Saturday, March 26, 2005

Kernave Lithuania UNESCO World Heritage Site - (Kernave = (?) Latvian Dzirnavas - Windmill, Hamlet's Mill) - LexiLine Journal 339

The Kernave Cultural Reserve in Lithuania is a region along the banks of the Neris River north of Vilnius which features man-made mounds.

See the following article about Kernave, Lithuania from the Baltic Times at
Kernave: Lithuania's 'Troy' to celebrate UNESCO heritagesite listing
by Darius James Ross

"VILNIUS - Few countries are so fortunate as to have an archaeological treasure trove preserving 10 millennia of human settlement. A discovery so impressive that it bears comparison to the Greek city of Troy, which had been consigned to myth until late nineteenth-century archaeologists dug up a hill in Turkey proving its existence, and showing that a stack of eight cities had been built on top.

In the 1970s, Lithuanian archaeologists began following up rumours of a magnificent ancient city, stumbling across a site about 35 km from Vilnius unscathed by war and industrial development, which many now call Lithuania's first capital - Kernave.

The five distinctly shaped hills that make up the Kernave complex are part of an ancient wooden hill-fort system. In 1979, however, geological forces caused the hillside to split open.

"It opened perfectly, it was as if we had been handed an archaeological layer-cake," said Professor Aleksas Luchtanas, Lithuania's top archaeologist.

The initial hoard of discovered objects dates back to the fifth century, but in ensuing years, summer after summer, scholars have revealed generous traces of human habitation. The findings tell the unbroken tale of the site's development, from the Stone Age up to its demise at the hands of Teutonic Knights in the late 14th century, which might have led to the rise of Vilnius as Lithuania's leading city.

Though the site has yielded a rich collection of tools, skeletons, arms, coins, foundation works, and even roadbeds, only a scant 2 percent of the 200-hectare Kernave Cultural Reserve has been excavated to date.

"There is much yet to be discovered here, many generations of Lithuanians will reap the benefits. We make new discoveries each year, and the site is larger than we thought it was a few years ago," said Luchtanas.

In July 2004, UNESCO (the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) placed Kernave on its list of almost 800 places of outstanding cultural heritage around the world, because it "presents an exceptional testimony to the evolution of human settlements in the Baltic region over some 10 millennia," and because its "impressive hill-forts represent outstanding examples of such types of structures and the history of their use in the pre-Christian era."

The official celebrations marking the inscription of Kernave, which should bring a host of foreign dignitaries to Lithuania, will take place in May this year.

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