Vesa-Pekka Herva


Research intrests

My research focuses on the north-eastern "edge" of Europe, East Fennoscandia in particular, from the Stone Age to the present day. I strive to understand not only northern cultures as such, but also more comprehensive phenomena and processes of the past from the viewpoint of the northern world. I’m especially interested in the material culture, world view and environmental relationship of people during the early modern and modern eras (ca. 1500– 2000 AD), but I also study a variety of issues ranging from the symbolic culture of the Neolithic Era to the significance of cultural heritage in modern society.

I’m particularly intrigued by "marginal" cultural phenomena, such as magical thinking, through which you can study modernisation in the early modern period – or the thinking and actions of people in general – from a slightly different viewpoint. Another important interest of mine is how material culture has moulded people’s thinking and behaviour at different times – for instance, how urban planning and architecture that were based on the ancient world changed the way people experienced and understood their world in the early modern era.

In my studies, I strive to utilise theoretical perspectives from different fields (such as archaeology, anthropology and the study of material culture) as well as cross-disciplinary approaches.


Active research projects

  • Understanding the Cultural Impacts and Issues of Lapland Mining: A Long-Term Perspective on Sustainable Mining Policies in the North. Academy of Finland reserch project, University of Oulu (2014–2018). Principal investigator V.-P. Herva.
  • Lapland’s Dark Heritage: Understanding the Cultural Legacy of Northern Finland’s WWII German Materialities within Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Academy of Finland reserch project, University of Helsinki (2014–2018). Principal investigator V.-P. Herva.
  • Collecting Sápmi: The Early Modern Globalization of Sámi Material Culture and the Cultural Heritage of the Sámi Today. Swedish Research Council (2014–2017), University of Uppsala, researcher, principal investigator.M. Nordin (Uppsala University).


Previous research projects

  • The Use of Materials and the Neolithisation of North-Eastern Europe (c. 6000–1000 BC). Academy of Finland research project, University of Oulu (2013–2017). Researcher, principal investigator J. Ikäheimo.
  • Copper, Material Culture and the Making of the World in Late Stone Age Finland and Russian Karelia. Helsingin yliopisto (2010–2012). Researcher, principal investigator J. Ikäheimo.
  • Material Culture and Human-Environment Relations in Early Modern Tornio. Academy of Finland, post-doctoral researcher’s project (2008–2010). Academy of Finland post-doctoral research project, principal investigator V.-P. Herva.
  • The Material Roots of Modernization in Northern Finland c. AD 1500–1800: An Archaeological Study of Urbanization and Consumption. University of Oulu research project (2004–2006), researcher, principal investigator J. Ikäheimo.



