From the oldest past of Babtai

Ilona Vaškevičiūtė

For the first time, the area has been inhabited already during the Late Palaeolithic. Only one Stone Age settlement is known in the area of Babtai, i.e. in Pakapiai Village. It is dated as the Mesolithic. There are some more Stone Age finds: such as two flint axes, a horn-shaped hatchet and eight stone axes with a hole for a handle (boat-shaped, double-edged, with square or round head). There are no settlements dated as the Early Metal period, but some casual finds of this period are obtained. Some of the above-mentioned stone axes (found in Vosiškės, Šašiai and Dirviniai villages) had been still used during the Bronze Age. Two bronze axes have been found in the environs of Babtai: a flanged axe of East Baltic type and a socketed axe of Žygaičiai type, a sort of Mälaren-type axes manufactured locally. Two mounds–Piepaliai and Vikūnai–as well as Kaniūkai, Pakapiai, Panevėžiukas and Vareikonys barrows are attributed to the Iron Age monuments. However, only Pakapiai barrow is investigated. Moreover, there are randomly found Iron Age-dated things from being destroyed or finally destroyed culture monuments of that period in the environs of Babtai: Gailišiai, Panevėžiukas, Kaniūkai, Karalgiris, Jugintai, Vareikonys and at the Striūna brook.

Piepaliai mound is on the upper terrace promontory of the right bank of the Nevėžis River and the left bank of an unnamed rivulet falling into Nevėžis. A settlement covering a 2 ha area was at the foot of the mound that is dated as the 1st millennium and beginning of the 2nd millennium. The mound of Vikūnai lies on a hill bulked in even place on the right bank of Aluona River. It has not been investigated yet.

The investigations done in 1939 and 1988 within the area of 636 m2 at the Pakapiai barrow disclosed graves of 25 non-burnt and one burnt person and 30 horse graves with 32 horse burials. No plot schemes remained, therefore it is impossible to say which sites of the barrow were with buried horses and which with human burials. The chronologies of horse and human graves are different, i.e. the remains of horses and humans belong to different historical periods. The horse graves are dated as 11-14th c., while human burials are related to the period from the beginning of the 14/15th c. to the 17th c. It is thought that the investigations covered only the edge of the barrow detected, while that part where the owners of these horses were buried is not detected; moreover, the numbers of horses are significantly lower than those usually being found in the neighbouring barrows (Graužiai, Marvelė, Rimaisiai).

The detected burials of humans are remains of people, who lived for several centuries later in the Pakapiai village and buried in the cemeteries formed earlier. The graves of horses, burial manner and cerements (stirrups, snaffles, bridles, mane spirals etc.) show that the Pakapiai village community in its material and spiritual culture conformed to other tribal communities of that time in the Aukštaičiai area between the Nevėžis upper streams to its confluence with the Nemunas and in a narrow strip on both banks of the Nemunas as far as the present-day Jurbarkas.