Volume 30, No.3 - Fall 1984
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1984 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


Jonas PUZINAS. RINKTINIAI RASTAI — SELECTED WORKS: vol. I — Prehistory, 864 p., vol. II — History of culture and politics, 749 p. Edited by Antanas Mažiulis. Published by The Institute of Lithuanian Studies, Chicago, 1983.

Professor Jonas Puzinas, archaeologist, was born in Svaronys, district of Ukmergė October 1, 1905 and died April 14, 1978 in Chicago. He studied comparative linguistics, Lithuanian language and literature, and education at the University of Kaunas (1925-29), and at the University of Heidelberg (1930-34) — prehistory, comparative linguistics, classical archaeology. He obtained his Ph.D. at Heidelberg, Germany for the dissertation "Vorgeschitsfor-schung und Nationalbewustsein in Litauen" (Prehistoric research and national consciousness in Lithuania), published in Kaunas, 1935.

From 1928 to 1930 he served as a curator of the City Museum of Kaunas; in 1934 he became director of the museum. From 1936 to 1940 he served as the Director of the Department of Prehistory of the Museum of Culture in Kaunas and was in charge of the museum's archaeological research.

In 1934 he joined the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Kaunas as assistant instructor. He was transferred to the University of Vilnius in 1940 and was promoted to associate professor (1941) and appointed chairman of the Department of Archaeology. He was engaged in scientific work at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, visited many museums in other countries, and participated in international archaeological conventions. In 1944 he fled to Germany. From 1946 to 1949 he was a professor at the Baltic University in Hamburg-Pinneberg, West Germany and headed the university's Lithuanian Division (1949). After emigrating to the United States in 1949, he has been engaged in scientific work and public affairs. He was a member of Editorial Board of the "Lietuvių Enciklopedija" from the 1st to the last, XXXVth volume and edited XVII, XVIII, XXIV, XXX, and XXXI volumes, and was a contributor to the "Encyclopedia Lithuanica" (1954-1969).

From 1935 to 1944 Prof. Puzinas lead the formulation of Lithuania's prehistory by organizing archaeological excavations, through systematizing and synthesizing the obtained data, organizing scientific exhibits, and training a generation of archaeologists. Together with the noted linguist Professor Antanas Salys, who defined Lithuanian archaeological terminology, Puzinas was the foremost archaeologist in independent Lithuania.

Prof. Thomas Remeikis, stated in the first volume's introduction that: ". . . Prof. Jonas Puzinas belonged to the first generation of Lithuanian scholars who matured academically within their own native institutions and milieu. He was the first scientifically trained archaeologist of Lithuania, who almost single-handedly created the foundation for the investigation of the until then generally neglected Lithuanian prehistory ... No archaeologist or cultural historian of Lithuania can easily escape Prof. J. Puzinas' scientific achievements."

Puzinas coordinated all of his work precisely — with the latest scientific achievements and his writings reflect solid scientific background. Therefore, his work became very important for the scientific studies of the prehistory of Lithuania. But Puzinas was not only a noted archaeologist. He also analyzed old documents from Lithuania's past, and especially documents concerning the history of different cultures, cities, and castles. The first volume contains his works about problems related to Lithuania's prehistory, and about various archaeological findings in Lithuania. It is divided into three parts: I. Works published in Lithuania (33-412 p.), II. Works published abroad (413-728 p.) and III. From the manuscripts (729-814 p.).

In the first essay Naujausių proistorinių tyrinėjimų duomenys, 'Findings of the most recent archaeological explorations,' p. 33-198; published in 1938 in the historical journal "Senovė," Kaunas, he presented a summary of the evaluations of the archaeological findings from the different excavations in Lithuania, mostly from 1928 to 1938. He also gave the most modern outline of the prehistory of Lithuania. He classified archaeological findings according to the general European archaeological dating adapted to the geological periods of Lithuania, in accordance with the latest scientific rules

He begins with a sketch of the Glaciation of Northern Europe. The settlement of Lithuania was influenced by the glaciations. During the Quaternary period three glacial advances took place in Lithuania. The last retreat of the ice sheet began about 18000 B.C. This retreat made human habitation in the Baltic eastern lands possible. The first appearance of human groups along the Baltic shores signals the beginning of Lithuanian prehistory. It begins with the Late Paleolithic age, from the first traces of the human dwellings to 8000 B.C., the earliest cultural relics, found opposite Chelmno (Kulm) on the lower Vistula, which date back to the Late Glacial period. These consist of a reindeer horn bearing carvings. On the basis of geological evidence, this find has been accorded a date ca. 18000 B.C.

