Exibition “Recent Discoveries of Lithuanian Archaeology”
Second half of the 16th–first half of the 17th century. Silver, gold. Vilnius, Gedimino Ave. 22. Excavated by L. Kvizikevičius, 2004. National Museum of Lithuania
Belt buckle prong
Second half of the 5th century. Silver, gold. Paduobė-Šaltaliūnė (Švenčionys district) barrow cemetery III, barrow 17, grave 1. Excavated by V. Steponaitis, 2006. National Museum of Lithuania
Bent double-edged sword
10th–11th century. Iron, brass. Viešvilė ( Jurbarkas district) burial ground I, grave 5. Excavated by U. Budvydas, 2004. Trakai History Museum
7th–6th century B.C. Birch bark, linden bast. Luokesai (Molėtai district) ancient settlement I. Excavated by E. Pranckėnaitė, 2008. National Museum of Lithuania
Man’s grave goods: an axe, a knife, a pin, an amulet.
2565–2356 B.C. Flint, wild boar’s fang. Biržai, grave 1. Excavated by K. Duderis, 2014. Biržai Region Museum “Sėla”
Viešvilė hoard. 96 silver coins
1492–1568. Viešvilė ( Jurbarkas district). Excavated by G. Grižas, 2006. National Museum of Lithuania
The exhibition “Recent Discoveries of Lithuanian Archaeology”, is open from 2 September to 15 January 2017 at The Bastion of Vilnius Defensive Wall, Bokšto St. 20/18. The exhibition is devoted to the 22nd Annual Meeting of European Association of Archaeologists.
The EAA Annual Meeting has become established as the premier archaeological conference in Europe and the 22nd Annual Meeting will be held in Vilnius from 31 August – 4 September 2016.
The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) continues to hold its Annual Meetings in different European cities each year and this year the 22nd EAA meeting will be held in Lithuania for the first time. The Meeting will combine oral presentations with round-table discussions and workshops organised by institutions, academics and heritage professionals from all over the world.
The Organising committee of the meeting and the community of Lithuanian archaeologists invite the participants to visit the archaeological exhibitions of Lithuanian museums and explore the country’s archaeological heritage. On the occasion of the 22nd EAA Annual Meeting, the National Museum of Lithuania, in addition to its permanent archaeological exhibition “Prehistory of Lithuania” at the Old Arsenal, has opened a new exhibition “Recent Discoveries of Lithuanian Archaeology” at the Bastion of Vilnius defensive wall. The exhibition presents the latest archaeological findings in Lithuania. The artefacts that are displayed in the exhibition constitute only a small part of all finds from this country.
Research, commercial and rescue excavations have been conducted in recent years. In all cases the archaeological heritage has been enriched with artefacts of already known types, and sometimes – with unique previously unseen finds.
The finds in the exhibition reflect a wide variety of archaeological material of Lithuania from the Stone Age to the 19th century. The earliest period is represented by Stone Age grave goods from Gyvakarai (Kupiškis district) and Biržai.
There are rare and interesting finds from the excavations of the Bronze Age lake settlement at Lake Luokesai (Molėtai district), which have been conducted for almost two decades already. Unique Bronze Age wooden and organic fibre finds – a sash, spoons, vessels made from birch bark, etc. – required several years of conservation and restoration work. During the last decade, urns from Bronze and Early Iron Age burial grounds, having regained their original appearance by the restorers’ efforts, have been added to the heritage of Lithuanian prehistory.
The Roman period is represented by complexes of grave goods from the excavations in the burial grounds of Jogučiai (Klaipėda district), Kazikėnai, Viešvilė (all in Jurbarkas district), Jurbarkas and Lazdininkai (Kretinga district). The only coin of the Roman emperor Postumus found in Lithuania – a double sesterce from 260–269 A.D. – is displayed.
The Middle Iron Age is represented by graves with abundant grave goods from the burial grounds of the coastal area (Lazdininkai, Šereitlaukis), Samogitia (Paprūdžiai) and Eastern Lithuania (Baliuliai).
The Late Iron Age covering the period from the last centuries of the 1st millennium until the formation of the Lithuanian state in the 13th century is represented by finds from graves with rich armaments from the burial grounds of Viešvilė and Žemaičių Kalvarija (Plungė district), and a luxurious set of artefacts of a horseman from Bedugnė (Trakai district). From Eastern Lithuania, pots found in the Kurklių Šilas (Anykščiai district) barrow cemetery, as well as grave goods from the Jutonys (Molėtai district) barrow cemetery are displayed.
Artefacts from earlier excavations that required long and meticulous work of restorers deserve a special mention. These are impressive head decorations of Samogitian women from the Late Iron Age burial grounds of Bikavėnai (Šilutė district) and Žviliai (Šilalė district). Brass caps, which were restored after the reconstruction of their original production technology, were added to the archaeology collection in the recent years. The restoration of a particularly fragile artefact – a linden-bark bucket found in a wooden well in the Lieporiai settlement (city of Šiauliai) – required great effort.
Attention should be drawn to the finds from the old town of Kernavė (Širvintos district) reflecting the tradition of birch-bark craftsmanship. Horn stamps that were used to decorate birch bark and their impressions on a birch bark vessels are displayed alongside their reconstructed counterparts.
Recent excavations in cities and castle sites have provided a great deal of archaeological information. The exhibition includes a set of fishing gear of impressive size from the Klaipėda Castle and fragments of armament from the Biržai Castle. Extraordinary finds from the territory of Vilnius Lower Castle bear witness to royal hunts with falcons.
Coin hoards in the exhibition, among which is a 16th century hoard from Viešvilė and a 17th century hoard from L. Stuokos-Gucevičiaus Street in Vilnius, remain surrounded by mystery.
The mass grave site of Napoleon’s Grande Armée in Vilnius researched by archaeologists and anthropologists, has become a sensational discovery of the early 21st century.
The exhibition is supplemented by interesting and impressive jewellery finds from excavations conducted in Vilnius and Trakai, as well as finds of production equipment and pipe wasters from an excavated pipe workshop on Kalvarijų Street in Vilnius.
We are sincerely grateful to the Lithuanian museums that have kindly lent us their archaeological artefacts: Biržai Region Museum “Sėla”, History Museum of Lithuania Minor, Kaunas City Museum, Kretinga Museum, National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, Nalšia Museum, State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė, Šiauliai “Aušra” Museum, Trakai History Museum. Vytautas the Great War Museum.
Exhibition curators: Eglė Griciuvienė, Gytis Grižas, Arūnas Kalėjus, Valdas Steponaitis.
Exhibition designer: Eimantas Ludavičius.