Category Archives: General

CSTT Policy Regarding Work with Unprovenanced Antiquities

The following is the text of our policy regarding work with unprovenanced antiquities. The matter is so important that we decided to publish the policy also as a blogpost.

I. Preamble

The CSTT deplores the looting of archaeological sites, the undocumented removal of material from its context, and the illicit trade in antiquities and cultural objects. It also disapproves of the illicit falsification of antiquities and related documentation, which is something that is closely associated with the vast trade in unprovenanced antiquities. The object of this policy is to establish standards of conduct for the members of the CSTT to follow in fulfilling their responsibilities to prevent the above issues. This policy applies to all members and associate members of the CSTT

II. Policy

The CSTT acknowledges its support of the various international treaties, such as the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, and Finnish national laws intended to stop and prevent the illicit antiquities trade. Since scholars act as stewards of our common cultural heritage, the CSTT encourages its members to familiarize themselves with these treaties and laws, as they form the cornerstone of this policy and that of other professional organizations, such as the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Schools of Oriental Research, or the European Association of Archaeologists. More specifically, the CSTT endorses the guidelines as laid out in the Policy on Professional Conduct of the American Schools of Oriental Research (henceforth ASOR). The ASOR Policy is, since 2017, also adopted by the Society of Biblical Literature in their Policy on Scholarly Presentation and Publication of Ancient Artifacts.

The most important implications for the CSTT as a body, and its individual members and associate members, of supporting the ASOR Policy, follow below.

  1. The CSTT’s endorsement of the ASOR Policy implies that CSTT members and associate members refuse to participate in the trade in unprovenanced antiquities and refrain from activities that enhance the commercial value of such objects, such as publication, authentication, and/or exhibition. Unprovenanced antiquities are those which are not documented as belonging to a public or private collection before April 24, 1972, which is the date of entry into force of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, or which have not been excavated and exported from the country of origin in accordance with the laws of that country (see, e.g., Section III, part B, notes 4 and 10).
  2. CSTT members and associate members should exercise due diligence when confronted with an unknown artefact, manuscript, or other object in determining the provenance, collection history, and legality of that object.
  3. It is the responsibility of CSTT members and associate members to draw the attention of the responsible authorities to threats to, or plunder of archaeological sites, and illegal import or export of antiquities, as well as upon encountering suspect materials (see, e.g., Section III, part B, note 9).


In terms of research and publication, Section III, part E of the ASOR Policy lays out the main principles to which CSTT members and associate members should adhere.

  1. This means that the CSTT discourages its members and associate members from taking part in the initial publication or announcement of any object acquired by an individual or institution after April 24, 1972, which is the date of entry into force of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, or which have not been excavated and exported from the country of origin in accordance with the laws of that country.
  2. In publications and presentations, CSTT members and associate members should be transparent when introducing data of uncertain reliability or authenticity to the realm of public knowledge, particularly when research and publication involves artifacts that lack an archaeological findspot or that are illegally exported.
  3. CSTT members and associate members should also identify clearly any object that lacks an archaeological findspot in an appropriate manner in the text of the publication and the caption of its illustration.
  4. In case of publication projects started in good faith before this CSTT Policy and before the awareness of the issues connected with unprovenanced artefacts had come up in general discussion, the members of the CSTT are expected to do their best to clear the background of the object in question, and decide for their own part whether or not to finish their project and publish the artefact in question.

Helsinki-based CSTT at SBL and ASOR Annual Meetings 2017, Boston

This year, the combined annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religions takes place November 18–21 in Boston (Massachusetts, USA).

We have, once again, made the scheduling for your annual experience easier by gathering together all contributions from our Finland-based Centre of Excellence in Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions to these annual meetings. The contributions are grouped under four headings corresponding to the different research teams in our centre. The list includes contributions from our full and associate members. You can find the abstracts of the papers and more information on the sessions by using the excellent AAR/SBL online program book and mobile planner.

Prior to the AAR/SBL annual meeting, there is also the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Boston, which takes place November 15-18 in the Weston Bastin Waterfront hotel. CSTT contributes to that meeting too!

See you all in Boston!

