zondag 8 juni 2014


Autor: Viktor Saparin
a planet move around an empty point in space  Kirjastus: Eesti Riiklik Kirjastus, 1952

kasutatud raamat, kaaned kohati kulunud, lehed kohati määrdunud, sisu olemas ja loetav, pildil teine eksemplar

Teaduslik-fantastilised jutustused ja esseed.

teaduslik ja populaarteaduslik kirjandus

Teema: Ulme-, fantaasia- ja õuduskirjandus
Seisukord: kasutatud raamat, kaaned kohati kulunud, lehed kohati määrdunud, sisu olemas ja loetav, pildil teine eksemplar

Masendavalt igav n-ö inseneriulme raamat, mida on võimatu soovitada. Alustasin iga seal sisalduva jutu puhul lugemist ja lõpuks lasin diagonaalis üle lehtede. Tegelaste eesmärgiks on pasundada, kuivõrd ilus on see antikapitalistlik kodumaa, milliseid imesid tehnoloogia ja looduse allutamisel korda saadetakse jne. Muutub kiirelt väga tüütuks. Kui millegagi võrrelda, siis film "Valgus Koordis" teeb üldiselt sama, ainult et seda vaatan ma kui komöödiat. Raamat on aga uinutava mõjuga ja ainsad pisut huvipakkuvad kohad leiduvad jutus "Zoja Vinogradova päev", kus kirjeldati veidi prohvetlikult isesõitvat autot, intelligentset maja ja näotuvastussüsteemi. Igatahes võib vabalt vahele jätta, kui pole just kindlat plaani nina igasse raamatusse pista, mis riiulile potsatanud on

