Reconstruction of Pleistocene lake basins and a survey of possible activity traces of Early Man in southeastern Lithuania


The Lithuanian-German interdisciplinary project (T-09168) was funded by Lithuanian State Science and Studies Foundation in 2009.



dr. Gytis Piličiauskas (project manager), Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilnius, Lithuania

Dovydas Jurkėnas, State Office for Archaeology in Saxony-Anhalt, Halle, German

hab. dr. Valentinas Baltrūnas, Institute of Geology and geography, Vilnius, Lithuania

Thomas Laurat, State Office for Archaeology in Saxony-Anhalt, Halle, Germany

dr. Christina Flechsig, University of Leipzig Institute of Geophysics and Geology, Germany

Juri Buchantschenko, David Prill, Christian Fritze, Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

Vaidotas Piličiauskas, private company of engineering geology "Ingeo", Klaipėda, Lithuania


In Lithuania the earliest traces of humankind activity and the oldest flint tools were dated to the end of the Late Paleolithic, i.e. to the final stages of the last or Weichsel (Nemunas in Lithuania) glaciation. However geological, palynological and paleobiological researches confirm that favourable climatic conditions for human population prevailed well before Holocene epoch, i.e. during Eemian (Merkinė in Lithuania; 128-115 000 BP), Rügen (Snaigupėlė in Lithuania; 251-195 000 BP), Holstein (Būtėnai in Lithuania; 440-367 000 BP) interglacials and the oldest part of the Weichsel (Nemunas in Lithuania; 115-60 000 BP) glaciation. The numerous discoveries in the last decades in Denmark, Germany, Poland and Finland demonstrate that the Early Man  had even reached the northernmost parts of the Europe (Töpfer 1978; Mania & Erfurt 1990; Wenzel 1998, 2002; Mania 2002; Wiśniewski 2003; Terberger 2006; Jurkėnas et al. 2007; Thieme 2007; Fennoscandia 2007 etc.). That's way some scientists in Lithuania believe that the territory of Lithuania could not be an exception and the traces of Homo Neanderthalensis or even Homo Erectus should be discovered in future. Very perspective sites for such research works seems to be Late Pleistocene fossil lakes in southeastern part of Lithuania which avoided of ice cap during the last glaciation. Purposeful and interdisciplinary investigation of Late Pleistocene lake sediments was started by joint Lithuanian-German project in 2009. Geophysical, geological and archaeological methods were applied in order to create 3D reconstruction of fossil basin and to perform small-scale excavations of littoral sediments at Netiesos outcrop (southeastern Lithuania, Alytus district).

Such investigations presents a totally new space for Lithuanian archaeology. It was evident before project and remains clear after it, they should be performed in a systematic way and for a long time in order to get first positive results in Early Man search. The other  Pleistocene fossil lakes need to be investigated by interdisciplinary scientific teams in future. Different researches in different areas are possible at Netiesos outcrop either. Jonionys and Mardasavas outcrops (Varėna district) with exposures of lake sediments of Eemian (Merkinė) and Rügen (Snaigupėlė) interglacials age as well as Medininkai paleolake (Eemian interglacial - Holocene; Vilnius district) seems to be objects worth of targeting. The Netiesos'2009 project was planed for a single year only therefore. So, future investigators should do a lot of work in searching for funds because of strong modern stereotypes connecting neanderthals with distant countries but not Lithuania certainly.

Results of the Netiesos'2009 project will be presented  in international geological and Lithuanian archaeological journals in 2010-2011.


See some photos:




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© Gytis Piličiauskas 2009

Lithuanian institute of history, Archaeology department

Kražių g. 5, LT-01108, Vilnius, Lithuania