  • Herva, V.-P. (in press). Haunting heritage in an enchanted land: magic, materiality and Second World War German material heritage in Finnish Lapland. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Nordin, J.M. (in press). Unearthing Atlantis and performing the past: ancient things, alternative histories and the present past in the Baroque world. Journal of Social Archaeology.
  • Herva, V.-P., Nordqvist, K., Lahelma, A. and Ikäheimo, J. (in press). Cultivation of perception and the emergence of the Neolithic world. Norwegian Archaeological Review.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Ylimaunu, T. 2014. Coastal cosmologies: long-term perspectives on the perception and understanding of dynamic coastal landscapes in the northern Baltic Sea region. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture 7(2): 183–202.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2014. Historical archaeology of Scandinavia/Northern Europe. In C. Smith (ed.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York.
  • Herva, V.-P ja Nordin, J.M. 2013. Classicism and knowing the world in early modern Sweden. In C. Watts (ed.), Relational Archaeologies: People, Animals, Things. Routledge, New York, pp. 209–227.
  • Nordqvist, K. and Herva, V.-P. 2013. Copper use, cultural change and Neolithization in north-eastern Europe. European Journal of Archaeology 16(3): 401–432.
  • Nordqvist, K. ja Herva, V.-P. 2013. ”Det lilla laboratoriet i bäcken” – alkemi och arkeologi på Frugård (‘The small laboratory in the creek’ – alchemy and archaeology in Frugård). Nordenskiöld-samfundets tidskrift 70–71: 7–22.
  • Mullins, P., Ylimaunu, T., Brooks, A., Kallio-Seppä, T., Kuorilehto, M., Nurmi, R., Oikarinen, T., Herva, V.-P. and Symonds, J. 2013. British ceramics on the northern European periphery: creamware marketing in 19th century Northern Finland. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 17(4): 632–650.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2012. Spirituality and the material world in post-medieval Europe. In K. Rountree, C. Morris and A. Peatfield (eds.), Archaeology of Spiritualities. Springer, New York, pp. 71–85.
  • Herva, V.-P., Nurmi, R. and Symonds, J. 2012. Engaging with money in a northern periphery of early modern Europe. Journal of Social Archaeology 12(3): 287–309.
  • Herva, V.-P., Ylimaunu, T. and Symonds, J. 2012. The urban landscape and iconography of early modern Tornio. Fennoscandia Archaeologica 29: 73–91.
  • Nordqvist, K., Herva, V.-P., Ikäheimo, J. and Lahelma, A. 2012. Early copper use in Neolithic north-eastern Europe: an overview. Estonian Journal of Archaeology 16(1): 3–25.
  • Herva, V.-P., Ylimaunu, T., Kallio-Seppä, T., Kuokkanen, T. and Nurmi, R. 2011. Urban boundaries. In M. Lamberg, M. Hakanen and J. Haikari (eds.), Physical and Cultural Space in Pre-industrial Europe: Methodological Approaches to Spatiality. Nordic Academic Press, Lund, pp. 319–334.
  • Seitsonen, O. and Herva, V.-P. 2011. Forgotten in the wilderness: WWII German PoW camps in Finnish Lapland. In A. Myers and G. Moshenska (eds.), Archaeologies of Internment. Springer, New York, pp. 171–190.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2010. Buildings as persons: relationality and the life of buildings in a northern periphery of early modern Sweden. Antiquity 84: 440–452.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2010. Maps and magic in Renaissance Europe. Journal of Material Culture 15(3): 323–343.
  • Herva, V.-P., Nordqvist, K., Herva, A. and Ikäheimo, J. 2010. Daughters of magic: esoteric traditions, relational ontology and the archaeology of the post-medieval past. World Archaeology 42(4): 609–621.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Salmi, A.-K. 2010. Engaging with sea and seals: environmental and human-animal relations on the northern coast of the early modern Gulf of Bothnia. Norwegian Archaeological Review 43(2): 115–127.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Ylimaunu, T. 2010. What’s on the map? Reassessing the first urban map of Torneå and early map-making in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of History 35(1): 86–107.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2009. Living (with) things: material culture and relational ontology in early modern northern Finland. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19(3): 388–397.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Nurmi, R. 2009. Beyond consumption: functionality, artifact biography, and early modernity in a European periphery. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 13(2): 158–182.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Ylimaunu, T. 2009. Folk beliefs, special deposits, and engagement with the environment in early modern northern Finland. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 28(2): 234–243.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2006. Flower lovers, after all? Rethinking religion and human-environment relations in Minoan Crete. World Archaeology 38(4): 586–598.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2006. Marvels of the system: art, perception and engagement with the environment in Minoan Crete. Archaeological Dialogues 13(2): 221–240.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Ylimaunu, T. 2006. Posliiniastiat, varallisuus ja kuluttaja-käyttäytyminen 1700-luvun Torniossa (Porcelain cups, wealth and consumer behaviour in 18th century Tornio). Suomen Museo 112: 79–89.
  • Herva, V.-P. 2005. The life of buildings: Minoan building deposits in an ecological perspective. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 24(3): 215–227.
  • Herva, V.-P., Ikäheimo, J. and Hietala, M. 2004. Should the marginal be classified? The archaeology of Muhos Palokangas, Northern Osthrobotnia (Finland). Acta Archaeologica 75(2): 15–25.
  • Herva, V.-P. and Ikäheimo, J. 2002. Defusing dualism: mind, materiality and prehistoric art. Norwegian Archaeological Review 35(2): 95–108.

Last updated: 21.9.2017