Volume 13 (2010): At the Origins of the Culture of the Balts, pp. 91–109
Archaeological excavations in the Late Neolithic settlement of Iča were carried out in 1998 and 1989. Pre-war research of the Iča settlement was done by Eduard Šturms (1895–1959). The aim of this paper is to draw attention to the character of the Late Neolithic population. In total, an area of 463.5 square metres was investigated. Three cultural layers were discovered: Eneolithic, and Late Neolithic. Topography, stratigraphy and dwelling traces are described. Attention is paid to the demoted human burials, of which bones were found all over the excavated area. Flint, stone, antler and amber artefacts, 516 items altogether, were found in an area of 506 square metres. A small clay item, representing the breast of a female figurine, and a bone plate with an engraved anthropomorphic face, are of special interest. Amber ornaments, altogether 122 pendants, buttons, cylindrical beads, fragments of rings and discs, were found. The pottery was classified in three groups: Late Neolithic porous and corded Ware, as well as Eneolithic-Lubāna type. Radiocarbon data from five wooden samples allowed us to date the habitation of the settlement at Iča from 3320 to 2570 bc.
In this article, a Neolithic anthropomorphic clay figurine from the Ģipka dune settlement in the littoral of Northern Kurzeme is examined as a versatile source of knowledge, forming an idea of the activities of the ancient individual in the field of ideology. This original figurine is analyzed by discovering the many-sidedness of its informative content, which lies not only within the originality of this find, but also in its significance in the examination of so far unsolved questions in the archaeological literature of the Eastern Baltic. These are questions concerning the role of the rite in the everyday life of the Neolithic individual. The scientific significance of the examined figurine is emphasised by the conditions of its finding at the fortified dune settlement, which was visited only during a particular season due to the yearly performance of an undertaking of a ritual character. The special conditions of the finding of this anthropomorphic clay figurine are dealt with in this article (the placement in the pit dug under the palisade), its gender affiliation and time of manufacture have been determined, as well as the possible cultural source, the character of the modelling of the figurine, the manufacturing technique, the design and style, decoration, its symbolism, the fragmentation (breakage) of the figurine, and the aim of its usage within the common procedure of the performance of the ritual action. The originality of the find is also stressed among other Neolithic anthropomorphic figurines that have been found so far in Northern Kurzeme and among Neolithic anthropomorphic finds of a similar style in the Åland Islands (Finland) found at the beginning of the 20th century. Attention is paid to the fact that for the first time in the field of Neolithic research of the Eastern Baltic there is a situation when the spatial context of religious (mythological) or cult practice can be perceived. It is characterised by five interrelating zones or elements: place, where the cult (rite) was practised, imagery that is connected to the cult practice, devices, participants in the cult and the actual action of the cult. The examined figurine from the Ģipka A site is only one of 20 found here in the dune settlements of Northern Kurzeme. These settlements are places for the performance of rites, where specially manufactured anthropomorphic figurines can personify the spirits of ancestors of different generations, for the cult of ancestors, was among the most evident cults practised by aborigine communities. The “shadows of the ancestors” were those that could give descendants different benefits, or take them away. Here at the Ģipka dune settlements, and in no other place, these figurines were broken and placed in specially dug pits, where big and small fireplaces were also burnt. This was carried out by particular persons, the elder or the soothsayer of the community, and these procedures were regulated strictly during the performance of the rite, when a contingent of other interested