Factors which suppress or interfere with the deciphering of aerial photography whilst searching for traces of ancient habitations are called noises. The main kinds of noises currently identified in Lithuania are land improvement or land reclamation, woods, urbanisation and reservoirs. Altogether, they make a fair level of noise, thus the search for traces of habitations based solely on aerial photography in Lithuania is not possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.