The first cultural relics found on the territory of Lithuania are dated 10,000 BC. It was then that suitable conditions for people to settle down first appeared. The earliest settlements in Lithuania date back to the Paleolithic period and are usually found on high river terraces, most often on confluences of two rivers and their sunny northern banks. Mesolithic settlements (8,000 - 4,000 BC) are found in similar locations but closer to forests (either pine-woods which provided easier access to food, or deciduous forests with soils suitable for cultivation)
At the beginning of the Iron Age (500 BC - 1,000 AD) settlements situated on hills and protected by rivers and lakes started predominating.The hills were fortified and turned into hill-forts. Hill-forts have remained one of the most typical elements of Lithuanian landscape up to this day. At the present time they account for nearly one third of all the archeological monuments. Scattered all over Lithuania, they display not only a variety of shapes and forms but are also surrounded by numerous legends and local lore usually connected with some memorable events of the past. Special mention could be made of the Bubiai (Pilale) and Brazuole hill-forts in the region of Trakai, the Merkine and Liskiava hill-forts in Varena region, the Punia hill-fort in Alytus region, the group of Veliuona hill-forts in the region of Jurbarkas, and, of course, of the castle-hills of the Vilnius Castles.
Alkai, the pagan holy sites, are usually to be found not far from ancient settlements and hill-forts. These were the places where the sacred fire was kept and where sacred offerings and other rites were performed. In most cases alkai were situated on small oval hills, both natural and man-made, grown with trees, usually oaks.
Tags: Archaeology Science Education