Professor Ella Kivikoski’s groundbreaking archaeological path


  • Minna Silver
  • Pirjo Uino


Ella Margareta Kivikoski (25 May 1901 in Tammela–27 July 1990 in Helsinki) was the first woman in Finland to defend her Doctoral thesis in Archaeology in 1939. Many duties in the State Archaeological Commission of Finland provided a good basis for her research career. In 1941 she received a docentship (an associate professorship) at the University of Helsinki in the Department of Archaeology of Finland and the Nordic Countries. In 1948 Kivikoski was appointed to the chair of the same department, becoming at the time the only female professor, the second in sequence, at the University of Helsinki and the first female professor in archaeology in the Nordic countries. After the appointment to a professorship, Kivikoski was called to the Finnish Academy of Sciences, becoming its first female member. She retired in 1969. The Finnish Iron Age was Kivikoski’s main speciality. Her published scientific production is wide, consisting of several monographs, articles and edited works. Her major publication is Die Eisenzeit Finnlands, the catalogue of Iron Age artefacts found in Finland, that is still used today. Kivikoski was well networked in the learned societies, internationally active and awarded many foreign distinctions of honour. Kivikoski was demanding, even abrupt, as a professor but many remember her warm interest in her students. She guided students to fieldwork, especially at Iron Age sites on the Åland Islands where she also initiated the study of Iron Age houses in Finland. Kivikoski kept to culture-historical approaches and comparative typological analyses of artefacts and solid remains.