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Archaeological Collections

Most of the archaeological objects found in Finland are catalogued in the collections of the National Museum. Since 2011 also historical finds from archaeological research projects are catalogued in archaeological collections. The maintenance of the collections is the responsibility of the Unit for Archives and Archaeological Collections. The only other notable collections are those of the Turku Provincial Museum, the University of Turku, the Satakunta Provincial Museum, and the Kuopio Provincial Museum.

The earliest catalogues date from the 1820's, when the collections belonged to the Imperial Alexander University (as the present University of Helsinki was then called). The largest group of catalogued objects consists of excavation finds, while many of the so-called stray finds derive from private individuals. Of the three main prehistoric periods, the Stone Age has produced the largest collection of finds. The new permanent prehistoric exhibition at the National Museum, planned by the former department of
Archaeology, was opened in 1995 and displays some 5000 numbered objects and object groups.

The National Museum has been the repository for all Finnish prehistoric finds since 1883. Consequently, it offers the researcher an excellent opportunity to study the archaeological material in one central location.

Besides the domestic collections, the present department in charge of the archaeological finds, Archives and Information Services, also has some foreign material, most of which derives from the Board's or its predecessor's own excavations or purchases in the late 1800's or early 1900's especially from Russia. The so-called Comparative Collection was originally established for educational use in training archaeologists at the University of Helsinki. Nowadays, the Department of Archives and Information Services does not actively collect foreign material.

The collections are used extensively for archaeological research and exhibition purposes. A part of the find material has been deposited in provincial museums. The material is also being constantly lent out to other museums for exhibitions, and photographs of the finds can be ordered for research and publication.

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Iron-age clay pot. Photo by Markku Haverinen
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Stone-age corded ware dishes. Photo by István
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Bronze-age sword and dagger. Photo by Markku Haverinen


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Last updated 15.5.2014
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