THE CHAIR OF ARCHAEOLOGY
The previous assessment of the archaeological science in Estonia
was made in 1992 by Prof. Mats Malmer (Stockholm). Then both the Chair
and the Kabinet of Archaeology at Tartu University had only been restored
and the respective work of studies and research had also only started.
Prof. Malmer warmly welcomed the establishment of another archaeological
research centre in addition to Tallinn - noting an excellent potentiality
of partnership between the two centres - and restoring the full professorship
at the university. Although he approved of the first steps taken,
he did not overlook the primitive equipment of the Chair and the Kabinet.
This self-assessment report shows what the Chair of Archaeology (in
the following: CA) and Kabinet of Archaeology (AK) of Tartu University
have achieved after ten years of development. This report is based
on individual accounts of the employees of the CA and AK, its preliminary
text was discussed at their joint meeting. This report is both in
Estonian and English on the Internet homepage
of the Chair of Archaeology.
|1. Consolidated data
1.1. A historical review of the Chair of Archaeology and the Kabinet of Archaeology
The Chair of Archaeology was opened at Tartu University in 1920. There were also the Kabinet of Archaeology, renamed as the Institute of Archaeology in 1939, and the Museum of Archaeology. Professors of archaeology were as follows: in 1920-1923 the Finnish archaeologist Aarne Micha?l Tallgren, in 1923-1925 the Swedish archaeologist Birger Nerman and in 1930-1950 Harri Moora (ordinary professor of archaeology since 1938).
During the period between the two world wars Tartu was the main Estonian centre of archaeological research, recognised also internationally. The decline of archaeology in Tartu began in 1947, when the assets, find collections, archives and the subject library were handed over to the newly established Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the ESSR. In 1950, in the course of the campaign against bourgeois nationalism, the CA was closed. At the beginning of the 1950s, the Institute of History together with archaeological collections, archives and other assets were taken from Tartu to Tallinn and the latter became the centre of all archaeological research in Estonia. Substantially, this was the end of archaeology as an individual speciality in Tartu and Tartu University - for a long time all that remained was a position for archaeology at the Chair of the History of the USSR, fulfilled by Associate Prof. Vilma Trummal.
In connection with the increase of rescue excavations in Tartu, the re-establishment of archaeology as an academic speciality in Tartu University was again placed on the agenda in the 1980s. In 1990 at Tartu University a laboratory of archaeology (manager Romeo Metsallik) was set up on whose basis the AK was founded in 1993. In 1992, after Estonian independence was restored, the CA was also restored. In 1990-1993 Evald Tõnisson worked as professor of archaeologyy, but when he retired as prof. emeritus, the Chair had no professorship for about six years. In 1994-1996, then a lecturer, Aivar Kriiska was the holder of the Chair and the lecturer Ain Mäesalu in 1997-1999. Beginning with September 1999 Valter Lang is working as ordinary professor, head of the Chair. Heiki Valk has been the head of the AK from its start.
Consequently, within the 1990s in Tartu University, archaeology began to be taught according to BA, MA, PhD programmes and researched on versatile and extensive levels. Along with the Department of Archaeology at the Institute of History in Tallinn, this CA and AK have been turned into another vigorous research centre in Estonia. On the other hand, the CA and AK form a unique institution in Estonia where a high-standard archaeological research is closely and harmoniously connected with the respective teaching; the department of archaeology of the Institute of History is barely a research institution. Naturally, from the very beginning the two research centres have enjoyed very close contacts and partnership that can be illustrated by a joint peer-reviewed journal "Eesti Arheoloogia Ajakiri / Journal of Estonian Archaeology" (issued from the year 1997, two numbers annually) and a series of research publications "Muinasaja teadus / Research into Ancient Times" (issued from the year 1991) as well as numerous joint research projects.
Proceeding from the fact that the CA and the AK have to carry out systematic archaeology-based study work on all levels of instruction, all prehistoric and historical periods have been covered by researchers. Naturally, the boundary lines between researchers and their themes are nowhere very clear and sharp, on the contrary, there are also noticeably overlapping areas. The latter are both unavoidable and welcome as they allow discussions among researchers. In the following the list of main themes that our researchers have dealt with within the last five years will be presented.
