Recreating the life of the ancient Balts
By Darius James Rose (July 13-19, 2000)

Read page illustrated by few photos about Summer solstice festival at Lithuania  
Kam Joninės, o kam Kupala

By Darius James Rose (July 13-19, 2000)

Kernave, Lithuania.

Last Year, a group of imagitive Lithuanian scholars decided to breathe some life into archaeology and put together the first "Living Archeology Festival". It took place over the July 6 to 9 Long and, to with a minimum of publicity, drew 7000 visitors over three-day run. It was held during the state holiday commemorating the coronation of Mindaugas, Lithuania's first king.

The festival was held at the historic site of ancient Kernave (about 40 minutes from Vilnius), often referred to as Lithuania's first capital. Long before Vilnius rose to prominence as the Lithuanian state capital, Kernave was the most important center of trade and industry for the pre-historic Baltic tribes. The site itself is well worth a visit: the countryside is picturesque and there is an ancient aura about the place.

"Throughout history Lithuania has been attacked,has defended itself and was rebuild only to suffer the same cycle over again. Today we have our permanent symbols of nationhood: our anthem, flag, and Kernave", said Sirvintos area mayor, Vytas Simonelis.

The aim of the festival was to bring archaeology to the average person and was sectioned off into two areas: Stone Age and Bronze Age. All wore period dress: sheep or animal skins and leather moccasins for the earlier periods, homespun linen outfits and straw hats for the later.

Daiva and Aleksas ean the bronze Age cooking tent and demonstrated how the Balts cooked meat and grain patties on flat stones heated in a fire pit. Fish was cooked in clay over the coals and unshelled crawfish were grilled directly on them. "This is a festival demonstrating experimental archaeology. Here the archaeology museum comes alive", said Daiva.

Valentinas, owner of Snekutis microbrewery demonstred the making of traditional Lithuanian ale. "Our only concession is that we use stainless steel vats, which is unfortunate as oak casks add their own subtle flavours to the ale", he said.

Gintautas Velius ran the archery display. "We've made bows according to stone age technology. We've used dried hardwood and beef tendon for the bows and sharpened flint and turkey feathers for the arrows", he said. The pavilion was inundated with young boys who were allowed to try one shot at the target for price of one litas ($0.25).

Other pavilions showed the crafts of spinning and weaving, pottery, flint production, bronze and amber jewelry production, house building, woodworking, birch bark bucket manufacture and leather working. The atmosphere was enlivened by all-day musical performances od ancient Lithuanian songs with pastoral themes and musicians playing zithers and wooden flutes.

What are your chances of seeing that in good old sanitized North America?

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