Memories buried beneath the layers of time – historical archaeology study of a Pikisaari pitch mill in the town of Oulu, pitch mill community and their worldview between 1640-1890

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, L10, Zoom link: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/69149640601

Topic of the dissertation

Memories buried beneath the layers of time – historical archaeology study of a Pikisaari pitch mill in the town of Oulu, pitch mill community and their worldview between 1640-1890

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts (archaeology and Science Communication) Marika Hyttinen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, Archaeology

Subject of study

Archaeology

Opponent

Docent Georg Haggrén, University of Helsinki

Custos

Docent Timo Ylimaunu, University of Oulu

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New historical archaeology study narrates the forgotten story of the early modern Pikisaari Pitch mill community in the town of Oulu

This doctoral dissertation deals with the early modern pitch mill of Pikisaari, Oulu. The aim of the study was to build a holistic picture from the forgotten early industrial mill by using the archaeological and written sources, like church records, probate estate inventories and fire insurance records as well as historical maps.

According to study the pitch burning was proto-industrial production. Pikisaari pitch mill followed traditional agrarian annual rhythms. The pitch production was alive from the early spring to the late autumn but ceased for the wintertime. Different kinds of tools and small artifacts, like tens of buttons, prove that pitch workers were also skilled craftsmen who made part of their living by making metal and wooden handicrafts. Sometimes livelihood had to be earned by practicing another trade, like seafaring.

Women were in significant role in the community. While pitchers’ sons left the community, daughters stayed and married new pitch workers. Via daughters and their marriages esoteric know-how of pitch burning was passed on from the generation to generation. The new interpretation challenges the traditional view which emphasizes the greater significance of the sons in the early modern industrial mills.

Archaeological finds tell that magic and folk beliefs played still an important role in the pitch mill community on the threshold of a modern era. By using rituals and magical objects protection against harms and misfortunes was sought in the everyday life. Also, the success of the pitch boiling process was secured by practicing magic. Research results shed light on the pitch mills operation as well as production at the local and national levels. Study proves that by analyzing and interpreting the archaeological record can be achieved new knowledge and fresh perspectives.
Last updated: 5.10.2021