TEAM 1. Society and Religion in the Ancient Near East

CSTT-director Martti Nissinen is a member of the editorial board S19-250 Writings from the Ancient World.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Martti Nissinen: Presiding in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature; Pentateuch, theme: Empirical Models Challenging Biblical Criticism.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Martti Nissinen: “Healing Prophets at the Interface of Divination and Magic” in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Izaak J. de Hulster: “The end(s) of the earth: an iconographic contribution to ancient geography and the visualisation of the ‘biblical world map'” in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Bible.

Nov 17 – 8:20 – 10:00 AM (ASOR)
Raz Kletter: Chair in Meeting the Expenses: Ancient Near Eastern Economies I.

Nov 17 – 10:40 – 12:25 AM (ASOR)
Raz Kletter: “Major Changes on the Road to Small Change: Scale Weights, Hoards, and Modes of Exchange” in Meeting the Expenses: Ancient Near Eastern Economies II.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Jason Silverman: “The Identity of Zemah in Zechariah” in Book of the Twelve Prophets.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Jason Silverman: “Josephus and the Supposed Rise of the Priesthood in Yehud” in Literature and History of the Persian Period.

Nov 17 – 8:20 – 10:20 AM (ASOR)
Saana Svärd and Aleksi Sahala: “Am I Seeing Things? Language Technology Approach to ‘Seeing’ in Akkadian” in Senses and Sensibility in the Near East I.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Saana Svärd: “Women in Temples and Cult of the Neo-Assyrian Empire” in Levites and Priests in History and Tradition.

Nov 17 – 4:20 – 6:20 PM (ASOR)
Gina Konstantopoulos: “Public and Private: the Role of Text and Ritual in Constructing and Maintaining Protected Spaces in Mesopotamia” in Ambiguity in the Ancient Near East: Mental Constructs, Material Records, and Their Interpretations III.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Sanna Saari: “‘With His Bare Hands’: Iconography of Unarmed Samson in Judges 14:5–6” in Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Bible.

Nov 17 – 4:20 – 6:20 PM (ASOR)
Helen Dixon: “The ‘Look’ and ‘Feel’ of Levantine Phoenician Sacred Space” in Art Historical Approaches to the Near East II.

Nov 17 – 7:00 – 8:15 PM (ASOR)
Helen Dixon and Geoff Emberling: Presiding at the ASOR Programs Committee.

Nov 19 – 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Helen Dixon, Hanna Tervanotko, Sarah Shectman, Jacqueline Vayntrub, and Krista Dalton: “Wiki, Women, and Bible Workshop and Happy Hour” – Wikipedia editing session hosted by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession, the Student Advisory Board, and Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

TEAM 2. Text and Authority

Team 2 leader Anneli Aejmelaeus is a member of the editorial board S19-105a TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Anneli Aejmelaeus: Presiding in Textual Criticism of Samuel-Kings.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Anneli Aejmelaeus: “Hexaplaric Recension and Hexaplaric Readings in 1 Samuel” in Textual Criticism of Samuel-Kings.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Jessi Orpana: “The Transmission of Creation Traditions in the Late Second Temple Period” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Katja Kujanpää: “Uninvited Metalepsis? Paul’s Diverse Ways of Receiving the Original Context of Quotations from the Pentateuch” in Intertextuality in the New Testament.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 PM
Marika Pulkkinen: “Paul’s Quoting Technique in Comparison to Later Rabbinic Methods” in Intertextuality in the New Testament.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 PM
Miika Tucker: “Further Lexical Studies Regarding the Bisectioning of Septuagint Jeremiah” in International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies.

TEAM 3. Literary Criticism in the Light of Documented Evidence

Team 3 leader Juha Pakkala is a member of the editorial board S19-105a TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism.

Nov 18 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Juha Pakkala: “The Origin of the Earliest Edition of Deuteronomy” in Book of Deuteronomy.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Juha Pakkala: “Empirical Models and Biblical Criticism” in Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature; Pentateuch.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Mika Pajunen: “Differentiation of Form, Theme, and Function in Psalms and Psalm Collections” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Mika Pajunen: “The Textual Criticism of the Text of Kings and Chronicles in the Hebrew Text of Ben Sira” in Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Nov 18 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Francis Borchardt: “The Framing of Female Knowledge in the Prologue of the Sibylline Oracles” in Pseudepigrapha.

Nov 21 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Francis Borchardt: Presiding in Hebrew Bible and Political Theory.

