The role of women in Prehistoric Baltic societies has so far received relatively little attention. As for the Balts (east Baltic tribes), they have hardly been studied in this respect at all. The paper deals with aspects of warfare involving east Baltic women, fragmentary as they might be, based on archaeological data and written source material. The authors analyse archaeological data, asking if it might help to reveal whether there were any female warriors in ancient Baltic societies (this can be done by analysing grave goods and anthropological features of human remains found in graves). Investigations of female remains sometimes also reveal traces of violent traumas, potentially related to or even directly caused by war. The article also analyses Medieval written sources describing the role of east Baltic women in military conflicts. Although they are very scarce and do not provide clear answers, some rare and unique cases featuring female activity in military society reveal the importance of their role in tribal decision-making.
Since the second half of the 20th century, the phenomenon of warriors (fighters) as one of the most important components of Medieval warfare, has increased in popularity in Lithuanian historiography. Archaeologists and historians usually analyse Balt warriors differently, because of the different methodology and understanding of the development of the state; therefore, the genesis, functionality, structure and decay of warbands (supposedly, in the 14th century) are perceived very differently. This paper has three objectives: 1) descriptive research to revise different opinions on warriors between archaeologists and historians; 2) comparison to find similarities and differences in the understanding of warriors between the two disciplines; and 3) an analysis of the problems of the chronology, definition and arguments of warriors in works by Lithuanian archaeologists and historians. The article shows that the work of archaeologists and historians falls short of the method of comparison in analysing this development prior to the creation of military-social structures in Western and Central Europe. Also, only a few archaeologists and historians have attempted to define the meaning of the word ‘warrior’ within the social structures of Balt society.