Ain Haas, Andres Peekna, Robert E. Walker
The observation that human societies are shaped by the natural
environment appears in the earliest treatises on cultural diversity.
Scholars have focused their attention on the ordinary conditions of
the environment (weather patterns, topography, natural resources,
and other enduring features) or on recurrent events in an area
(earthquakes, floods, droughts, etc.), when trying to account for
local inhabitants’ distinctive customs and beliefs. Yet recent inves-
tigations of ancient cataclysms suggest that truly extraordinary
events can also have a great and lasting impact.
For example, the recent underwater exploration of the Black Sea
by Robert Ballard (2001), featured in
National Geographic
zine, confirmed the findings of the geologists William Ryan and
Walter Pitman in
Noah’s Flood
(1998), pointing to a catastrophic
flood circa 5600 BC. Salt water from the Mediterranean Sea broke
through the Bosporus into what is now the Black Sea but was once
a glacial freshwater lake about 150 meters below present sea level.
The sudden inundation of human settlements along the old shore-
line is a plausible source of accounts of a world flood: in the Sumerian
epic of Gilgamesh, the Bible, and other ancient writings.
Another example involves the massive volcanic explosion, described
by David Keys in
(1999) that apparently split the Indo-
nesian islands of Sumatra and Java around 535 A.D. It spewed
enough volcanic dust into the atmosphere to darken the sun for a
year or more. This led to drastic weather shifts, crop failures, plague
outbreaks, the collapse of old civilizations, and the rise of new ones
around the globe.
What separates these studies from mere ruminations is the hard
scientific evidence for the cataclysms. In the first case, there is an
underwater beachline in the Black Sea, below which the remains of
freshwater mollusks and sediments have been found, with a radio-
carbon date of 7,500 years ago. In the second case, ice core samples
from both Greenland and Antarctica show unusual amounts of
sulfuric acid in the annual snow layers that fell some 1,500 years
ago, and dendrochronological analyses show a drastic reduction in
tree growth around the globe at the same time.
Has anything of the kind happened in the Baltic Sea area? If so,
there is an opportunity to study how a scientifically verifiable cata-
clysm could affect the folklore and history of an area, for many
generations. The Finnic and Baltic peoples, in particular, are noted
for their extensive collections of folk songs and tales, compiled mostly
in the 1800’s – a product of their deep reverence for the oral tradi-
tions of their ancestors and their recent and wholehearted conver-
sion to literacy. These peoples are also noted for their tenacious
commitment to their homelands. Compared to most other parts of
the world, the population of this area has been relatively stable for
millennia. Archeological, linguistic, and genetic evidence all point
to continuous occupation of the shores of the Baltic Sea since the
end of the Ice Age (Uibopuu 1984: 77–78; Vahtre 1992: 8; Mark &
Heapost & Sarap 1994: 241–53; Kriiska 1997; Künnap 1997, 2000;
Wiik 1997; Heapost 2000; Villems 2000). Even when major shifts
took place, as with the arrival of agricultural and metalworking
Indo-Europeans, the process of change seems to have been rather
gradual, with no wholesale displacement of the earlier inhabitants
by the arriving settlers. The proto-Finnic aboriginal population in-
termingled with the arriving proto-Balts, which meant that lore
about ancient cataclysms could have been preserved through the
acculturation process.
One type of cataclysm that can be proven in the Baltic Sea area is
the sudden drainage of periglacial lakes at the end of the last Ice
Age. As pointed out by Ryan and Pitman (1998), Baker (2002), and
Colman (2002), the retreat of glaciers leads to the trapping of the
melting fresh water in huge lakes, which get new drainage chan-
nels as the glacial retreat continues. These channels enlarge rap-
idly due to erosion, which can lead to the sudden release of large
volumes of fresh water into the ocean, affecting the circulation of
currents and even the global climate.
The Baltic Sea experienced two such major drainage events. The
first was the draining of the Baltic Glacial Lake across south-cen-
tral Sweden (through the Mälaren Valley) in 8213 BC, leading to
the sudden lowering of the water level by 25–30 meters. Such pre-
Haas & Peekna & Walker Folklore 23
cise dating was made possible by counting clay-sediment layers,
and confirmed by radiocarbon dating of the freshwater and saltwa-
ter strata. Then the connection with the ocean was gradually cut
off again due to isostatic rebound after Scandinavia was freed from
the weight of the glaciers. Thus, a new freshwater glacial drainage
lake was born, around 7300 BC. Some centuries later, about 6500
BC, this elevated Ancylus Lake broke through to the ocean across
the straits of Denmark. Again, there was a significant lowering of
the water level, this time by almost 20 meters (Kessel & Punning
In his books
(1976) and
(1984), Lennart Meri
(the scholar, anthropological filmmaker, and diplomat who became
Estonia’s first post-Soviet president) notes that another, literally
earth-shattering, cataclysm took place in the area, when a meteor-
ite broke apart in the atmosphere and the pieces smashed into the