1. The Stone Age in Estonia and countries surrounding the Baltic
Sea (A. Kriiska)
In Tartu University, the Chair of Archaeology of the Department of History of the Faculty of Philosophy is the only body dealing with archaeology. The so-called Kabinet of Archaeology is a part of the CA administrating a number of archaeological research-based collections (archaeological finds, archives, subject library), a conservation lab and equipment, and carrying out archaeological research. Within the 1990s, the CA together with the AK has grown into the largest structural unit of the Department of History. At the beginning of 2003, the CA and AK employed nine people with the total workload for 8.25 positions (Table 1): Professor Valter Lang (professorship) , Associate Prof. Aivar Kriiska, lecturer Ain Mäesalu, senior researcher Heiki Valk (head of the archeological kabinet), the reseacher Andres Tvauri, technician Marge Konsa, conservator Andres Vindi, technician-drawer Riina Vesi and technician Arvi Haak. Among them there are four employees with the doctor's degree (V. Lang, A. Kriiska, H. Valk and A. Tvauri), one with the master's degree (A. Mäesalu) and two MA students (M. Konsa and A. Haak). Totally, there are four PhD and eight MA students studying at the CA at present (January 2003) (see item 10).
The age structure is as follows (Table 1). There are two employees at the age of 45-50, one at the age of 40-44, four at the age of 30-39 and two at the age of 20-29. This is a rather good and perspective age structure since we have both well-experienced middle-aged researchers and young employees at the threshold of their careers; on the other hand, there are no researchers of the old generation to retire on a pension in the near future. A relatively high number of PhD and MA students suggests a perspective rising generation, not only for Tartu University but for Estonia as a whole. The generic division of the staff is not so good (7 men and 2 women), particularly among those with degrees. However, the election for positions takes place through an open academic competition in which case better scientific evidence is a favourable asset, meaning that the current generic division cannot be helped at present. Obviously the situation changes in the near future as the current MA courses are offered to five female and only three male students (among PhD students there are two men and two women).
The Department of History consists of seven chairs (professorships in ordinary), offering degrees in the respective fields for all levels of curriculum: (1) archaeology, (2) archival studies, (3) Estonian history, (4) ethnology, (5) art history, (6) contemporary history and (7) general history. The highest decision-making body of the department (having 44 employees altogether) is the Departmental Council which as of the 1 January 2003 comprises 26 members (6 professors in ordinary, 3 professors emerit., 6 associate professors, 8 lecturers, 2 researchers and a representative of students). Four employees of the Chair of Archaeology are members of the Council: V. Lang, A. Kriiska, A. Mäesalu and H. Valk. The Council's competence includes the composing of curricula for all levels and approving of the programmes of degree finals, passing theses for defence and conferring degrees, arranging teaching and research work as well as the continuing education in the department. The management of the Department of History is the responsibility of the head of the department whose position may be held by one of the professors in ordinary or associate professors as the holder of a Chair (the head of the department in 2003 is Professor of archaeology Valter Lang). The head of the department is counselled by an advisory board of the professors of the Chairs. There are two more Boards for running the work of the department: the Board for Defence of MA theses (chaired by Associate Prof. Aivar Kriiska) and the Board for Defence of PhD theses (chaired by Associate Prof. Mati Laur).
The main issues of study and research work (research projects, grants, theses, curricula and study programmes) are discussed at the joint meeting of the CA and AK by the academic staff that confirm the appropriateness of launching projects, frame the major research work for the publication and theses for the defence to a respective Board for Defence.
Research results are published both in Estonia and in foreign scientific journals and series. In cooperation with the department of archaeology of the Institute of History a peer-reviewed journal "Eesti Arheoloogia Ajakiri / Journal of Estonian Archaeology" appears twice a year as well as a series of peer-reviewed research publications "Muinasaja teadus / Research into Ancient Times" (11 volumes published to date). It is worth mentioning that the "Journal of Estonian Archaeology" is the only periodically published peer-reviewed journal of archaeology that has been published in Estonia and the whole Baltics through tomes. Besides, the AK continues publishing a pre-war series "Tartu Ülikooli Arheoloogia Kabineti Toimetised"/Proceedings of the Archaeological Kabinet of Tartu University (2 volumes published, the third is forthcoming). In 2001 the CA introduced a series of study materials "Archelogos", both as translations and originals (one book published, three being prepared for publishing).
