The Journal of Indo-European Studies
Monograph Series

UKKO: The God of Thunder of the Ancient Finns and
His Indo-European Family
Monograph 51 – Unto Salo

In this investigation into the mythology associated with the Finnish sky god Ukko, Unto Salo, professor of archaeology at the University of Turku, tells us that around the fourth millennium B.C., the skies above Stone Age Finland were ruled by an Eagle Thunderbird. However, evidence for this Thunderbird disappeared after an anthropomorphic  Indo-European god arrived from the Aryan skies over the steppes, hurling thunderbolts from the clouds. First called by the Finns simply Ilmamo or Ilmarinen (ilma = sky), but later known familiarly as ukkonen (the old man), Ukko became the Finnish god of thunder, lightning, fire, wind, and rain. It was at this time, around 2000 BC, that the manufacture of stone hammer-axes, the weapon of Ukko and neighboring Indo-European sky gods, began in Finland, and when around 500 BC these were replaced by metal hammer axes, forges came under Ukko's care because the forging of metal weapons required fire, wind, water and magical incantations.
Both the Indo-European gods and Ukko lost their sanctity with the coming of Christianity, but in Finland, even into the Middle Ages, respect for Ukko remained so strong that Christian missionaries avoided attacking him as an enemy of souls, in the way they attacked the Scandinavian and Baltic Indo-European thunder gods, Thor and Perkunas, and as a result Ukko was fondly remembered in Finland until even comparatively recent times.

The mythology of the ancient Finns and its sources; Iron Age society and its gods; Ukko and other euphemisms for the God of Thunder; Rauni; Ukko behind his euphemism; Ilmari, the God of the Winds; Ilmarinen, forger god and heroic smith; Ukko and shooting the fire; By Hieros gamos; The testimony of the elliptical fire stones; Ukko’s cloak; Thunderbolts; Ukko’s wedge, nail, fingernail, arrow, and chisel; Foreign thunderbolts; Ukko’s sword; Ukko’s hammer, ax, and club; The Thunder God and Mother Goddess; The Battle Axe Culture and the God of Thunder; Tapering-headed battle axes and the God of Thunder; Ukko in the skies of the lake region?; The evidence of the Late Neolithic shaft-hole axes; The Bronze Age shaft-hole axes; Historical-linguistic viewpoints; The Bird God; Ukko’s long history: Conclusions, arguments, assumptions; Abbreviations; plus Eighty Illustrations

ISBN 0-941694-95-X  
ISBN 0-941694-94-1  
2006, Pages 146 with 70 figures
Paperback: $46.00
Hardcover: $68.00

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