and sold by the poor (Clarke 1838).
The plant fossil record indicates the possibility of herb (e.g. Mentha and Alchemilla) cultivation in the Murber/Wipo plot in the mid or late eighteenth century (see Table 2; also see Alenius 2011). Also, a Chrysomelidae Chrysolina beetle from a late eighteenth-century sample indicates herbs (Tranberg 2011). There were no remains of foreign garden plants in the soil samples, which suggests that there was no garden. It is known that actual gardens, which included also foreign trees and decorative plants, were not common in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century northern Finland (Tranberg 2011).
In addition to cultivating herbs in the town plots, the townsfolk of Tornio had access to land outside the town and therefore engaged in their own food production (Mäntylä 1971). It would be reasonable to assume that the turnips (Brassica rapa) observed in the soil samples (see Table 2) were cultivated in the fields outside the toll fence. According to historical sources, cabbage patches were common in Ostrobothnian towns in the seventeenth century, even though they were subject to license (Mäntylä 1971, p. 203). Rye (Secale cereale) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) were also cultivated locally (Virrankoski 1973, p. 194).
There are some indicators of imported food products in the macro fossil records. For instance, the granary weevil (Sitophilus granaries), found in a midden deposit dating to the late eighteenth century (Tranberg 2011), had probably arrived in Tornio in barrels of stored grain from Stockholm. This species was not a native species in the area at that time, nor is it at present. Also found were common fig (Ficus carica) and grape (Vitis vinifera) seeds, which point to import from Stockholm. The historical record suggests that imported goods, for instance spices and apples, became more common towards the end of the seventeenth century in Tornio (Mäntylä 1971, p. 49). Grape and fig were common import foods already in the early seventeenth century (Mäntylä 1971).
The historical record indicates that plant food consumption patterns changed toward the eighteenth century with emerging garden cultivation and increasing variety of vegetables (Mäntylä 1971, p. 412). Several new species were introduced, including hemp and several herbs, but only some of them, like potato, were successful in the northern climate. Some people, mostly wealthy merchants, established gardens in empty plots and cultivated new vegetables such as potato, lettuce, beetroot, parsnip and cucumber, thus introducing new varieties of vegetables to the urban diet in the eighteenth century (Mäntylä 1971, p. 412). There appears to have been a formal garden near Tornio relatively early on, already in 1736 (Outhier 1975, pp. 120–121). It was situated on farmland to the east of the town. This farm, Närä, was owned by the town’s mayor, Petter Pipping (Outhier 1975, p. 52). Outhier’s map from 1736 does not specify whether this was a kitchen garden or an orchard, however. In 1782 there were definitely two orchards within the town. Apple and pear trees grew in this orchard (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 411–412). Clarke (1838) wrote that in 1799 the townsfolk grew potato, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, tobacco, lettuce, beetroot, and parsnip in Tornio.
The bourgeoisie table settings would have included sets of pewter and silver vessels (Tamelander 1941). None of these, naturally, ever ended up in the archeological contexts. It is most likely, though it is not found archaeologically, that pewter, if not silver, was commonly used and was a badge of status. Silver and pewter were easily recyclable and their value as metals promoted the practice. Silver, at least, was clearly considered an investment rather than a material of everyday items in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Sweden. The probate inventories of Tornio show a clear increase in the number of silver artifacts among town burghers during the eighteenth century (Mäntylä 1993, pp. 207–208; Nurmi 2007 p. 161). This naturally skews any consideration of table settings. Cast metals that preserve monetary value, in general, did not end up in archeological contexts, but were passed on to following generations and/or continued their life with a new form and function.
The ceramic assemblage of Tornio indicates clearly that the community was familiar with the use of period tableware right from the inception of the town. Various ceramic types are common even in the oldest dated contexts from the first half of the seventeenth century. This indicates that before they became the first merchants of Tornio the early seventeenth-century rural peasant population in lower Tornionjoki River region had already assimilated quite modern habits of the ceramic use. This was not necessarily the norm in northern Scandinavia at the time. For example, the excavation results from the nearby Kemijoki River region show drastic differences in the adaptation of ceramics. Data from the site of Ylikylä, near the present-day town of Rovaniemi (Paavola 1984), shows that the common use of ceramic vessels began there as late as the nineteenth century (Nurmi 2011, pp. 92-93).
