This paper presents new bioarchaeological data obtained during the re-analysis of human skeletal materials from the Early–Middle Neolithic Kretuonas 1 graves, excavated in 1980. The re-analysis of 6 inhumation burials revealed the earliest-known cases from Lithuanian archaeological material to show signs of perimortem cut-marks left on human bones. An evaluation of the first cases of perimortem human bone cut-marks in the broader European archaeological context allowed us to argue that different burial practices existed in Early–Middle Neolithic communities in the present territory of Lithuania. What is more, we argue that different people received different mortuary practices, and that their cadavers were handled in distinct ways.
The article presents the results of investigations at Kvietiniai archaeological site. Large-scale excavations carried out as part of the implementation of an infrastructure development project have provided very important new data on prehistoric settlement in western Lithuania. The excavations revealed a multi-period archaeological site that contains traces of activity spanning from the Mesolithic to the Early Iron Age. Significant data have been obtained on Bronze Age pottery which is almost unknown to date. The Bronze Age is represented at Kvietiniai by a number of previously unknown or undescribed pottery types. The typology of this pottery is still somewhat problematic, due to the small quantity of it and the lack of similar finds from other sites, as well as the absence of material suitable for secure dating. We managed to define in detail and date one of them: the most abundantly found Kvietiniai-Tojāti Ware, dated to ca 1300–1100 cal BC. In addition, excavations at Kvietiniai have provided important data on the beginnings of agriculture. The earliest cereal grains in the east Baltic to date, i.e. barley, dated to ca 1400–1200 cal BC, were found here. The low amount of cereals and other data indicate just the beginning of agriculture rather than its developed stage. Meaningful data were also collected from discovered graves from the middle of the 1st millennium BC. Traces of rituals previously unnoticed anywhere in this culture, such as putting into graves pottery sherds left by the site’s earlier inhabitants, were found at Kvietiniai as well.
The article is devoted to Schönwarling/Skowarcz and Dollkeim/Kovrovo-type crossbow fibulae with a long narrow foot and a full catch-plate, one of the most characteristic chronotypes of the Migration Period. The authors describe a number of specific construction features of the fibulae in the Sambian-Natangian culture area, which define their typological placement. Based on the results of a comparative analysis of prewar and modern archaeological sources, the authors propose an up-to-date specified chronology of these types. Contrary to the currently popular hypothesis, the analysed archaeological material in the Sambian-Natangian area does not demonstrate co-existence, but instead the smooth replacement of Schönwarling/Skowarcz fibulae by those of the Dollkeim/Kovrovo type in the transition phase D2/D3, i.e. about 430 AD.
In the context of moderate external variations of East Lithuanian Barrow culture barrows, ones of exceptional diameters and shapes stand out. These are low trapezoid-shaped cross-section mounds, and some are even more complex structures consisting of banks and ditches. Eleven large barrows are known in six cemeteries, all located in extensive cemetery concentrations, along the right bank of the River Neris, and on the left bank of the River Žeimena and in the lakes region to the north of it. This location suggests their significance on a level above a single community. None have yet been excavated, but the stone kerbs, the setting of the barrows in the cemeteries, and the typological and AMS radiocarbon dates from the excavated nearby mounds point to the Migration period, the 5th century being their most probable dating. The amount of labour invested in building large barrows is evidence of mourners’ exclusive mortuary behaviour. In agreement with the concept of energy expenditure in burial, this signals the idiosyncratic status of the deceased. Excavation data from other cemeteries does, however, disprove the idea that we should implicitly restrict great energy expenditure to the highest military elite. The dual model of social hierarchy in social psychology argues that status may be attained through either dominance or prestige. Dominance-based status is expected to force high involvement in burial by power and superiority, which is possible in societies with developed status inheritance, while a prestige-based one is decided by specific social roles, personal achievement, and respect. In a barbarian society, which balanced between chiefdom and big-man type social systems, both were interrelated.
This article examines cremation cemeteries in west Latvia from the end of the Late Iron Age and the Middle Ages (12th–14th/15th centuries). During this period, cremation graves constituted the dominant burial form in the region. We have selected as a case study Lapiņi cemetery, which reveals additional details relating to cremation cemeteries of west Latvia. The aim of the article is to provide further insights into burials of this kind in the Baltic region, which correspond in time to the Curonian expansion in northwest Latvia, followed by the conquest by the Crusaders and the change of religion and burial practices in present-day Latvia. For a better understanding of the environmental conditions at the time of use of the cemetery, taxonomic analysis has been undertaken of the charcoal used as fuel for cremation, as well as an analysis of pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs from cremation graves. Lapiņi is so far the only Curonian cemetery in present-day Latvia where such analyses have been conducted. This has given us a new understanding of the funeral rituals performed on the burial site, and the formation process of cremation cemeteries.
The paper focuses on the swastika, artefacts of antler, wood, metal and clay marked with the swastika, and swastika-shaped items from the 13th and 14th centuries in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. An answer is sought to the question what the swastika, a universal sign and symbol, represented in ancient Lithuanian culture and religion, and what kinds of shapes and accompanying mythological meanings it possessed. It is concluded that in the 13th and 14th centuries, the swastika did not have a canon of representation, and its perpendiculars on one-sided items faced in one or the other rotary direction (clockwise or anti-clockwise), while on two-sided ones they faced in both directions simultaneously. Two Lithuanian gods, Perkūnas (Thunder) and Kalvelis (Blacksmith), emerged in the explored contexts of items marked with a swastika. This confirms the genetic connection between the swastika and an equilateral cross, the sign of fire or Thunder, characteristic of the Baltic and ancient Lithuanian religious tradition. To date, there is no reason to believe that the perpendiculars could change the symbolic meaning.
The article is devoted to the scientific and organisational activities of Hermann Sommer (1899–1962), the founder and head of the Office for the Care and Preservation of the Cultural Heritage in the Fischhausen district of the German province of East Prussia, during the difficult period of Germany’s history from 1929 to 1945. It describes the circumstances surrounding the creation, as well as the later rescue and finally rediscovery by the archaeological community, of Sommer’s historical and archaeological legacy. One of the most important components of the archaeological part of the heritage is the Fischhausen Archive, a card-index archive of archaeological monuments that were known in the district in question by 1945. By this time, the first experience of using the data from the archive had already demonstrated the enormous potential of these documents for the reconstruction of the prewar state of research, as well as for the modern study of the archaeological sites on the Kaliningrad Peninsula. The search for the rest of his legacy has already resulted in a number of unexpected discoveries of further archaeological material. Preliminary results also indicate that similar archives of archaeological monuments could also have been created for other districts of the former German province of East Prussia.