Artifacts associated with the more recent periods have been discovered in Western Lithuania, near Klaipėda, where five sharpened bone fragments were assigned dates ranging from ca. 8500 B.C. to ca. 8100 B.C. on the basis of pollen analysis. Flint artifacts dating from ca. 10000-8000 B.C. have been found in Vilnius on the left bank of river Neris, Ežerynas (district of Alytus), and other locations. The artifacts from the Vilnius site belong to the so called "Baltic Magdalenian" culture. During the Late Paleolithic age, people experienced harsh climatic conditions and man was not sedentary but lived as a hunter and food-gatherer. No human fossil remains of the period have been found in Lithuania.

Cultural remains from the Mesolithic period (8000-3500 B.C.) are more numerous. Changes in climactic conditions and a rise in temperatures were accompanied by a greater influx of people into Lithuania; they settled along the dry banks of lakes or rivers. Due to favorable conditions for the preservation of animal and fish bones, nut-shells, and horn and bone implements for hunting and fishing have been found in peat bogs and former river beds. Numerous flint artifacts have been discovered in sites along rivers or lake banks and sand dunes. The existent remains may be assigned to several distinct cultural traditions: the "swiderian culture" which diffused from the central region of Poland to the southeastern Baltic area, where it remained dominant until the middle of the Mesolithic; the "Maglemose" culture which appeared in Lithuania at the end of 8000 and the beginning. of 7000 B.C.; and the "Microlithic-macrolithic" culture of the late Mesolithic age. All the cultural traditions are associated with nomadic groups of unknown ethnic affiliations. During the Mesolithic period, man continued to live as a nomad. Agriculture was unknown, and the dog was the only domesticated animal. No Mesolithic burials have been found.

More artifactual remains survive from the Neolithic period (ca. 3500-1800 B.C.); they include items manufactured from flint, stone, wood, bone and other types of materials. In addition, habitation sites and cemeteries have been discovered. Continuity of development is attested by the fact that during the early Neolithic period Lithuania was populated by the same ethnic groups. On the basis of discovered material, the cultural remains can be attributed to several cultures which are believed to have belonged to different ethnic units.

A number of amber artifacts associated with the same period have been found along the sea coast of Lithuania. The flattened animal and human figurines probably were amulets. Fishing tools were discovered in the lowest levels of the peat bogs at Šventoji, such as remains of wooden oars, fragments of nets which were made from linden-bast, wooden floats, and other fishing objects. Fish bones have also been found.

During the Neolithic cultural period there was also an expansion of farming culture. At the end of the Neolithic period another culture spread into Lithuania. It can be distinguished from the older cultures found in the same area on the basis of pottery, stone, flint artifacts and burial costumes.

Villages were generally erected near water, along the bays of the Baltic Sea, and the shores of the upper reaches of rivers and lakes. The people of that period subsisted through fishing and hunting, while cultivating millet, barley, wheat, and possibly flax. They also possessed domestic animals such as horses, cattle, pigs, goats, and dogs.

About 1600 B.C. they became familiar with metal, namely bronze. Bronze axes, spiral rings for women's hair and other objects diffused into Lithuania from Central Europe. The new cultural stage, characterized by the use of bronze for weapons, tools and ornaments, is known as the Bronze Age (ca. 1600-500 B.C.). Imported bronze was expensive and it could only be used by the rich; the masses continued to utilize stone, flint, bone and other types of artifacts produced locally. This continuity can be traced in various respects, notably in the uninterrupted development of material culture, in burial practices, and in the diffusion of cultural tradition. The stone boat-axes continued to be used. Flint heart-shaped arrow-heads retained their form without change. The same is true of the pottery. There were no major changes in burial practices; cremation was absent and the dead were buried in barrows (tumulus). Very often the same barrows were used at different times during the Bronze Age.

