Kenya > Finland #worldinterview #8

Kenya > Finland

Interviewee: Liisa Seppänen

What is the relationship between politics and archaeology in Finland?

Seemingly, the relationship between politics and archaeology in Finland is weak today. However, the decisions related to the higher education and finance of universities and cultural institutions (National Board of Antiquities responsible for the maintenance of archaeological and cultural heritage in Finland and state supported museums practicing archaeological research) affect directly to archaeology. Today, the influence is mainly negative.

In the past, the influence has been more positive. For example, archaeology as an academic discipline was established at the same time with the rise of national romanticism, seeking “real Finnishness” and the beginning of “the Golden Age” of Finland since the late 19th century. The beginnings of and more professional and systematic antiquarian and archaeological activities started in 1870 with the establishment of the Finnish Antiquarian Society. The purpose of the society was to start the archaeological research of Finnish history, and to raise public national interest towards Finnish archaeological heritage and its protection. Prehistoric and medieval Finnishness became even more relevant to the intellectual defence of the nation during the period of Russian administrative pressure in 1890–1905, before Finland became independent in 1917.

The politics has affected the archaeological education in many ways. For example, in the 1920s, the donation was made to establish a professorship of historical archaeology in Turku University. However, the political movement related to the language strife opposed the person who was the candidate for the office and university decided to cancel the whole process. It was not until the 1990s when historical archaeology became more widely acknowledged as a subject in archaeology in Turku University. Also, the establishment of the department of archaeology in Oulu University was caused by the actions related to improvement of unemployment situation in northern Finland in the 1960s and 1970s when the state supported archaeological excavations employed people without work. There were many archaeological projects justified with employment aspect and a need for the archaeological education in northern Finland resulted in establishing the department in Oulu University.

Therefore, I would say that the politics and societal and ideological changes and acts in the academic and institutional sphere related to archaeology have been and are closely connected and mirror each other.

How do local communities relate to archaeological sites and archaeological investigations conducted in their areas and artefacts found from their land?

It really depends on individuals and their values and ideas. I would say that today the attitudes are mainly positive. Some communities have even adopted archaeological sites (on the permission of authorities) and they take care of them. Many people find archaeology, archaeological excavations and archaeological findings interesting and intriguing and they volunteer on excavations. In recent years, archaeological treasure hunting and metal detecting have become very popular hobbies to some people and this causes many challenges to professional archaeologists and authorities responsible for cultural heritage. Collaboration between local communities and individuals on local level (including politicians) is very important today and needs more and more resources which archaeology is unfortunately short of. However, archaeology is not considered important or even interesting by everybody – there are also people who could not care less about past and consider archaeological investigations meaningless and waste of time and resources. We could affect these attitudes by providing more information about archaeology and including archaeological courses in schools, too.

How global is the outlook of Finnish archaeology? Where are your archaeologists working?

When we consider the number of Finnish archaeologists (only three small departments, professors and universities providing archaeological education), I would say that it has been surprisingly global. Especially, Helsinki University has had many international research projects in Africa, South America and Near East. Not to mention classical archaeology, which has been based on international research. However, there are not that many foreign archaeologists working on Finnish material and projects based in Finland. The archaeologists in Finland are mainly working in museums, private archaeological companies and in the National Board of Antiquities or archaeological research projects in universities funded by external funding. Some Finnish archaeologists are working in Norway, Sweden, England and Italy, too.

What is the biggest problem in Finnish archaeology right now? And the biggest opportunity/hope?

I would say that the biggest problem is education, lack of money and other resources, collaboration and understanding about the potential of archaeological research (beyond archaeology). All these are related to general values related to the meaning of archaeological heritage. The biggest hope is that economy gets better and there would be wider understanding about archaeology in general in society.

Unfortunately, it seems that I personally see more problems than promises. Perhaps, the biggest opportunities are in international collaboration – hopefully in the future the collaboration is related to archaeological sites and material in Finland, too.

