The archaeological legacy in the area of Sintautai

Vygandas Juodagalvis

If one passes over the museum file cards and the archaeological literature of the 20th century Lithuania, an impression emerges that the Sintautai microregion covering the area of former valsčius (rural area) and the present-day neighbourhood are not rich in archaeological monuments and casual finds. Several casual finds did not attract the attention of archaeologists, and no archaeological surveys or investigations had been performed, except for exploratory diggings in Klepai mound site in 2001 and Nova catchment basin explorations in 2004, which could be recognised the only invasion of archaeologists that slightly disclosed the archaeological situation of the microregion.

The first archaeological find – a bone dagger or spearhead – was detected in Užpjauniai in 1926 m. Now one can see dozens of archaeological finds of different time periods, including Mesolithic-Neolithic flint tools, polished stone axes and hoes, fragments of pottery and coins in Lithuanian museums and private collections.

From the Sintautai area, only the Klepai mound is put down into the List of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Republic of Lithuania within a category of archaeological values.

During the 2004 exploratory archaeological expedition in the area of the Nova catchment basin, eight sites of Stone Age flint tools, a 17th-18th c. settlement and a burial ground have been detected. Exploratory holes were dug out in the sites of flint tools, but no traces of culture layer had been found. Significantly more flint finds had been detected in the Stone Age settlements, which although were destroyed. These sporadic finds detected on the Nova River shores are the traces of short-term campsites of Stone Age hunters. The oldest traces are thought to be the flint finds characteristic of the Early-Middle Mesolithic (8th-7th millennia B.C.) in the Rūgiai Village Site 1. The later pottery finds are related to the 17th-18th c. settlement (Voveriai Village Site1-a). “Milžinų Kapai” (Giants’ Resting Place) is a village cemetery with burials as far as the 18th century or even later, most probably. At the beginning of the 18th century, the plague rampaged throughout the Sintautai area; thus, it is quite possible that these burials could be related to this epidemic.

During the archaeological expedition, the finds of various periods and traces of archaeological monuments have been detected in the area that had not been investigated before. The historical range of the archaeological finds and objects is very wide, but it has large gaps, which could be filled in by further investigations of the microregion.