The first bronze objects found in Lithuania were brought in from outside. However, with the intensification of trade and importation of more bronze, a local industry developed in the western part of the land. These objects characteristics differed from artifacts fashioned in southern, western or northern countries. By 1300 B.C., a distinct "Baltic culture" appeared. It is characterized by a Baltic type bronze flanged axe with a wide semicircular edge and a long and narrow Baltic battle-axe with a hole for hafting.

During the early part of the Bronze Age, in the western Baits territory, the dead were buried in barrows erected from earth and stone, whereas about 1100 B.C. cremation became popular.

About 700 B.C. the earliest iron objects made their appearance among the western Baits, but they were not widely used until about 500 B.C. The material concerning the Iron Age is analyzed in an essay divided in four sections: Before the Christian period (500 B.C.-O), Old (0-400 A.D.), Middle (400-800 A.D.) and New (800-1200 A.D.).

At first iron was imported in the form of various alloys, but already by the 2nd century B.C. iron was extracted locally among the Western Baits, and a complex Iron Age culture had developed in the area. It is possible that iron appeared in Lithuania at the same time as in the Western Baits. However, it is not until the end of the 2nd century A.D. that we find a highly developed Iron Age culture in Lithuania. Iron was extracted locally from swamp ore.

Excavated villages provide information concerning the way of people's life and their farming practices. In the north eastern and eastern parts of Lithuania the people lived in fortified settlements, namely hill-forts. The settlements were generally situated on hills, beside rivers and lakes; their more accessible sides were protected by walls and ditches. There were no major changes in farming practices. New crops such as rye and peas made their appearance among the Western Baits; whereas in eastern Lithuania, the people continued to cultivate barley and wheat. In the eastern part, animal husbandry was more important than agriculture. Among the Western Baits, the dead continued to be cremated and buried in barrows. In the last century B.C., the Western Baits moved from cremation to burial of the dead in flat graves.

The existing archaeological data can trace continuity from the Baltic Bronze Age culture to that of the first centuries A.D. This shows that the area was occupied by people who were of the same ethnic affiliation, namely the Baits.

From the 2nd century A.D. an especially rich and independent culture arose in almost all of the areas occupied by the Baits, in western and central Lithuania. It continued until the beginning of the historical period. Even in the eastern Baltic area, where previously an archaic type of culture prevailed, material culture advanced and metal tools became more common. Iron obtained from local swamps ore became the main material culture vehicle. Different types of iron objects appeared, such as tools, weapons, different types of armor parts, and objects associated with horses. Beginning with the first centuries A.D., artisans created a multitude of skillfully manufactured ornaments, decorated with geometric and fretwork motifs, and other types of decoration.

Probably animal pelts, leather, honey, and wax were exported from the Baltic countries, but the most important trade item was amber, used by the Romans and their neighbors.

The differentiation of the Baits began in the Bronze and early Iron Age and continued in the first centuries A.D. During the first millennium A.D., extensive changes occurred in the land inhabited by the Baits. They were affected by the expansion of eastern and later the western Slavs and of the Germanic Scandinavians. At the same time, the Baits themselves began moving to the north into the areas occupied by the ancestors of the Livonians and Estonians. Beginning with the 5th century A.D., the eastern Baits had to give way to strong Slavic pressure.

After the first centuries A.D., the differences between individual Baltic nations and tribes began to diminish. Intensification of trade and progressive developments of crafts and farming had an important bearing on social organization and brought increasing inequalities in wealth. The presence of such social distinctions has been revealed by archaeological excavations of cemeteries. The fortified hill-forts point to the existence of regional centers, which eventually gave rise to the residence of rulers who controlled large land areas.

