Maritime archaeology at the University of Helsinki


  • Marko Marila
  • Kristin Ilves


On the one hand, maritime archaeology in Finland has a long history that, depending on disciplinary definitions, extends back to the beginnings of the professionalisation of the field in the 1800s. On the other hand, the development that takes place in Finnish heritage management in the latter half of the 20th century gives birth to underwater archaeology and the study of sunken ships in particular. Building on and navigating these disciplinary boundaries, the article charts the history of higher education in maritime and underwater archaeology at the University of Helsinki. Maritime archaeological topics were introduced in the archaeology curriculum gradually and sporadically, with the first serious attempts to organise dedicated courses in the early 1970s and coming to full fruition in the early 1990s. Teaching of maritime archaeology in Helsinki has always been holistic and multidisciplinary, an approach that is also reflected in the thematic variation of maritime archaeological research projects carried out at the University of Helsinki. Recently, the thematic and methodological variation has also been complemented with a strong international focus.