Exhibition: ‘Face to face with medieval Saaremaa islanders‘ at Saaremaa Museum is opened from 14-07.2023 until 30.08.2024!
The 13th-century is considered a revolutionary period in the history of Estonia, as then these areas were joined to the Catholic European, and the dominance of mainly German immigrants in the society began.
The 13th- and 14th-century following the Crusades are a time of which we have only a handful of written sources. Approaches based on archaeological sources and gaining influence only in the last decade emphasize the active participation of locals in shaping medieval Livonia. Their role seems to be especially paramount in Saaremaa. Here, even after the Crusades, the power remained for the most part with the same families that ruled before the islanders were officially converted to Christianity and subjected to new lords in 1227.
This exhibition places the viewer literally face-to-face with a persons from the past.
Burials from the 13th century, already belonging to the Christian era, have been excavated in Saaremaa since the 1950s. They have been studied by several archaeologists, but the development of technology and financial possibilities have set their own limits when drawing conclusions.
This exhibition was completed thanks to private entrepreneurs who shouldered the resource-intensive work of archaeologists. Kristjan Rahu’s funding to Foundation Osiliana made it possible to commission scientific analyses, carry out research and create realistic reconstructions of people who once lived, two of whom can be met at the exhibition.
With the help of a research grant from the Postimees Foundation and Cultural Endowment of Estonia the clothing and jewelry of these people were recreated.
Displayed fragments of the life of the islanders from the 13th and 14th century emphasize simultaneously both International communication and strong local characteristics. The exhibition is a collaborative project of Saaremaa Museum Foundation, Foundation Osiliana, and the Postimees Foundation. In addition to the five curators, who are archaeologists and historians, a number of collaborators contributed to the realization of the exhibition. Reconstructions of medievaal residents of Saaremaa were made by specialists from Sweden and Germany, and replicas of objects, jewelry, and clothing were made by local craftsmen.
The employees of the Saaremaa Museum and the artists who assisted them did an enormous job in assembling and designing the exhibition. Thank you all!
The entire exhibition is bound together by a belt chain running through different themes, a piece of jewelry unique to a medieval Saaremaa woman. Through its large rings, you can see finds that were preserved in the ground, obtain answers to questions, and read about things you might never have known to ask about. One can see medieval inhabitants of Saaremaa, but also yourself, past and present. Perhaps we are not so different after all!
Curators: Marika Mägi PhD (SA Osiliana / Tallinn University), Riina Rammo PhD (University of Tartu); Piia Sandrak (SA Osiliana / Tallinn University); Jaana Ratas; Karin Rannaäär (SA Osiliana / University of Tartu)
Exhibition design: Karmo Menda; Graphic design: Mare Kõrtsini; Light designer: Airi Eras
Reconstructions of skeletons: Oscar Nilsson (Arts & Sciences, Stockholm), Özgür Bulut PhD (Invent Human Academy Tübingen)
Koljude 3D modelleerimine: Ragnar Saage (University of Tartu)
Reconstructions of objects: Edvards Puciriuss (University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy), Astri Kaljus (University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy), Indrek Jets PhD, Guna Zommere
DNA analyses: Kristiina Tambets PhD, (University of Tartu Institute of Genomics), Lehti Saag PhD, (University of Tartu Institute of Genomics), Stefania Sasso (University of Tartu Institute of Genomics)
Biological anthropology: Raili Allmäe PhD (SA Osiliana / Tallinn University), Martin Malve (University of Tartu), Maris Niinesalu-Moon (SA Osiliana / University of Tartu), Rimantas Jankauskas (University of Vilnius)
Isotopes: Maris Niinesalu-Moon (SA Osiliana / University of Tartu)
Conservation: Tarvi Toome (Tallinn University), Karin Rannaäär (SA Osiliana / University of Tartu)
Public-and educational programmes: Jürje Koert (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Marketing: Rita Rahu (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Redaction: Olavi Pesti (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Translator: Peeter Alan Tammisto (University of Tartu)
Exposition construction technicians: Tõnis Kallas, Perti Kask, Toomas Harjus, Roland Adamson (SA Saaremaa Museum), Heino Jürgenstein (Kurelto OÜ)
Museum shop exhibition range: Liisi Ots (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Photographer: Aivo Põlluäär (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Project manager: Maret Kukkur (SA Saaremaa Museum)
Director of SA Saaremaa Museum: Rita Valge
Project partners and supporters: Foundation Osiliana, Saaremaa Museum Foundation, University of Tallinn, University of Tartu, Postimees Foundation (POST4), Cultural Endowment of Estonia