Author: Sutrop, Urmas
Pub Date: 03/01/2001
Publication: Name: Trames Publisher: Estonian Academy Publishers Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2001 Estonian Academy Publishers ISSN: 1406-0922
Issue: Date: March, 2001 Source Volume: 5 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 200343833
Full Text: Most of the theories that attempt to explain the origin of the Finno-Ugric peoples and languages are mixed with national myths. More than a century-old theory, according to which all Finno-Ugric peoples and languages originated from the East is itself a powerful national myth of Estonians, Finns, Hungarians and other Finno-Ugric peoples.

At present the centuries-old paradigm in Finno-Ugric studies is changing. Since the end of the 19th century, when the Finno-Ugric language family tree theory (Stammbaumtheorie) was established, the linguists have been the principal national myth-makers. The historians adjusted their theories, whereas the linguists used the archaeological data to demonstrate the validity of the postulated Finno-Ugric language family tree. It was believed that the trunk (roots) of that tree lay in the East and the branching of the tree corresponded to the hypothetical migrations and ramifications of the Proto-Finno-Ugric population and language into the modern Finno-Ugric languages. Such mutual development of the linguistics and archaeology resulted in the theory that every archaeological culture corresponded to a different population and language.

In recent years a new paradigm in Finno-Ugric studies has emerged. Archaeologists (Kyosti Julku, Pavel Dolukhanov, Nunez Milton), linguists (Janos Pusztay, Kalevi Wiik, Ago Kunnap), anthropologists (Markku Niskanen), and molecular biologists (Richard Villems) established the "Roots" club in 1997. In the same year their manifesto appeared (Julku 1997). The papers presented in the first three meetings are collected in two volumes of "The Roots of Peoples and Languages of Northern Eurasia" (Julku, Wiik 1998, Kunnap 2000). According to this paradigm, the Finno-Ugrians are autochthonous in north-eastern Europe. If a new archaeological culture appeared, for example, in eastern Baltic it did not automatically mean that a new population with their new language replaced the old indigenous population and language.

The present volume is a contribution to the new paradigm of the Finno-Ugric studies and is dedicated to the memory of its outstanding forerunner, archaeologist Richard Indreko (1900-1961). One of the goals of this collection of papers is also to demythologise the origin of the Finno-Ugric peoples and languages.

Richard Indreko was born on 25 February 1900 in Purdi, Jarvamaa, Estonia. He studied archaeology and ethnography at the University of Tartu, Estonia (1922-1927). In 1932 Indreko defended the thesis "Einige der altesten steinzeitlichen Funde Estlands" and received his first academic degree--Mag. Phil. In 1941 he presented the dissertation "The Middle Stone Age in Estonia" and obtained his second degree--Dr. Phil. at the University of Tartu.

During the years 1925-1941 Indreko worked as a scientific assistant and conservator in the Archaeological Cabinet at the University of Tartu. 1927-1928 he served in the armed forces. In the early 1940s he was the director of the Archaeological Cabinet and Museum, and Assistance Professor of prehistory of Estonia and neighbouring countries at Tartu.

In 1939 Estonia found itself as one of the targets of the Hitler-Stalin pact. After that the Russians established their military bases in Estonia, and ten months later the country was annexed by the Soviet Union. During the first Soviet occupation many Estonians were deported to Siberia or murdered by the invading authorities. In 1941 Estonia was occupied by Nazi Germany. In such an unstable situation many Estonians abandoned their homes and fled across the Baltic Sea. In 1943 Richard Indreko escaped to Finland and later in 1944 to Sweden. In Sweden Richard Indreko worked in the State Museum of History in Stockholm, first as an assistant (1944-1947) then as a state scholar (1947-1955) and an antiquarian (1955-1961). Indreko was active in many Estonian cultural and scientific institutions in exile. He died unexpectedly in 1961.

Indreko's erudition was enormous. He was not just a bookish person, however, but took part and directed many excavations in Estonia. Thus obtained original material was duly used in his dissertations and monographs. The amplitude of his interests was quite broad. At the beginning of his career Indreko published reports on the excavations (e.g. 1936, 1938), but soon he started writing papers about the Estonian prehistory and ancient population as well (1937, 1940, 1947). In his doctoral dissertation in 1941, Indreko summed up his studies on the Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic period) in Estonia (published after the Second World War in exile). This is his most acknowledged study (1948a) in archaeological literature. Indreko's three important papers were published posthumously (1961a, 1961b, 1964). One can find a good bibliography of Indreko's works, and an essay "Der Wissenschaftler Richard Indreko" in a small volume published in honour of Richard Indreko on the occasion of his 60th birthday in exile (Libellus ... 1960).

Dealing with prehistory, Indreko confronted the question about the origin of Finno-Ugric peoples and languages and of the post-glacial settlement in Estonia. Traditionally it was believed that the Baltic region had been inhabited by some hypothetical Proto-European population, and the later Finno-Ugrians came from the East. Contrary to this widely spread view, Indreko claimed that the Baltic region and southern Scandinavia were inhabited by the hunter-gatherers who followed the reindeer herds from Western and Central Europe. (One possible explanation for such Paleolithic migration from Central Europe into the Baltic is given in Sutrop 1997.) According to this view the Finno-Ugrians are the autochthonous inhabitants in the Baltic region. Later their offspring spread towards the Ural Mountains, and even beyond.