1.5. Consolidated data about financing (Table 2)
The financial benefits of the CA and AK are received from various
sources. The academic staff of the CA receive their salaries from
governmental resources: in 2002 the sum was (incl. taxes) 540,700
EEK, at the beginning of the period under review in 1998, when there
was no professorship fulfilled yet and other salaries were 25% lower,
only 214,000 EEK (these sums are not shown in Table
2). Since the academic staff is obliged to do research work, the
resources partly cover also the expenses of research work. The salaries
of the researchers and ancillary staff during the period under review
(1998-2002) depended mainly on the target-financed research theme
"Processes of Popular Culture in Estonia in the Historical and
Contemporary Perspectives" (TFLAJ 0531) of the Ministry of Education,
to a lesser extent from the governmental programme "The Estonian
language and national culture". An important addition to the
funding of research work was received from the grants of the Estonian
Science Foundation (below: ESF) and, in individual cases, also from
foreign projects (in 1998-2000, the grant 827/1998 of G. Soros Research
Support Scheme "Archaeological Sites and Oral Tradition in Estonia
and in Finland" donated 12,000 USD). The sums received from the
governmental programme "The Estonian language and national culture"
are used for research and development strategies.
Although social sciences and the Humanities (incl. archaeology) are not priority-financed fields of science in Estonia, so far we are quite happy about our financing. A particular emphasis should be placed on the growth of grant-financing in 2002, partly related to the fact that three employees defended their PhD dissertations in 2001 - thus reserving themselves the right to apply for grants at all - and were successful in proposing new grants. Taking into account the sums for study work from the State Budget, target-financed sums, the governmental programme "The Estonian language and national culture" as well as the ESF grants, the financing of the CA and AK has grown within the period 1998-2002 from c. 831,400 EEK to 1,588,900 EEK a year (191%). A disturbing fact still remains because among the sums of target-financed research the proportion of resources for research activities has gradually decreased and practically reached a nought in 2003 (all the allocated money must be used to keep up the salaries, at least on their earlier level). At present the ESF grants offer a kind of relief but in a longer perspective the continuation of research work may become questionable.
The total number of research publications within the last five years is 145 (Table 3). The required classification of the publications as peer-reviewed (in accordance with their CC indexes and references in more important databases of the speciality) and so-called other publications is relatively complex in the Humanities and, at present at least, rather questionable, since in Europe a unified indexing and reference systems covering the Humanities is still being worked out (the European SF has only taken first steps in this direction). Table 3 has regarded as peer-reviewed publications those journals and other publications in whose case, to our knowledge, the peer-reviewing system has been implemented. In Estonia those include Eesti Arheoloogia Ajakiri /Journal of Estonian Archaeology/, Muinasaja teadus /Research into Ancient Times/ and Tartu Ülikooli Arheoloogia Kabineti Toimetised /Proceedings of the Archaeological Kabinet of Tartu University/. As CC-papers we have registered the articles published in the Ajalooline Ajakiri /Historical Journal/, since the publication is referred to in the Historical Abstracts.
The number and standard of our publications can be assessed as fully
representative. On an average, three members of the teaching staff
and two researchers have published 28 papers annually within the last
five years (5.6 papers per a researcher a year). In itself, the number
is not so big but it should be born in mind that from among five employees
four have published a monograph (or even two) within that period and
the fifth has got it ready for publication. As in other areas of the
Humanities, the priority in archaeology also lies in drawing up one's
research results in the form of a monograph, not only as papers or
abstracts as is the custom in natural sciences. A good level of our
research work is proved by the high number of papers published abroad
as well as by the fact that the second edition of one of the monographs,
improved and supplemented, was published (H. Valk, Rural Cemeteries
of Southern Estonia 1225-1800 AD. Visby; Tartu 1999/ 2001) and
an English overview with illustrations of another monograph in Estonian
(V. Lang, Keskusest ääremaaks /From Centre to Periphery/
Tallinn, 2000) was subscribed for publication by the journal Acta
Archaeologica, issued in Copenhagen.
The development strategy of the CA and AK may be divided into two parts: directly related to research work and the issues related to the development and improvement of material-technical basis.
1.7.1. Development strategy for archaeological research in Tartu University
The further development of archaeological science in TU is most of all and most directly connected with our new target-financed theme "Social, Economic and Cultural Processes in Estonia in the Prehistoric and Medieval Times" (see more closely below, 2.2). In the frames of the theme all the hitherto archaeological material in Estonia is planned to be elaborated on an updated level and, based on that, a five-volume summary collection on Estonian prehistory and medieval history is planned to be published within a period of 10 years. Considering the fact that the previous general treatment of Estonian prehistoric times was written 30 years ago and even more because of the material amounted, it has outdated (not to mention the theoretical treatment), the need for a similar new comprehensive treatment, based on modern methodology of research, is urgent. Monographs are published either in English or provided with profound summaries in English so that the results of our archaeological research become available to our colleagues elsewhere all over the world. The finances allocated to the theme for the first year (480,000 EEK) would not allow expressing any particular optimism as regards a successful and scheduled fulfilment of the task but hopefully the financing will also improve in the years to come.
