Since we are excited about our study project, we want to share some information about it also in English. The research project is called Maritime Helsinki and it started in the year 2014. The main goal of this joint effort of the units of Finnish Language and Archaeology at the University of Helsinki is the reconstruction of the settlement history of Helsinki archipelago. Our group have five members: Paula Kouki, Annukka Debenjak, Marika Luhtala, Terhi Ainiala and Mika Lavento.
One way of approaching the language of past populations is the study of toponomastics, which has a long tradition in Nordic archaeology. Coastal Finland, with its successive settlement by speakers of Finnish and Swedish, lends itself well to this type of study.
Most of the present-day Helsinki archipelago rose from the waves at the end of the Neolithic period. The current research concentrates on recognising the temporal stratigraphy of Finnish and Swedish toponyms, datable by linguistic features and historical documents, as well as on locating the archaeological remains reflecting the consecutive phases of settling the archipelago, which have received little attention so far. To ensure the effective transfer of information and to avoid the pitfalls of misunderstandings and over-interpretation, linguists and archaeologists are working side by side.
Next week Paula, Annukka and Marika will be in the island of Villinki collecting toponyms and doing archaeological research. Hopefully soon we’ll have more information about the fascinating history of the Helsinki archipelago!