Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Finland Travels - Kierikki Stone Age Center

On our way down from the Arctic Circle we had to make a few stops! I was on the lookout for sites of archeology and traditional culture, and of course beautiful natural beauty. 
We got all of that, and some learning, at Kierikki. The site includes a nice museum with interpretive material in English as well as Finnish. There's a mix of general information about Europe in the time period, the probable lives of humans at the time, and actual artifacts from the excavations here.

And a living history village! A number of reconstructions were built along the river, each one outfitted more or less as we expect they would be thousands of years ago. From the tanning hides and fire pits, to storage pits.
There were examples of traditional craftwork, using tools from the stone age. Many of these items were made by folks at Estonian Craft Camp as well, the tools were modern but the techniques are unchanged!
And of course, how could we skip the opportunity for a photo shoot? We need a few more longhaired rockers and we can start our own Scandinavian Metal Band.
Down by the river was a sunken storage house, for keeping food in summer and winter. In the Neolithic this settlement was on the ocean, and seemed to provide enough food for year-round living without agriculture. Seals seemed to have been an important source of both food and trade materials.
There was a row of these thatched long houses, often several connected so one could more between them without going outside! It seems like an important consideration in the long dark winters...
Since these ancient peoples would have also hunted for much of their food there were examples of traps and snares.
Most were constructed based on a mix of archeological evidence and ethnographic examples. Hunting remains very important to the Finns and Lapps, but more and more as recreation instead of a lifestyle.
Some traps were a bit cruel, trapping the animal alive. Below you see a circle of snares, and a small fall trap.
And how about this diabolic looking piece? I'm presuming they have a safety set up on this, as I imagine it would kill a human as readily as any large animal!
A classic pit trap, complete with spikes in the bottom! Simple, yet effective.
A very large fall trap. This seemed to be for trapping bears, which have great significance to traditional spiritual practices. Trapping a bear would be extremely dangerous, but also very important.
And finally, a box trap. The resemblance to a modern "humane" trap is uncanny...
A friend to guide us on our trek....
As with many spots we visited in this part of the country the ground was very wet and spongy. Great growing conditions for many of the native berries, not so great for keeping one's boots dry. Thus, a walkway built above the soft sections of forest.
The entire area along the river seems to have been occupied in the Neolithic and Early Bronze age. That indentation is a likely house site, and will be excavated in a coming season. Such indentations are common along this section of ground.
This season's active excavation, complete with grids and sifting bins. Despite the age of the site there is not a terribly thick layer of silt to work through.
The museum at Kierikki was fascinating and engaging, and the reconstructions are a wonderful touch for the history enthusiast. We sat and had our lunch around a fire, and enjoyed the forest walk. If you're ever in the area I would highly recommend!

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