(Jussi Konttinen/Helsingen Sanomat, 13 June 2010) -- Inari, Finnish Lapland - The low rays of the sun caress the rough surface of a strange stone arrangement on the shore of Inari Lake in Sápmi, or Finnish Lapland. In the shallow water sits a boulder, on top of which rests the Päällyskivi (“Top Stone”), the shape of which resembles the head of an elk. The top stone is supported by three smaller stones. “Everything suggests that this is a seita", says Inari Sámi seita expert Ilmari Mattus, while observing the construction." ... Seitas, or the old sacred places of the Sámi people, have become the subject of renewed interest. The name varies, depending on the local Sámi dialect, and the places are also known as sieidis or Storjunkare. The Academy of Finland is funding a four-year research project, in connection with which six seitas have already been examined. The archaeologists from the University of Oulu have performed small-scale excavations in the vicinity of the seitas. The studies have already produced some results. “Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest findings have been dated back to the 12th century”, says archaeologist Tiina Äikäs. Next to most of the examined sacred places the bones of animals, such as reindeer, goats, sheep, or various types of bird and fish species have been located. Animal offerings were presented to seitas in hopes for better luck with fishing or hunting. Sometimes such proceedings included brushing the stone with blood or fat. This summer season the excavations will continue in Termisvaara in the far northern municipality of Enontekiö. Divers will start exploring the seitas surrounded by water. Most known seitas are unusually shaped stones. At one time Christian priests destroyed seitas, but the indigenous Sámi people themselves are also known to have taken them apart, if they have not been propitious.
Posted 16 June 2010; 11:45:32 PM. Permalink