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research project

Neolithisation of Coastal Lithuania


Funded by the Research Council of Lithuania (grant VP1-3.1-ŠMM-07-K-03-021).

Hosted by Lithuanian Institute of History, 05.2013.-06.2015


About the project


An aim of the project is to renew and elaborate a conceptual framework of neolithisation of coastal Lithuanian ecosystems based on extensive interdisciplinary research. Transitional period from hunter-gatherers' economy to farming, i.e. 4000-1800 cal BC is under question. The idea is to integrate traditional archaeological and bioarchaeological methods with modern techniques of biochemistry. When did the transition happen, what was the role of first domesticates, how economy was related to social organisation and ideological transformations? What was an importance of mobility and trade, and what of innovations? All these questions should be examined in contexts of freshwater lagoonal ecosystems rich in wild food resources as well as climate and natural environment change. A problem of neolithisation, i.e. process itself as well as its environmental and social background, and outcomes, is very relevant to entire Baltic region due to rich coastal ecosystems that could provide Mesolithic fishermen and seal hunters with large amounts of food and other natural resources. Explanations emphasizing a conscious shift to farming as more productive way of subsistence seem not convincing there. Very likely the process was prolonged and complicated. Therefore it needs for a complex research. SE Baltic wetland sites present a great possibility to investigate the problem by interdisciplinary approach. Science-based archaeology offers a wide palette of diverse methods and enables examination of economic changes from different perspectives thus providing us with more reliable arguments than usual typologies of artefacts could do. Current research is divided into two directions. Settlement pattern should be studied in a coastal area between Palanga city and Būtingė village. Changes in settlement system and their relations social and economic transformations should be identified and explained. Bioarchaeological research should help to learn of paleodiet and its changes. Many methods and techniques should be applied during the research, i.e. GPR and magnetometric surveys, boreholes, test-pitting and more detailed excavations, analysis of use-wear traces on flint tools, taxonomic analysis of osteological materials, anthropological and stable isotope analyses, lipid analysis in ceramics and food crusts, and AMS 14C dating. Materials from old excavations as well as newly excavated artefacts and ecofacts will be analysed. Project results will be published and presented in Lithuanian and English languages by various means. They should be significant on national and European level, especially in contexts of other coastal regions of the Baltic and other seas.











© Gytis Piličiauskas 2014