Estonian island of Saaremaa to form the crater of Kaali and several
smaller ones. He presents an intriguing argument that this had a
major impact on Estonian-Finnish mythology, folklore, involvement
in iron-making and trade, etc. The date he reports for this event,
600–700 B.C., was based on radiocarbon dating of charred wood from
the craters.
Some subsequent research suggests that this wood may have been
deposited later, after a much earlier formation of the crater around
2000 B.C. or even 5500 B.C. Both of these datings are based on
radiocarbon testing – of the lowest layer of organic sediment at the
bottom of Kaali Crater and of the lowest bog deposit layer holding
meteoric debris in the nearby landscape, respectively (Tiirmaa 1994;
Raukas 1995). We think the date of 2000 BC is more plausible, for it
is harder to account for the absence of an organic layer during the
long period from 5500 BC to 2000 BC than it is to accept the possi-
bility that subsurface water flow led to the percolation of the minute
meteorite fragments into lower strata. The earlier date is also prob-
lematic because the site was under water until about 3000 BC and
the crater has never yielded any marine organic matter (Tiirmaa
1994: 46–47). In any case, there is strong scientific evidence that a
meteorite did hit Saaremaa during the ancient times, when the
area was occupied by humans.
Echoes Of Stone Age Cataclysms
More recent analyses tend to support the original date of 600 B.C.
relayed by Meri. Confirming the findings of a 2000 study by
Rasmussen et al., Veski (2002) reports that unusually high levels of
iridium (widely accepted as a marker of a meteorite impact) have
been found in a bog 6 km from the Kaali crater, in association with
mineral particles, charcoal, and major shifts in pollen types—which
can plausibly be interpreted as signs of impact ejecta, conflagra-
tion, and disruption of vegetation, respectively. The peat layers con-
taining these traces have been radiocarbon-dated to 800-400 B.C.
How the older organic matter reported by Tiirmaa could have ended
up inside Kaali crater is still a mystery, since the groundwater that
filtered into the pit seems unlikely to have transported more than
minute particles of more ancient sediments. In addition, Lõugas
(1996:146) finds it hard to believe that such a thick layer (6 meters)
of sediment (mud, fallen trees/leaves, peat) could have formed in
the bottom of the crater only since the 7th century B.C. While we
await further studies to clear up such lingering puzzles with regard
to the dating of the event, it is at least safe to say that a meteorite
did hit Saaremaa during an ancient time, when the area was occu-
pied by humans.
In this paper, we consider how these cataclysms might have af-
fected the human observers of the time, and we look for possible
references to such events in the cultural heritage of the peoples
living around the Baltic Sea today. For any apparent echoes we iden-
tify, we also consider alternative explanations, such as pure coinci-
dence, other disasters of a less unusual type, and diffusion of fan-
tastic tales from other regions. We also consider how explanations
for a unique event could evolve into more general themes for folk
tales or songs, and eventually into reinforcements of ancestor rev-
erence and conventional morality.
At the time of the sudden drainage of the Baltic Glacial Lake (10,200
years ago), the Baltic Sea was in a barren Arctic tundra environ-
ment, but by the time of the draining of Ancylus Lake (8,500 years
ago), there was a more hospitable Boreal climate, with pine forests
and hazel coppices predominating (Kessel & Punning 1995: 224–
Haas & Peekna & Walker Folklore 23
226). Archeological finds indicate that there was human habitation
in the area throughout this period. The inhabitants camped along
the coast and made expeditions out to the few islands that pro-
truded above the high water level at that time (portions of Hiiumaa,
Saaremaa, and the current mainland), where they fished and hunted
seals and waterfowl (Selirand & Tõnisson 1984: 14–21; Kriiska 1998).
Even if the drop in the water level took some years (about 20 in the
case of the Ancylus drainage, according to Kessel & Punning 1995:
226), the human observers in the area would have seen an amazing
transformation. The shoreline would have advanced perceptibly, the
islands would have grown in size, new sand bars and reefs would
have appeared at the surface of the water, and beds of underwater
plants would have become permanently exposed. Because the ex-
posed areas were soaked with fresh water, not salt, they would have
become habitable for plants, animals, and people in a relatively short
time. From the perspective of the eastern side of the Baltic Sea,
where the channel of outflow would not have been visible, it would
have been understandable for people to think that the land was
rising rather than that the water was draining away.
There are folk songs and poems among the Baltic Finns that seem
to allude to such an event. There is a folk song from western Esto-
nia (Tedre & Tormis 1999: 47), which recounts various ways in which
the sea shore and bottom can turn into productive land:
Ma laulan mere maaksi,
I sing the sea into land,
mere kaldad karjamaaksi
, The sea’s shores into grazing land,
mere ääred heinamaaksi,
The sea’s edges into a hay meadow,
mere põhja põllumaaksi,
The sea’s bottom into a planting
