Finnish Doctoral Programme in Archaeology
The Finnish Doctoral Programme in Archaeology is a network of researchers, which brings all academic chairs of archaeology in Finland into comprehensive cooperation in the post-graduate stage of studies.
The doctoral programme operates in three universities:
Finnish post-graduate students of archaeology are also members of the Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology.
The Finnish Doctoral Programme in Archaeology is a network of researchers bringing all academic chairs of archaeology in Finland into comprehensive cooperation. The research targets of the school are the advancement of interdisciplinarity and development of cooperation between different disciplines. Archaeology is missioned in a natural manner to build bridges between humanistic disciplines and the natural sciences, and within the field of humanistic-societal sciences. By bringing together the results of theoretical and methodological discussions with new and continually developing methods of scientific analysis, archaeology has managed to expand its fields of activity over the past few years (see the scientific plan of the project in Appendix 1). The doctoral programme is a part of this expansion of archaeological research. It creates a basis for cooperation, which helps make the use of existing resources more efficient and guarantees fruitful interaction between researchers. The cooperation is being put into practice between both archaeologists and representatives of other disciplines. The school emphasizes innovative and internationally highly qualified basic research, which in turn creates continuity that is needed in Finnish archaeology.
The doctoral programme responds to the need for archaeological education, which will emerge over the next few years when currently working archaeologists in museums and universities will retire. New challenges are presented to education by the facts that many archaeologists position themselves in environmental administration and the duties of museum institutions are becoming increasingly administrative in nature. The implementation of governmental duties requires a high-quality research-oriented basis to succeed. With its diverse platform, the doctoral programme seeks to train its members for diversifying and expanding careers in archaeology. It secures the quality of research and aims at responding to the deficit of experts that will soon be caused by the mass retirement of persons currently working in archaeological positions. The doctoral programme also seeks to promote international relations and will eventually lead to the profiling of departments of archaeology at universities and decrease the average time of graduation, at the same time supporting gender equality among researchers. Finland's Ministry of Education has granted seven positions for the doctoral programme.
Annual report for 2006 (in Finnish)
Annual report for 2009 (in Finnish)
Annual report for 2010 (in Finnish)
Annual report for 2011 (in Finnish)
The relationship between man and the environment
The scientific objective of the doctoral programme is the study of the environment by the help of humanistic and scientific methods and research questions. The core theme is the relationship between man and his environment in different times and places, and considered from different points of view. A central goal of the training is to gain an understanding of the essence of theoretical viewpoints as a part of environmental studies, and choosing the methodology appropriate to the questions considered. Close to research-related and theoretical issues are also the role and position of modern environmental studies in governmental agencies, namely in community planning. The nature of archaeology as a bridge-builder between the humanities and the natural sciences underlined in environmental studies. The students selected for the doctoral programme will represent highly different views on the relationship between man and the environment.
In Finland, departments of archaeology have been actively seeking fresh viewpoints and research questions that would utilize existing resources of research. In this way, the continually increasing amount of archaeological material can be effectively studied. However, archaeology in general is struggling with a deficit of funds, since research-related fieldwork, laborative archaeology and various scientific analyses necessary for environmental studies are all expensive to conduct. In addition, the maintenance of already existing research networks and the propagation of new information among other disciplines at both the national and international levels require resources. In the current academic situation, both the future of archaeological research and the development of the discipline constantly demand external financing. The main problem of archaeological research is namely the lack of funding. The exceptional nature of archaeology among the humanities is not recognized by the administration of universities.
Archaeology as a bridge-builder
Although archaeology as the study of the past of societies is a humanistic discipline, it is also multidisciplinary and it actively tries to bring together knowledge and perspectives from different disciplines. From its very beginning, archaeology has been in close cooperation with various disciplines in the natural sciences, such as geology, geography, botany, zoology, chemistry, medical science and biochemistry. Intimate interdisciplinary connections have generated rich methodological and theoretical insights and results. For instance, many methods adapted to archaeology originate from geology, having merely been transformed into central means for examining the past of societies. In addition to fieldwork techniques, the methods used in the absolute dating of archaeological material originate from the natural sciences. With the help of extensive methodological and theoretical approaches, interdisciplinary cooperation helps researchers complement each other and to create more balanced interpretations of the past.
Additional effort is required to bring archaeology to the core of humanistic-scientific research. Archaeologists studying long-time environmental change could yield much information for environmental studies in the natural sciences, because they are also capable of interpreting changes in the modern environment. Good examples of this are the studies on the destruction of forests and the formation of deserts in the eastern parts of Sahara and African savannahs conducted by Finnish archaeologists and geologists, and studies concerning the “death” of Finnish lakes due to linen production. The study of the past is used to deal with long-term, slow developmental processes, which have impact on the environment and act as a background for environmental crises, among other things. Since the Stone Age, man has continually affected his environment, causing environmental disasters, for example, in the Near East. Natural scientists may learn from archaeologists how serious environmental disasters man already caused thousands of years ago.
A fresh example of a successful application of environmental studies for archaeological material is the measurement of toxic heavy metals in medieval soils in Turku. The measurements show that the soil was widely contaminated during the Middle Ages (Taavitsainen & Salonen). These results are an awakening example of notable environmental problems hiding in the soil of historical towns and industrial properties. By the same token, as archaeology still remains distant from discussion in humanistic-scientific research, the seamless integration of humanistic-scientific disciplines into archaeological research has not been realized. A central research-related aim of the programme is to lower the thresholds between archaeology and other disciplines. These thresholds derive from divergent paradigms, concepts, practices and language.
National and international discussion in archaeology
The doctoral programme naturally activates discussion within archaeological circles. Methodological and theoretical standpoints must be accepted as part of the archaeological process of research already during the planning of fieldwork. They should not be rejected in any phase of the process of research in generating interpretations, environmental reconstructions and virtual models. Within the discipline, there is a need for internal, coherent and open discussion among researchers. This covers the development, distribution and utilization of procedures of fieldwork, reconstruction and publication. The doctoral programme can act as a forum for archaeologists specializing in different fields of study to discuss interdisciplinary matters and to engage in multidisciplinary theoretic-methodological conversation.
Despite its extremely meagre resources, archaeology is a well-recognized discipline in Finland. It has a foothold in several institutions, museums, and among the public. The very central basic archaeological studies, however, have always been of small scale and executed in only short-term projects. No continuity has been created for follow-up research. To maintain the high level of follow-up research and to develop it necessitates solid connections and cooperation between institutions and researchers of varying fields of study. The doctoral programme will establish interdisciplinary networks of professionals as part of everyday research of post-graduate students.