Archaeological survey

Arheoloogilised uuringud Akali asulakohas. Foto: L. Jaanits

Photo: Lembit Jaanits

It is established practice for projects that involve large-scale soilworks to first conduct archaeological surveys on work areas. The practice of archaeological surveys reduces or even eliminates the risk of finding heritage objects during soilworks. Surprise finds could cause unplanned changes in project workflow, which could impose additional costs or significant delays.

Although wetlands are not typical environments for archaeological fieldworks, several monuments of considerable scientific value have been found on them. The types of possible monuments include the Stone Age settlement sites (eg. Mõrdama, Unakvara found recently), sacred sites (eg Miila Hiiemägi in Sirtsi Mire), iron-ore processing sites (including couple of them close to Sirtsi and Tudusoo mire), wetland retreat sites (including two in Tudusoo mire).

As shown in given examples, there are several protected archaeological sites in close vicinity of the project area, which made the probability of finding new monuments quite high. Prior archaeological survey was needed to make the later soil-work planning possible.

Archaeology is known to be a popular topic in different news channels. The results of surveys and excavations are often presented in media publications from local newspapers and radio shows to popular science journals. 

Information on new antiquities and marshlands was taken into account in the preparation of restoration plans to prevent damage to antiquities during excavation.

Although this was not the original purpose of the work, the archaeological finds provided important additional material on the use of bogs in the last century. Exhibition material was mainly used for economic activities and World War II and subsequent refuges, and an exhibition was compiled from them.

Two archaeological surveys were also conducted with participation of wider publics and the findings were used to create exhibitions of past use of wetlands. Discovered historical iron melting sites provide significant input for studying early iron industries history. They provide significant input to a research project starting in 2021 (POST126, “The height and demise of Estonian iron metallurgy during the 12th–14th centuries”, Ragnar Saage).

The results of archaeological survey and also information about known monuments were included in popular and educational materials produced during the project.

At the beginning of the project archeological survey plans for each project site were compiled based on available information and maps. By end of 2016 archeological field surveys for each site was carried out. The monitoring of soilworks continued throughout the project.