Dr Eve Rannamäe
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow



I studied archaeology from 2004 to 2016 at the University of Tartu, Estonia. My BA was about the closed find complexes in the Latest Iron Age inhumation cemeteries in northern and eastern Estonia. During MA studies I found a zooarchaeologist in me and completed a thesis on animal consumption in a medieval Estonian town Viljandi. My doctoral research brought me to the main interests I have now – archaeogenetics and sheep husbandry. I got my PhD with the Development of sheep populations in Estonia as indicated by archaeofaunal evidence and ancient mitochondrial DNA lineages from the Bronze Age to the Modern Period.


Selected publications

Selected publications

Rannamäe E. (2016) Development of sheep populations in Estonia as indicated by archaeofaunal evidence and ancient mitochondrial DNA lineages from the Bronze Age to the Modern Period. Dissertationes Archaeologiae Universitatis Taruensis 6. Tartu, Tartu University Press.

Rannamäe E., Lõugas L., Speller C.F., Valk H., Maldre L., Wilczyński J., Mikhailov A. ja Saarma U. (2016) Three thousand years of continuity in the maternal lineages of ancient sheep in Estonia. PLoS ONE 11(10), e0163676. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163676

Rannamäe E., Lõugas L., Niemi M., Kantanen J., Maldre L., Kadyrova N. & Saarma U. (2016) Maternal and paternal genetic diversity of ancient sheep in Estonia from the Bronze Age to the Post-Medieval Period, and comparison with other regions in Eurasia. Animal Genetics 47(2), 208–218. doi: 10.1111/age.12407

Oras E., Lang V., Rannamäe E., Varul L., Konsa M., Limbo-Simovart J., Vedru G., Laneman M., Malve M. & Price D.T. (2016) Tracing prehistoric migrations: Isotope analysis of Bronze and Pre-Roman Iron Age coastal burials in Estonia. Estonian Journal of Archaeology 20(1), 3−32. doi: 10.3176/arch.2016.1.01

Paavel K., Kimber A., Rannamäe E. ja Kriiska A. (2016) Investigations at Sõjamäe and Soodevahe cup-marked boulders and Late Neolithic / Iron Age settlement site at the south-eastern border of Tallinn. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2015, 47−58.

Laneman M., Lang V., Malve M. & Rannamäe E. (2015) New data on Jaani stone graves at Väo, northern Estonia. Estonian Journal of Archaeology 19(2), 110–137. doi: 10.3176/arch.2015.2.02

Niemi M., Bläuer A., Iso-Touru T., Harjula J., Nyström-Edmark V., Rannamäe E., Lõugas L., Sajantila A., Lidén K. & Taavitsainen J.-P. (2015) Temporal Fluctuation in North East Baltic Sea Region Cattle Population Revealed by Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosomal DNA Analyses. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0123821. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123821

Valk H. & Rannamäe E. (2015) Investigation of Late Iron Age occupation layers in Viljandi Castle park. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2014, 123−132.

Haak A. & Rannamäe E. (2014) Tracing the castle crew. (Zoo)archaeological search for the inhabitants of Viljandi castle (South Estonia) in the late 13th century. In: K. Predovnik (Ed.) Castrum Bene 12. Ljubljana, University of Ljubljana, 139–152.

Varul L. & Rannamäe E. (2014) Solving the Puzzle of a Bronze Age Stone-Cist Grave at Jõelähtme, Estonia. In: P. Krištuf, D. Novák, P. Tóth & D. Vokounová Franzeová (Eds.) Student Archaeology in Europe 2014. Pilsen, University of West Bohemia, 152−161.

Rannamäe E. & Valk H. (2013) Spatial and Temporal Aspects of Animal Utilization in zooarchaeological Material: Preliminary Data from Viljandi, Medieval Livonia. In: A. Pluskowski, A. Brown, M. Stančikaitė & L. Daugnora (Eds.) Archaeologia Baltica 20. Klaipėda, Klaipėda University, 47–58.

Valk H., Rannamäe E., Brown A.D., Pluskowski A., Badura M. & Lõugas L. (2013) Thirteenth century cultural deposits at the castle of the Teutonic Order in Karksi. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2012, 73−92.

