Ready to go!

Our project ‘Carving Out Transformations – Wood Use in North-Eastern Europe, 1100–1600’ is now ready to start its life in the social media.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland in 2018–2022.

The project is based on the fact that wood was a ubiquitous material for premodern communities living in the subarctic region. The interdisciplinary project focuses on the uses and transformations of wood in North-Eastern Europe from the 12th to the 17th century. We will take a long-term perspective on the changing significance of wood, embodied in both material and metaphorical movements of the substance from forest to households and markets, and from blocks of wood into ecclesiastical sculptures. How these movements were entangled with different ways of life and interactions between humans, animals, the environment, and the divine? Answering to the question reveals the premodern relationship with wood.

The project is embedded in the contemporary debates on materiality, and its importance for understanding interactions between humans, animals, objects, and the environment. It belongs to the cutting-edge trend of the environmental humanities, and addresses the complexities of material networks that cross through local and global cultures, economic and social practices, and political discourses. This protean approach bridges the gap between a range of disciplines with their own traditions of studying wood. It allows scholars and scientists to reconstruct the movements of wooden objects from one geographical and cultural location to another.

The project will shift emphasis from such artefact groups as ceramics, metal objects, and individual works of art to this less inconspicuous but omnipresent substance that conditioned all life. Wood provides means to move focus from the established centre–periphery models to a novel conception based on the diffused and dispersed networks of changing materials. North-Eastern Europe constitutes a particularly interesting case regarding the premodern use of wood. It was a region where urbanism reached its northernmost point, and the vast reaches of forest wilderness began.

In building a many-sided conception of the past through wood the project emphasises the significance of research methods. The research team consists of archaeobotanists, archaeologists, art historians, and historians. The integrated interdisciplinary approach acknowledges the importance of disciplinary traditions, but aims at finding common research questions and approaches that unite the disciplines in new configurations that produce results having impact on all individual disciplines. This puts emphasis on fruitful dialogue and integration of different disciplinary methods.