According to radiocarbon dating it was settled around 11,000 years ago at the beginning of the ninth millennium BC.
Tools made by Kunda culture, Estonian History Museum
Evidence has been found of hunting and fishing communities existing around 6500 BC near the town of Kunda in northern Estonia. Bone and stone artefacts similar to those found at Kunda have been discovered elsewhere in Estonia, as well as in Latvia, northern Lithuania and in southern Finland. The Kunda culture belongs to the middle stone age, or Mesolithic period.
The end of the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age were marked by great cultural changes. The most significant was the transition to farming, which has remained at the core of the economy and culture. Between the first and fifth centuries AD resident farming was widely established, the population grew, and settlement expanded. Cultural influences from the Roman Empire reached Estonia.
The first mention of the people inhabiting present-day Estonia is by the Roman historian Tacitus, who in his book Germania (ca. AD 98) describes the Aesti tribe. Tacitus mentions their term for amber in an apparently Latinised form, glesum (cf. Latvian glīsas). This is the only word of their language recorded from antiquity. In spite of this point, the Aestii are generally considered the ancestors of the later Baltic peoples.
Iron Age artefacts of a hoard from Kumna
A more troubled and war-ridden middle Iron Age followed with external dangers coming both from the Baltic tribes, who attacked across the southern land border, and from overseas. Several Scandinavian sagas refer to retaliatory campaigns against Estonia. Estonian Vikings conducted similar raids against the Scandinavian tribes, becoming a considerable power for dominating the whole Baltic region. The "pagan raiders" who sacked the Swedish town of Sigtuna during the early Middle Ages, in 1187, were Estonians.
In the first centuries AD, political and administrative subdivisions began to emerge in Estonia. Two larger subdivisions appeared: the province (Estonian: kihelkond) and the land (Estonian: maakond). The province comprised several elderships or villages. Nearly all provinces had at least one fortress. The defence of the local area was directed by the highest official, the king or elder. By the thirteenth century the following major lands had developed in Estonia: Revala, Harjumaa, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Läänemaa, Alempois, Sakala, Ugandi, Jogentagana, Soopoolitse, Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Järvamaa and Virumaa.
Estonia retained a pagan religion centred around a deity called Tharapita. The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia mentions Tharapita as the superior god of Oeselians (inhabitants of Saaremaa island), also well known to Vironian tribes in northern Estonia.
Ancient Estonia. Mesolithic period. Neolithic period. Bronze age. Iron age. Early Middle ages. File:Europe 814.svg. Cancel Edit Delete Preview revert Text of the note (may include Wiki markup) Could not save your note (edit conflict or other problem).
In modern Estonian, they are called saarlased (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈsɑːrlɑset] "islanders"; singular: saarlane), which also applies to present-day inhabitants of the island. They are first thought to be mentioned as early as the 2nd century BC in Ptolemy's Geography III. Europe in the 9th century The Oeselians were known in the Old Norse Icelandic Sagas and in Heimskringla as Víkingr frá Esthland (English: vikings from Estonia). Their sailing vessels were called pirate ships by Henry of Livonia in his Latin chronicles from the beginning of the 13th century.