STONE INTO TOOL
Flint can be described as the steel of the Stone Age. It does not occur in natural deposits in Finland and was mostly imported and traded from present-day Russia. The closest match to flint among Finnish rocks is hard, brittle quartz flaking into razor-sharp pieces and used making points, blades and scrapers.
Drawing: Craft Museum of Finland / Tuula Ollikainen
The hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age were skilful people, who made artefacts from wood, bone, antler and hides. These included bone fishhooks, wooden spoons, harpoons, maces and knives. Bags were made from skinned pouch hides. The versatile uses of birch-bark were recognised at an early stage. Also reeds, willow, twigs and pine roots were used for making baskets that could be lined with clay or resin.
Drawing: Virpi Hämeen-Anttila
The craft of pottery came to Finland from Russia around 4200 BC. The early pottery is known as Comb Ware because it was decorated with repeated rows of stamped comb impressions and pits. These tapering-based pots were made of strips of clay added on top of each other. The dried pots were then baked in front of an open fire. Pottery was already known in the Middle East in the 8th millennium BC, and the potter’s wheel came into use in the 4th millennium.
Photo: Suomen kansallismuseon kokoelma / kuva, Kari Hakli
FIBRE INTO YARN
In prehistoric Finland sheep were reared, thread was spun from wool and flax, and perhaps also from nettle. Hemp was first cultivated in the Iron Age.
Photo: Luonnonkuva-arkisto / Matti Pihlatie
Around 2500 BC it was noticed how a ten percent addition of tin to copper produced bronze, which is harder and more durable than either metal on its own. The use of bronze spread from the Middle East throughout Europe, Southwest Asia, India and China by 1500 BC. In Finland the Bronze Age lasted from 1500 to 500 BC. Hardly any bronze was made in Finland, but the ancient Finns obtained expensive metal artefacts, such as swords, palstaves, brooches and razors, by trading furs for them.
Drawing: Suomen käsityön museo / Tuula Ollikainen
Around 1300 BC, the Hittites, living in the area of present-day Turkey, invented the craft of smelting iron from ore. Tools and weapons made from this new wonder metal were soon spread via trade. Vernacular iron metallurgy was adopted some two thousand years ago in Finland. Archaeological finds suggest that the original smelting furnaces were large semi-spherical pits with walls lined with clay and stones. In Finland, the Iron Age lasted from 500 BC to 1150 AD.
Suomen kansallismuseon kokoelmat / kuva: Ilpo Prost
Iron was readily available in the form of ore found as round granules in bogs and lake bottom deposits.
Ore comes from the Realm of the Dead,
Underground that son of the Underworld
Found rusted grass in the bog,
Steel grass in the mire,
Take it to Smith Ilmari’s forge
Kuva: Ilpo Probst