Indreko's thoughts and arguments about the origin and area of settlement of the Finno-Ugric peoples are brilliantly presented in his short essay "Origin and Area of Settlement of the Fenno-Ugrian Peoples" (1948b). This essay, written in English (Indreko's other publications are mostly in Estonian or in German), unfortunately remained largely unknown to the scientific community. In the postwar Europe the war refugees had very few possibilities to publish scientific reports. Indreko published his essay in a small series "Science in Exile. Publications of the Scientific Quarterly 'Scholar'".

We start this multidisciplinary volume with Indreko's sadly neglected essay "Origin and Area of Settlement of the Fenno-Ugrian Peoples". He probably had no chance to have a native speaker read his essay after the war. For that reason his English has now been slightly edited. Well-known archaeologists Marek Zvelebil and Valter Lang, molecular biologists Kristiina Tambets, Siiri Rootsi, Toomas Kivisild, and Richard Villems, and linguists Janos Pusztay, Angela Marcantonio, and Ago Kunnap discuss Indreko's essay and present their own views on the origin of Finno-Ugric peoples and languages. All papers (except Indreko's) have passed the normal review process of Trames.

This volume was planned and compiled within the framework of two projects: "Stammbaumtheorie--Geschichte und Probleme" and "Die Stammbaumtheorie und die Klassifizierung der ostseefinnischen Sprachen" at the University of Konstanz, Germany. I am grateful to Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung, Germany, for supporting these projects.


Urmas Sutrop

Institute of the Estonian Language

Roosikrantsi 6

10119 Tallinn


Ph: +372 644 9843

Fax: +372 641 1443



Indreko, Richard (1936) Vorlaufige Bemerkungen uber die Kunda Funde. Sitzungsberichte der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft 1934. 225-298. Tartu.

Indreko, Richard (1937) Eesti urgaeg: pilte Eestist 7-9000 aasta eest. [Estonia in Primitive Times.] (Elav teadus, 69.) Tartu: Eesti Kirjanduse Selts.

Indreko, Richard (1938) "Ein Hockergrab in Ardu, Ksp. Kose". In Liber Saecularis. Verhhandlungen der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft 30: 185-200. Tartu.

Indreko, Richard (1940) Eesti muistsed elanikud. [Ancient Inhabitants of Estonia.] Tartu: Teaduslik Kirjandus.

Indreko, Richard (1947) "Soome-ugrilaste paritolust ja asualast". [On the Origin and Area of Settlement of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples.] Virittaja 314-323.

Indreko, Richard (1948a) "Die mittlere Steinzeit in Estland. Mit einer Ubersicht "Uber die Geologie des Kunda-Sees" von K. Orviku". In Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademiens Handlingar 66. Stockholm.

Indreko, Richard (1948b) Origin and Area of Settlement of the Fenno-Ugrian Peoples. (Science in Exile. Publications of the Scientific Quaterly "Scholar", 1.) Heidelberg.

Indreko, Richard (1961a) "Die Asvakultur". In Bericht uber den V. internationalen Kongress fur Vor- und Fruhgeschichte. Hamburg vom 24. bis 30. August 1958. Gerhard Bersu, Wolfgang Dehn, Hrsg. 416-421, plates 40-47. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann.

Indreko, Richard (1961b) "Einige Anmerkungen zum Ursprung der Kundakultur". In Bericht uber den V. internationalen Kongress fur Vor-- und Fruhgeschichte. Hamburg vom 24. bis 30. August 1958. Gerhard Bersu, Wolfgang Dehn, Hrsg. 422-435. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann.

Indreko, Richard (1964) Mesolitische und Fruhneolitische Kulturen in Osteuropa und Westsibirien. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell.

Julku, Kyosti, ed. (1997) Itamerensuomi--eurooppalainen maa. With Estonian, Hungarian and English Summaries. (Studia Historica Fenno-Ugrica, 2.) Oulu: Societas Historiae Fenno-Ugricae.

Julku, Kyosti, Kalevi Wiik, eds. (1998) The Roots of Peoples and Languages of Northern Eurasia I. (Historica Fenno-Ugrica.) Turku: Societas Historiae Fenno-Ugricae.

Kunnap, Ago, ed. (2000) The Roots of Peoples and Languages of Northern Eurasia II and III. (Fenno-Ugristica, 23 / Historica Fenno-Ugrica.) Tartu: University of Tartu.

Libellus Richardo Indreko sexagenario oblatus. (Societas Litterarum Estonica in Svecia. Scripta. Ser. B. Fasc. III.) Stockholm, 1960.

Sutrop, Urmas (1997) "The Upper Paleolithic Migration from the Eifel Mountains into the Baltic". In Western and Eastern Contact Areas of Uralic Languages. Ago Kunnap, ed. 90-98. (Fenno-Ugristica, 21.) Tartu: University of Tartu.
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