The completion of this new theme presupposes, more than earlier, that there were a sufficient number of researchers to deal with all periods of prehistory and historical history until the early Modern times. Roughly speaking, we have drawn up a respective distribution of work already but, owing to the lack of researchers, the periods tend to become too long for one person to cover and that inhibits necessary thoroughness in all questions. During a number of years the problem of opening the chair of medieval archaeology to more efficiently teach respective researchers has been topical. The proportion of excavations at medieval sites has been very high for years already (at least 80-90%) and will surely remain as high also in the future. On the other hand, we have very few well-trained researchers who, besides conducting urban excavations, could analyse the material in an updated manner as well as synthesise it in a wider context. This is why the major part of the medieval material gathered in our towns is not yet elaborated and brought into scientific circulation. We do realise that the establishment of a new academic chair requires additional expenses and applying for them may fail but the need for an essential addition to the teaching of medieval archaeology is really urgent.
The new theme also presupposes a better instruction in the theory and methodology of archaeology. Beginning from the autumn of 1999, a new insight in the course of the archaeological theory was introduced into BA and MA programmes, somewhat later into the PhD programme. By now our senior undergraduates, MA and PhD students have translated into Estonian a theoretical textbook by M. Johnson "Archaeological Theory. An Introduction" (Blackwell: 1999/2000), presently both R. Mignon's "Dictionary of Concepts in Archaeology" (London, 1993) and I. Hodder's "The Archaeological Process" (Blackwell: 1999) will be added. In the spring semester 2002 the so-called seminar on archaeology was started, meant primarily for MA and PhD students as well as senior undergraduates, researchers and the academic staff. The seminar takes place twice a month and presentations on current BA, MA and PhD theses are made and discussed, along with reports on other research work. Beside that we have planned to organise the so-called spring school on various theoretical questions, the first session is scheduled for the beginning of March 2003. Beginning with the year 2002, the TU Chair of Archaeology participates in the international project of MA and PhD intensive courses in the framework of the Socrates-programme "Early Medieval Society and Culture in Northern Europe".
Since the treatment of the problems of the archaeological theory and methodology is weak all over the Baltic countries then our Chair has proposed the Baltic archaeological seminar (Baltic Archaeological Seminar - BASE). Negotiations for organising the event have already been held with the University of Latvia (Prof. Andrejs Vasks and MA Andris Shne) and Vilnius University (Associate Prof. Algimantas Merkevicius); the mutual interest is considerable. The BASE is primarily meant for the degree students and we have planned to systematically publish its results in English.
In 2003 we plan to apply for financial support from the European Science Foundation to start an international research project "Religious Syncretism in Europe from the Middle Ages until Modern Times: Comparative Aspects". The project would be launched from 2004, while a preliminary workshop will be organised in the first year, international research network would be developed in the following years.
In a somewhat more distant perspective we aim at achieving a level to be recognised as one of the leading centres of Estonian science. The way to it is obviously not short but probably quite feasible, considering the achievements of the last years, in particular. It is also evident that in order to have a leading centre of science it is rational to cooperate with the department of archaeology of the Institute of History in Tallinn.
1.7.2. Development strategy of the material-technical basis
The conservation lab aims at installing the lab with the equipment to enable the conservation the finds of organic matter and, besides, carry out respective practical work in the frames of the course in laboratory archaeology. In the future the capacity of the conservation lab should amount to the conservation of all the finds from the university's excavation sites (whose number and contents are increasing). A gradually increasing workload calls for one more conservator at present already.
It is necessary to establish a position for an archivist and librarian, lacking at present due to the shortage of resources. At the library the librarian's responsibilities would involve the exchange of specialised literature and organise exchange relationships with the more important journals of archaeology in the northern area of Europe. Giving an overview of the books issued by more important publishers in the areas that Estonian archaeology is interested in and creating a respective database will also be the tasks of the librarian. As far as the archives are concerned, it is necessary to continue copying reports on excavations, so far lacking in Tartu, and steadily make copies of new excavation reports that regularly are submitted to the National Board of Antiquities. It would also be important to copy the hitherto missing reports on excavations of town Tartu.
There is a necessity for a permanent position to continue administering the database of Estonian antiquities and archaeological sites. Here the tasks involve supervising the students who enter their data into the computer, checking and unifying the entered data, linking the entered data with concrete antiquities/sites of discovery and marking the location of the latter first on paper and then on digital maps.
