The political and economic situation in the southeast Baltic region changed dramatically when two main powers, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Teutonic Order, emerged in the 13th century. These political structures tried to involve local communities in the social organisation of their newly established states. Archaeological material (pottery) is analysed in this article. It could help us understand the processes happening in what is now western Lithuania during the Medieval period. Local and Western pottery is assessed as evidence of contacts between the Crusaders and the local people. These contacts are interpreted as part of the cultural interaction process between the two different communities
Volume 18 (2012): People at the Crossroads of Space and Time (Footmarks of Societies in Ancient Europe) II, pp. 192–220
The emergence of Iron Age elites in the Baltic lands is discussed here in the context of western Lithuania, a region with local amber deposits and distant interregional connections, with reference to what is called the West Lithuanian Group, with cemeteries with stone circles. No interregional status symbols have been recorded in the area, but it is possible to identify local prestige goods, such as equestrian equipment, horse offerings, drinking horns and decorative belt sets (male indicators), and elaborate headdresses and necklaces, and splendid pectoral ornaments (female indicators). Precious imports and silver or silver-plated* ornaments are to be found in both male and female graves. The inhabitants of western Lithuania in the Roman and Early Migration periods differed according to their social status. It is possible to distinguish quite a large number of well-equipped graves, but no exceptionally rich ones. Local elites existed in certain small territorial communities, but there were no regional elites. The destroyed grave 31 at Baitai may be an exception to this rule: it presents a sign of the appearance of people of very high rank, a process which developed further in later periods.
Volume 17 (2012): People at the Crossroads of Space and Time (Footmarks of Societies in Ancient Europe) I, pp. 101–135
Hill-forts are visually distinct archaeological monuments of the Lithuanian landscape; despite excavations that have recently become more intensive, more often than not we still make judgments of hill-forts on the basis of their surviving image, which is assumed to reflect the final stage of their existence. Usually our knowledge about the size of the settlement at its foot, its planigraphy, and of course chronology, is too slender to make any conclusions. By employing complex non-destructive research methods (palynological, geochemical, lithological and geomagnetic analysis, as well as 14C and thermoluminescence dating), the article discusses the time of the rise and the abandonment of Skomantai hill-fort and settlements, the hierarchical relations with the hill-fort as an object forming the settlement structure of the neighbouring area, both settlements at the foot of the hill, and the surrounding burial grounds and monuments, all of which make up a micro-region. As the economic model of the community and the social structure of society changed, the relations between the hill-fort and the settlements changed, as did the purpose of the hill-fort.
The concept of contemporary identity guides to exclusiveness of culture’s role and history as well. Queen Luisa is not only an attractive symbol while talking about fatal period for Europe and Prussia in the years 1806–1815, but also interesting is her personality while looking for parallels between identities of Memel (Klaipėda), the small province town of the German empire, and Klaipėda, the largest contemporary Western Lithuanian city. Present inhabitants of Klaipėda pay a lot of attention to Queen Luisa’s merits for development of education and culture in the city and in the region. The fact that in newest discussions about Klaipėda’s vision of cultural politics, the need to integrate cultural heritage into consciousness of citizens and formation of identity is highlighted, testifies about signs of new quality in region’s identity structure of Western Lithuania. Research is based on historical sources and literature.