Thursday, 21 January 2016

2016 Conflict Archaeology Field School in Hanko S. Finland now confirmed

I have today received final confirmation that "Hangö Sommaruniversitet" will finance a three week long archaeological excavation of "Deutsches Lager Hanko" from June 27th to July 16th 2016. The excavation will be organized in the form of a conflict archaeology field school open to anyone interested in WW2 history and conflict archaeology.

Ingermanlandian "Hilfsfreiwillige" in "Deutsches Lager Hanko" in  December 1943. Photo SA-kuva.

The team supervising the field school will include me and archaeology students Anu Varjo (University of Helsinki Dpt. of Archaeology) and Jasmin Jyrä (University of Aberdeen Dpt. of Archaeology).

Trial excavations in progress inside the former German WW2 transition camp in 2014. 
Photo Jan Fast

If you wish to participate in the excavations of the German WW2 camp please send letters of interest to:

Monday, 18 January 2016

The case of Huhtiniemi. Looking back into previous forensic conflict archaeology in Finland.

According to persistent rumours in Finland (after WW2) the Finnish army held secret war courts for deserters in Lappeenranta SE Finland during the summer of 1944 after the Soviet offensive that same year. The rumours were supported by finds of several skeletal remains in the area over a prolonged period of years after the war.

Picture from the archaeological excavations (2006).

It was assumed that convicted deserters were moved to Huhtiniemi, executed by firing squad and buried in unmarked graves. Because no records of the activities of the "Greater Saimaa's" regional court martial from 1944 had been found, some believed the records had been deliberately destroyed.

Archaeological excavations were carried out by the dpt. of Archeology University of Helsinki at the site in 2006. During the excavations the skeletal remains of 11 people, all male and aged early twenties to middle-aged, were found.

Finnish forensic dentist Helena Ranta participated in the Huhtiniemi excavations
Forensic research and archaeological finds revealed that the skeletons belonged to  Russian servicemen who died in the garrisons of the area in the 18th century. The cause of death was most likely disease, as the the bodies showed no evidence of battle trauma, gunshot- or other wounds.

An orthodox cross found in the vicinity of one of the buried Russian soldiers.

Further excavations thave not showed evidence of any more mass graves in Huhtiniemi area in Lappeenranta. According to the official report by the research team (from October 2007) all possible WW2 mass grave sites in Huhtiniemi area have been examined and found to be empty of human remains. 

The skeletal remains of the deceased found during the archaeological excavations were properly reburied in 2015.


Friday, 15 January 2016

Lecturing about community archaeology, responsible metal detecting and WW2 conflict archaeology in Finland

I will be lecturing on the topic at the University of Helsinki U38 room 205 on the 1st of February 2016. The lecture is part of the studies in Museology and archaeology at the University. Please come and listen to it. The lecture is in Finnish but  I will be summarizing it in English.

Pinpointing metal objects on the excavation area (yellow flags).

The lecture is labelled "Yhteisöarkeologian historia Suomessa ja metallinpaljastimen käyttö toisen maailmansodan arkeologisten kohteiden tutkimuksessa" this translates to "The history of community archaeology in Finland and the use of metal detectors in the archaeological research of Second World War sites".

School students removing the topsoil of the detected area before the start of the excavation.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Nazi War Diggers

I won´t even change the name, it is what it is (was). While it now seems clear that the archaeological community wasn´t successfull in preventing British Channel 5 from broadcasting "Nazi War Diggers" by ClearStory in the end I think the whole sad affair has made us much stronger.

I would like to thank Tony Pollard, Tim Sutherland and above all Andy Brockman for all the effort You have put into this. Let´s all work even harder together to protect the WW2 heritage in the future!