mere kivid killingiksi!
The sea’s stones into shillings!
(Translated by A. Haas)
As the point is to illustrate the power of song, it is possible that the
original narrator simply imagined an amazing feat, without knowl-
edge that such a transformation had actually happened. Yet the
description is quite realistic, devoid of fantastic embellishments,
and it comes from the region where the water level has the great-
est impact on the extent of the shoreline. In northern Estonia, much
the shore is a high cliff; a change in the water level would change
Echoes Of Stone Age Cataclysms
the height of the cliff but not yield as much of an increase in land
area as in western Estonia.
There is a similar song from Northern Estonia (Rüütel 1997: 192),
but it turns the process around so that land becomes sea.
Nüüd laulan mered
Now I’ll sing the sea into grass,
merekalda’ad kalaksi,
The seashore into fish,
mereliiva linnastesta,
The sea sand into malt,
merepõhja põllumaaksa.
The sea bottom into a field.
(Translated by A. Haas)
Yet it is interesting that even here, the process ends with the sea
turning into land again. It is unlikely that this song was inspired by
the filling of the ancient Baltic Glacial Lake or Ancylus Lake, which
would have been too slow to be noticed during a human lifespan. Of
course, if people had once observed land emerging from water, then
the opposite could also be conceived. A singer many generations
removed from the original event, and at some distance inland, could
easily transpose things, if the point was to illustrate the power of
song rather than to preserve the news of a seemingly fantastic event
long ago.
In the opening rune of the Finnish-Karelian epic
, which
Elias Lönnrot compiled on the basis of traditional songs, the world
is created when a tireless swimmer (Väinämöinen in the original
version, his mother Ilmatar in the revised version of the epic), drift-
ing in the sea, raises a knee – whose round shape would resemble
an emerging sandbar or wave-battered skerry – and thus provides
a nesting place for a bird (a goose, eagle, scaup or redheaded duck
in various versions). When the heat from the hatching eggs causes
the swimmer to stir, the eggs tumble out of the nest, crack open,
and turn into the earth and heavens (Pentikäinen 1989: 131–139;
et al
. 1994: 96–97). A similar creation-myth is found among
the Estonians and Ingrians as well, but without superhuman or
divine characters. This has been taken as evidence that these more
naturalistic versions are the closest to the original form of the myth
et al.
1994: 83). An Ingrian song has a swallow nesting on a
ship, which then wrecks into the black mud and sand of the sea,
from which an island arises (Pentikäinen 1989: 139–140).
Haas & Peekna & Walker Folklore 23
An Estonian creation-song has a bird flying over “the world’s great
lake” and rejecting a blue bush and red bush, before deciding to
nest on a yellow bush. The chicks hatch and turn into a berry, a
field stone, the moon, and the sun. These in turn develop into ground
for berry-picking (symbolizing food gathering), a place for beer brew-
ing (symbolizing agriculture; heated stones are used for the wort),
and the heavenly bodies by which time is reckoned (Honko
et al.
1994: 83-84, 95). The reference to the world’s great lake (Estonian
ilma suur järv
), not sea, implies a huge body of fresh water, which
fits with a periglacial lake. The bird nesting in the yellow bush may
allude to a tiny exposed island covered with yellowish sand and/or
dried aquatic plants. The more literal explanation of a bush with
yellow leaves is unlikely because that would have the bird nesting
in autumn, which has not been known to occur in northern Europe.
Moreover, spring is the most likely season for a meltwater lake’s
level to overtop its potential outlet, because of the additional melt-
ing of snow from the preceding winter. The rejected blue and red
bushes may be metaphors for the water at midday and at sunrise or
sunset, or they may represent different colors of underwater plants
that have suddenly risen above the water. On the other hand, the
choice of these colors may just be a poetic convention, for the blue-
red-yellow combination appears in many folk poems that have no
apparent connection to the drainage of a lake (Jaago 1997: 64–67).
The myth about the creation of the world from an egg is known
over a very wide area extending from the Mediterranean to India,
Japan, Polynesia and Peru (Honko
This is not surprising, as humans everywhere know that an egg can turn into
something bigger and thus serves as an apt symbol of birth and
development. Even the connection of the egg to an initially water-
covered world is not unknown in a southern land like India
(Pentikäinen 1989: 141–142). For coastal peoples, an open expanse
of water can symbolize the emptiness that preceded the creation of
the world; for an inland people like the Mordvins, a Volga Finnic
group in the Russian interior, the primordial emptiness is easier to
visualise as a barren landscape (see the creation-myth in Honko
Yet the Baltic Finnic creation myths present unusually vivid descriptions 
of the process by which the water turns to
land, with many details that coincide with the actual process of
draining periglacial lakes. The same principal character (a bird)
Echoes Of Stone Age Cataclysms

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