Timo Rantanen

I started to work in the BEDLAN research group in 2014. During the recent years, I have been developing the geographical approach in studying the human history from spatial and spatiotemporal perspectives. My research is concentrated on investigating the interaction between the physical environment and humans, utilizing linguistic and environmental data specific to Finland.

A significant portion of my work involves the collection, harmonization, and digitalization of various datasets. Notably, I have contributed to the creation of the Geographical database of the Uralic languages, which includes high-quality maps and geospatial datasets related to the Uralic language family. Additionally, I have developed a cost-distance model that measures human travel effort in (pre)historic Finland. These efforts have enabled comprehensive analyses of the human-environment relationship.

I execute most of my work by using geographic information systems (GIS), which allows me to generate geospatial datasets, create map visualizations, and conduct advanced spatial analyses. Additionally, I am keen on expanding my expertise in geostatistics, which further enhances my analytical capabilities.

From a geographical perspective, my work is focused on two spatial scales. Firstly, I investigate the area of Finland, examining its geographical features and the dynamics of human-environment interactions within this region. Secondly, I explore the broader geographical area where Uralic languages are or were spoken, enabling me to draw connections across language groups and investigate patterns of cultural and linguistic diffusion.

Major interests

  • Geoinformatics
  • Spatial databases
  • Geospatial analyses
  • Language geography
  • Uralic languages
  • Interdisciplinary human history
  • Environment-human interaction


ORCiD ID 0000-0003-0835-9088

Rantanen, T., Tolvanen, H., Roose, M., Ylikoski, J. & Vesakoski, O. 2022: Best practices for spatial language data harmonization, sharing and map creation – A case study of Uralic. PLoS ONE 17(6): e0269648.

Rantanen, T., Vesakoski, O. & Ylikoski, J. 2022: Mapping the distribution of the Uralic languages. Marianne Bakró-Nagy, Johanna Laakso & Elena Skribnik (eds.), The Oxford Guide to the Uralic Languages. Oxford University Press.

Rantanen, T., Tolvanen, H., Honkola, T., Vesakoski, O. 2021: A comprehensive spatial model for historical travel effort – a case study in Finland. Fennia 199 (1) 61-88.

Contact information

Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku

Email: timo.rantanen(at)utu.fi