The first and largest essay (166 p.), which has been summarized above, relates to the remaining essays published in the 1st volume, namely: the early Iron Age grave in Kurmaičiai; the double grave from the 4th century A.D. in Veršvai; culture of the Post-GIacial inhabitants of Lithuania; our prehistoric culture; the evidence from the burial mounds in Lithuania; the Bronze Age in Lithuania; the Iron Age; prehistoric times in the district of Biržai, and of Breslauja; some findings from exploration of Įpiltis; lead seals of Drohiczyn; the question of Lithuania's ancestry . . ., Lithuanian prehistory; glaciers and the appearance of first inhabitants in Lithuania; the question of culture and ethnicity of the early inhabitants of Lithuania; an outline of the prehistory of Lithuania Minor; the problem of Sudovia; Sudovia in the light of the most recent archaeological investigations; the Old Stone Age; Neolithic culture before the appearance of Indo-Europeans; Baits during the Bronze Age; and trade with the provinces of the Roman Empire.

There are two essays written in German concerning the status of archaeological research in Lithuania (392-409 p.), and Wingfibula in Lithuania and its significance for trade history (674-687 p.). The last essay is extremely important in the modern archaeological science of Eastern Europe; it is widely recognized and quoted in many prominent archaeological works.

The essay "Origins of the Lithuanian Nation" in English (688-728 p.) was published in 1972 as an introduction to the book "700 Years."

In the essay "Archaeological explorations in Lithuania at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries" (199-228 p.) Puzinas stressed that "for a long time the prehistory of Lithuania was studied without reference to archaeological sources, such as habitation sites, cemeteries, hill-forts, camp sites or other archaeological finds. An interest in Lithuania's prehistory, language, culture, and archaeological monuments was awakened only at the beginning of the 19th century,

Count Eustach Tyszkiewicz should be considered the pioneer of Lithuanian archaeology; he was the first to classify the archaeological monuments known to him and to publish a survey of the archaeology of Lithuania. He made partial use of the scheme of three ages formulated in Denmark and northern Germany ca 1836, where prehistory was divided into three main stages of cultural development: the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. His most important achievement was his attempt to coordinate archaeological research and to centralize the collected data. He obtained permission from the Russian tsar Nicholas I to establish the Museum of Antiquity in Vilnius and to form a Temporary Archaeological Commission. The Museum was opened in 1856. An archaeological commission was created. The members of this commission made individual contributions to Lithuania's archaeology by publishing diverse publications. After the unsuccessful insurrection of 1863, the Russian government suppressed the commission's activities, removed the best museum items to museums in Russia, nationalized the museum, and integrated it with the Public Library of Vilnius.

One essay "Archaeology during Lithuania's National Rebirth at the End of the 19th century (the Period of Aušra)," (335-345 p.), deals with understanding the importance of historical knowledge which prevailed among the general population about a century ago. Three other essays are about more prominent archaeologists from the "old time," who explored different archaeological monuments in Lithuania before World War l: T. Narbutas, explorer of our prehistory (346-354 p.); Tadas Daugirdas (355-362 p.) and L. Krzywicki, investigator of Lithuanian castle-hills (363-370 p.). In those essays Puzinas stated that archaeological research in Lithuania was only revived at the end of the XlXth and beginning of the XXth centuries.

Problems pertaining to the Lithuanian prehistory and the historical period were discussed at the 9th Congress of Russian Archaeologists held in 1893, in Vilnius. Some of the participants were objective in their approach, but many of the reports on historical topics emphasized the role of. the Russian elements in the ancient Lithuanian state and the alleged cultural superiority of the Russian people. Among the Russian archaeologists who studied Lithuanian archaeology at that time were F. V. Pokrovsky and A. A. Spitsyn. The latter, a professor at the University of St. Petersburg, who worked with the Archaeological Commission of St. Petersburg and its publications. He gave short reports of excavations, conducted in Lithuania by W. Szukiewicz, V. Kashirsky, I. Abramov, V. Nagevičius, and others. Polish scholar Ludwik Krzywicki in 1906 published his first work on Lithuanian hill-forts "The Ancient Samogitia" and later he published descriptions of different hill-forts.

Among the local archaeologists from 1883, Wandalin Szukiewicz conducted excavations in the northwestern part of the district of Lyda. About the same time Tadas Daugirdas excavated mainly in Samogitia and collected a large number of archaeological and ethnographic objects. He donated this collection to the City Museum in Kaunas, where he was director from 1909-1919.

