Introduction of the Radar project

The project Radar is an interactive educational material of Estonian cultural history. The main material of the project is Estonian local folkloristic narratives. With the help of the tradition - the stories and legends of particular places on local landscape etc - the inhabitants have identified themselves for centuries in their close neighbourhood and formed the feeling of "our-their" which is important for the preservation and self-recognition of every small society. The changes in lifestyle of the rural culture during the last decades have strongly destroyed the principles of the previous definitions of identity. Therefore, Radar is a necessary teaching means for schools, an important corpus of information for other institutions and definitely attractive material for those interested in their past and roots.

The main source of Radar is folktales, mostly concentrated into Estonian Folklore Archives and Estonian Cultural History Archives of Estonian Literary Museum. At the same time also the material from Estonian local museums and notes gathered by amateur historians are included. All folktales are being digitalised, incorporated into a database, after that the objects are located on landscape, measured with GPS and photographed, subsequently the obtained data is entered in a digital map.

The team working with Radar has an interdisciplinary background. We meet here researchers from several fields, predominantly folklorists, but also historians of literature, archaeologists and others. Most of the researchers work at Estonian Literary Museum. Specialists from other institutions are engaged for consultation and field-work. The team includes art and cultural scientists as well, who prepare the digital map layer for the monuments of art and culture.

The information of archaeological sites from the database of National Heritage Board and the protected nature monuments from Estonian Nature Information System (EELIS) are added as separate layers. This substantial material is concentrated into a database which is the basis for creating a digital map by stages. By the end of the first stage in 2008, the Radar team will have worked through the entire material concerning Easte Estonia (historical Viru, Tartu, Vőru County and Setu region). The database will remain open and under constant improvement.

When structuring the data of Radar it was decided to follow the historical division of parishes and counties. Historical church parishes formed cultural entities of their own which have left traces in mental as well as material culture. The older division of parishes has previously been followed in compiling folkloristic, linguistic and ethnological collections since the middle of the 19th century.

The Radar project and its data will hopefully broaden the self-identity of its users and other interested people through a deeper sense of history.

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