Neolithic Age

History of Latvia between 3000 BC - 2001 BC

In the Neolithic Age (3000—1500 BC) the Baltic area perhaps was populated by Finno-Ugrian tribes who as yet did not know agriculture, and whose only domestic animal was the dog. They lived in a so-called Narva culture or eastern Baltic archaeological culture found in present-day Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Kaliningrad Oblast (former East Prussia), and adjacent portions of Poland and Russia.

The Narva culture relied on local materials (bone, horn, schist). As evidence of trade, researchers have found pieces of pink flint and plenty of typical Narva pottery in the territory of the Neman culture while no objects from the Neman culture were found in Narva. Heavy use of bones and horns is one of the main characteristics of the Narva culture. The bone tools, continued from the predecessor Kunda culture, provide the best evidence of continuity of the Narva culture throughout the Neolithic period. The people were buried on their backs with few grave goods. The Narva culture also used and traded amber; a few hundred items were found in Juodkrantė.

The people were primarily fishers, hunters, and gatherers. They slowly began adopting husbandry in middle Neolithic. They were not nomadic and lived in same settlements for long periods as evidenced by abundant pottery, middens, and structures built in lakes and rivers to help fishing. The pottery shared similarities with Comb Ceramic culture, but had specific characteristics. One of the most persistent features was mixing clay with other organic matter, most often crushed snail shells. The pottery was made of small clay strips with minimal decorations around the rim. The vessels were wide and large; the height and the width were often the same. The bottoms were pointed or rounded, and only the latest examples have narrow flat bottoms. From mid-Neolithic Narva pottery was influenced and eventually disappeared into the Corded Ware culture.

References: Wikipedia, Latvians.com

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.