Red earthenware rim diameters, numbers of small bowls and numbers of rim types
Mean dish rim diameter (cm)
Mean bowl rim diameter (cm)
N of small bowls (diam. < 15 cm)
N of dish and bowl rim types
On the other hand, mean bowl rim diameters decreased from 20 cm to 17 cm in the seventeenth century but increased again to 21 cm in the eighteenth century, and the number of small bowls decreases towards the eighteenth century. The number of bowl and dish rim types also decreases towards the eighteenth century (see Table 3). Changes in ceramic assemblages often correlate with changes in food consumption (Deetz 1977, p. 50), and it has been argued that in eighteenth-century Scandinavia food became increasingly a dimension of social competition and people became more conscious about food presentation (Elfwendahl 1999, p. 143). The function of dishes is normally considered to be decorative (Augustsson 1985, p. 122), and dishes are more decorative than bowls, as they are used to serve and present food. Thus, the decreasing dish rim diameters and increasing bowl rim diameters, together with the decrease in bowl and dish rim types, may indicate that the presentation of the food itself rather than the decorative vessels became more important in Tornio.
The earliest white earthenware type in Tornio was Dutch polychrome or blue-on-white majolica (cf. Hurst et al. 1986, p. 120). The identified vessel forms are mostly large plates. The assemblage does, however, include also sherds from at least one jug commonly referred to as a “malling jug” (e.g., Hurst et al. 1986, pp. 126–127; Noël Hume 1977, p. 2). Majolica vessels are chiefly replaced by tin-glazed faience during the seventeenth century. The vessel forms, however, remain the same—large plates and some pieces of jugs. The amount of faiences increases in the assemblage particularly before the mid-eighteenth century. One significant factor for this is apparently the inception of a domestic Swedish faience industry after the Great Nordic War (see Rosén 2004, p. 246). During the mercantile peak of Sweden, from the 1720s to 1765, Dutch products are largely replaced with domestic ones. The style, and also the selection of vessel forms diversified. The faience period comes to an end soon after the mid-eighteenth century. The global hit product, English creamware, also found its way to the northern edges of urban Europe, and although it does not exactly wipe out the use of faiences, became a dominant ceramic type for tables in Tornio until the modern era (Mullins et al. 2013).
Whereas the quantity of wine bottle sherds is small, the proportion of wine glasses in the beverage glass assemblage is substantially higher. This indicates that vessels were used for a wide selection of beverages and not restricted to wine only. The most common beverage glass type in seventeenth-century Tornio was the octagonal stangenglass which was originally produced as a beer glass (e.g., Haggrén 2003, pp. 235, 2005, pp. 48–49). In general, the seventeenth-century beverage glass assemblage in Tornio includes various different imported glass types and typical period wine glasses, such as römers and legged beakers and even some sherds of façon de Venise goblets. By the mid-eighteenth century, the diversity of glass vessel diminishes. This does not indicate significant changes in drinking habits, but rather highlights possible changes in glass trade and production. The pretentious baroque style changed into a more moderate neoclassicism, and the rise of Swedish domestic glass production together with the strengthening mercantile policies also narrowed the selection of different vessel types in the kingdom (Nurmi 2011, p. 86).
Early modern Tornio was a place of many ethnic and cultural encounters, where the indigenous Sámi, Finnish- and Swedish-speaking agrarian and urban peoples, and possibly Carelians and Germans met in cohabitation, community building, trade, religious life, and other things. In such ethnically diverse colonial settings, cultural contact could take many forms and could occur through different levels of interaction and transactions (Comaroff and Comaroff 1997, p. 5). The encounters resulted in localized cultural forms and affected domestic practices such as diet (Comaroff and Comaroff 1997, p. 23). Colonial societies rarely remain discrete worlds but rather become integrated, hybridized totalities where all parties take influences from one another (Comaroff and Comaroff 1997, pp. 22–28, 125; Gosden 2004; Johnson 2006; Oliver 2010). The complicated nature of foodways in cultural contact and their connections to, for instance, ethnicity and class have been acknowledged in historical archaeology (e.g., Amundsen 2011; DeFrance 2003; Pavao-Zuckerman and Di Paolo Loren 2012). Attention has been paid to the complicated trade networks and urban-rural relationships that molded the urban food culture and local cuisines of colonial societies (e.g., Cabak and Loring 2000; Zierden and Reitz 2009), and it has been noted that local circumstances, the availability of goods for instance, forced people to create local hybridized solutions (DeFrance 2003; Pavao-Zuckerman and Di Paolo Loren 2012).
