The account of the 1219 treaty between the Lithuanian dukes and Galicia-Volhynia provided by the chronicler of the Ruthenian principality lists briefly several dukes from different areas of what is treated by contemporary historians as the Lithuanian confederation. They include the dukes of Lithuania, Deltuva, Nalšia and Žemaitija, but do not mention representatives of the Curonians, Žemgalians (Semigallians) or Yotvingians. Our knowledge of one of the omitted areas, Žemgala (Semigallia, today southern Latvia and northern Lithuania), is still based on the presumption that its society should have developed according to a more or less similar path as other Baltic societies of that period. The article invites us to reconsider this presumption, focusing on one episode mentioned by Henry of Livonia in his chronicle from the early 13th century. Henry describes how, in 1219, the Žemgalians of the Mežotne (Mesoten) area approached the Bishop of Riga seeking military assistance to defend themselves against the Lithuanians, and, as it became evident during the negotiations, against other Žemgalians. In dealing with this episode, the author attempts to characterise the society of Žemgala, mainly its upper social layer, which could be described considering scarce sources. This leads him to the broader question of whether the development of Žemgalian society was similar to other non-Christian (firstly, Baltic) societies.
Volume 11 (2009): The Horse and Man in European Antiquity (Worldview, Burial Rites, and Military and Everyday Life), pp. 149–163
In the fifth to the eighth centuries, graves of well-armed men and their riding horses –or the ritual parts of horses– were spread throughout almost the entire mainland part of Lithuania and Latvia, or in the territory between the Nemunas and Daugava / Western Dvina Rivers. This was the northernmost part of Europe in which the custom had spread in the fifth to the eighth centuries. While the horsemen’s and horses’ burial customs varied in separate regions of the defined area, still everywhere the horseman and horse were interred in one grave pit, with the horse almost always to the person’s left. In their journey to the Afterlife, however, the bond between horseman and horse began to vary in the communities that lived in the more peripheral regions. The variety of burial customs was associated with differences in the communities’ social structure; these differences affected interment traditions and formed different burial rites. The custom that existed in the Roman Period on the littorals of Lithuania and Latvia to bury ritual horse parts (the head or head and legs) and spurs with armed men disappeared; here only bridle bits symbolized the horse in armed men’s graves in the fifth to the eighth centuries. Warriors’ graves with equestrian equipment spread throughout the entire region between the Nemunas and Daugava in the fifth to eighth centuries. With the change in burial customs (with the spread of cremation), and, apparently, in worldview, riding horse burials appeared that no longer could be associated with the concrete burials of people.
Volume 8 (2007): Weapons, Weaponry and Man (In memoriam Vytautas Kazakevičius), pp. 183–194
A warrior from Baitai grave 23 was equipped with a spear, socketed axe, scythe, fragment of knife and a belt. Such a set of grave goods was typical but not entirely standard in west Lithuanian graves. The author discusses how, through many possible variations of male grave goods, we could recognize the personal position of the dead in a group of other armed men.