About Liisa:

PhD, Adjunct professor in urban archaeology in Turku University, Finland.

Presently, I am working in a project related to old urban excavations (from 1960s and 1980s) in Turku. Furthermore, I am editing a couple of books related to archaeology, writing articles and supervising students doing their MA thesis.änen-22771749änen


Questions from Emmanuel Ndiema

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Maldives > Kenya #worldinterview #7

Maldives > Kenya

Interviewee: Emmanuel Ndiema

What is the relationship between politics and archaeology in Kenya?

In Kenya, archaeology is not very well known among the general public, in recent years therefore we had efforts to promote understanding of archaeology and what role it can play promoting cultural tourism. Realizing the potential for archeology for economic transformation, the political class has picked it up and now used it as tool to promote diversified tourism products in Kenya. On a different levels different actors have resorted  to political  class to protect the interest for example some people have made communities begin to demand that archaeological material be returned to their area but the underlying interest is political  driven as some actors want to be gain favors from the political class in the county government.

How do local communities relate to archaeological sites and archaeological investigations conducted at their land and findings found from their land? Do they have any power or right to control archaeological investigation at their land and to own artefacts found from their land?

So far we have received very positive support from different communities we work with as most of them call us to whenever they find something in their land. They also give consent for archaeological work. They do not however have the right to own the artifacts recovered from their land as all artifacts are protected by law and are given to the NMK. Good stewardship however dictates that we provide information the local communities regarding the research findings don in their area.

I understand Kenya has a rather long history that goes all the way back to the pre-historic period. This makes Kenya very crucial in the evolution studies. This has obviously attracted a lot of foreign as well as local groups working in Kenya. How do you deal with this increasing flow of excavations and research? What measures are being taken to control and to keep track of all of them?

Here at NMK archaeology I receive a lot of requests for research which we evaluate with my committee to ensure that the methods are acceptable and there is nobody working in the area. We also have a data base on all ongoing projects. In some cases we have to get researchers to agree if they want to work in more or less same thing. We also have a time framework where a project has to wind up or show continuity so as to open the way for other researchers wanting to study the same collection.

How much of Kenya’s resources would you say is directed towards the study of it’s underwater and marine archaeology? Does it get the same focus and attention as its land archaeology?

In Kenya underwater archaeology has not received the attention it deserves in this regard, minimal resources are directed towards those area. In recent times though we had growing interests that culminated from the recent UNESCO conference to deliberate the potential for of Kenya’s underwater archaeology. We hope that with this interest will culminate to resources being directed to underwater discipline.

About Emmanuel:

Senior research Scientist National Museums of Kenya.

Home – National Museums of Kenya


Questions from Shiura Jaufar in the Maldives.

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The East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Paleontology: 2013 Conference in Mombasa, Kenya

Hi everyone,

We’d like to introduce ourselves – we are the East African Association for Paleoanthropology and Paleontology (EAAPP)!


The EAAPP was officially launched in Kenya on July 18, 2005.  Membership is open to paleoanthropologists and paleontologists working in Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda). The first objective of the society is to bring scholars working in this region together for scientific exchange and reporting on paleoanthropological and paleontological research findings. To this end, we hold bi-annual conferences with an emphasis on making East African and foreign scholars working in East Africa aware of each other’s research, as well as addressing issues affecting all researchers in East Africa such as policy regarding research requirements, collections management, and fieldwork ethics.  The second objective of the society is to raise funds for East African scholars to conduct field and laboratory research within East African countries.


