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 L��nelaid, 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.