Computers need the care of a contract-based system administrator who would solve the problems appearing in computers and make sure that both the hard- and software were continuously renewed and updated. The tasks of the system administrator would also involve solving all technical questions connected with the administering and widening of the databases.
The rooms of work: The rooms of the CA and AK are accommodated in the building of the Humanities at 3 Lossi St., built in 1997-1998. The temperature in the building is normal, it is provided with the alarm system. At present there is enough space, supplementary equipment can be installed in the lab. Considering a continuous addition to the archaeological collections, there is a certain space for growth: before 10-20 years probably no more depository space is needed. The storage conditions meet the requirements set (incl. both alarm and humidity regulations). Summing up, the situation is good as far as the rooms are concerned, although, when considering future prospects, a definite lack of room may be expected in the plan of offices of the staff.
Basic equipment: Basic equipment includes the computer network of the CA and AK at 3 Lossi St. (all in all 8 desktop computers, 1 laptop and the server). The computers were purchased or updated in the years 1998-2001 in the framework of respective grants by the ESF. In the near future the system becomes out-dated morally. The computer network that serves the joint database of archaeological antiquities is working on the verge of its capacity. Updating the database with digital photos is not possible because the system would be overloaded. Therefore we have to find new investments for supplementing the basic equipment, the resources for it are lacking at present.
The x-ray screener in the AK dates back to the 1970s, it is in order and gives a satisfactory result in conserving the needs of findings. The lab's means for conservation are minimal, enabling an elementary conservation of metallic objects. Possibilities of conserving findings of organic matter are lacking (the leophilisator also dates back to the 1970s, unfortunately it is out of order). In sum, the equipment of the conservation lab is in a bad need of supplementing and updating.
The scientific collections in the storage rooms of TU contain the following units.
Archaeological collections of finds:
Archaeological collections are accommodated in a c. 45 m3 storage room full of finds (c. 2,500 boxes with finds). Osteological and anthropological collections take up c. 20 m3 of space.
The storage conditions of finds are good. There is a normal required temperature in the rooms, hygro-metres and hygro-regulators of humidity were installed. The technical state of finds is under a constant supervision. The conservation lab makes it possible to conserve finds operatively. Precious metals are preserved in their own safe.
The find collections are used as source materials on various levels of study and research work: as visual study aids in the teaching practice, writing MA and PhD theses as well as fulfilling the grants of the Estonian Science Foundation and in other research.
The subject library of the CA and AK was started at the beginning of the 1990s practically at zero but during the last decade it has successfully grown. In January 2006 the library contained 4,136 volumes (all in all 67 running metres of books). Modern Swedish and Finnish subject literature is relatively well represented. There are few new publications from Russia and the Baltic countries as well as comprehensive treatments and theoretical literature in English. There are no funds for the completion of the library. The books are received as gifts and in exchange, individual volumes were also bought for the money of grants and research themes. Archaeological subject literature can also be found at the TU scientific library where foreign archaeological literature is partly completed following propositions of the CA and AK (annually about 10-15 books from western publishers).
The Archives comprise 32 running metres of items (all in all c. 18 m3), involving so-called parish archives (copies of the materials of parish archives at the Institute of History; besides, new inventories' reports and other materials that arrived in the 1990s), also reports on excavations carried out at the TU expeditions in the 1990s and 2000s. In a slight degree the archives contain reports on urban excavations of Tartu and newer archaeological excavations conducted by the Institute of History.
The archives also involve a map collection: plans of the Soviet-period
collective farms in Southern Estonia; 1:25000 topographical military
maps of the Soviet army (fragmentarily); the main map of Estonia (1:20000;
regularly completed according to publishing; 1:50000 map with names
of farmsteads (on Southern Estonia). The archives also possess cartographic
pages from L. Mellin's atlas from the 1790s as well as G. Rücker's
special map of Livonia from the 1830s. Digitally there is also a 1:50000
basic map of Estonia (as a support map for the database of antiquiteis
and archaeological sites). The archives also preserve the plans of
the excavations, conducted by TU archaeologists in the 1990s and the
2000s. Unified archives of photos and negatives are lacking, the materials
being in the possession of those who conducted the excavations.
Within the last five years the collections were financed from the sums of the governmental programme "The Estonian language and national culture". The sum since 1998 has amounted to 50,000 EEK annually, without any rise. In 2002, when TU began to deduct 20% overhead of the sums of the programme, the actual sum reduced to 40,000 EEK. Thus it has been a gradual low-funding, aggravating even more due to inflation. The financing of the collections (incl. the better part of the conservator's salary) has largely taken place thanks to the sums of target-financed research themes. There are no target-funded resources for completing the library.