Cooperation in archaeological research between the Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology, Schleswig

Duration of the project

01.08.2011. - 15.12.2011.

Countries and institutions involved in the project

University of Latvia
Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology

Description of the project

The main aim of the project was to develop and intensify cooperation between the Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia (ILH) and the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology (CBSA), Schleswig, Germany, in the area of archaeological research. The project lasted from 1 August to 15 December 2011.

On 8–20 August 2011 archaeological excavation was jointly undertaken at the Stone Age settlement of Riņņukalns (c. 3900–3000 BC), which is unique as the only known Stone Age sites in the Baltic region where the cultural layer consists mainly of shells from freshwater mussels, used on a mass scale as food. In the course of excavation, the stratigraphic observations made in earlier (19th century) excavations were re-evaluated, and it was found that thick layers of mussel shell and fish bone were still preserved. Archaeological material was recovered (potsherds, bone and flint artefacts), along with human and animal bone, and samples of shell and fish bone were collected for analysis. The composition of mollusc species permits assessment of the environmental conditions on the site itself and in the nearby waters. It will be possible to establish the precise age of the settlement once the organic samples are dated by radiocarbon. The excavation was directed by Dr Ilga Zagorska, Senior Researcher at the ILH. Also involved in the excavation was Dr Valdis Bērziņš from the ILH, as well as Dr Harald Lübke and Dr John Meadows of the CBSA. Students from the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia took part in excavation work.

A joint field seminar of the two institutions took place on 10–12 October, in the course of which the German participants were introduced to Iron Age sites in Latvia (hill-forts and cemeteries) where archaeological excavation has taken place or is planned. The route of the seminar included the region of Vidzeme, southern Latgale, the River Daugava valley, Zemgale and Kurzeme. In the evenings the participants in the seminar gave papers on current research projects at the ILH and the CBSA and on particular research questions. The session of papers held in Preiļi was open to the public and so was also an opportunity to publicize the project. The participants of the field seminar included Dr Guntis Zemītis, Director of the ILH, Prof. Dr Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, Director of the CBSA, and archaeologists from both institutions.

As a result of the project the directions of cooperation in research on Iron Age research questions have been established, extending the previous area of cooperation, which was mainly focussed on Stone Age research. It is envisaged that cooperation will continue in 2012 with research on Iron Age lake settlements in Vidzeme and an excavation at the Sise Middle Stone Age settlement in the Ventspils area.