The exploration of foodways in northern Finland and in Tornio in particular has shown the existence of distinctly local features of food culture. Consumption of local wild resources was typical of the food culture of Tornio and northern Finland in general, in both rural and urban communities alike (Salmi 2011). There were no differences between urban and rural sites located in close proximity to each other, but it has been noted that game consumption was higher in the northernmost archaeological sites (Salmi 2011). Thus the food culture of Tornio did not differ from the local peasant eating customs in regard to the use of wild resources. Rather, the townsfolk were probably used to utilizing wild resources in their diet, because many of the townspeople originally came from local rural families. The importance of game meat and wild plants reflects the overall importance of wild resources in the subsistence economy of northern Finland; it has been estimated that wild resources, such as fish, furs, hides, feathers, timber and tar were the main exports from northern Finland during the medieval and early modern periods, while agriculture and especially grain cultivation were relatively unsuccessful in the demanding climate of northern Fennoscandia (Luukko 1954; Virrankoski 1973).
The Sámi influence on foodways in Tornio was especially apparent in the practices of marrow and reindeer consumption. Moreover, many spices and medicines used in Tornio were local plants used in ways familiar from other parts of Scandinavia and Central Europe. In addition to local wild and cultivated plants, people also consumed imported fruit and plant products. Therefore, it seems that the plant foods and drinks of Tornio were often hybrids of local and international influences. Archaeological remains of cooking and serving vessels and eating utensils revealed that trade contacts and changes in international trade influenced the availability of products in Tornio, but global and Scandinavian products and trends also found their way to Tornio. Although people in Tornio therefore had access to Scandinavian and Central European ceramics and other commodities, local preferences and habits, such as the use of local puukko knives, the rarity of forks, and the consumption of spirits rather than wines, apparently influenced the way European merchandises were used and adopted in Tornio. The analysis thus shows that foodways in Tornio were the result of a hybridization of local indigenous and agrarian traditions and international influences. The results emphasize the importance of hybridization of cultural forms and domestic practices in colonial encounters and also show how all parties in question, not only the colonized, were transformed in the process. The results also show how capitalism transformed consumption habits even in peripheral parts of the world, but also stress the importance of localized ways of understanding and using the new commodities.
The eighteenth century brought a significant change in the town’s local culture, including its foodways. In 1766, Tornio was granted privileges to trade directly with foreign ports, and trade blossomed in the latter half of the eighteenth century. There are several lines of evidence suggesting that a new urban lifestyle and identity were emerging in eighteenth-century Tornio. Archaeological investigations have revealed that whereas the organization of urban space in the early seventeenth century was open and village-like, during the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries urban space was reorganized as a new grid plan was designed and regularized and plots were enclosed after the European fashion (Mäntylä 1971; Ylimaunu 2007). It also became more common to paint town houses. The wealthiest people in Tornio had their houses painted in red ochre, whereas the houses of the urban poor and rural people were still typically unpainted (Mäntylä 1971, p. 443; Vuorela 1975, p. 421; Ylimaunu 2007). Inside the houses of the affluent, period furniture and paintings became more common than in the previous century (Mäntylä 1971, p. 508).
Historical records from the eighteenth century also provide evidence of a number of changes in the urban subsistence patterns and food culture in Tornio. In the eighteenth century, the number of cattle in the town decreased, the area of cultivated fields diminished, and the consumption of imported crops increased (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 264, 408–409). At the same time, the fishing activities of the townsfolk lost their former importance and the number of craftsmen in the town increased (Mäntylä 1971, pp. 248, 413). This suggests a shift towards less self-sufficiency in terms of farm production and a concurrent growth in urban specialization. It seems, however, that animals were still raised, mainly for milk and wool production, and there are no indications of a specialized butchery trade (Puputti 2008, 2010). As regards the zooarchaeological record, the most significant change is the decrease in the consumption of game meat. Animal husbandry also concentrates more clearly on cattle in the eighteenth century, as evidenced by the growing percentage of cattle bones in domestic animal bones (Puputti 2008, 2010). On the other hand, other features in the animal bone assemblage, for instance the bone-breakage patterns and slaughtering patterns, did not change at all in the eighteenth century (Puputti 2008, 2010). There also seem to have been changes in vegetable consumption, as the variety of vegetables that were consumed increased towards the end of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, and there was an increased interest in new plants species and gardening. The new interest in gardening and decreasing hunting were related to the new human-environmental relationships emerging in Europe. In the Age of Enlightenment, people started to see rational thinking and science as ways of controlling and improving nature, and a resulting interest in agricultural improvement also grew in northern Finland (Thomas 2004; Virrankoski 1973). The interest in gardening and experimentation with new varieties of vegetables in northern Finland was a manifestation of these trends. Similarly, the decrease in game consumption was connected to evolving ways of utilizing the environment and relating to it in the eighteenth century. Overhunting and habitat change due to expanding meadows and fields and changing forest use patterns, especially the result of the nascent tar and timber industries, may have affected the wild animal populations in northern Finland, especially from the 18th century onwards (e.g., Puputti 2009; Tegengren 1952, p. 42; Virrankoski 1973). The emerging tar and timber industries also led to the growth of a monetary valuation of the forests and well as a decrease in everyday engagement with the forest and its fauna (Åström 1978, pp. 122–126; Halila 1953, p. 172; Massa 1994; Puputti 2008, 2009); a procession that can be described as commodification of the forests and people’s growing alienation from wild animals and nature (Puputti 2008, 2009).