After the 1905 revolution, the Russian government relaxed its restrictions in Lithuania somewhat and two scientific societies were organized in Vilnius in 1907 namely: the Lithuanian Learned Society and the Polish Society of the Friends of Learning. The goal of both societies was the study of Lithuanian culture and history.

Archaeological activities in Lithuania ceased with World War I. In 1918, after Lithuania regained its independence, interest in archaeology was renewed. On Aug. 28, 1919, the Archaeological Commission was established. However, a variety of events did not allow the introduction of systematic and scientific methods in practical archaeology of Lithuania. In the fall of 1934, Puzinas introduced the first systematic study of archaeology at the Kaunas University to train Lithuanian archaeologists for professional work in the field. He also established a prehistory division within the newly founded Culture Museum of Vytautas the Great. Finally, these two events established the scientific base for archaeological studies in Lithuania.

The entire first volume of Prof. J. Puzinas' work clearly reflects the development of archaeology of Lithuania and his own role in the development of the studies of the past of Lithuania.


The second volume is also divided into three sections, but in a different manner, mainly by topics: I. Studies in urban history (22-306 p.); II. Studies in the history of culture (307-484 p.); and III. Studies in the history of politics (485-676 p.). Puzinas' contributions on the ethnogenesis of the Baits, descriptions of Lithuanian castles with analysis of corresponding documents, and evaluations of important personages in the Lithuanian national movement at the end of the XIX century are particularly valuable.

In the first section, the essays are: The castle of Vilnius; Commemorating the 650th anniversary of Vilnius, the capital city of Gediminas; In search for the third castle of Vilnius; The castle of Gardinas; The history of Kaunas during the times of Vytautas; The whirlwind of struggles until the battle of Gruenwald to 1812; 1812 to the present; Ancient monuments of Kaunas; History of the churches of Kaunas; History of Kaunas' government in the 16th century; Guilds of craftsmen in Kaunas; Growth of the population of Kaunas; Transit in Kaunas, then and now; The construction of water and sewer works in Kaunas; The Origin of Tolstoy street; The return of the old archives of Kaunas; The past of Kražiai and the terrible events of 1393; Under Russian occupation; Court case against defendants from Kražiai (On November 11, 1893, in Kražiai 300 Russian Cossacks massacred the defenseless people, where 9 died, 10 suffered bullet wounds, 44 were severely flogged and 150 imprisoned).

The second section is about Baltic countries in Arabic scriptures; The Aesti (Baits) in the light of historical sources. Further: "The origins of Lithuanians and the areas inhabited by them in the light of latest research."

There are also three essays concerning the history of the health protection in ancient Lithuania, i.e.: how our forefathers fought diseases; the medical and health protection in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; and also about physicians of Lithuania in the 17th and the early 18th centuries (439-466 p.). The titles of essays from the third section clearly indicate that they are connected with different anniversaries in the history of Lithuania, i.e.: Vincas Kudirka; The Life and works of Vaižgantas; The 30th anniversary since the death of the President of Lithuania Antanas Smetona; The Viltis movement; The road to the reconstruction of Lithuania's independence; Lithuanian struggles for freedom through the centuries; November 23rd in the history of Vilnius; The Constituent Seimas of Lithuania; Our cultural tasks and their implementation; Our youth during the suppression of Lithuania's freedom; Soviet atheism in Lithuania.

In reality, these two volumes include material so rich, so compact and so informative, that it is possible here to make only a general presentation of his writings. Essays about the archaeology of Lithuania could serve as instructional material.

To better appreciate the importance of Prof. Puzinas' published writings, (totally 1613 pages of these two volumes of his selected works), it must be remembered that it was he, who, in the fall of 1934, introduced the first systematic study of archaeology at Kaunas university for training Lithuanian archaeologists for professional work; that he established a prehistoric division within the newly founded Culture Museum of Vytautas the Great; furthermore its personnel, beginning in 1936, under the guidance of Prof. J. Puzinas started archaeological investigations in different parts of Lithuania during 1936-1946 that are continued to the present. After the end of WWII, his name was not mentioned in contemporary Lithuania, but the most prominent archaeologists now are his former students.

Jonas Dainauskas