Nov 19 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Ville Mäkipelto: “Does the Samaritan Book of Joshua Provide Evidence for the Textual History of Josh 24?” in Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Nov 19 – 4:00 – 7:00 AM
Timo Tekoniemi: “Identifying kaige and proto-Lucianic readings in 2 Kings with the help of Old Latin manuscript La115” in International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies.

Nov 18 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Reinhard Müller: Respondent in Deuteronomistic History; Book of Deuteronomy, theme: Deuteronomy 1–3: The Beginning of History or the Introduction to a Separate Book?

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Reinhard Müller: “The Making of Composite Psalms: Documented Evidence, Hypothetical Cases, Methodological Reflections” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Urmas Nõmmik: “Remarks on the Formation of the First Isaiah through Diachronic Poetological Lens” in Formation of Isaiah.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Urmas Nõmmik: “The Ben Sira Masada Scroll and the Transmission Process of the Book of Job” in Transmission of Traditions in the Second Temple Period.

TEAM 4. Society and Religion in Late Second Temple Judaism

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Jutta Jokiranta: Presiding at Mind, Society, and Religion in the Biblical World, theme: Supercooperators: Costly Signaling Theory and Its Applications to Biblical Studies.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Raimo Hakola: “Jesus and the Galilean Poor in the Context of Ancient Representations of Poverty” in Historical Jesus.

Nov 16 – 2:00 – 4:00 AM (ASOR)
Tine Rassalle, Rick Bonnie, and Annalize Rheeder: “Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Horvat Kur Synagogue Area” in The Synagogue at Horvat Kur.

Nov 20 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Jessica Keady: “An Initial Exploration of Positioning Theory and Gender in the War Scroll” in Mind, Society, and Religion in the Biblical World.

Nov 20 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Jessica Keady: “Masculinities, War, and Purity: The Positions of Non-Priestly Men in the Dead Sea Scrolls” in Levites and Priests in History and Tradition.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Elisa Uusimäki: “Wisdom, Revelation, and Textuality: Insights from Ancient Judaea” in Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts.

Nov 20 – 4:00 – 6:30 AM
Elisa Uusimäki and Anna-Liisa Tolonen: “4 Maccabees: Ancestral Perfection in the Roman Diaspora” in Hellenistic Judaism.

Nov 18 – 1:00 – 3:30 AM
Hanna Tervanotko: Presiding at Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts, theme: Textualization of Revelation.

Nov 19 – 9:00 – 11:30 AM
Hanna Tervanotko: “‘They opened the Book of Law’: Tracing Divinatory Use of Torah in 1 Maccabees” in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature.


The Happiness Track in Academia

by Elisa Uusimäki

Dr Emma Seppälä tackles modern myths of success in her recent book The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016). Seppälä’s work is highly relevant for academic communities: she has a PhD in psychology and works as a science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and as a co-director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project. In her book, Seppälä identifies six myths of success that are prevalent in contemporary western culture: Continue reading The Happiness Track in Academia

Vauvoja ja väitöskirjoja

Vuosi 2016 tarjosi huippuyksikössä paitsi tutkimuksen myös perhe-elämän huippukohtia.

Vuonna 2016 huippuyksikön tutkijoiden Katri Antinin, Sanna Saaren ja Miika Tuckerin väitöskirjat jäivät hetkeksi taka-alalle – varsin onnellisista syistä. ”Lapsen saaminen on ollut uskomaton elämys!” kiteyttää Tucker, marraskuussa syntyneen poikavauvan isä. Tuckerin perheen esikoinen on huippuyksikön piirissä viime vuonna syntyneistä vauvoista tuorein. Saaren tytär syntyi maaliskuussa ja Antinin tammikuussa.

Kaikkien kolmen tuoreen vanhemman kokemus on, että lapsen myötä väitöskirjan kirjoittamiseen käytettävä aika on vähentynyt mutta samaan aikaan työskentely on tehostunut. ”Ennen lasta saatoin lukea useamman tunnin kotona töiden jälkeen, mutta nyt se aika kuluu lapsen kanssa ja kotitöiden hoitamisessa”, sanoo Miika Tucker. ”Toisaalta tämä on ainakin jonkin verran patistanut minua käyttämään työaikaani tehokkaammin työpaikalla”, hän pohdiskelee. Myös Katri Antin kokee, että aika on uudessa elämäntilanteessa kortilla. ”Mutta se ei ole ollenkaan huono asia, koska olen mielestäni aikaisempaa keskittyneempi ja tehokkaampi työssäni”, hän toteaa. ”Vaikka keskeneräinen väitöskirja on aina jossain määrin ahdistava asia, nautin nykyään enemmän siitä, että saan istua alas rauhassa ja tehdä jotain keskeytyksettä.”