Haak A., Rannamäe E., Luik H. & Maldre L. (2012) Worked and unworked bone from the Viljandi castle of the Livonian Order (13th–16th centuries). In: L. Kurila (Ed.) Lietuvos Archeologija 38. Vilnius, Lietuvos istorijos institutes, 295–338.

Valk H., Kama P., Olli M. & Rannamäe E. (2012) 2012 Excavations on the hill forts of south-eastern Estonia: Kõivuküla, Märdi, Truuta and Aakre. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2011, 27−46.

Valk H., Pluskowski A., Brown A.D., Rannamäe E., Malve M. & Varul L. (2012) The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Karksi: preliminary Excavation results. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2011, 47−56.

Valk H., Juurik R. & Rannamäe E. (2009) Excavations on the hill forts of southern Estonia: Vareste, Erumäe and Tilleoru. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2008, 82−95.

Smirnova M., Rannamäe E., Roog R. & Valk H. (2008) New archaeological data from the ski-jumping hill in Viljandi. Archaeological Fieldwork in Estonia / Arheoloogilised välitööd Eestis 2007, 59−64.



My main research area currently are sheep (Ovis aries) – their biology, history, husbandry and role in human culture.

But not only – in general I’m also very much interested in osteology and I always enjoy analysing faunal assemblages. I’ve mostly dealt with animal consumption and utilization in the Late Iron Age and Middle Ages, focusing on the effect that the Crusades (in Estonia AD 13th c.) had on animal husbandry and on environment in general.

Ritualism/religion and bioarchaeology is another topic I have myself acquainted with, as I’ve analysed animal tooth and bone pendants and how they might reflect the changes in worldview from the Mesolithics to the Middle Ages in Estonia.

I’m also trying to find my way in animal paleopathology. With colleagues from veterinary, I have started by investigating traumas on horses in order to study the human-animal relationships in medieval society. But I’m interested in getting to know more of animal diseases and welfare, especially sheep.

My interests and hopefully future research involve also environmental history and conservation biology (I'm fascinated about a fact to study past populations in order to help in the management of the extant ones), domestication (the spread of domesticates into north-eastern part of Europe), the use of literary and art historical sources in the studies of past animal populations and husbandry, and many more.


OVinE – Ovine origins and diversity in north-eastern Europe (2017–2019) – a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funded individual fellowship, where by applying methods from zooarchaeology and ancient genomics, and by complementing the gained data with historical sources, I aim to document the introduction, spread, and development of domestic sheep in north-eastern Europe. OVinE will firstly, clarify the timing and origins of the first sheep in the study region; secondly, decipher the development and improvement of sheep populations, but also their husbandry and exploitation from the Late Neolithic (c. 3000–1800BC) through to the Modern period (c. AD1800–1950); and thirdly, clarify the affinities between ancient sheep populations and local indigenous breeds in Estonia.

Other running projects

Institutional Research Funding IUT20-7 project Estonia in Circum-Baltic space: archaeology of economic, social, and cultural processes, principal investigator Valter Lang, University of Tartu, Estonia, 2014–2019. My role: research staff.

Bilateral exchange program of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and Polish Academy of Sciences Studies of zooarchaeological evidence of Estonian and Polish archaeological sites – continuation, researchers in charge Piotr Wojtal, Polish Academy of Science, Poland and Lembi Lõugas, Tallinn University, Estonia, 2016–2018. My role: research staff.

The Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences NOS-HS workshop grant DAVA: Domestic Animals in the Viking Age. Migration, trade, environmental adaptation and the potential of multidisciplinary studies, principal investigator Juha Kantanen, Itä-Suomen Yliopisto, Finland, 2016–2017. My role: research staff.

European Union COST Action Oceans Past Platform (OPP), 2014–2018. My role: research staff, member of Working Group 2 (Coastal settlements).





Dr Sara Perry

External activities


Member of EAA (European Association of Archaeologists) and ICAZ (International Council for Archaeozoology).













Contact details

Dr Eve Rannamäe
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow
Environment Building
University of York
YO10 5DD