Little Owl in Sweden: An Iron Age gift, pet, or amulet?

Little Owl in Sweden: An Iron Age gift, pet, or amulet?

The article Little Owl in Sweden: An Iron Age gift, pet, or amulet? by Ingvar Svanberg and Sabira Ståhlberg was published in Svenska Linnésällskapets Årsskrift (SLÅ) 2023.

A small bone was found in 2003 during archaeological excavations near Old Uppsala church in Uppland province, central Sweden. It was identified as a quadrate, part of the lower jaw of a Little Owl, Athene noctua (Scopoli, 1769).

This unexpected find was dated back to the Pre-Roman Iron Age, and it is globally the northernmost documented occurrence of the species. The Little Owl, also called Owl of Athena or her Roman counterpart Minerva, is not a native breeding species in Sweden and has only occasionally been spotted here. How did this owl bone end up in the centre of the Uppland province centuries before our era?