Katri Antin ja Sanna Saari palasivat kumpikin töihin lapsen ollessa noin vuoden ikäinen. Molemmat ovat hyödyntäneet tutkijan työn mahdollistamia joustoja. Antin ja hänen puolisonsa ovat molemmat osittaisella hoitovapaalla ja työskentelevät vuorotellen. Näin lapsi voi olla vielä kotihoidossa, vaikka molemmat vanhemmat käyvät töissä. Myös Saari ja hänen puolisonsa ovat suunnitelleet työ- ja loma-ajat siten, että lapsi voi olla mahdollisimman pitkään kotona ennen päivähoidon aloittamista. Miika Tuckerin perheessä vanhempainvapaalla on tällä hetkellä Tuckerin puoliso, tutkija hänkin. Lapsen syntymän jälkeen Tucker on ottanut entistä enemmän vastuuta kotitöistä mutta se ei tunnu raskaalta: ”Koen nykyään työpaikalla olemisen hyvänä vaihteluna kotitöihin, joihin kuluu yleensä tunti tai pari aina illalla. Puolisollani ei ole tätä vaihtelun mahdollisuutta samassa määrin mitä minulla, mutta yritän järjestää myös hänelle tilaisuuksia päästä kodin ulkopuolelle harrastamaan”, sanoo Tucker.

Sekä Katri Antin että Sanna Saari korostavat, että vanhempainvapaa toi väitöskirjan tekoon nostetta: ”Motivaatio väitöskirjan tekemiseen kasvoi hurjan paljon kun työ oli vuoden verran taka-alalla. Ehkä sitä alitajuisesti työsti lapsenhoidon lomassa,” pohtii Saari. Miika Tuckerilla ei ole takanaan yhtä pitkää taukoa mutta lapsi toi hänellekin mukanaan uudenlaista kannustetta työhön: ”Lapsen synnyttyä koen, että minulla on suurempi vastuu tukea perhettäni taloudellisesti. Pidän työstäni ja haluan jatkaa tällä alalla, ja se on mahdollista vain, jos hoidan työni mahdollisimman tunnollisesti.”

Työ ja vapaa-aika on kolmikon mielestä nykyisin varsin helppoa erottaa toisistaan: ”Koen, että tutkimuksen tekeminen on minulle lepoa kotona olosta ja kotona olo lasten kanssa on niin kokonaisvaltaista, että työstä tulee levättyä väkisinkin”, sanoo Saari.”On mahdotonta hoitaa taaperoa ja näppäillä tietokonetta samaan aikaan”, kiteyttää puolestaan Antin.

Tutkimustyö on nuorille väitöskirjan tekijöille ehtinyt jo muodostua osaksi omaa identiteettiä. Vanhemmuuden myötä tämä osa minuutta on entistä merkityksellisempi. ”Äidiksi tulemisen myötä tutkijan identiteetistä on tullut eri tavalla tärkeä, sillä tutkimus on elämänalue, joka kuuluu minulle, ja saan toteuttaa tutkijana omia lahjojani ja haaveitani”, toteaa Katri Antin.

Jutun kirjoittajan Hanna Vanosen poika syntyi kesäkuussa 2016.

New book “Sahidic 1 Samuel – A Daughter Version of the Septuagint 1 Reigns” (V&R, 2017)

Elina Perttilä (2017) Sahidic 1 Samuel – A Daughter Version of the Septuagint 1 ReignsDe Septuaginta Investigationes 8. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Elina Perttilä’s study considers the Sahidic version of 1 Samuel as a translation and how it may best be used in Greek textual criticism. The first aim is to examine the translation technique of the Sahidic translator. The second aim is to analyze the affiliations between the Sahidic manuscripts and the affiliations between the Sahidic version and Greek traditions. This translation-technical study will allow a more careful and accurate citation of the Sahidic version within the critical apparatus of the Greek text.

