Mesa M

Aadu Must

lle Must

Univ. de Tartu

Interdisciplinarity in Estonian history research and more essential debates

In the 1970s the first more extensive international interdisciplinary project made its way into Estonian history research: MAB - Man and Biosphere in Historical Retrospective - whose results were positive: the use of naturalist methods (e.g. beebread analysis, lake sediments analysis etc.) helped to create a qualitatively new picture about the earlier Estonian history as well as the spread of cultivation.

In the 1990s an explosive increase of interdisciplinary research projects followed:

  • The discussion of the problems of Estonian and Finno-Ugric ethnogenesis (the theory of archaeologists and historians versus the theory of geneticists; the re-assessment of the process of ethnogenesis in the light of geneticists' research results and its impact on the research of our prehistory in general); as a consequence of the debate historians accepted geneticists' principal viewpoints, emendating them in places ( agreed with also by geneticists); interdisciplinarity has created a strong synergistic effect.

  • A joint research project by historians and geographers for studying the Estonian history of settlement and the history of cartography. The result: scientific overviews on a qualitatively new level.

  • The research into the Estonian history of settlement: the project the Space Monitoring and the application of its findings in studying the Estonian earlier history (Urmas Peterson's data about ancient roads and important changes in the landscape; ancient hills with strongholds in photographs from outer space).

  • A dendrochronological project in the study of Estonian history of architecture (Alar Lnelaid, Kaur Alttoa).

The basic result: historians have reached the conclusion that historical research does not consist in investigating one or another set of sources but gathering all-sided information that is related to events, processes or developments under observation.