Let us introduce ourselves: the members of the EAAPP Secretariat are —

1. Chairperson: Dr. Emma Mbua (Kenya), a Senior Research Scientist and the Head of Earth Sciences at the National Museums of Kenya, Kenya

2. Vice Chairperson: Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged (Ethiopia), Chair of the Anthropology Department at the California Academy of Sciences, USA

3. Organizing Secretary and Representative for the USA (USA): Dr. Briana Pobiner, Research Scientist and Museum Educator in the Human Origins Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA

4. Representative for Tanzania: Dr. Jackson Njau (Tanzania), Assistant Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geoanthropology, Indiana University, USA

5. Representative for Kenya: Dr. Purity Kiura (Kenya), Head of Archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya, Kenya

6. Representative for Eritrea: Dr. Amanuel Beyin (Eritrea), Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, University of Southern Indiana, USA

7. Representative for Ethiopia: Dr. Zelalem Assefa (Ethiopia), Research Associate in the Human Origins Program, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA

8. Representative for South Africa: Ms. Andrea Leenan, Chief Operating Officer, Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST), South Africa

9. Representative for Europe (Germany): Dr. Christine Hertler, Scientific Researcher for Paleobiology, Research Centre ROCEECH (The Role of Culture in Early Expansion of Humans), Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt, Germany

10: Representative for Asia: Dr Masato Nakatsukasa (Japan), Associate Professor, Laboratory of Physical Anthropology, Kyoto University, Japan

11. Representative for South America: Dr. Rene Bobe (Chile), Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, USA


Right now we’re in the throes of gearing up for our 4th bi-annual conference, which will begin in two days! It’s being held at the Leisure Lodge Resort in Mombasa, Kenya, from July 28th – August 2nd. The conference is organized by the secretariat of the EAAPP in coordination with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). We’re very excited to have 52 presentations planned by researchers from all over the world. The archaeology talks range from discussions of the characterization and chronology of the earliest Acheulean at Konso, Ethiopia to characterization of obsidian sources and provenience of Middle Stone Age artifacts in the Kenyan Rift Valley, to the implications of ostrich eggshell strontium isotope analysis for reconstructing prehistoric exchange systems in the African Late Stone Age, to recent findings of multidimentional features of megalithic monument centers in southwestern Ethiopia. There are also papers on case studies of cultural heritage management such as conservation of the paleoanthropological record with limited resources: the case of Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania and oil exploration in sensitive cultural landscapes: the case of Tullow Oil in the Lake Turkana Basin, Kenya.


We invite you to visit our website: and Facebook page:, and we’d love for any of you to attend our conferences! Email us at if you’d like to be put on our email list to get updates about future conferences.

British Museum International Training Programme : Facebook Group

The British Museum International training Programe  (ITP) , is a six week course arranged with several UK museums, in museology, art galleries. for experts, archaeologist and all students around the world.

Most Participants come from different parts of the world From :Afghanistan, Brazil China , Egypt, Ghana, India ,Iran , Iraq, Kenya, ,Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine , South Africa ,Sudan, Turkey, UAE and Uganda.

However, during the ICTP 2009, a facebook group (ICTP) has been launched to keep communication between ICTP participants, BM staff, and collegeus from other participant Museums. The group gives its members the chance to share their news through posting on group wall, and uploading their photos on the group. The ICTP facebook group has an international environment, with its 84  members from more than 16 countries, sharing different cultures and languages, but all has same interests in Museum Studies, Archaeology, and history…etc. Moreover, the group celebrated all kinds of events social and professional.

The group has been developed well over the past months, and it starts to become an excellent communication link between participants and a gathering point to all members. It also started a self introduction of itself towards further participants. For the first time, the group had sent welcoming PowerPoint slides before the beginning of the programme to both ICTP  participants of 2010, and 2011 and plan to send it Annually .

The group also developed and now has an offical e-mail:

where you can e-mail the group, and all of your comments will be automatically posted on the group wall.

We will be very happy, to see you on our group, to participate and share with us your experience in Archaeology, Museology, Galleries, and any related subject. : This is our link on facebook :


Its our pleasure to have you in our goup 🙂 Your Always welcome !!!


Haytham Dieck

BM-ICTP facebook Administrator