For more information and to order the book, please visit Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

CSTT Youtube-channel + new “video”-section

As you may have seen already, the CSTT now has its own Youtube channel, where we’ll showcase the latest biblical and related research to the wider Finnish public. You can reach the Youtube channel by clicking on the youtube2 button in the website’s upper-left corner.vThe videos will also be displayed in our new “video”-section on our website (see left-side menu > ‘Videot’).

Screenshot of the CSTT Youtube channel.

We hope that these videos — so far all in Finnish — may be useful for high school teaching and to engage high school pupils with current research in biblical studies and related fields! So far two videos have been posted online, one with Saana Svärd and one with Juha Pakkala.

Please tell us below in the comment-section what you think about the videos and what you’d like to see to be changed in terms of format!

The Life of the Dead

Written by Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme

In late October the CSTT co-hosted a workshop on mortuary ritual together with the REECR. The workshop was a cross-disciplinary gathering, where scholars working within the fields of archaeology, religious studies and biblical studies could discuss aspects of mortuary ritual practices, such as funerary rituals, mourning, ancestor worship and other kinds of death-related ritual behaviour.

The two-day program consisted of eleven presentations by researchers working on contemporary thanatology (death studies) and ritual, the archaeology of death and mortuary ritual, and mortuary ritual in ancient texts. The workshop was an opportunity for scholars working in religious studies, archaeology and biblical studies to exchange ideas, material and methodologies and throughout the two days the discussion was lively, open and engaged.

Helen Dixon presenting her research during the workshop, together with session chair Jutta Jokiranta (photo: Anne Katrine de Gudme Hemmer).

During the workshop it quickly became clear that although the presentations covered a timespan of almost 3000 years and the case-studies came from places as far apart as the Levant and Karelia in Eastern Finland there were many common denominators and aspects that kept appearing. The importance of space and materiality in relation to mortuary ritual was apparent both in contemporary and ancient practices. In many cases mortuary ritual aims to create presence out of absence and this is achieved by strategic interaction with objects and places. Another aspect that was central to many of the examples was the status changes that the dead undergo in mortuary ritual as they are transformed from corpses to the recently deceased and to venerated ancestors. It was apparent that the life of the dead in the sphere of mortuary ritual is surprisingly dynamic and changeable.

In the very first presentation on the first day of the workshop Professor Terhi Utriainen from the University of Helsinki introduced the concept of the ritual subjunctive mode. The ritual subjunctive, which was originally proposed by the American religious studies scholar Jonathan Z. Smith, is an ‘as-if’ mode of behaviour that combines the ways things actually are with the ways people would like them to be. This concept of ritual as an idealized version of the world turned out to be a very fruitful category to apply to several of the case-studies presented at the workshop. In tombs, in texts and in ritual practices the dead are often presented as peaceful, powerful and content and perhaps most important of all they are accessible. In this way, mortuary ritual enables continued social interaction with the dead so that although the living die, the dead live on – at least for as long as they are commemorated and their presence is ritually enacted.

The papers presented at the workshop will be revised and published by the Finnish Exegetical Society in a volume edited by Dr. Kirsi Valkama and Professor Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme. The book is expected to come out in 2018.

Conference Reflections on “Religion and Empire in the First Millennium BCE Levant” (Beirut, 22-25 October 2016)

Laura Wickström

Laura Wickström works as coordinator at FIME’s office in Beirut October 2015 – November 2016. She is a doctoral student at Åbo Akademi University and holds a Master of Arts degree in comparative religion and currently specializes in Islam and ecology within the Department of Comparative Religion.

The conference Religion and Empire in the First Millennium BCE Levant took place in Beirut, Lebanon, in October 2016. The three-day conference with excursions was jointly organized by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in “Changes in Sacred Texts and Traditions” at the University of Helsinki (CSTT), the Finnish Institute in the Middle East (FIME), and the Department of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Continue reading Conference Reflections on “Religion and Empire in the First Millennium BCE Levant” (Beirut, 22-25 October 2016)

We’re hiring! New research positions at the CSTT (and others)

The CSTT is seeking enthusiastic candidates for several fixed-term positions of University researchers, Postdoctoral researchers and Doctoral students. The university and postdoctoral researcher positions are for periods ranging from one to three years. The period of the doctoral student positions may range from one to four years.

For more information on how to apply, please visit the University of Helsinki website. The deadline for the application is Sunday 18 September 2016.

It should also be noted that our cooperation partner, the Centre of Excellence in Reason and Religious Recognition, also has various research positions open. To see them follow the same link above.