The overall goal of the project is to create the website CEILE (Corpus Electronicum Inscriptionum Latinarum Estoniae) according to high international standards, drawing for its technical and structural solutions on a similar website and presentation criteria from Germany (Epigraf, Greifswald). The website is filled with unique historical textual information from the Estonian region, that is by all known, or previously known Latin epigraphic textual material, much of which was later lost or destroyed. Thus, to date only sporadically available, untranslated and uncommented epigraphic material has been brought into scholarly circulation in a systematised form.

Unlike research on literary and scholarly texts, epigraphics studies texts that are inscribed on objects and architectural materials. Since early, non-Estonian epigraphs from the Estonian region have never been comprehensively collected or researched, it has also been impossible to conduct adequate study of models for Estonians` own epigraphs in material culture and architecture. For example, how and in what sense did the early Latin tradition of gravestone inscriptions in churches and cemeteries influence the low and high German epitaph tradition in this region, and in turn the tradition of gravestone inscriptions in Estonian? How and in what sense have Estonians` inscriptions on everyday objects, works of art, or buildings been influenced by the earliest epigraphic traditions in other languages? By raising these questions, this database significantly expands the reach of ethnographic research in Estonia.

By allowing a range of different modes of searching, this database also provides an important group of sources on the Estonian area for the study of the history of ideas in various periods, onomastics, linguistic history and the history of poetry in other languages. For art historians, the database is useful for a precise determination of the content of texts inscribed on artworks, and their contextualisation in the visual aspect of the work.

Kaidi Kriisa and Kristi Viiding in the silver chamber of the Church of St Nicholas, 2015

Principal investigator

  • Kristi Viiding (Under and Tuglas Literature Centre)


Senior research staff

  • Anu Mänd (Tallinn University)
  • Maria-Kristiina Lotman (University of Tartu)


Team members

  • Anni Arukask (University of Tartu)
  • Kaidi Kriisa (University of Tartu)
  • Tuuli Triin Truusalu (University of Tartu)
  • Martin Uudevald (University of Tartu)