The Material Roots of Modernisation in Northern Finland (ca. 1500-1800 AD)
The proposed project seeks to understand the early phases of modernisation in Northern Finland by undertaking a comparative study of both early modern towns and other sites. Here towns are of particular interest, because they were the primary channels through which the forces of modernisation reached Northern Finland, and they are also archaeologically the best known sites. Moreover, not only were towns the most important loci of trade, on which the previous research has focused, but also of consumption. Urbanisation and consumption are intimately related in the sense that towns were not, and still aren’t, mere installations of physical features. They also comprise the complex relations between people, buildings and artefacts. Therefore, urbanisation is as much about consumption patterns and other activities as it is about the placement of buildings, the development of street layout, blocks, sewage, etc. Thus, urbanisation can only be understood in tandem with material practices carried out in towns.
For the reasons outlined above, the aim of the project is to understand the change of daily routines in association with the changing world-view. In addition, the project seeks to understand the early modern towns of Northern Finland as ‘lived environments’. The world of 17th and 18th centuries was very different from ours. For instance, the archaeological record of Tornio indicates that from the viewpoint of inhabitants the environment was permeated with forces that do not exist from the perspective of natural science, but were nevertheless perceived to influence human life. The research project seeks to understand through the examination of archaeological finds–i.e. the remains of contemporary material culture–how, and to what extent, modernist ideology replaced the ‘traditional’ way of living between 1500-1800 AD in Northern Finland.
The research project will apply both analytical and interpretative approaches in order to reach these goals. Archaeological finds will be analysed and changes in their patterning traced. Ceramics, in particular, play an important role in the analysis, not only because they form one of the main artefact categories at early modern sites, but because they arguably serve as a ‘barometer’ of changes in daily routines and attitudes. Certain other artefact categories like glass and clay tobacco pipes will be also be considered together with zooarchaeological data, consisting mainly of animal bones. The changes in these data are related to historical sources, especially probate inventories. On the other hand, the changes in the use of space in towns are traced by comparing archaeologically observed features with maps, illustrations (paintings and drawings) as well as literary sources. Ultimately, the procedure is expected to reveal the links between the development of towns and consumption patterns. The comparative method should also reveal the development of early modern sites in Northern Finland in relation with the others. The emerging patterns are interpreted in the light of the sociological and anthropological theories of consumption and power, in addition to more ‘phenomenological’ theories concerning the experience of places.