The changes in diet evidenced in early modern Tornio can also be interpreted in terms of a growing sophistication and modernization of food culture, as elaborate dishes, new varieties of vegetables and fresh foods became more common in the menus of festivities organized in eighteenth-century Tornio (Mäntylä, 1971, p. 508). Spanish and French wines, consumed already during the seventeenth century in Tornio, increased in variety (Mäntylä 1971, p. 508). The proportion of meat consumed began to resemble that of the southern towns of the Swedish kingdom and other areas of Europe, as domestic animal meat began to overshadow game meat. Surviving toll records, moreover, indicate that sugar consumption, mainly to make pastries and other sweet treats, increased in the eighteenth century, having been quite low earlier (Vilkama et al. 2013). The use of sugar grew especially in the latter half of the eighteenth century, and also the consumption of coffee grew and commodities such as waffle irons and doughnut pans begin to show up in probate inventories (Vilkama et al. 2013). Tea and coffee consumption became common, evidenced by tea sets and later, coffee sets, in the archaeological record. It is also possible, based on changes in red earthernware bowl and dish rim types and diameters, that the presentation of food gained more importance.
Thus it seems that the food culture of early modern Tornio became more sophisticated and modernized, as new commodities such as wines, sweet treats and new varieties of vegetables became more common. However, game was still commonly served, especially on festive occasions (Salmi in press), and some local traditions such as eating bone marrow and reindeer meat still persisted. When the changes in food culture in early modern Tornio are considered against this background, we see that in eighteenth-century Tornio new commodities and characteristics merged with local traditions, creating a unique hybrid way of eating in a northern urban center. Peripheral places like Tornio provide an excellent possibility to look at the complexities of colonial contact, cultural change and hybridization in multi-ethnic societies faced with the globalizing world of modernity. Local experiences of modernity expand our knowledge of the myriad ways of becoming modern in different localities.
The emergence of new localized cultural forms and hybridized practices is a common phenomenon in situations of cultural contact, and foodways are no exception. Foodways are a set of everyday practices that are tightly connected to ethnic identity. They are also tied to local resources and trade contacts, especially in the globalizing world of the early modern era. Thus studies of dynamics of foodways can illuminate aspects of identity formation, cultural change, ethnic contact, globalization and human-environmental relationships in the early modern world.
Early modern Tornio was a dynamic and changing town where people of different ethnic origins came together to form a novel urban community. People from different places and cultures brought cultural influences but also international novelties and fashions to Tornio via the town’s lively trade networks. The food culture of early modern Tornio was a hybrid one, as it was formed at the interface of the foodways prevailing in the local agrarian communities and different parts of the Swedish kingdom, the foodways of the indigenous Sámi people, and in connection with international fashions.
The table setting followed international fashions since the town’s beginnings, with some exceptions, although what was on the plate tended to be mostly of local origin and prepared in a local way. People used a wide array of local wild resources in indigenous ways but also in emulation of European customs. Comparison of the zooarchaeological assemblages shows that the urban foodways were similar to those in neighboring agrarian communities, and there were features from Sámi foodways. Thus, the food culture of Tornio was probably hybrid, a mix of the customs of peoples of agrarian, urban, and Sámi origin, to begin with.
In the eighteenth century, the foodways modernized to some degree in Tornio, as new gardening practices and new plant foods were adopted according to international fashions. The consumption of game meat decreased and meat consumption overall began to resemble that of other parts of Sweden. It is also possible that food acquired new social meanings. These changes were related to changes in social customs and a shift in human-environmental relationships that happened elsewhere in Europe as well. The persistent local food traditions, apparent in the archaeological material, together with new European fashions were the ingredients of the hybrid foodways in eighteeenth-century Tornio.
The writing of this paper was financially supported by the projects “Food and Identity in Medieval and Early Modern Urban Communities” and “Town, Border, and Material Culture,” funded by the Academy of Finland, and the National Graduate School in Archaeology. We also wish to thank the two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions on the earlier version of this paper.
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